Picking Up the Pieces

22 January 2009 · 5 comments

We held a memorial service for Paul in Eugene yesterday. It was awesome. It was awesome to see so many people gather to celebrate his life. It was awesome to hear their memories of Paul. It was awesome to spend time with other people he had touched.

I know that it’s trite to say, but Paul had an impact on so many people. We all know that he could be a pain in the ass, but this pain-in-the-assness was completely outweighed by the degree to which he improved our lives.

I’m having a hard time writing this morning. I’m a wreck. I’m bawling. Mostly I don’t do that. I handle death as a stoic. Monday was bad, though, and today is off to a rocky start. It’s as if I’ve walled off the grief for a week, put it behind a dam, and now it wants to break out.

Anyhow, I was awed by the gathering last night, and grateful to see so many people. When we sat down, I focused on talking with the people near me, so I didn’t realize how many people were in the room until I walked up front to make my remarks. When I turned around, I was stunned. “Wow,” I said, and I meant it. (I wish I had the presence of mind to pause, to pull out my cell phone, and to take a photo. I want to remember that moment forever.)

There will be another memorial service in Portland next Thursday the 29th at 6:30 pm at Ascension Catholic Church, a fact that would make Paul groan, I’m sure. But this isn’t for Paul — it’s for his family. And it’s for you. If you knew Paul and would like to make your remembrances, you are invited to attend. (If you have questions, contact me or Tom Stewart.)

Oddly, last night was also a fantastic time to meet and become re-acquainted with some of Paul’s other friends. I met Rob for the first time. I got to know Tia and Mariah a little (I went to school with them, but never really knew them). Tom and I had a chance to talk more about our long friendship with Paul. I saw Holly M. for the first time since college, and saw Melissa, too. I didn’t get to bed until after one, but I barely noticed the passing of the previous twelve hours.

I can hardly believe how modest my goals are for today, my first day back working since last Thursday. I have a 10:30 interview with Grist. I need to write a short bio of myself for a book I’m contributing to. And I want to make a mix CD that reminds me of Paul. Three little things. That’s it. Yet I still don’t know if I’ll get them all done.

One thing’s for damn sure: once I’m finished with my upcoming presentations (in mid-February), I’m going to focus on the essentials: writing and friendships. All of this other stuff is just a distraction.

1 kel January 22, 2009 at 09:02

hope you have a good day, productive or not. in spite of everything i wanted to say congrats, i LOVE grist!

2 Amy Jo January 22, 2009 at 10:46

Modest goals are okay right now. I’m glad you recognize that. We’ve been thinking about you a lot, as I am sure many of your other friends have. Please know that we are here for you whenever you need to stop and take a break, a shoulder to lean on, or simply want a change of scenery. Let’s try to do an early dinner sometime soon, when life has settled down a bit for you.

3 Kelli Gallippi Schultz January 22, 2009 at 16:41

Hi. This is weird. I think we only met once 20 years ago or so. I was a friend of Paul’s a long time ago, and was heartbroken when I got the call last Thursday. I was a girlfriend of Tom Stewart’s off and on from 1988-1991, and met Paul through him. I haven’t spoken to Paul in 10 years or so, our lives just kind of drifted apart as our careers and private lives went different directions. I’ve been searching the internet ever since finding out, hoping to find an on-line obituary that provided a guest book feature, and haven’t found one, but stumbled across this. I just want to tell someone, anyone, how sorry I was to hear that Paul’s life reached this end, and that he couldn’t keep the demons at bay. I’ve been flooded with memories from UO and Eugene, the fun we had, the trauma’s we shared, and just want you to know there is another life he reached, another soul who will miss him.

Take care of yourself, and share my regrets to Tom.

Kelli

4 Tiffany January 23, 2009 at 15:00

Jd,

Do not take my (and I’m sure other’s) silent as a sign of uncaring. I care about you, and I worried about you and your pain. My silent comes from not knowing what to say, what might make this terrible event worse. I love you.

5 Denise January 24, 2009 at 07:02

I hope that the memorial helped you find some peace – at least a bit. Do you remember when Tara Deutsch died? I remember I was at school when it happened and I couldn’t get back in time for the viewing. I remember being at the memorial and just wishing I could see her one more time. After the memorial I had four nights of dreams in which Tara and I talked about all the loose ends that I was worried about. It was the strangest experience (dream-wise) I have ever had. Although I don’t remember all of what was said in the dreams now, I do know I always woke up happy and at peace that I was able to talk to my friend again, even if it was just in my dreams. Since then I have never had a dream about Tara.

I believe this was Tara visiting me to tell me it was alright, and that she was alright. Ok, I’m not crazy, but I really believe that.

Anyway – this little story isn’t me trying to take over you trying to remember Paul, I just wanted to let you know that although I didn’t really know Paul, I do know what it is like to lose a close friend unexpectedly – and I hope that you are doing better.

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