This Man’s Work

I really hate to get all sappy and retrospective on ya, but I have had a surreal couple of weeks. In a span of 2 weeks I have attended 2 weddings 1,000 miles apart, and found out an old friend passed away.

At one wedding I was blissfully ignorant of the slow, painful death a friend was suffering.
At the second wedding, I knew he was gone and as I sat outside waiting for this beautiful climatic moment to begin for two awesome people, it was strangely laced with a sadness for the soul of a friend that I will miss.

But this post is not about me or my temporary sadness. This is about telling the world of a really cool, talented, sweet person that is just no longer with us.

He was a friend from high school and he found me on facebook a few months ago. I was so excited to hear from him and curious to see what he had been up to for 20 years. He was so artistically talented – even back in HS he stood out, but more importantly he had such a sweet natured, genuine soul.

And like all true artists…he was a bit odd. That is probably why I liked him so much. He saw the world differently. I mean I knew I was odd, but I tried to hide it in HS, ya know? But Jeff? He didn’t care. He seemed to embrace his uniqueness. And thank God…that is what made him such a great artist.

Some people you just connect to deeper than others. He was one of those people for me. He was inspiring. He was a free spirit, pursuing his passion…no matter how precarious of a financial situation it put him in. He was doing something so many of us fail to do…be true to our inner selves.

He started reading my blog here, and commented on several of them. I had struck a chord with him too. We had a mutual appreciation of each other’s talents, perspectives and experiences in life. We picked up where we left off in HS. Deep thoughts tossed in with humor and silliness. No need to talk about the weather…that was us.

A few weeks ago I noticed there were no comments from Jeff. He had been silent for about 3 weeks. I figured he was just busy drawing or scheming his trip overseas that he told me he was dreaming about.

So I was quite unprepared for the shock that I had coming to me when I attended a little HS gathering social night out. We’re all catching up and chatting and someone just nonchalantly mentions, “Did you hear about Jeff?”

What I was expecting to hear was something great about his art or travels…I was NOT expecting to hear that he had…died!

WHAT?! No…WTH!? This didn’t even make sense. He had talked about doing some illustrations for me on future children’s books or some other kind of creative projects, he talked about his current and future endeavors, but there was no hint that he was ill or anything.

So I went home and looked up his FB page to confirm only the worst truth possible. It wasn’t even a quick painless death. Apparently he had a few weeks and maybe more of slow, painful, degradation of life to the point of no return.

And while I could be full of regret for not being aware…for not being able to send him some kind of encouragement through it all…I know that wouldn’t really do any good. I can’t change the past…and who do I think I am that I could have made any real difference anyway. Yet, I would have loved very much to see him one last time. To just hold his hand for a moment, to tell his family how sorry I am for their loss, to just do the human thing we do to let go.

He chose to not have a memorial service. His maternal mother posted this on his FB profile:

Being the creative and genuinely real soul that he was he asked that people celebrate him by paying something forward in his name – He wanted everyone to remember him as he was – his words were “Now that my spirit has left this fleshly body I am truly free to be close to those I love, I will live in your hearts and minds”. His wishes were that people honor him with – No wake – no viewing – no funeral – bless others with acts of kindness by paying it forward to someone in his name. Isn’t that just like Jeff – he is and always was God’s best.

I may not have been able to do much in his last days, but I can at least spread his legacy that he left the world. He slipped right though our hands, but left a beautiful and interesting fingerprint. He did some murals around Columbus Ohio, and you can also see his full body of work in the link below.

This is one Man’s work. Thanks Mr. Jeff Dade Abraxas for being brave enough to expose yourself through your art and leave behind a huge part of yourself for the world to hang onto.