Riding the Roller Coaster with Marlboro Man

Oh, it’s been so long since I’ve blogged. My emotions have been riding this roller coaster, which is mostly engineered of twisting downhill turns and long plunging dives. These past few weeks have been a rackety ride with double dips and zero-g rolls. I didn’t want anyone buy a ticket to my mental ride. Refunds would have been requested.

I admit, a lot of my emotional turmoil could be attributed to PMS. Hating on my friends, exasperation with my family, no patience with work or the commute or the stupidity of life. Well, I’ve bled and I’m feeling better. Better, but still sad.

We lost J.

John Garino- musician, researcher, Big Bottom, grizzly bear, Indian Food lover, Groomsman, Guinness drinker, bucket-game player, doctoral student and good friend- passed away February 13th. It was already a sad day because it was my Mom’s first birthday in Heaven. J went to sleep on Thursday and never woke up.

No one got to say good-bye.

Being friends with J was like being in an exclusive club that everyone belonged to. He always made you feel like you were the funniest, smartest, most talented person he knew. Yet he travelled in such wide circles of life making friends wherever he went. You could go a long time not talking to J but the next time you saw him was like coming home. You fell into such an easy patter with him because he was so easy to talk to.

He was the smartest person you never realized you knew.

The guy playing bass in a punk band. The guy at the bar having a little too much to drink. The guy smoking a butt covered with tattoos. The guy at the Yankee game yelling at the umpire. You wouldn’t think this guy would be as brilliant as J was. Getting first his BS in History, then his Master’s in Library Science while working IT at St. John’s University. Deciding to pursue his PhD so he could teach. He was at home in the classroom as well as the stage. But did he show off his smarts? Was he obnoxious about how much he knew? Nope. Most people upon meeting J never realized how intelligent he was. Sure, he would debate baseball, religion, music and politics with you. But you never came out of an argument mad or exasperated at him. He would show up at your door with home-brewed beer or his mom’s Irish Soda Bread and never looked for praise. He was unassuming to a fault.

There’s a special place in my heart for J. He was practically the only one of MR’s friends I met when I first started going with MR that didn’t make me feel uncomfortable because I had two kids. He made me feel at home with the guys (we were on the dart team) and when he came out to the beach house, he played endlessly with the kids- humoring them in their made up games. He coined the persona I use to this day- Mamasoo, bad spelling and all, because I was the one with the kids. And it never bothered him like it bothered so many of MR’s other friends and family members. I will always be grateful to him for that.

It’s hard to accept that he’s gone from our lives. What will happen to Norman Bates and the Showerheads? I listen to his “Rock of J Bralter” CD over and over, appreciating more and more what a great musician he was.

Yes, my life is dimmer now that he’s not here. But living “The J-way”by accepting everyone (faults and all), living life to it’s fullest and learning new things will definitely make my life brighter. It’ll be hard, but I’m really going to try. I wonder if Guinness helps?

Rest in Heavenly Peace, J. You’ll be missed.

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