I’ve been missing. I’m sorry. Thank you so much for all the sweet emails and comments checking on me and worrying about me.
I had already lost a little bit of steam in blogging , though that’s not totally unusual. Motivation comes and goes for me (and inspiration too).
Then, the first week in December, my 22 year old cousin was killed in a car accident. And it felt like, there was nothing else important to say. I couldn’t bring myself to write about Christmas dresses or meeting Santa or anything else, when all that seemed important was him. But I also felt like Joey’s story wasn’t mine to tell. His death hurts my heart in ways I never knew possible, but I also know in only a fraction of the ways it hurts for his parents and sister and nephew. Jack is mine and PJ’s, he will always be ours, and his story is mine. I didn’t feel right trying to tell Joe’s. But I can’t write anything else here until I acknowledge him, so I will do my best to just tell my story of Joe. I would never assume to understand what his parents are feeling. I can only tell you what Joey meant to me.
I was 19 when Joey was born. He was the first baby in our family in a long time, and he was instantly adored by everyone. Visiting him in the hospital, he was the biggest baby in the nursery, well over 10lbs, and swaddled up tight, looking like a six month old next to all these teeny tiny newborns. He was chubby and cute and had something special about him already, drawing the attention of every visitor looking in the nursery window.
I spent my 20s watching Joey grow up. He was the funniest, happiest, smartest, sweetest kid I ever met. Those were not the best years of my life for various reasons, but he was a ray of sunshine to me. I loved him. I always had his picture on my desk at work, always jumped at any chance to babysit or even spend time with him. I loved to take him to the movies and spoil him with too much candy, take him out to dinner and teach him things like how to hang a spoon from your nose, or to tie your napkin into a funny hat. When my coworkers brought their kids to the office Christmas party, I brought Joey (who at one party when he was around 4 or 5 refused to sit on Santa’s lap, not because he was scared of Santa but because he "didn’t like the looks of that elf…." - a tax accountant dressed as an elf is scary, and I didn’t blame him.) I tagged along on his family’s vacation to Disney World. I took him to a Spice Girls Concert and we were in heaven, having a shared love of the band (I bought him a Baby Spice Doll he carried around for a long time in a briefcase…. I don’t think his dad was too thrilled with that). I took him a few years later to see N Sync, but already he was becoming cooler than me, too hip for boy bands, just going along to appease me.
As I got into my 30s and my life got less angsty, and Joey grew up into an incredibly adorable teenage boy, I saw less of him but loved him just the same.
He was, without a doubt, the handsomest person I ever knew in real life. His eyes were the bluest blue, bluer than any sky or ocean. He was still the boy you were drawn to, just like back in the hospital nursery all those years ago. It would be easy to say it was because of his looks, but it was more than that. There was something special inside of him that shone through, through the blue eyes and big smile. He had a wicked sense of humor but a kind soul. He loved his family, and he loved his friends like family. Every person who knew him seemed to think Joey was one of their best friends, because he made you feel that way – and there were literally hundreds of people who called him friend.
Every day, I mean every time I ever saw him, he had on the pale blue bracelet from the Jack Fund. Every single picture I’ve seen of him from the last three years, whether it was dressed up to go out or in a crazy Halloween costume (or crazy outfit period, his whole life he had a fashion sense all his own) or in a Jets jersey at a football game, he had on that blue Jack bracelet. I never talked about Jack with him, though now I wish I had. I know they’re together now. PJ said Jack has the best bodyguard (and friend) in the world now. It’s not much comfort honestly, but it’s something. At this point I think we’ll all take what we can get, anything that makes you feel a little bit better. Because there just is no sense in his not being here anymore.
I keep thinking of the Robert Frost poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. That’s how it feels to me. Joey was golden. Jack was too. The brightest stars burn out the fastest, and I never knew a brighter star.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay
I love you Joey. Take good care of Jack for me.