Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Jen's Memorial Service

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to complete this post.

First, I wish to remind everyone that Jen's wish was for a giant party to celebrate her life.  This will be on Saturday, August 31 of this year.  It is Jen's birthday and I wish to extend an invitation to anyone who knew Jen and would like to be there.  It will most likely be at our house, but I will post details on this blog as the date gets closer.  As there may only be a few posts between now and then, I encourage anyone who has not done so to subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the section titled "Follow Updates by Email" on the right side when viewing on a computer.  When viewing on a smartphone you will have to view as a desktop site in order to see where to subscribe.  Between now and the party, I will most likely take a trip up north near the Sequoias to where Jen wanted her ashes scattered.

Thanks again to everyone who attended Jen's memorial service and to everyone who chose to speak.  I especially want to thank those who helped with the organization and arrangements.  Thank you to Tom for the eulogy and for managing the ceremony itself.  Thank you to Kathy for helping to organize the day, helping to secure the permit, and arrange all the details of the event itself.  Thank you to John for help with the design and printing of the giant photo boards on display as well as the seed cards done in Jen's memory.  Thank you to Rich for printing Jen's poems, handling flower arrangements, and catering so much food.  Thank you to Lisa for learning and playing one of the songs that Jen requested to be played at her memorial.  Lastly, thank you to everyone else (too many to name) who helped out, from arriving early to help set up, gluing the seed hearts onto the cards, bringing food or equipment, chairs, etc.

The park where the memorial was held was a place Jen & I frequently went to hike along the Canyon Trail.  It is currently closed due to fires they had about a year and a half ago.  Hopefully it will reopen soon.  Once it does, I would encourage anyone to take a walk there and think of Jen.  The trail is a fairly easy hike and it winds through a lot of wooded area.

At the memorial, I had hoped to say a few words about Jen, but after reading a few things she had written, I became to choked up to really continue.  I wish to take a moment now.

I can't begin to express the loss I feel.  Jen was my life.  Since we met, there was no one I would rather spend time with.  I've never felt so in sync with anyone like I did with Jen.  We first connected on a dance floor and watching Jen dance was always something that brought joy to my heart.  I loved the way she felt the music.  Jen approached life in much the same way.  She felt it's rhythms, embraced all it had to offer, and tried to exist in the moment.  She was always open minded and eager to explore.  She had such a depth and breadth of tastes.  She always had a passion for music and it formed one of our earliest bonds.  She was a drummer in a rock band when she was in high school.  Jen was always open to new music and she equally enjoyed everything from Bach to Snoop Dog to Neil Young to Johnny Cash to Radiohead to the Sex Pistols to Nick Cave.  She was like that with Movies too.  Jen would enjoy watching Star Wars, a Bergman or Felini Film, an old silent film, or be equally at home watching South Park.  Jen had a special fondness for horror films - her favorite genre.

Anyone that knew Jen, knew that she had a passion for the outdoors.  Jen loved to garden, camp, & hike.  We used to try to hike at least once a week, weather permitting.  We enjoyed getting outdoors together, but mostly enjoyed the time to decompress and most importantly have uninterrupted time with each other to just talk.  After moving to our house, Jen told me that it was the first place she had ever lived where she felt she was truly home.  She loved the southwest and was happy with finally owning a small piece of land that she could care for.  She planted all kinds of native plants specifically to attract the birds and butterflies.  She would geek out every time she saw some new species of bird in our yard that she hadn't seen before.  She loved having her morning coffee while sitting on a bench in our yard, watching the birds, and reading a good book.  She even trained a family of Blue Jays living nearby to take peanuts from her hand.  I still regularly feed them myself to this day.

Jen loved literature - she was an English major after all.  She always had a book she was excited about.  She would always read passages to me that particularly struck her.  She really was in love with the way language could express a thought or emotion in an eloquent or unique way.  She loved to write poetry as well, something she did a lot of when she was younger and then got away from.  After getting sick, Jen revived her interest in writing again.  And even though it was more challenging and often frustrating, it was something that she greatly enjoyed.

And of course, Jen loved to cook.  She was an amazing cook and I was the fortunate beneficiary of her constant desire to try out some new recipe.  She could look at an almost empty fridge and concoct something incredible.  She loved to grow her own fresh herbs for cooking which of course tied into her love of gardening - something she used to do with her Mom.  About a dozen years ago, Jen and I both developed a love for wine.  This was an extension of her culinary journey.  But, Jen didn't just enjoy drinking wine, she loved the fact that it is essentially a product of farming.  She loved how the same grape could taste so different depending on where it was grown.  She loved the entire wine making process and really educated herself about the history and culture.  We had hoped to someday go to France and Italy to go wine-tasting.  Although we never got to go, Jen did at least manage to make it to Italy once on her own for a work trip.  Jen had a love of learning.  She was always wanting to discover or master some new thing.  She had a strong work ethic and always looked forward to a new challenge or project.  She really enjoyed working and loved the people that she got to work with.

Jen was always thinking of others.  She loved to host and always wanted to make sure everyone felt welcome in her home.  We both enjoyed nothing more than gathering with friends, listening to music, drinking good wine, and sitting around a fire.  Even after getting sick, Jen was always concerned about how her sickness affected me.  Jen had a great sense of humor, sometimes subtle and dry, but she also loved a good (bad) pun.  Jen embraced happiness whenever she could, even when things were less than ideal.

When Jen got sick, her true warrior spirit rose to the top.  She had so much fight in her and was willing to try things that most would not.  She was an inspiration to me and I am so glad that I could be there to help her through it all.  Taking care of Jen will probably be the most important and rewarding thing I ever do with my life.  There is nothing I wouldn't have done for Jen.

Jen was my best friend, my partner, and I know I'm biased, but she was the most beautiful soul I have ever known.  Jen had a smile that could light up a room.  The world is an emptier place without her in it.  I miss her beyond what words can express.  I will love you forever Jen.

Below are photos from the event as well as a video taken of the ceremony for those who were unable to attend and wish to watch.

Daffodils were Jen's favorite flower

One of 6 large photos displayed throughout the space

A photo of Jen hiking at the park we gathered in

Detail from 1 of 2 montage placards we displayed - Each has about
100 photos taken from throughout Jen's life.  If you click on it you will
be able to see more detail.

Detail from 2 of 2 montage placards.

Gardenias were Jen's mom's favorite flower

This is the seed cards that were given out in Jen's memory.

This was the cover of the booklet given out with Jen's poems in it.
For those that didn't get one, I will have more available at Jen's party.
All the poems included were previously published on this blog in
August of 2018 if you wish to read them.