When he hit the ball over the fence, all the coaches seated two rows in front of me stood up and asked, “Where did he come from?” It was the third pitch and the third time in a row he struck a home run hit.
We just moved to this new community and J.T. was trying out to be on one of the 10–12-year-old Little League teams. He had played baseball since he could stand on his chubby baby legs and carry around a plastic bat. He was proficient at hitting that hard and that far. It was a good thing, as he wasn’t a fast runner, so he had to hit it over the fence, or they would get him out at first base.
I should explain, he wouldn’t just run the bases after he hit the ball over the fence. Every step was filled with a dancing combination of excitement, happiness and enthusiasm. He would jump on home plate with joy. He didn’t play for the score or accolades. He played to have fun and fill everyone who watched him with laughter and joy.
This is how he lived his life. To have fun and spread joy and laughter.
Music lit him up. He couldn’t stand still when he heard it. He would jump up and start dancing. His hands were always drumming on the steering wheel as he drove and sang along with the radio. He played his drums with a fire that came from somewhere inside of him and his guitar became an appendage of his body that he couldn’t live without.
When he laughed, everyone laughed with him. He cared about family, friends and strangers in a deeply connected way. He wondered about everyone’s story. He carried the heartache and the heartbreak of others as if it was his burden to hold.
And he could hug. Oh, he could hug. He would surround you in a circle of energy that would penetrate straight to your heart and back to his. Just when you thought he was done, he would squeeze a little harder for one more zap of love. You never wanted him to let go.
When he was a teenager, we took him to Laguna Beach. Early one morning we stood on our hotel balcony looking out at the ocean. In the distance on a rock formation that had surfaced during low tide, my husband pointed to a figure and said, “That’s JT.” He was sitting as far out as he could at the edge of the largest rock. The ocean waves were slapping the rocks around him and the mist of the water spraying the air gave the scene a mystical feel.
We watched him for a long time, imagining what he was thinking, what he was wondering about. My husband said, “He is an artist.”
It was true. He was a true artist, a musician, an adventurer and a lover of nature and all beings. He had a deep connection to feelings and emotions. And an even deeper curiosity about life, the universe and what might lie beyond this human experience.
After he passed at the age of 22, I found a crumpled paper in his wallet with a phone number scratched on it. I did an internet search for the number and found it belonged to a well-known artist. I sent him an email asking if he knew my son and why his number might be in my son’s wallet.
His swift response included this: I remember JT coming to my Gallery. He seemed to really get involved in my work which is the greatest of compliments for me. I think his involvement in music connected him to my work. We fine arts people have a wonderful connection because of our mission. I am very sorry I didn't get to know him better as he did have that sparkle in his eye from his wondering about the Universe.
I thought that was a magical way to describe my son. He did have a sparkle in his eye and always wondered. Wondered about life, people, heartbreaks, happiness, and all things that make up the Universe.
To answer the question, where did he come from? Maybe someday I will find out. Someday I hope to join him in the special mystical, magical place I believe he went to… or should I say he returned to.
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Pennie’s Life Lesson:
“Some people, sweet and attractive, and strong and healthy, happen to die young. They are masters in disguise teaching us about impermanence.” - Dalai Lama XIV
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In memory of my son, J.T. 1/14/1985—9/13/2007
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There is a certain magic about where I live both physically and spiritually – on the crossroads of Spirit and Brave.
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