Happy 27th, Jeff

2 Mar

“I like living.  I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow.  But through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”

                                        –Agatha Christie

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The last time I saw Jeff, on November 8th, 2010, he was sitting at his desk in his room.  We had spent most of that night together watching an irrelevant Monday Night Football game, but our time together was never irrelevant, no matter what we were doing.  When he got up to hug me goodnight at around midnight, neither of us knew that we would never see each other again as the result of an impulsive and irrevocable decision that Jeff would make the next day.  The evidence is clear that he didn’t know until after lunchtime on the 9th.  My last image of Jeff remains crystal clear in my mind, which is that of a 23 ½ year old young man who was clearly troubled but was still big, strong and handsome.

I have great difficulty, however, envisioning what Jeff would look like as the 27 year old man he would have become on his birthday today.  I just can’t picture him at 27, and that is a damn shame.  And while I don’t know where he’d be or what he’d be doing today, I stand by the words I wrote in my blog post exactly two years ago today (“A Birthday Celebration: The Things That Are ‘So Jeff Klein’-Part 2” https://kleinsaucer.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/a-birthday-celebration-the-things-that-are-so-jeff-klein-part-2/):

“Where he would have been and what he would have been doing, had Jeff lived to see his 25th birthday today, is a matter of conjecture. I hold firm to the belief, though, that if he had resolved to fight through his deep concern over the future, and let his head cleanse itself of the meds he had been on, he would still be living life to the fullest and deriving immense joy from everything he did and from everyone he knew. And with March Madness just a couple of weeks away, we all know what the focus of his excitement would be right now.”

But rather than struggle to create an image that will forever be elusive for me, today I will look back on the images that I do have and that fill me with the warmth of beautiful memories that can never be taken away.

Carey bday email to Jeff

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wheaties

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Jeff in abercrombie

jeff bulletin board

Brett fbook to Jeff

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Jeff cowboy

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drew fbook to Jeff

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classicmichaelsfromjulie

I also stand by the words that I closed with in that post from two years ago:

“I guess part of the wonderful legacy Jeff left behind is that nobody who knew him will ever think about things such as March Madness, snow days, the Giants, the Yankees, the Knicks, Wednesday Night Beirut, questionable calls in the NBA playoffs, major upsets and controversies in any sport, the word “egregious”, sports blogging, the use of colloquialisms, the 2008 campaign of Barack Obama, spicy foods, a ‘why not do that’ attitude, hilarious text messages, a love of friends and family, and so many other things too numerous to list, without immediately thinking of Jeff. And when people do think of Jeff in relation to these things, it would be nearly impossible to do so without smiling. In fact, I can’t imagine a better way to spend Jeff’s 25th birthday than by thinking about the things that are “so Jeff Klein”, and smiling.

And as heart wrenching and difficult as it will be, that’s exactly what I intend to do.

Two years later, I intend to do the very same thing.  On the day that used to be such a joyous one for our family, it is the only way to make it tolerable.  And I must always remind myself to heed the poignant words of  Tarzan Tahsin Ozan Gemikonakli, the creator of Project Bald, who wrote the following declaration about Jeff’s birthday one year ago today:

“Today is not a funeral, it is a birthday, and we shall treat it as such.”

–Rich Klein

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5 Responses to “Happy 27th, Jeff”

  1. jodeenovakcm March 2, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    beautiful, rich, as always. you have provided us all with a glimpse of a very special life lived by an incredibly special boy as part of a more than special family. we love you all.

  2. Jean March 2, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    I am brought to tears thinking about the son that should still be here. Please know that your entire family is an inspiration to all…xo

  3. Maxine Margo Rubin March 2, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Unintended life lessons and the game of ping pong. A Jeff and Elon anecdote.

    In a nutshell, Jeff and Elon would play ping pong at the pool club over various summers, and it proved to be a battle of wills. They had played at least 80 games, and through lopsided and close scores, Elon would always be at the losing end of the match. In a lesson of persistence, Elon plugged away and Jeff kept beating him, until that one day when the planets aligned, and E broke through for a victory. Elon kept the game winning ball, and has kept it with him through tests and various other events, as a reminder that you can never give up, and that persistency and tenacity are two important attributes in muddling through this game of life. I know it was a life lesson learned by both Elon and Jeff. I am looking up at Jeff today with a smile, and a heart felt thank you. Your spirit will forever live on.

  4. kleinsaucer March 3, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    Thank you Jodee, Jean and Maxine for these beautiful comments

    • Christie Evans Sturges March 4, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      Thank you Rich for continuing to show me the strength and love you Carey and the boys possess and reminding me of what is truly important in this turbulent world we live in. Xoxo

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