Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Losing a friend

There is nothing which forces us to face our own mortality like losing a friend. Our dear Clay Jackson lost his fight with cancer on Tuesday, August 3, leaving behind our beloved Susan with a broken heart. What joy to have known them as a couple. Soulmates. Best friends. That sort of elusive relationship that everyone hopes for, but few actually find.
Clay knew no stranger, approached life with enthusiasm, joy, exhuberance and passion. Everyone who met him liked him, because he made everyone feel so valuable. Clay wasn't afraid to express his feelings, and he was compassionate, complimentary and always congenial.
What a lesson we can learn from Clay who set an example, even in the face of looming terminal illness, of joy and good humor. What a lesson we can learn from Susan, of dedication and loving care even when she was sleep deprived and suffering from the loss of her loving man and the overwhelmingly huge change that would take place in her life.
Those of us who have the privilege of being invited into their inner circle, have been given the gift of meeting Clay's family, too. All of them, kind, loving, exuberant, larger than life personalities who embrace those who loved Clay as their own.
The experience of watching Clay's life slip away over these past few months has made me mindful that it isn't how long we live that matters, it's how well we live. It isn't that we love, but that we love to the fullest extent of our being. And that we remember to laugh out loud, from the inside out, a laugh that takes our breath away- to laugh at ourselves, our foibles, and share laughter with others about our human frailties and the pure comedy of life in general.
Rest in Peace, dear Clay - you will live long and large in our memories of you. 


  1. Barbara, it was a pleasure to meet you while I was in Gig Harbor. I, and my entire family, want to thank you for being such a great friend to our brother, Clay and his loving wife, Susan during their most difficult days. It gives us great comfort to know that people like you, Stan and his wife were there to take care of them.

    Your description of Clay is most apt, and it is good to know that he and Susan surrounded themselves with people who shared their values.

    There is just something about putting your hands on clay.

  2. Hi Barbara,
    Just wanted to let you know that I have linked the Oakland High School memorial page for the Class of 1971 to this lovely tribute you've written for Clay. He was obviously a very special friend and I send you and his family my condolences.
    Bev Shulster, OHS 1965