Across the Universe – In Memory

We lost one of our own I heard so many people say yesterday.  At a memorial celebration for our friend Jay Maxwell Fretz (February 22, 1958 – September 7, 2011) hundreds of people turned out to celebrate his life. Each of the people I heard say “we lost one of our own” seemed to be from a different group representing the many lives of our Jay.  The automotive group, of which I am part, the church group, the family group, the community group, the friends group all had lost one of their own.  How moving a tribute to be standing in line (for well on one hour trying to get to the family) with so many who called Jay their own. I heard one woman say, “Well of course, that’s Jay”…indeed it was.

Each of the three pastors that spoke at the service was in awe of Jay; Using phrases like unwavering determination, sweetness of spirit, and a giant of faith.  They spoke of feeling they had been ministered to by Jay after praying with him.   Elizabeth Kubler Ross once said, “Those who learned to know death, rather than to fear and fight it, become our teachers about life.”  After being so touched by his attending mass and taking Communion,  Jay’s Pastors agreed that in dying Jay taught us all how to live.

When I pray I ask God to give me, and anyone I’m praying for, what we need.  I long ago figured out that praying for what you want is useless but praying for what you need always serves you.  I pray that God gives Jay’s family what they need.  I pray that their sadness will turn to the joy and celebration of Jay’s life with them.

I know that will come in time but the year of “firsts” must do its job.  There will be the obvious holidays and birthdays and anniversaries all of which loom ahead.  The firsts that will do the most to bring you to the end of that year will be the smallest ones that somehow catch you by surprise; trips to the dry cleaner, the grocery store, the renewal of magazines, the songs on the radio and the moments when you know like you know Jay is right beside you.  Each of these firsts put in your path to bring you to the moment of peace and gratitude you so rightfully deserve.

Wanda, know that you are loved and we are all at the ready for whatever you need.  Your strength is a wonder but we know that the other shoe must drop and we will be there to catch it.  Do what you need to do my dear but call on any of us to help you in whatever way you need.  The boys will go home and your house will seem to exhale, you must do the same.

In the midst of my sadness I am somehow grateful.  Grateful that my friend is now safely across the universe and no longer suffering.  Grateful that I’ve had the honor of knowing Jay, and now his family, and that I could help in some small way to ease their pain.  I am grateful that they are in the arms of their family and friends that will help them through this year of firsts so
that we might all come to celebrate Jay for many many years to come.

Jai guru deva om