Maybe Mead, Maybe Tomorrow

There’s a bottle of mystery homebrew in the fridge that I’m not sure we’ll ever open. We may haul it from place to place always letting it take up a bottle’s worth of room in our chronically over-stuffed fridge.

Or maybe we’ll open it tomorrow, and toast its makers.

Or maybe we’ll open it the day we get the news.

I can’t say.

This bottle is from our wedding. A last minute gift from our very good friends Jason and Heather. They didn’t gift it to us to be squirreled away in our fridge, but to be consumed by our guests at the wedding. It had been squirreled away because I wanted to try it, and I knew I wouldn’t have a chance at the wedding. In fact, we squirreled away about six bottles of different homebrew, and this one is the last one standing. I haven’t tried it. And I may never. Or I might tomorrow.

Not today. Maybe tomorrow.

Or maybe I’ll open it that day when I first know I have a tomorrow and Jason no longer does, as Jason is dying.

Of course, Jason’s been dying for a long time now. It’s amazing what modern science and medicine can do for such conditions. Also a willingness and ability to allow experimentation on oneself. As such, though Jason got his “dying” diagnosis with a prognosis of less than a year, we’ve had him around for more than five beyond that day.

I can’t help but feel lucky at this. Lucky he got to come to my wedding to Bill. Lucky that we got to see him for many hours last October and just hang out and chat. Lucky that I’ve been to one of his “Not Dead Yet” parties. (I’m apparently not the only one counting lucky stars.)

But that doesn’t mean the lucky feeling isn’t tinged with sadness. With an inability to open his last bottle just yet. Because, also honestly? I feel really fucking unlucky. I’m going to lose a really good friend, one younger than I am, way too soon.

Bill is losing his college roommate and one of his best friends. Way too soon.

Heather is losing her husband. Something that can only happen way too soon. I cannot even wrap my brain around it. All I can grasp is the realization that this feels, to me, like the most tragic loss of all.

There’s really nothing lucky about that shit, is there?

Apparently, I contradict myself. I’m comfortable with this contradiction. I can feel lucky and unlucky, grateful and angry all at once.

For now, I’m thinking about that mystery bottle, I’m thinking about the joy Jason has brought to my life, and I am trying, with all my might, to focus on the gratitude and the good memories. Frankly, there aren’t a lot of bad ones.

I think I first met Jason at my friend Jenna’s house, back when we were all in college. He was friends with most of the household, and so was I. That was also one of the biggest and most central locations in town, so we ended up hanging out there a lot. I remember the first time I spent Jason’s birthday with him. It was at that house, and Jason was cooking up a storm. At the time, I couldn’t fathom. As far as I was concerned, my birthday meant someone else was doing the cooking! I definitely wasn’t taking on cooking for a party.

But there he was, happy as a clam in someone else’s kitchen. I think he was making crème brulee when I came in. But, frankly, I get it mixed up with the time he made cheesecake. I think that was for someone else’s birthday. For his birthday, he was doing the cooking. AND he was making the favorite dish of one of his best friends.

Because, frankly, that’s the kind of guy Jason is.

Oddly, Jason and I became closer once I moved to the Baltimore area. We chatted online a lot, and his work sent him out to the area all the time. There was a period when I think he was coming out once a month.

It was on one of these trips that I first met his now-wife Heather. Jason brought her with him. They stayed at my house for a week. Such was the faith I had that Jason would pick a good person; a complete stranger entered my home with plans to stay for a week and plans to hang out with me during the days without Jason, and I thought this was totally reasonable.

I was correct. Heather is absolutely wonderful. She’s funny, sarcastic, witty, wickedly intelligent, honest and open. That week with her was so very much fun, and the evenings when Jason could join us? Amazing.

Little known fact: Heather is the first person to ever get me drunk. It was that trip. Jason has long argued this was just a technicality, as she reached the bill before he did. But Heather & I are in agreement, she made the second chocolate martini appear while I was in the bathroom and she paid the bill so she gets the “honor” of that title. Or maybe when they read this, they can argue about it one more time, should they so desire.

Heather turned out to be so swell that the thought of a solid 20 h car ride in the backseat with her seemed like a great idea. And she was gracious enough to share with me, since it was a very spur of the moment decision. My grandfather had just died, and they were going back that day to where my family lived. And she let me cry on her. A lot.

I’m so very lucky (there’s that word again) Jason brought her into my life.

On the subject of Jason’s many visits to the Baltimore area, there was the first time he met Angelique and Marty. He was just off the plane, in our mutual friend Ben’s house, and passing out green chile like it was Christmas time. Indeed, he’d packed an entire duffel bag FULL of frozen and canned green chile for those of us who used to live there.

We laughed and hung out late into the night. At one point, Angelique turned to me and declared she’d made a friend from our college town, and he was to be THE friend of Angelique’s from that town. No others need apply.

And, until our wedding, she kept to that plan. Of course, at our wedding she met Heather. Who turned out to charm the hell out of Angelique just as much as Jason ever had. One of my favorite photos from the wedding is of Heather and Angelique hanging out.

I should go ask Steve for a high-res copy of that photo, so I can print and frame it, eh?

I can’t write out all the good memories I have of Jason, with and without Heather by his side. And, frankly, even if I could, you guys wouldn’t have time to read them. But, boy, I’m going to indulge in them.

Today. And tomorrow. And whenever the hell I want.

Particularly when I open “Jason’s Maybe Mead” and find out if I am, in fact, drinking mead. Or perhaps lime cider. Or “Peach Whine”. Or something else entirely. When I am toasting two friends, one of whom I may, at that point, no longer be lucky enough to call up, and the other of whom I will still be able to call and whom I hope will always know how loved she is.

8 thoughts on “Maybe Mead, Maybe Tomorrow

  1. So so sorry to hear that Jason’s time is drawing near. I know how much you and Bill love him, and I’ve heard countless stories about his family and friends caring for him.

    • Thank you, Jessie. He’s good people, and everyone around him is too. Which is part of the feeling lucky and feeling angry.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! Yes, I am bawling my eyes out now, but in that just-been-hugged good kind of way. As for the mead: enjoy it when you choose! Share it with people who could share the story too. There will just be a requirement that you come down and get another bottle. (It came out quite well if I do say so myself)

    Anyway, you both are awesome friends, and I will be sharing this with Jason…with tears, and good memories, and love. But mostly love.

  3. I don’t know these people, but if you love them, I know I would too. I’m sorry this is happening. I’m glad for the love. I’m glad you shared this with us.

    • Thank you, Jen. You would love them. I hope someday you can meet Heather, who is swell as swell can be. Like you.

Comments are closed.