Love Never Dies

In 1978, at 10 years old, he was someone I had to look in the eye and pretend to love every weekend in “The Saturday Show,” a touring children’s musical. When he spoke it was always in exclamation points, “Gee, you’re hair smells terrific!” I’d roll my eyes, feign disinterest, and hope no one noticed the neon “Awkward” sign hanging above my head. 

The transition from childhood to adolescence, though tightly chaperoned by physical distance, would occasionally find us in the same space attempting to shed innocence, but failing from all angles.

At 16, a 1969 Chevy Malibu Convertible muted the distance between us with the roar of it’s souped up engine. He and I became “He and I,” riding a roller coaster with no line and only two seats. He rode with arms high and loose, smiling himself sore, laughing himself hoarse, while I held on for dear life, wincing nervously, “are we there yet?”

At 18, he used to call me from a payphone with a pocket full of dimes around 11:30 every night after leaving his job as a fry cook. I’d wait by my pink princess phone for the laughter to come. And it always did.  I still start out sleeping on my right side, toward a phone I haven’t seen in more than two decades.

He squeezed every possible ounce of joy and hilarity from each moment, even those spent in front of a vat of hot oil.  Always with a smile, a laugh, a joke.

At 20, he was living his dream of being a working “triple threat” (Singer, Actor, Dancer).  At his funeral later that year, I overheard people saying, “…so sad,” “…he was just getting started,” “…just too young to die,” and other appropriate fillers of unwanted silence in response to a young person’s passing.

Twenty-five years later, I’ve graduated to the realization that he may have died young, but this kid really lived his whole life. Twenty full years of ending every sentence with an exclamation point, riding all life’s ups and downs with arms high and loose, and never even thinking to ask “are we there yet?”

(In memory of Jay M. 1968-1988.)


41 thoughts on “Love Never Dies

  1. What a great post. I still have tears in my eyes. You must count yourself honored to have known a person like him. We all need to live our moments with exclamation points. And I’m sorry he’s not here to put his laughter in your life.


    1. Thank you soooo much. It means a lot to me that someone enjoyed my writing ! (Note the exclamation point). πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you! I often wonder what kind of person he would have become had he lived. One thing is for sure, he would have been the most enthusiastic person in the room! -Lisa


    1. Oh! Thank you soooo much! Yes, I changed the name, but it’s still me! I’m playing around with it a little. Thanks for noticing! πŸ™‚ He was definitely someone to learn from. He squeezed every ounce of joy from every moment, drank it up, and went back for more.


  2. It’s a beautiful post.. love the ‘living with exclamations’.. it’s so great to have known such a person, truly.. wonderfully written…


    1. Aw, thank you. Even 25 years later, I still get all choked up when I think of him. πŸ™‚


  3. This is really beautiful – I teared up a little. In an episode of Doctor Who (hello, nerd factor) he says: “Some people live more in twenty years than others do in eighty. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.”

    I like that. I think you’ve given a perfect example of what it means to really be alive.


  4. Love love love this. You paint such a bittersweet but beautiful picture of your friend and your relationship, and you do an amazing job (I don’t know if it was intentionally or otherwise) conveying true, loving feelings. Sorry for your loss, no matter how long ago it was.


    1. Losing him at the tender age of twenty so suddenly turned me upside down and sideways for a very long time. I’m pretty sure my therapist was able to buy her BMW with the money she made putting me back together. πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading!


    1. Thank you outlawmama! He was a treasure. Even though he died and it was confusing, sad, and life-changing, I’m so glad he was in my life. πŸ™‚


    1. Christine! I’m bursting right now. I had forgotten what it was like to be proud of myself. So, thank you so much for your vote of confidence and kind words. -Lisa


    1. Thank you! Totally uplifting to recall now. Very painful then. I know lots of new mothers feel the same way. I hope they will have the courage to listen when someone is trying to help like this kind man was. I only wish I could thank him. I never saw him again.


  5. I had two friends die in two years in car wrecks. At 17 you don’t think about dying, at least not in America. It hit me hard, we left for Thanksgiving holiday and they didn’t come back. I was talking to my grandmother about why God would take them so young. She told me something that stayed with me. You don’t question Gods actions. You may not be ready to understand but someday he may show you why. There is no guarantee he will, you have to keep believing he is charge. It was advice you can apply to everything in life. I suffer from the same illnesses you do and it’s wonderful you can look outwards vs in. I enjoyed your post.


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