In Memoriam- Paul Jelaco
Let me come in where you are weeping, friend,
And let me take your hand.
I, who have known a sorrow such as yours,
Let me come in — I would be very still
Beside you in your grief;
I would not bid you cease your weeping, friend,
Tears can bring relief.Let me come in — I would only breathe a prayer,
And hold your hand,
For I have known a sorrow such as yours,
Grace Noll Crowell
i have posted a few times about my sponsor and his diagnosis of stage IV liver cancer earlier this year. i called his home 2 days ago and was informed by a voice i didn’t know that he had been moved to hospice. and i just received a call from that same voice letting me know that he passed this morning in his sleep. i was concerned about his mother. i asked the mysterious voice to please give my number to his mother. his mom called me 10 minutes later. i have been filled with a bittersweet sadness since. there is drama with his mama and it may be forever unresolved. it’s not my drama, but i am privy to it none-the-less.
paul was my sponsor, but more importantly he was my friend and mentor. when i met him he was attending 12 step meetings and always quoting from “the big book”. it usually annoyed me greatly when people did that, but for some reason, his gentle demeanor dissolved my disdain. i didn’t need an aggressive sponsor. paul fit that bill. he taught me the concept of “god doesn’t create junk” and repeated it over and over. here is a post from my 1st blog which captures a sense of just how integrated his words are into my process. the post was titled “house of flying daggers”
when paul was diagnosed, he started to shut down- both emotionally and physically, and the experience of losing him began at that time for me. i spoke with him weekly at least, but didn’t see him more than 10 times or so. each time i did see him, and many times on the phone, he would well up with tears. he struggled with his feelings about his health and i am sure with his own sense of loss, fear, and probably his sense of failure with his battle with cancer as well.
what i am resisting here is conveying the emptiness and melancholy that winds through me like the highline canal meanders through our fair city. friends like paul do not appear in my life everyday. i am a flawed friend. i carry much baggage. those who can accept and withstand me are very few and far between. i have conveyed these feelings to him, but it never seemed enough- especially now.
he used to call me “cosmo”. he felt pride and respect for the work i did. he was always supportive of my work in the hiv community and in the recovery community. he understood that i strangely live a sober life filled with synchronicity and opportunity. he also reminded me that i might just be doing the work i was meant to do. i have had a cheerleader like no other and will probably never experience that level of trust and support again. i hope i didn’t take it for granted nor have it in vain. and i certainly hope i was able to be even a fraction of this for him.
i am not at all aware of where i go from here. the more dramatic part of me sees myself almost as jill clayburgh sitting on the floor of that empty apartment at the end of “an unmarried woman”. drama aside, a cornerstone of my foundation seems to have vanished. no doubt i’ll get to that, but this damn wind that i have to deal with until then…..