be not proud

My friend Jon died.

I keep composing and deleting, composing and deleting. I’ll just try to get some stupidly incomplete and inadequate words out, and be done with it here.

I met him when I was 18 and he was 19, in the dorms at Berkeley. He was weird, wonderful, odd, wild, troubled. He married my roommate. The three of us were especially tight in our tight-knit group.

He was sharply funny, something that he never lost. He and I maintained a vast mental repository of private jokes, bets, and provocations.

He was fond of screaming, loudly and suddenly, every time we drove over the patched part of the upper deck of the Bay Bridge, the part that broke in the earthquake. He never failed to startle me in over 20 years, and that just delighted him.

Jon and shoes

He despised shoes, and would do what he could not to wear them. When he would wear them it was so noteworthy I would take a picture of it. This is in 2003.

The past few years, he got lost in addiction, and just kind of gave in to it.

His life had to have pretty painful towards the end, so I suppose I can say that some peace has been attained now that he’s gone.

I don’t completely buy that, of course, at least right now. Right now I’m in an unrealistic script rewrite mode, wherein I am fantasizing about going back in time and fixing the wrongs, removing the traumas, taking away his pain, his triggers, his genetic predisposition. Or showing up like a Ghost of Christmas Future and trying to make him see what he was giving up by giving in to his destructive behaviors.

Or I can just sit here and feel gross and empty and disappointed and sad. And resigned.

It’s sure been a big wave of darkness for a lot of people I love lately.

This is a trite sentiment, but: I am grateful for my own life and health, and all the people whom I love, have loved, and have yet to love. That love is worth the pain of loss.


  1. Carol on May 23, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Becky, I’m so sorry for your sadness, I’m so sorry for your loss.. I’m just so sorry. It just sucks – that’s all.. sucks.

  2. Jefffro on May 23, 2011 at 11:53 am

    All I can think of is more trite sentimentality…but I am sure many have someone in their lives that struggled or are struggling with those kinds of issues. Addressing how common the problem is does nothing to ease the very personal nature of the pain of this event. And I am sorry for your loss….his loss. And the loss this is to everyone when this happens.

    We are all connected. Our energy is felt through others like electricity goes through wires. I think the main thing is to remember to keep the energy up in our connections…..and use that energy to shine lights into the dark places. That is where bad things hide and grow…..

    Take care, Becky!

  3. ChiaLynn on May 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I lost my friend Shawn to alcoholism a few years ago. I still miss him, and sometimes I’m still angry with him, and sometimes I still wonder if there’s anything I could have done to help him. I wish I had the words to help you, but there aren’t any. You’re right to focus on what you’ve got, instead of on what you’ve lost.

  4. Jeana Linhart on May 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I’m so sorry, Becky. I wish I could give you a real hug right now. I love you lots, my friend.

  5. Tristy on May 23, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    What a heartbreaking post. I am so sorry for the loss you and Jon’s family and friends are feeling. Sadly, I think almost everyone has a story about deep addiction, whether it is a story of their own, or someone they are close to. Loving an addict is such a hard road. Having good boundaries and not enmeshing with or enabling is SO HARD to resist, when we know that the outcome could be their death. But, in the end, we only have control over our own life choices, not theirs.

    I’m sending you lots of love, my dearest – tonight and every night. Take care of yourself and be gentle with yourself. Our culture likes to hurry along sadness and mourning (I once was told at my work: “You’re still sad? Didn’t he die, like two weeks ago?”) but it’s so essential that we feel that loss as deeply as we can. Get lots of sleep and don’t forget to do things that make your giggle too.

    I love you!

  6. Tamar on May 23, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Oh, Becky, that’s hard. The whole thing is tough, for everyone. Big hugs and lots of love to you.

  7. mw on May 23, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    xo hug kiss hug becky

  8. leanne on May 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    He was such a gem. Thank you for the sweet beautiful tearjerking tribute. Wearing flipflops this week for jon.

  9. D on May 24, 2011 at 5:33 am

    I hate that you’re hurting in this way at this time; it is so difficult to bear. May the pain and sadness happily end in its own way – in it’s own time. …sending you strength & positive energy.
    Love you much. D

  10. Dan Wilson on May 24, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Oh Becky, I’m so sorry. Some of us have harder roads to walk than others, and it sounds like his path was not an easy one. I wish peace and comfort for you, and all those that loved him.

  11. Violet on May 25, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Ah, I am late in reading this. I’m so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to your friend is lovely, and I hope you enjoy your good memories of him.

  12. Tracy Klinkroth on August 9, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Hi Becky: I was Jon’s cousin. My dad – his father’s brother – forwarded me your post and he was thrilled to have found it. I can honestly, and sadly, say that I didn’t know Jon at all really. His parents moved the family from Upstate NY to CA some 40’ish years ago, and when his dad died, we all sort of just lost touch. I have funny memories of the pranks he pulled on his poor sister Greta when we were all really little (he was a mischievious one for sure LOL). The way in which Uncle Jack/his dad, passed I think is just what sent the entire family over the edge, and it was sad for us other Klinkroths, to see it happen. I saw Jon and Lisa, about 10’ish years ago when they came to visit Seattle, and then again when it was a rare fluke that when I did focus groups (for beer of all things!) in San Fran many years ago, I recruited Jon to participate to help with naming. He was uber intelligent and different as you say. I wish I had known him better. There’s lots of things we can wish and hope we had done, now that it’s too late. I’m so glad he had such a wonderful friend in you, and I’m very sorry for your loss. I imagine it must have been painful for you, Lisa and other friends – to see him battle his addictions (which I really don’t know anything of) and lose him in that way. I had to smile at the comment about his hating shoes, his screaming going over the bridge, etc. That’s “Jonnie” (that’s how our family referred to him); always a little bit…different 🙂 I’m glad to hear that he kept that. That is good. Thank you for the post, it has provided me have a small peek into my cousin’s life, and I’m glad to know that he had such intelligent, caring and kind people as you – in his life. All the best to you ~ Tracy Klinkroth

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