The day after Christmas, my two daughters and I scattered Jacque’s ashes on the small beach in the picture above. Then we watched the waves come in and carry them out to sea. I told Anne and Emily to scatter my ashes here in the very same way.
Below is the eulogy I read at Jacque’s memorial service. It sums up her life well.
I cannot replace your smile, your laugh, your eyes, your hair. I cannot replace all the conversations we had, how we helped each other see the world through wide-open eyes. You were always so fiercely alive. You lit up a room. You lit up the life we shared.
We met at a music party where different musicians would perform for each other. Our first date was harpsichord concert at University of Santa Clara. On our second date, we listened to Louis Armstrong records at my parents’ house deep into the night. On our third date, we drove an hour to Oakland to hear Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. One way of marking your life is through music. For four years you were a fiercely dedicated teacher who taught high school choir and vocal jazz.
I experienced what it was like to be a student in your classrooms during Covid when you were teaching a wide variety of certificate programs at the University of Arkansas. In our small house, we could hear other(s) teaching live courses on zoom. You were so alive in the classroom. Teaching was your calling. You inspired so many students with your passion, your intensity, your presence, your respect for learning, your love and hope for what each student might become.
I remember the year we had together in Germany. That crazy three-week trip through Spain with our German guide Stefi. How you loved every sight and sound, every piece of art and achitecture: the Gaudi park in Barcelona, the papier-mache floats in Valencia, the Alhambra and its stunning mosaics and gardens, the Mosque and courtyards of Cordoba, the two long days we spent together studying the great Spanish painters in the Prado museum. I remember all the visits to all the places in Germany where your father fought in WII, all the nights we drank German beer and wine together. I remember you throwing yourself into learning German with all those students from foreign countries. I remember when we got pregnant there, and you miscarried for the third time. We were unsure if we would ever be able to have children.
I cannot replace all the love you gave to the two daughters we luckily did have. First Emily when you were 40 years old. I remember all the fear you carried with you during this pregnancy, the fear that comes from knowing the three sisters you had all died too young, two of them from diabetes complications. Then we had Emily, our first daughter, a miracle. Then two years later we had Anne, a “surprise” pregnancy. What happens to young people in love like us. You were 42 years old. The doctor allowed you to give birth naturally. These two beautiful, intelligent daughters are with me now, helping me to ease the pain of losing you, helping me to remember you.
I cannot replace all the time and devotion and intentional thought you put out in the universe in relationship to our children. We were not perfect parents, but we were good parents. We tried so hard. I cannot replace all the time we spent talking together about the best way to raise them. Are they doing too much? Are we giving them enough independence? Should we allow them to play video games? That was an easy one. The answer was no unless it involved a lot of learning, a lot of challenges and growth.
And somewhat amazingly, through all the health challenges you faced, you kept growing and learning, expanding your universe to include more and more. You stared to do Yoga daily with our daughter, Anne. You joined two book clubs within the last month. And as some who grow older harden in their ways, you grew softer and more accepting of the gifts and challenges of life, of the wide array of other souls we come across, each on its own journey. You learned to judge people less, to be more and more forgiving.
I cannot replace you. I cannot replace your presence. You were always so alive. Even when you watched a Marvel television series on Netflix, you were all in. Laughing and crying and on the edge of your seat. That’s how you lived. Moment after moment after moment.
I cannot replace how much you loved our new dog of just six weeks, how you played with his teeth and chased him around the yard, how he cuddled up against you every night. Now with you gone he cuddles up against me. We will help comfort each other.
I cannot replace that divine spark of life you carried like a torch to help light my way. I do not know how to replace it. We will miss you so much, yet you will always be here. My daughters and I, we will keep calling your name. We have so much more to say to each other. You were a mirror for me, always reflecting back my better self. Now I will have to do this on my own. Much harder work. Much harder work.
We were planning a summer trip to Amsterdam where we would walk through the city and spend endless hours in its art musuems. Emily told me yesterday, she and Jack were just talking about going to Amsterdam as well. You still live on in Emily. You still live on in Anne.
Together we sought out the spirit of life, what the Hindus call Brahman, what many call God, what some call the oversoul where all our souls or spirits or energies somehow gather together as we lose our sense of being separate selves and egos and join in with the chorus of the cosmic whole. How about another perfect date night some time out there in the music of the spheres? I will let you know when I’m ready. Until then, until then, I will miss our date nights very much.
To get weekly posts every Thursday with original art and innovative writing on tennis, please subscribe below:
Happy to announce that this blog has been named one of Feedspot’s top tennis blogs, websites & influencers of 2022.