Thursday, April 17, 2014


It’s bad enough when there are no right words.

It’s worse when a single word becomes overwhelming.


When tragedy comes via “natural” or accidental ways, “why” is always present.

But when tragedy is linked to a reason we know exists, believe the universe should not allow, and can never understand, the “why” is unbearable.

Why did tragedy have to affect you in a way that only created deeper tragedy?

Why didn’t the true depths of your pain get fully expressed or comprehended?

Especially considering the amount you used to talk.

You spoke in an incredible, compelling, unending stream of hopes, ideas, plans, beliefs and aspirations.

You’d talk continually during long distance swims without losing your breath.

You’d talk while sneaking not-so-quietly through the woods.

You’d talk of unswerving protectiveness and support of the members of your family.

You’d talk while scaling trees, boulders, furniture, and small structures…occasionally bursting into original songs when you reached the top.

You’d talk in the movies, unless Natalie Portman was on screen, then you’d just kind of exclaim randomly.

You’d talk while playing games, about your actions as Daredevil, your impeccable knack to Pull the Rug Out, or your unimaginable luck as the Drunken Goblin.

You’d talk while hauling in fish nearly your own weight, regardless of the fact that the noise should be scaring them off.

You’d talk during, and then recite afterwards, the silly lyrics and clever stand-up routines of possibly inappropriate comedians.

You’d talk while helping out relatives with various home improvement projects, although it was hard to hear above the overzealous use of a saws-all.

You’d talk about past adventures while sitting around the campfire, unless you were in the middle of dueling jokes about bodily functions.

You were unstoppable: 
While walking in the zoo, you threw up mid-sentence without breaking stride or losing your train of thought

There were only occasional pauses in the glimpses of the wonderful way your mind worked.

Each break was just long enough to throw a room brighenting, iceberg melting, lopsided, smart aleck grin in as punctuation.

Those grins let us know you were either:
A) Coming to an epic point.
Or more likely,
B) About to leap into action, pulling some stunt made of equal parts wild entertainment, borderline calamity, and inevitable awesomeness.

But with all those amazing memories, my brain can’t get away from “why.”

Why, with all the joy you brought us, couldn’t you find your own again?

And why don’t we get to listen to you anymore?

There will never be a satisfactory answer,

And there will never be someone who can talk his way into as many hearts as you did, Joey.

Up the Lake Index


Mom said...

You have captured what we all feel and how we thought of Joe.

I keep thinking of Joe and the thought of a candle or the brightest star keeps coming to mind.
A very bright candle or the brightest star lights the way in the darkness.
That is what Joe was to his family and friends and especially me.

But a candle too bright burns out quickly. A star so bright can burn itself out fast too.
Joe will always be in my heart. And when I think of him, I will always feel his brightness.
I know we all have a deep pain but I will continue to pray that he has attained eternal happiness.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thank you for the compliment.

More importantly, thank you for the beautiful, poetic, and completely accurate addition.

Antonia said...

I did not know Joey, but what a beautiful tribute Jeff. And I think that we unfortunately all have people in our lives who leave too soon, and your words were filled with healing.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thank you very much. Sometimes, being able to write is the key thing that lets me cope.

Anonymous said...

So sorry Jeff. However, once again you've mastered the written word with emotion, sorrow, healing and love without mentioning any of those words once. Kudos to Mom for words only a mother could put together. As Antoinia said..."We unfortunately all have people in our lives who leave too soon!" I shared this with your mother when Chick died. I seem to have adopted it as a crutch in times of losing a loved one or other "Why" tragedies. I find myself saying to myself, "If heaven is a place where we are reunited with all our lost loved ones...I can't wait to go." Hang in there buddy. Joey would want you too!
Cousin Michael

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx, Mike.

It means a lot.