An Immortal Love

Just two weeks after Jeff and I started dating, he gave me a book with a note written on the inside cover. It was the first time that I would see Jeff’s beautiful handwriting, meticulous grammar, and the use of his famous red pen.

It was also the first time that I realized just how easy it was going to be to fall in love with him.

In his note, Jeff wrote of his excitement to write more chapters and to share more adventures with me, adding at the end “I hope you enjoy this tale, and our tale, as much as I do.”

Jeff’s Fears

The book Jeff gave me was “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” a book that fittingly explores life, death and spirituality. Though I loved the book and the gesture, Jeff feared that it would be too much too soon. He confessed that he had given a book to someone once before and it didn’t have the intended impact.

Jeff’s Nittany Lions crushed my Wildcats

His fear was not entirely unfounded. I have – in the past – made falling in love more difficult than it needs to be. But loving Jeff was just easy.

Once he turned his significant positive energy my way, I felt a happiness and a love that I had previously stopped believing would be a part of my life’s journey. He was unwavering in his commitment to me and in his patience with me.

In just 10 months, I learned more about living than I had in all of my 37 years.

Jeff didn’t have that many fears. His confidence allowed him to take risks and his consistent and constant belief in the inherent goodness of others allowed him to trust people completely. But, as cancer ravaged Jeff’s body and as he fought against all odds to survive, he looked at his father and said, “Dad, I’m scared.”

We tried to keep the tears outside of Jeff’s hospital room, so when he said those words to his dad, I had to slip out and have a good cry. Alan, or “Big Al,” as he is known by friends and family, held Jeff and – though I didn’t hear what they said to each other – Jeff showed no more fear.

A Proposal

Jeff had a few other things that he needed to say and do before he left us. From his hospital bed, he held my hand and told me that I was his person and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He said that marrying me would give him one more thing to fight for, and he gave me a beautiful family ring.

The emotion of the moment took a lot out of his tired body, but he held me and he said he wanted me to sit with him for a while so that he could soak in the moment.

Jeff didn’t have very many lucid moments left but, later that day, in a voice growing weaker by the minute, he strongly stated that he was very concerned that he hadn’t had a chance to speak with my dad before he proposed. That moment is the one that finally made me burst into tears in the hospital room.

That’s just the kind of guy he was. He could hardly speak at all, but he wanted to speak with my dad.

A Peaceful End

When Jeff took his last breath on the afternoon of June 4th, he was surrounded by family and friends and he went without pain. And, because he was stubborn to the very end, he did wait for my dad to arrive on a last-minute flight from Portland, passing away about 10 seconds after my dad entered the room.

A Promise

Jeff found his “happy place” on the Oregon Coast

I am struggling with losing Jeff so soon, and I know I will struggle for quite some time. In my most angry and selfish moments, I have joked with my friends that I can’t seem to catch a break.

But I know that this was the best break that I’ll ever have, because getting the chance to love Jeff and to feel his love in return is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Before leaving the hospital for the very last time, I sat with Jeff’s body and promised him that I would never forget the lessons that he taught me about living life to the fullest. And I know that I never will, because his love is an immortal love.

Jeff’s first playlist for me

The Last Chapter

 I have loved reading “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” though I’ve held off on finishing the last 30 pages. I’ll finish it when I’m ready to let go of this last chapter that Jeff will write with me.

In the meantime, I am finding a lot of peace in a playlist that he shared with me back in August. I rediscovered it written out in his perfect penmanship yesterday and I hope it brings a little peace for all those who loved Jeff.

Cheers to you, my love

39 Comments on “An Immortal Love”

  1. Pingback: The Last in a Year of Firsts | The Lens of Jen

  2. Pingback: A Wish for a Second Life in Luang Prabang | The Lens of Jen

  3. Pingback: Overnight at an Ethical Elephant Sanctuary | The Lens of Jen

  4. Pingback: I am a Scuba School Dropout | The Lens of Jen

  5. Pingback: Walking in Jeff's Footsteps Part 1: Budapest | The Lens of Jen

  6. Ugh. I sat with Wild Bill and Peacock in Anaheim talking about what a wonderful person you are. Bill spoke of this tear-jerking blog post. I hope you find peace beyond the playlist.

    • Trevor,

      Thanks for reading this tear-jerker. It’s so nice to hear that you and Wild Bill think that I am wonderful, because I think the world of both of you.

      I hope to see you when I get back to the states.

      -J

  7. Jen-
    I am so sorry for your tremendous loss of Jeff. May his spirit, laughter, kindness, and his love he had for you carry you through this beyond difficult time. He will watch over you every step you make… know he is always with you. He sure knew how to show everyone how amazing of a young man he was!

    • Heather,

      Thank you for these kind words. Jeff was, indeed, a rather amazing young man. I am lucky to have him with me. Not everyone is so lucky to meet their guardian angel.

      Take care,
      Jen

  8. Jen I am so sorry. I never had the privilege of meeting Jeff in person. I have heard nothing but positive and heartfelt stories about him. I wish that I would have met him. You are in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless You!

    • Thank you, Mike. And you did meet him! That very first game at Diag – the day that I met him, in fact. He introduced himself to both of us and let us crash his table for a while.

      That was just the kind of guy he was!

      -Jen

  9. One summer when everyone was home from college, Jeff and I played about 50 one-on-one games of Trivial Pursuit. This sounds impossible, but we had pretty much memorized all the cards by that point. It was ridiculous, over the top, and lots of fun.

    And that was Jeff. Ridiculous, over the top, lots of fun.

    While we probably haven’t spoken in about a decade, this is still absolutely soul crushing news.

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss Jen

    • I loved this story when you first wrote it down here. I apologize for the time between your writing this and my response, but please know you showed me some light during a dark time.

      You are right, Jeff was ridiculous, over the top and lots of fun. He had so much love for life and love for all of his friends. I am certain that he thought often of those Trivial Pursuit games with a smile.

      Thank you for sharing this, Gabriel.

      -Jen

  10. We are close friends of Alan and Susan, and only met Jeff before briefly. But we have lways enjoyed hearing about their family and the deep caring in their family.
    Never expecting this cruel turn.
    No words can express my sorrow for you.
    My heart has been so touched by your heart, and opening it to others. In the pain and sadness, you have shown a light that is part of the divine Iight of God. I am so touched by your sharing of your deep connection to Jeff and through him to his parents.
    I will think of you and “hold you in the Light” as we Quakers say. God bless you.

    • Thank you, Chris. It was hard to write those words during the darkest of times but, you’re right, it did open my heart to a bit of light, and I hope that light helped others who loved Jeff.

      Alan and Susan are now family and that’s one of the many gifts that Jeff gave me.

      -Jen

  11. Thank you for sharing your most tender and heart-wrenching thoughts. I pray that your love of Jeff will give you courage to carry on. Be brave. Be strong. And know that many pray for you.
    Lynn Fox

  12. Oh my God I didn’t realize that Jeff had passed. I am so sorry! Please keep me posted when the services are. Even though our hearts are ripped apart Jeff is in a better place. He is no longer in pain: As a parent who has lost a child there are no words that anyone could say to comfort you after the shock wears off. Praying for your peace.

  13. Oh my God I didn’t realize that Jeff had passed. I am so sorry! Please keep me posted when the services are. Even though our hearts are ripped apart Jeff is in a better place. He is no longer in pain: As a parent who has lost a child there are no words that anyone could say to comfort you after the shock wears off. Praying for your peace.

    • Jackie,

      You are right that Jeff was a fighter. This wasn’t a fair fight though. It was more of an onslaught than a battle. He had the right attitude and the strength, but there was another plan written for Jeff.

      You are right that there are no words, but I still appreciate your outreach. It does give me some comfort to know that we all have Jeff fighting for us now.

      -Jen

  14. Hi Jen I am just hearing about Jeff. My name is Jackie. I worked with Jeff for many years at Camelot until my daughter passed. I know Jeff is a fighter! He loves life . Tell him I am praying for him as well as the family. God has the last say and I touching and agreeing with you all that Jeff has more work to do here on earth. Keep your head up and cherish every moment. of happiness.

  15. Jen, Jeff’s proposal was beautiful. I am so sorry that you both only had 10 months to write your own tale. Jeff was an amazing caring young man and you were blessed to have him in your life. May God wrap His love around you to help you heal from this pain. You and Jeff made beautiful memories together for you to treasure.

  16. Jen,

    My heart breaks hearing of your loss. Jenn, you are an angel. And Jeff will always be in your heart.

    John

    • Thank you, John. Your support for me – and for Jeff – meant a lot when we last spoke in DC. Hope to see you when I come back to the states.

      -J

  17. I’m at a loss for words – and I feel like you know me well enough to know that’s not my normal state. 🙂 The sorrow I feel for you, and all who love Jeff, is deep and visceral, and nearly matched by the sadness at the brevity of your arch together. It’s ridiculously unfair. However, I too am grateful that you met Jeff at all. The love you shared is rare, and many people live long lives without feeling anything close to it.

    You’re a beautiful writer and an unbelievably strong person. I hope you continue to write and share all you learn as you continue your love affair with Jeff…after all, as Morrie Schwartz rightly said, death ends a life, not a relationship. May your art, your family and friends, your love, your faith, and the inspiration that Jeff surely has infused in you, sustain you now and always.

    Here for you Jen. Let me know what I can do.

    • Judy,

      Thank you for your kind and wise words. I really appreciate your friendship and support. I hope all is going well in the world of ADARA. I’ll swing by the office when I’m back in Chicago in November.

      Until then, thank you for being you.

      -J

  18. I can’t believe he’s gone. I truly loved working with Jeff at Camelot. He was such a great guy and will be missed tremendously.

    • He is gone in body but he is with you in spirit, Carrie. He loved working at Camelot and he will be watching over those kids, you can bet on that!

  19. I don’t know you…I’ve only read this due to my old friendship with Danielle. Yet, I feel compelled to write and say I’m sorry for your loss. Your blog touched me in a way I wasn’t expecting. Stay strong and keep Jeff alive in your heart and your life.

    • Thank you, Todd. Any friend of Danielle’s is a friend of mine. I do promise to keep Jeff’s love with me forever. That’s one of the many gifts that he gave me.

  20. Jen,
    How wonderful for you to have experienced such a person, how wonderful for him to have had you to love and be loved by. You’re a strong resilient woman but you have the right and are allowed to take a break from being an adult for a bit, I hope you allow yourself to soak in strength from people who love for now. We’re so sad for you right now. Please know you are in our hearts and minds as always. Sending love.
    Aunt Cindy and Uncle Bob

    • Thank you, Aunt Cindy and Uncle Bob. I did take a bit of a break from “adulting” as you know. My travels in Europe thus far have been everything I needed. Cleansing. I do feel all of the love from my people back home, though. Thank you again.

  21. Jen,
    My heart breaks for your lost. But what a joy it was to have been given the gift of Jeffs’s pure, unconditional love. A gift that you will carry with you always. You and yours are in my prayers.
    Nan

    • Thank you, Nan. I’m glad you had a chance to meet Jeff. And you are right that I will carry his love with me always.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

COME SEEK WITH ME!Join my newsletter for a weekly invitation to dream
Seeking More?Subscribe for tips, tales & inspiration in your inbox!