Everyday since Monday night, I have been trying to squeeze some words that give any kind of solace, meaning, or context to Jay's (Mr. Samoylenko's) disappearance and drowning. I answer the million questions from my own kids about the fun and gentle man who won't be by for dinner any more like he has some many times before. I call friends and we talk in endless circles and we all feel better for a while. Down here at the cape I sit and stare at the surf until I feel Denise's hand in mine and we walk back to be with the kids. Sometimes I just start crying, and sometimes I smile when I think of all the times he and I plotted and planned our next twenty years together in the woodshop, making enough money on the side to support our families, and never, ever, letting the system fool us--though it probably did so without even trying, for though Jay was easily the most brilliant person I knew, he was also a a gentle and loving saint who accepted hardship and heaven with equal magnanimity. He was a teacher who taught kids, not classes; he was a friend who came to you, not the party, and he was a husband and father whose every motion of the day was meant to help Lisa and Seija, not himself.
I don't just miss Jay; I grieve for him in an almost inconsolable way. If I have learned anything from life, it is the myth of being strong when your heart is heavy and sad. Even if you feel like you did not know know him well, he knew you. It doesn't matter if he only taught you in one class or coached you in one sport, or talked with you once around the butcher block in our kitchen, or sat with you through a long and semi-absurd professional day. Jay had a gift for remembrance and a love for telling stories about life and stories about you (often some very funny stories about you), and so It is an even larger myth that we shouldn't laugh and tell stories about Jay-- as if somberness should rule over the joy of remembering a really fun and vivid guy.
From out of the tears, the hurt, the anger, the confusion and utter sense of senseless loss, Jay will always rise as a beacon and inspiration as a good person and good friend who lived a good life for good reasons. I am crying now and maybe you are, too, but I know I will always be a better person because of Jay. How can I not? He was a seed planted in our lives, and it is up to us now to bear the fruit of Jay's shortened life into eternity.