i wonder how many sons
and how many daughters
before the phrase,
“Only the good die young”
how many had to grieve
before the phrase
lost its sting?
surely, i still feel
the potent scream
of its veracity.
“only the good die young.”
like all axioms,
we could unpackage and dissect,
trim away the fat
and try to understand,
but at the end of the day
it seems to me that we’d only be
helplessly clutching at straws
in vain attempts to try and make sense
of a reality that our human brains—
try as they might—could never fathom.
i cannot say
if the aphorism is true,
if only the good die young,
but i know that Jakin Murray Foster,
beyond a shadow of a doubt,
was one of the good ones.
to try and select
a single story
of Jakin’s life
would be akin
to plucking a star
from a constellation.
surely, that story
would shine like a sun
people would rotate
about that story,
anchored like planets
by the gravitational force
of Jakin’s compassion.
but to do so,
to focus on solely one story,
would be a great disservice
to the cosmos of Jakin’s existence,
all the lives he’s touched
and changed over the years.
instead, i will try to tell you
about the man, my best friend,
my brother: Jakin Murray Foster.
i will try to capture a portrait,
one that will, admittedly,
be woefully incomplete.
i will leave you to fill in the blanks,
the empty spaces
between the disparate stars
of his constellation.
the gaps in my description
can be filled by the memories
of his cheer, his integrity,
his profound humanity,
solid as steel beams
buttressing and bracing
in these moments of grief.
so, let’s reminisce:
Jakin was stubborn as an ox.
this quality stands out to me
in perfect clarity
because he was one of the only people
who had the strength of personality
required to challenge me
to become a better human being.
to check me when i grew cruel or aggressive or inconsiderate.
to encourage me when i became callous and cynical and unkind.
to love me when my heart was hateful
and wanted nothing more than to spread my own misery like a poison
before putting a permanent end to everything.
Jakin was silly.
take a gander at any number of the photos collected in his memory.
they paint a clearer picture than i ever could
of a man who laughed loud and laughed often,
but never at the expense of others.
who could lift your spirits
like a steaming cup of coffee
in even the most frigid winters.
Jakin was a geek,
a home-school kid,
a Jesus freak.
his personality was refined
by the teachings of a radical rabbi
executed by the state
for standing in love and solidarity
with the weak,
a man who’d change the course of history.
in brief, Jakin gave a ****.
until the end, he stood up for what he believed in,
convinced by the clarity of his conscience
and the fire that burned like a burgeoning nebulae in his heart.
i can think of no better way to honor his memory
than to hate what is evil
and love what is good,
to fight for a world that is in such desperate need
of the grace, charity, and fraternity
Jakin exhibited every day.
be mindful of death.
i think of the end of all things daily.
for many, the end of a life is the beginning of something new.
to me, death makes life invaluable.
death is choiceless.
death is a cruelty, an injustice no one should ever suffer.
like a mirror, death shows us our own fragility,
it gives truth to the reality that our time here is fleeting.
death makes life more precious than any commodity ever wrought by humanity.
death reminds us that we are owed nothing,
that all we can do is seize every moment of love and joy afforded us
and build a new world in the shell of the old.
i do not know if only the good die young.
i know that my best friend, my brother, is gone.
i know with certainty that I will never see him again.
we will never laugh together,
bicker over philosophy,
or drive around listening to music ever again.
that reality fills me with so much misery
i can hardly stand or breathe or even think.
but i will do all i can to be a good man
so that when i too meet Death like an old friend,
i can say, “i lived like Jakin.”
In memorial of Jakin Murray Foster.
I miss you, brother.