August 23, 2001

If you spend any length of time on Pensacola Beach in the summer at some point you'll look over your shoulder, back towards the Gulf Breeze peninsula and across the bay to Pensacola, and see tremendous thunderheads building up over the mainland. And your jaw will drop because you've spent the last hour or so blinded by the sunshine on the swells of the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, not a cloud between you and the Yucatan, for all intents and purposes. Then you'll shrug and think to yourself, "Well, yeah, it's Pensacola Beach and it's summer..."

Earlier today I was at work and suddenly I had this intense longing to be on Pensacola Beach. I've written about it so many times before. We moved to Pensacola when I was a baby and I have a lifetime of memories about going to the beach. The most recent ones all involved Jeremy, who never really thought of himself as much of a beach person until he visited Pensacola, and then he was an instant convert.

And now I'm sitting here with a thunderhead looming over my shoulder, unseen but sensed, the subtle variation in temperature, the slight prickling of the hairs on the back of my neck, all the indications that some weather lies ahead.

Depression, in this case, not rain. Grief, not thunder and lightning.

It all started 7 weeks ago yesterday. I'm forever telling people who are having their first baby that the first year will be longest of their lives. I'm beginning to think I was in error. Inexperienced, certainly.

For the past two weeks I've been working on the memorial webpage -- draining, yes, but also something to look forward to doing, something that provides an ever so slight pride of accomplishment (for those of you who think that widowhood is instantaneously and forever all gloom and doom, think again; it's perfectly possible to experience joy and wonder and satisfaction and bitchiness at the same time, one doesn't preclude the others...)

But now that work is mostly done. And I received the letter from LifeGift pointing out that -- hurrah, hurrah! -- parts of Jeremy still live on, making a difference for a couple of people twice his age. Can you imagine getting a 30 y.o. liver at age 55? Wotta concept!

But mostly...

Mostly these days I'm sleepy. I find myself still awake at 1 a.m. and then waking up four or five hours later. I can usually fall back asleep for another hour but then I'm just UP. I know it's a fact of life for many people but this musclebear generally takes the typical ursine's approach to sleep -- long, deep, loud.

Which brings me back to the beach.

I sit here every night ("here" being the bedroom of MY townhouse in Montrose, Houston's intown, largely gay district...) and stare at the screen. And over my right shoulder is that empty bed. Waiting for me. And me alone.

The thing about thunderheads on the beach...

They usually go by with just a little sprinkle for you. The heavy weather is on the mainland, or over the sound or the bay. The poor folks out in the fishing boats, or the ones who are biking across the long bridge over Santa Rosa sound, are the ones who really get a soaking.

We were there in April, y'know, with the kids for their spring break. I never thought I'd ever have a hard time going back to the beach. Someday, when it's my turn, it's the place I'll want my ashes spread.

I hope I don't have to wait that long to go back. Right now I'm not at all sure I could do it.

Much love...

RPJ


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