I heard for real that he is gone.
I never wanted to listen to that
the news was a blip,
I had never been able to cry about
or lay about,
keep busy I said,
where he went
or how hard
it must have been
for he and those who stood by and had to watch.
This is my tribute, albeit late, to a friend I will never forget.
I met Jesse in the summer between 7th and 8th grade.
My friend Claire had moved away and I was as low as I could be.
I had her as one of my perfect friends, always there, knew how
I felt without even asking. I had other friends who were all speciall too.
But losing Claire hit me hard.
I signed up for summer program and was doubtful of how that would turn out.
Our school was a mix of several smaller school groups. We were meeting people
from other parts of town who each had established relationships and associated school pride.
One activity in summer group was finger painting.
The teacher gave us slick white paper and we wet it down. On went tempra paints with a funny paste like smell.
Were my fingers just moping about, thinking I would cry about Claire? Longing for our summer days on her dock by the lake?
What was I drawing?
Then out of the blue, I saw Jesse. He and I started to break out of the mold, the boring stick figures of that infantile finger painting. I think he started with the elbow and then I remember a cascade, a dance of elbows, us both making a scene, a creative ruckus. Visual dares as if we were showing that we had no boundaries. Art has no boundaries. We laughed and carried on until told we were going too far, having too much
freedom of expression, making too much of a mess.
We bonded at that moment, became great friends, and felt a comraderie.
Jesse taught me to eat escargot, which fork to use first, he got me the best bagel with cream cheese and lox in the world, we stood at the foot of the World Trade Center and as I slowly looked up he caught me as I nearly fell over, overwhelmed at this tall building. We could only see the bottom 1/3 that day.
Every once in awhile I would try to google him or try to find him even though part of me knew he had left the material world. I still feel if he could, he would visit me once in awhile and I would visit him.
To others who were close to him, I feel the loss will always have a pain of what might have been, a wish times could have been different, and part of me will always deny that someone as special as Jesse left the world. His memory will always live on in our hearts. Love, Mary Gerdt for Jesse
|jesse 1975 at the Arlo Guthrie/Pete Seeger concert MRF|