"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love,
the things you are, the things you never want to lose."
~Kevin in The Wonder Years

Hi all,

It occurred to me as I sat down to write this issue that I was writing the "last of the firsts."  On January 9th, 2011, I sent JABB 317 celebrating TOTGA Day and our entry into 2011.  It would turn out to be the last "normal JABB."  I wrote it assuming that in two weeks I'd be sitting down and sending another mundane, goofy newsletter.  As we all know, what actually happened was two days later we began to write our memorial page for John.  And now here we are celebrating TOTGA Day and the new year again, for the first time since John went Home.  So I hope you'll excuse the emotional tone of this newsletter.  I tried to ensure it had funny parts but I am something of a sap.  Didn't use to be, actually.  But one day when I was a teenager there was this guy on TV and...  Well, you know the rest of that story.  A story that began with a shot of loafers on a log... as all the great stories do, of course.  ;-)

Take care, everyone.

God bless,

Ode to the Man Wearing Loafers

You know from the start I hated those terrible shoes.
Hideous.  Definitely something one ought not choose!
Those loafers were the very first I saw of you.
They were dirt colored and with tassels, too.
To top if all off, an earring was gleaming
And your boyish hair was a-streaming.
At thirteen and clueless I thought "What a nerd!"
I wished you'd go back, disappear, unheard.
After all, Monica thought Andrew was a cad,
And I didn't want him to make her mad!
So I sat in my grandparents' basement and glared
Hoping that from this know-it-all boy we'd be spared.
But Andrew didn't go away and stayed for 8 years,
Thus, one by one, you conquered my countless fears.
And I sometimes wonder if that horrified, snooty girl
Wasn't really just nervous about the life about to unfurl.
Because it was never the same after that fateful night.
I'd soon start to see you as someone so lovely and bright.
Years sped by but I never found cause to change my mind.
In fact, I learned there were many others equally aligned.
So it was really true that life would never be the same.
But I'm so glad that the uninvited wedding guest came.
Although, for the record, I still think those were awful shoes,
I have something to say that's probly not really news.
I wouldn't have cared if you'd worn them every day.
Cause it's not shoes that matter but how you go on your way.
And you lived with such beauty, great compassion and love.
Now we follow in your footsteps as you look on from Above.
Wearing sandals and flats and Converses and heels;
We'll say prayers, collect needed goods, and serve meals.
And when people ask why we do what we do,
We'll know in our hearts that it's all cause of you.
And as for loafers... I find I can't quite wish them gone.
Because every time I see some I think of you, John.
And I smile and remember "The One That Got Away,"
And know that we'll all see you again some glorious day.

Sigh/swoon...  Okay.  So the first JABB of the year also often includes something about New Year's festivities.  JABB 317 did.  And so handling that, too, is a "first."  I'll be honest and say that I was really ambivalent about moving into 2012.  On one hand, 2011 was so painful for many of us on many different fronts so saying good bye to it seemed like a really, really good prospect.  On the other... I couldn't quite get it outta my head that for 9 days of 2011 John was on this earth just as he was for every year I've ever known.  2011 may have... well, sucked.  But at least John was around for a bit of it.  I was a little scared about entering a new year without him.  I know it was goofy as for 13 New Year Eves and Days I had no clue John was out there and I managed.  But you can't help what you feel.  Thankfully, the better angel of my nature prevailed and told me "Ya know... actually he's more around for 2012 than ever before!"  And I believe with all my heart this is true.  It doesn't mean, however, that it will always be easy to remember.  So!  I created the list below.  Some entries are goofy.  Some are serious.  I figured the mix was appropriate as John could both crack us up and comfort us.  I hope you'll join me in...

Ways to Carry John Into the New Year

1.  Every so often, do something to make John laugh.  True, we don't know for sure what those in Heaven know about those of us on Earth.  But I believe God lets em see and hear from us.  And since John no doubt gave you the giggles on occasion, try to return the favor!  For example, spend a day dressed as his filmography.  Go ahead!  Totally wear those Converses (Todd) with a beige tunic and bell bottoms (Doc Hock) with a pocket watch (Andrew) and delightful pink and green earrings (Skip) while finishing the outfit with an unseasonable Santa hat (Bill).  Bonus points to you if you wear a light pink bodysuit under this all.  ;-)  Sing to him.  Loudly and obnoxiously if you must.  I mean who wouldn't be amused by someone rocking out to "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" for them???  If your family members grow concerned, feel free to have them call me for explanation.  You just may need to return the favor some day.  ;-)

2.  Join us over on Pay It Forward in Memory of John Dye and start out the new year by writing a tribute for John, performing a random act of kindness in honor of his approaching birthday, or contribute ideas on how to do the same. 

3.  A while back, I printed off John's quote:  "There are possibilities for goodness in a world that's very filled with turmoil," and stuck it to my bathroom mirror.  Now every morning and every night, I see it and can reflect.  Consider doing the same with a John-related quote that is meaningful for you.

4.  Use viewings of John's shows and movies as rewards for making progress on your resolutions.  Just went a day without picking up a cigarette?  You get to watch "The Journalist"!  Just spent an hour on the treadmill?  I see a certain wily calendar maker in your future!

5.  Write to him.  Start a journal with all you wished you could have said to John.  I often think of that part in TOTGA where Mark realizes that all those letters he sent to Doug never reached him.  But Monica assures him that Doug was actually closer than he realized.  It's true.  Speak from your heart.  John will hear.

6.  Toast him regularly.  Just don't get carried away.  I think it'd be best if the things you do to make him laugh as mentione
d in #1 be performed whilst sober.  ;-)

7.  Keep praying for John's family and all who love him.  Prayer makes us all so close as it unites us in God's love.

8.  Bake a cake for John's birthday or other special days when you wish you could bake for him.  Then give it to someone else you think would appreciate it.

9.  Keep talking with your fellow fans.  It can be healing as you realize you're not alone.  Plus, it's just plain fun.  I mean how many other people are gonna fully understand why you just had to wander into the men's department and look at flannel shirts you had no intention of buying?  Or why you are willing to special order yellow Converses...  Or know who Larry the Lycra Man is...

10.  Have fun!  By all accounts, John enjoyed his life.  Follow his lead.  Smile more.  Have parties.  Use the good place settings.  Be a goofball.  Go for a walk somewhere beautiful. 

11.  Do good.  Pick up some extra items to donate when you shop.  Compliment someone.  Assure someone who is distressed that God loves them.  Then thank the man who reminded you of that very fact countless times.

12.  During this year and all years yet to come, remember what John told us as Andrew: "I want you to know there's nothing... nothing to be afraid of.  On one side, there's life. And on the other...there's life, too."  There will be difficult days ahead, even as we put aside the "firsts."  But this is only one melancholy stretch in what will be a really wonderful eternity... a life even more amazing than this one.  So if it helps you... plan for that future.  Still enjoy today.  Don't spoil your life here on this earth by spending all your time wishing for Heaven.  But it's okay to imagine.  Just as it's enjoyable to daydream about a really great vacation you may be taking in the future, it can be a lot of fun to daydream about Heaven.  So do that.  And know that one day we'll all have one really great party there.  And the best part?  We can have all the chocolate!  Okay, okay.  So that's not anywhere close to the best part.  But it's definitely a perk.  ;-)


So since this is the "last of the firsts" as far as JABB newsletters go, I just wanted to say something before closing.  Thank you to all of you.  Those first days were challenging in ways I never could have imagined.  Honestly, there were times I really just wanted to end JABB.  It was too painful.  What was the point?  The web site itself was filled with what seemed liked countless emotional minefields.  But I heard from many of you saying that you wanted JABB to continue.  And some of you even joined up after John's death.  Your encouragement and the realization that ceasing JABB because John was in Heaven made about as much sense as a singer not performing cause the dude she wrote every song on her album for might actually hear it... well, those were what I needed to keep this place going and I am so, so glad I did and so grateful to all of you.  Many thanks and God bless you all.

Finally, this newsletter is dedicated to John's shoes.  Yes, I know that sounds goofy but it's simply true that this all began, at least for me, with a shot of a pair of shoes.  While I may have hated those loafers, I could never hate all the places they and so many other pairs of shoes carried John.  In his life and in his work, he touched and encouraged people wherever he roamed.  We will never, ever forget that and I hope it inspires us as we do our own walking in the world.


JABB 346

(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions; Campus Man and owned by RKO Pictures; and "Promised Land" and owned by CBS Productions.  They are not being used to seek profit.)