saying goodbye

Last week I said goodbye to a friend.  He was more than a friend, though, he was family.  Our families adopted each other.  The Queen and I had him in our wedding, introducing him as my adopted grandpa…

It has taken me some time to find the words I wanted to share.  So what follows may be a jumbled mess and while I know that is okay, for moments such as these I wish I could come up with the “right” words and I wish I could come up with them faster.  I sat silently and listened as others shared stories about this amazing man.  Maybe what follows is what I would have said if I’d had these words faster, if I’d been braver.  I doubt it, though.  I couldn’t even type them without spilling tears.  There’s no way I could speak them out loud.


He called me Matt the Cat.  I’m not sure there was more to it than he liked the way it sounded.  I never asked him.  And now it is too late.

We adopted him, in our fashion, and made him part of our adventures.  He went camping with us a couple times.  He always said it was an honor to be included.  We wouldn’t have had it any other way and wished he could have made it more often.  He was like a kid in those mountains.  His eyes full of wonder and joy.  Then again, his eyes were always full of joy. Joy was who he was, how he approached life, how he treated everyone.

He played the harmonica.  He could make it sing.  He could make it whistle like a train picking up speed and getting closer and closer.  The Little Prince used to love that.

He was good with the two older princes.  Patient.  Attentive.  He wanted to hear their stories and watch them run.  The newest prince hadn’t met him.  And now it is too late.

As the Queen and I began our winter pilgrimages to the snow with our littles in tow, we would stop at his house on our way to the mountains and share stories and pictures, stretch our legs, visit.  We always felt bad invading his home with our chaos.  I’m certain he didn’t mind.  I wish we could have stopped more often than we did.  I wish we could have stayed longer each time too.  You could hear it in his voice, that buzzing excitement, each time we knocked on his door.  You could see it in his eyes, sparkling with that joy he exuded.  And now we’ve made our last stop.  It hurts to say that.

I’ll miss him.  I’ll miss his joy.

I just don’t know.

“I don’t know.”

“I just don’t know.”

These phrases dominate her vocabulary at the moment.  I’ve talked to her on the phone twice and seen her in person once since she found out her husband died, and these expressions have become her default conversation starter and go-to silence filler.

The memorial was a traditional Catholic Mass.  Words of hope and faith were spoken.  Traditions were performed.  I’m not an expert on Catholicism so I’m not sure what it all meant or represented and therefore won’t go into any great detail on that aspect of the service.  The parts that mattered most to me, were the words spoken by Rara’s sister about the kind of person Dave was, the post written by Dave explaining what it was like being married that Rara shared, and AR Neal speaking about the wonderful community of support and love that Rara has gathered around her on the blogosphere.

She spoke when I could not.  She spoke for those of us who were present in the room and those of us too far away to attend, while ceremonial candles burned and Dave’s ashes rested nearby.

“I don’t know.”

“I just don’t know.”

After the service, Dave’s father graciously invited everyone over to his home, to share in food and fellowship.  The walls of his home were adorned in artwork his son had created.  Coffee tables and counter-tops held Dave’s collected published works.  I browsed through these, skipping over the ones I’ve read and own, and picking up “The Angry Dragon.”  It was a title I didn’t recognize, and because dragon…

A children’s book, it only took me a minute or two to read.  It held his unmistakable art and a lesson that, while not fitting the situation, was fitting for some current struggles within the kingdom – the Little Prince throwing temper tantrums and our efforts to help him do so more constructively while also getting him to help clean up the messes those tantrums can create.  It was odd to find something so poignant for my life in such a place and such a time.

But, perhaps I should have long ago gotten used to Rara and Dave spreading knowledge and joy at all times and in all places.  It’s who they are…  It’s who they were.

“I don’t know.”

“I just don’t know.”

She is worried about her future, uncertain of what lies ahead for her, and concerned that she will never return to who she was.  What will she do when she is released in a couple months?  She no longer has a home to go to.  She will be a felon.  She is now a widow…

Those of us who gathered on Saturday to support her, spoke softly of time, and firmly of her strength of character.  We offered our shoulders.  We gave hugs.  We gently reminded her that she didn’t need to worry about the future yet, and it was okay for her to mourn, it was okay for her to not know: what each day would bring, what to say, how to act, anything.  There is no script that has to be followed for death and learning to live after.  We did our very best to assure her that she is loved and that she will have plenty of people looking out for her when she gets out.  We will make sure she is okay.

She nodded along, appreciative of our words and their sentiment, but…  It was too early for her to accept the truth in them, and none of us were the person she wanted with her, none of us were her husband.

“I don’t know.”

“I just don’t know.”

Before the service started, early in the morning before I’d even headed that direction, I got an email from Rara’s sister asking if I could get a song onto my phone in case there was a time for music.  I downloaded the song immediately and let her know I had it.

It was a song that Dave was partial to, and had wished he could have played at his mom’s funeral.  It didn’t dawn on me until after the service was over that I could have stood and played the song during the time people were encouraged to share stories about Dave.  I should have played it while Rara and her sister were up front sharing their stories.  I should have joined AR Neal at the front and played it while she was talking about the blogosphere in glowing terms.  I should have stood on my own and played it.

Those moments and opportunities have passed, however.  So, instead, I’ll share the song here with all of you, and I’ll remember Dave as the notes and lyrics of the song tell their own story.

Jimmy Eat World – Hear You me

“I don’t know.”

“I just don’t know.”

Dave’s Service

I don’t have any words of my own yet…  I’m sure they will come, they almost always do.  But, until then, you can read what Deb and AR Neal had to say about the day.  Deb it was a pleasure chatting with you again and meeting your amazing family.  AR Neal, it was great to meet you “in the real” and I hope next time will be under better circumstances.  Thank you both for being there today.
Also, in lieu of my own words, I’m sharing below something that was written by Rara and her sister, Lachmi, and spoken during the service:
He smelled of cigarettes and carried an attitude of knowing. He had a love for art; and his body was just one of many canvas that he decorated. He had a way of drawing and painting that reflected a raw soul that not everyone related to, but was special nonetheless. His love of Ska music was unparalleled. His love for authors like Vonnegut and Palahniuk reflected his cynical, philosophical syndrome.
He taught us how to swear like a pirate and how to conduct ourselves in a way that we would never have to apologize for; who would be the first one to shake his fist at the stupidity of human nature, and yet have the patience to hold the door open for a gaggle of old ladies. He was the boy who picked at boned meat, could eat cheese by the block, and never managed to use a napkin for its true intent. He was tremendously complicated, and one could only comprehend him by facing his contradictions. He was a Sinner, a Saint, a Hero, a Victim, a Father, a Student, a Teacher, a Brother, and some weird combination of everything else that you could imagine– corporate with joke-book humor, immensely tough yet vulnerable and loving. He would be the first one to tell you that he hated children; yet, could always be found at the children’s table or asking to baby sit. And we know without a doubt that Flash and Perdita never had a better father than Dave.
 He thought nothing was impossible, but was often impossible himself; constantly citing literary scholars  or some obscure sci-reference that only a true geek would fathom. He insisted on ferocious sense of morality and ethics that, if you were caught on the sharp end of his barbs, you most likely would not fully fathom his insult until days later; a casualty we’ve all endured. We learned not only our sense of what was right, but the importance of defending it…and even sometimes when we weren’t right, we learned to defend that too.
He was never one to let the world tell him who he was, or what he was. He was empowering and had reins of his life as he would always be quick with a theory or an invention that would solve whatever situation he thought was a problem. He wanted to sell cool phrase flashcards, misery cookies to give those in misery, and pity pillows to throw at those wallowing in self-pity. He was the one who sneaked our little sister out to teach her how to drive, who stayed up the entire night creating a Christmas wonderland for his nieces, who always knew that sometimes the right thing to say wasn’t always the right thing to do, and who had unwavering support whenever we needed it. He loved Radha so directly and so deeply that love became redefined for everyone that knew them. They were indispensable to each other, they thrived off each other’s attention, love, respect, a mutual unparalleled addiction to the arts.
Dave, Grayson Queen, or however you knew him—touched so many lives. He will be remembered as a  loving husband, a quirky brother, a super hero, a very loving uncle, a blogger, a writer, an artist. Thank you for taking time to celebrate Dave. Thank you for the endless love being sent to my sister.

Memorial Service Update

Rara will be there!

She’ll be shackle and handcuff free, but will still be in her prison blues.

So, if you are coming, to show support for her, wear blue.  Blue scrubs.  Blue shirts.  Blue ties.  Blue anything.  Just wear blue.

She should be showing up around 9:30…

I’ll probably be there around then too.

Memorial Service Details

Dave’s (Grayson Queen’s) service is going to be this coming Saturday (May 23, 2015) at the Corpus Christi Church in Corona, California at 10 AM PST.

3760 North McKinley Street
Corona, CA 92879-1956

Please help me spread the word again, so those who might be interested in attending have enough warning to make arrangements.  I’ll be there for sure…

And, an update on Rara’s address:

Radhika Jaini WF0124
16756 Chino-Corona Road
Corona, CA 92880

Keep the RawrLove letters headed her direction. Thank you.