03 June 2008

Harland Jay

Throughout my childhood, my cousin Harley would come visit us for a week or two every summer. We had the relationship of siblings; we would bicker bitterly, play raucously. I remember two-on-one soccer games in the field across the driveway, with goals delineated by logs from the woodpile. I remember swimming in the pond all the drought summers, when it was more algae than water. I remember plum fights in the orchard. Riding in the back of my dad's pickup to work in the woods and rolling logs down the hill. I remember the times that he came with us to Lake Tahoe and Calistoga. I remember climbing the maple tree in the backyard and pulling up the rope so that Duncan couldn't follow us. I remember when Harley and my sister went to the Grand Canyon with Aunt Randy and Grandpa Irv, and I was so jealous of what a miserable time they had. They had such funny stories about how wretched they had been. Harley used to run the loop down to the mail boxes and back every morning, he was always so much more athletic than any of us.

I remember my grandmother calling to tell us Harley was dead. He had overdosed on something. While his two friends survived with miserable hangovers, my cousin had drowned in his own vomit, lying on the couch in his living room.

I remember his funeral. I remember how no one there really seemed like they knew him. There were all these people who kept talking about how Harley was a Christian, and now he was in the arms of Jesus. Harley wasn't a Christian. We are not a religious family.

Then one of his friends talked about how they met in third grade, in anger management class. And I knew that they had truly been friends.

That was 9 years ago this May. Harley was 19.

It never completely leaves you, but it does get to where you think about it less and less.


  1. Goosebumps.

    No, it never leaves you. My grandmother passed away 10 years ago last month. It still hits me every once in awhile.
    My husband's uncle committed suicide 2 years ago. It's still RIGHT HERE with me.
    I'm sorry. :( -hug-

  2. {{Hugs}} to you for your loss. Yes, it will always be with you but at least you can still look back on your happy times together and smile. It is so sad when someone so young never really gets a chance to thrive.

  3. Gah, sadness. One of our second/third cousins died in the last year, similar age, after getting involved with meth. We'd never met him, but we know his gram reasonably well.
    So. Sad.