A Partial Goodbye to Jack

Me and jackI’ve lived away from home for six years now and people always ask me if I get tired of driving back and forth. The truth is I actually love the drive. I will fill up my gas tank; get myself some coffee, put on some tunes and head on my way. The road allows me to escape, to run away, to give myself the space and time that I need to figure out what I think and how I feel. When I want to be, or when I need to be, I am pretty good at avoiding things. This weekend I had finals to complete, and what’s worse is that I had a team final to complete which always means twice as much work than if I have a final of my own. I found that I was actually thankful for my finals though, because it meant that I didn’t have to think about Jack; more specifically, it meant that I didn’t have to think about the fact that Jack is gone.
As soon as I got in my car, with 200 miles to go, I knew that it was only a matter of miles before thoughts of Jack would consume me; as it turns out, I didn’t even make it to the end of the driveway. The problem with talking about Jack is that there is no label to adequately define who he was to me. He wasn’t my father or uncle, friend just doesn’t cut it, and family friend still seems too sterile and distant. Jack was just so much more. Jack was in the handful of people who have been in my life for my entire life. I knew Jack before I really even knew myself, and as long as I have been, Jack has always been there. So to say that I lost Jack just doesn’t match up with how I feel. More accurately, it just feels like I lost a part of myself.
My mother met Lauri and Amy in a quilting group before I was born, and they have been best friends ever since. The bond between Lauri, Jack (Lauri’s husband) and I began the day that I was born, which just so happened to be on Lauri’s birthday. In my younger years my mother would take me over to their house to visit. I had a fondness for Jack and Lauri, but the truth is that I really loved their animals. I especially loved Mom Cat who was temperamental and wanted nothing to do with me, but I still insisted on chasing her all around the house, convinced that I could get her to love me. I also adored Loki who was an Alaskan Husky who insisted upon sitting in my lap, even though he was twice my size. As I got older my fondness for Jack and Lauri grew. As an adolescent I was a bit of a strange kid. I wasn’t into the things that kids my age were into. I wanted to talk about thoughts and feelings and my plans to save the world and, well, not many eight year olds were really into that, but Jack and Lauri were. They would listen to me go on and on and on and would encourage me to go on and on and on. I never felt rushed with them, I never felt ignored, I never felt like my opinions were silly or useless. They just “got” me.
Jack used to take Lauri and me out to dinner for our birthday every year. I always looked forward to those dinners. Sometimes my mother would join us, but many times she did not, and it was just the three of us. I cherish that time together. Jack was always insistent that I try new things and not simply order what I was comfortable with. Looking back now, I realize that I carried his gentle pushing into many other aspects of my life. We were always “his girls” and I remember how wonderful it felt to belong to somebody.
As I drove along tonight I kept trying to think of how I could describe who Jack was, and as silly as it may seem, the best that I could come up with is that he was Santa in the off season. He was “old” when I was born (having a white beard will do that to a guy) and he remained “old” for my entire life, yet he somehow never aged; he was simply timeless. He was loving and jovial and his eyes sparkled when he laughed or smiled. He had a quite, calm peace about him that always made me feel at ease. He exercised tenderness and care in all that he did. He would work in the garden or weave a scarf in between watching a hockey game or beating every Zelda game that there ever was. He was the least judgmental person that I have ever known and he would have forgiven me a million wrongs. His love was unconditional and it was given freely, yet I feel like I owe him a great debt for what he has done in my life. He was my “chosen father” after my own father had passed, he was my friend at a time when making friends was difficult, he was my Sensi teaching me to respect myself and the world around me, he was my Jack.
This is just the first of many goodbyes to Jack. I know that I will have to say goodbye in 100 little ways before my heart accepts that he is gone. I know that people will say that we will meet again, and I agree, but not in this world and in this world is where I want him. I wasn’t ready to lose MY Jack, I wasn’t ready to stop being HIS girl, and I’m certainly not ready to say goodbye, so I will simply say good night. “Good night and joy be to you all.”

“But since it fell unto my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I’ll gently rise and softly call
Goodnight and joy be to you all.
So fill to me the parting glass,
And drink a health whate’er befalls
Then gently rise and softly call,
Good night and joy be to you all.”

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