Remembering James

In 2009, I made a friend named James while swing dancing.  And through the years, even though he was an ocean away, I felt like he was nearby because of social media.  A few years later when I was living in Santa Barbara, I received a message from James saying he met a lovely girl who was moving there.  So James spent a month in Santa Barbara helping his lovely girl get situated in a new town.  While he was visiting, we met several times and further solidified our friendship.

James had the ability to leave an indelible impression on those around him.  He was a firecracker of an Irishman with a lively and inappropriate sense of humor. But during that month I also saw a softer, sweeter side of him.

Butters was tormented by James (in the best way possible) when they first met.  We were at a dog friendly path, high above the Pacific Ocean.  This was the first year I adopted Butters and as a new dog-mom, everything made me nervous; especially letting her go off-leash.  James told me to go ahead and release her…so I did.  She sprinted ahead, zoomed around and let out her puppy energy.

At one point I couldn’t see her anymore…I looked at James, “See, look at her, she’s a wild animal.”

”Um, you better call her over.” He advised.

“Butters!” I called out a few times.  She came tearing down the dusty path toward us, with a dog smile on her face.  I put her back on the leash.  I couldn’t deal with the anxiety.  James just laughed.

Before James left Santa Barbara, he told me he would be in the UK for a couple of years.  He said I should visit.  I said I would at some point.

Sometimes life knocks the wind out of you.

I thought I would see James again…maybe this year or next.  I thought I would hear his Irish accented off-color jokes a few more times.

Last Sunday, as I was checking messages, I heard the devastating news that James passed away.  It was September 29, 2013, and James was 34 years old, much too young to leave this world.  He had a full life ahead of him surrounded by people who adored him.  This is the thing about life.  You just never know what it has in store for you.

I needed to find a way to honor James.  And since I couldn’t attend his funeral in Ireland, over the course of the week – as I thought about him – I remembered that James liked nature.  He liked the ocean…the mountains.

I realized I needed to be in nature while remembering James.  So I went camping with Butters and Bambi.

At the campsite, I searched for a way to honor James; to find some sense of closure for myself and to wish his spirit well.

And one night, while I was hiking with Butters, the sky ignited with red, orange, gold…and I knew…I would dedicate this sunset to him.

Dear James, you will always be loved and remembered.

In honor of James.

8 replies »

  1. Although I never met James, I am nevertheless touched by this profound tribute. You have indeed honored him well and, I daresay, if souls exist beyond our corporeal forms, the soul of James is grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat.

  2. Yon,
    May the sweet memories of James always bring you comfort.

    Peace be with you and rejoice for James spirit found your light.

  3. HI Yon. I think that you have honored James in a very special way- It made me want to cry and I did not know James. I wish you all the healing and happiness! Sunset is a most special time for my husband and I – I am sure it is now for you as well.

  4. Oh, Yon, I am so sorry for your loss. I know that feeling of vast emptiness, and at the same time, it sounds like your reflection of James has honored his vibrant spirit. Thank you for sharing this very personal experience.

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