Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jesse's Unveiling

These from the intimate and heartfelt gathering commemorating the unveiling of Jesse's memorial stone. For those of you there and those there in spirit...

A poem of Jesse's, a stanza of which is inscribed on the back of the stone...

The Architecture

Lines around space
but in it.

I am confronted by
the simplistic organization.

Ordered picture frames of
nows and thens, heres and theres,

Is our universe
organized in this moment?
with insides and outs?

Or only the instant when
the frame opens.

And the maple leaf floats inside
resting delicately as if to say,

This frame is not broken.
The picture is just now complete.

JJL 2005

I wrote and read this for Jesse on this sad, sad day of laying one part of this journey to rest; as the rest of the journey continues. ~Lisa

The Architect

Jesse came into our lives on a crisp and blazing October day. He was radiant and comfortable in his little body: a true Vermont child. I was enchanted from the first instant I looked into his deep eyes. He would always awaken with a sweet smile, his neck arching back and to the side in a slow feline stretch; a gesture he never lost.

Of course I already knew him. At some time in the late summer I had taken to seeing him in every shooting star above. I don’t speak metaphorically here. Ed and I slept under a skylight and I literally saw shooting stars as I was carrying him into late term…settling into the dream-awakening reality of welcoming this strange new being, turning and tapping inside of me. I heard his echoing voice in the stars. I hear him now.

You all knew / know Jesse. I don’t have to say much by way of expanding your knowledge. But I have thought of how I would convey the preciousness of Jesse to some new inquiry.

“Tell me about your son”…

Well. He was not a child of this time in many ways. Or perhaps more correctly, Jesse was a person, from a very young age, who lived just a little bit outside of time. I like to say a nineteenth century man, grown up from a Renaissance child… but I’m not sure anymore of the specific histories of his imagination and bearing.

He just came in with a broader brush than most, with a wiser heart, and caring concern for the aesthetics of refinement. Jesse never wore a pair of jeans, even on his toddler legs. When he discovered button down shirts, he never donned another sweatshirt. He wore a tie even on the hottest days of summer. And he had a trunk of costumes in velvet and brocade, tunics and capes that he dressed up in as part of his play – well beyond when most kids go there. He loved the sensuality of these exotic garments against his body and the freedom of characterizations that he could explore while traipsing with his courtly, or maybe troubadour airs.

But these were the trappings really, just the surface dressings, of a mind that loved to look backward in history for the mappings of internal order and quiet composition. Jesse spent hours looking at pictures of the world that we came from. As if he were seeking a personal trail back through time. As if he knew that his life would not belong here for long.

I also would mention his compassion and inherent empathy. I don’t ever remember his personal ire rising at anyone. Well, there was that one young man who charmed away two consecutive girlfriends, and those cops in New Jersey once… But more than most, his whole life, Jesse willingly, even automatically, (but never haphazardly), stepped into the perspectives of those around him – melding and mending the world from his large heart. He let me be me completely. That seems like such a small thing, but think about it. He allowed all of us to be perfectly who we are.

And one more encapsulation… born from this, and the core compass of an irregular and spirited being. Jesse allowed Jesse to be perfectly who he was. His self-possession was astounding to me. From the first, he lived into his unfolding with one part surety, one part self-humor, very rare glimmers of self-angst, and a boatload of flair and wit. He might have been too sure of his intellect at times in his coming of age, but he was formed by humility at others, and he never needed anyone to show him how to be Jesse. That is rare.

In the end, his courage was rare as well. I don’t know how he found that courage. There was even extra for me. I know he wanted to live so very much into his independent, adult life. I know he wanted friends and a wife and children, a life of focused challenge and beauty all around him. I’m so sorry not to have seen that. But his body crumbled outside of the range of being, and he fearlessly left to encounter all the realms of consciousness that he gallivants in now. He is always expanding, always beside us, always Jesse. I can’t go on without him – without this compass bearing.

And I could not have survived this unbearable loss without him either.

1 comment:

  1. I only knew Jesse as an interesting personality and casual aquaintance of my daughter Sarah Shephard-Lupo while they were students at NMH. My son was also a student there, graduating in 2006, and I so loved the interesting gathering of individuals that populated NMH. It gave me hope for the future of humanity, seeing kids that were able to be true to themselves in all their varying levels of individuality, and coexist in a community of tolerance and acceptance. As a mother I wept when I heard of Jesse's illness and passing, but truly believe some human beings are here for a brief time to spread their light and share their truths, and then pass on to other elements. Just being in their presence, even if for a very brief time, gives one hope for the brilliance of the human spirit. I can still barely comprehend experiencing the loss of a beloved child, but hope you are able to find strength in the support of those that knew and loved him best. Though I never knew Jesse personally, he stood out to me as a true NMHer, and that gave me happiness and hope.
    Pamela Shephard