On October 9, 2004, I had the honor of officiating at Jak and Diane’s wedding. Nontraditional in almost every way, I absolutely loved this ceremony. It tops my list of favorite wedding experiences.
Jak, a former co-worker who became a good friend, married his soulmate. Their wedding, held at their home in Clifton along the Little Miami River, allowed their dogs to celebrate right along with their guests. Jak and Diane planted a tree to commemorate the occasion. We all contributed covered dishes for the reception. Over dinner and afterwards, stimulating conversations filled the air as we reconnected with old friends or made new ones. It was a glorious, joy-filled celebration of love.
Last Saturday evening I received a phone call from a mutual friend. This was the second time she called me with news of the death of a mutual friend … one soulmate losing the love of their life way too soon.
While Karen didn’t have any details at the time, we learned later that Diane died earlier that day of an aneurysm. She was only 58 years old. We could hardly find words to express our shock and heartbreak.
The hearts of many are broken because Diane was a beloved member of the Clifton and Yellow Springs communities. She is known as a lover of animals and people, a dog whisperer who many people entrusted as they would no other with their pets, and an equine acupressure practitioner. Her friends report that Diane responded immediately to those in need, sometimes at 3 a.m. On occasion Jak accompanied her.
In a daze and still in shock, I can’t remember whether Jak called late Saturday or Sunday evening. He asked me to officiate at Diane’s funeral. At the time, he wanted just a small family service now and then a celebration of her life on his property in August, near the time of her birth, for all those who love Diane.
When I met with him and Diane’s mother and brother on Tuesday to share my suggestions and discern what would be meaningful to them, I learned that he couldn’t deny the presence of the hoards of friends who love Diane. He smiled when he said, “It could be standing room only.” He seemed surprised at the outpouring of love coming his way. He still plans to hold the celebration of Diane’s life in August.
I grew close to Jack when we worked together as family therapists at Greene Hall. We took a walk and talked about our lives almost every day during our lunch break. I came to know the bigness of his heart. I liked Diane, but regret never getting to know her well. But when I learned that she was an organ donor, I realized her heart matched Jak’s. What a loss for Jak … and for all of us. The world is in desperate need for people with heart.
I felt the need to write. I wrote an initial post about life being precious and how important it is to tell those important to us that we love them and what they mean to us. We all know that, but when someone so young dies, it brings it home in a powerful way. And still, saying that seemed trite.
Then I realized that I needed to write because it is a part of my process of searching for words when there are no words. I am so honored that Jak is entrusting me. I want to find the words he cannot speak at the moment. I want to find the words that will give him and Diane’s family and friends comfort. I want to do justice to Jak and Diane’s love and the bigness of their hearts.
And so, I ask for your prayers for Jak and Diane’s family … and for me. Pray that I find words that speak to the heart when there really are no words.