Jeff’s anniversary is in 3 weeks, so Christine and I went to his grave yesterday.
Jeffrey loved sunflowers. He planted sunflowers, talked about sunflowers, pointed out sunflowers, loved sunflowers. His mother planted a memorial garden at her home with, naturally, an abundance of sunflowers. When Chrissy and I visited Jeff for the first time last August, there were wild sunflowers growing on the steep embankment just beyond the cemetery. We plucked handfuls for his plot, our empty 40s for vases.
Yesterday at Chevron, the woman in front of us began to back up, thought better of it, and went on to park. Her license plate said, “Sunflower.”
“Jeff!” I squealed, clapping. “Thanks for coming with us!”
We wrote on rocks to place on his headstone, which wasn’t there last time. It has a sunflower on it! We put “Mr.” in front of Jones and as I looked through the pictures today, I realized it ended up reading, “Mr. Jones, Angel.” He doubtless loves his title.
Jeff had a real talent for loving. And he was so damn funny! He was always plotting a series of cooking shows for YouTube. He talked about it all the time. I wanted to have an apron embroidered that said, “Cheffrey,” and he wanted to wear nothing else. We’d do an over-the-shoulder shot to survey his sumptuous culinary creation, and then pull back to reveal only ass! Christine said they were scheming about it again one day, and decided he ought to wear a hair net on his chest! I could hardly breathe, I was laughing so hard. You laughed like never before with Jeff. He was just fun.
Oh, Jeffrey! Why didn’t we DO IT? Don’t wait ’til tomorrow, folks.
So mostly we just drew hearts and smiley faces on those rocks, because they were so small. When we left we stopped back at the Chevron, and the car next to us had a heart in the window. I tried not to read too much into it, but when we came back that car was gone and a car with a smiley face in the window was in its place. 🙂
I miss Jeff today. We weren’t speaking when he died. One of the last things I said to him was, “I miss my friend. I don’t who you are, but I don’t like you.” I don’t regret those words too badly. (Others? Very much. Viciousness bites back. Remorse hurts.) But that accurately captured what it felt like to watch him disappear the last 4 years of his life. I hate heroin. Even those without a pre-existing panic disorder suffer crippling anxiety coming off of that hideous opiate. For Jeff, his previously-diagnosed condition was as damning as the narcotic escape was deadly. He was so close, but he couldn’t stay clean.
I witnessed many of Jeff’s panic attacks. Once, he stayed in the shower longer than usual. (That was the one of the only things that calmed him, alternating between scalding and freezing water.) This time, I poked my head in the bathroom and asked if he wanted me to go. “Please don’t leave,” he cried, so I knelt down, wrapped him in my arms, and rocked with him in fetal position on the bottom of the tub. This world was too rough and rude for my tender friend. I’m glad he’s free. I can feel him smiling sometimes.