As I sit down to write, my whole being wants to mourn. But I can’t do that. Because I love Joey, and celebrating life was his reason for being. So that’s what I choose to do today – celebrate the life of Joey Jello. For my newer readers, this is the life that inspired me to take charge of mine. Joey Jello is my brother, and I will always love him.
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Joey Jello Ghost Bike Memorial at the intersection of Pleasant Valley Rd and W Cesar Chavez (site of accident)
Today marks one year since the world lost Joey Jello, and one year since my world turned upside down. It has been the toughest year of my life while simultaneously teaching me that I’m tougher than I ever thought.
As most of you know, I traveled to Austin on Friday morning to run the Keep Austin Weird 5k on Saturday evening. Joey’s passion for life and early death awoke in me the need to live my life to the fullest and pursue my dream of becoming a runner. The entire weekend was full of emotions from start to finish, and it may take a bit to get through all of it, but bear with me, and I’ll make it worth your while.
Thursday night after putting my kids to bed, I headed over to my parents’ house to spend the night since mom and I had an early flight in the morning, and they live quite a bit closer to the airport. I got to bed late but had trouble putting my mind to rest with the anticipation of what was to come. An added concern for me was the fact that this was my first night away from my boys overnight.
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Holy, Moly! Just 4 days to race day! What???!!!! I’m praying the rain holds off today so I can get a good practice run in this evening. And I’m also praying that the perfect Jello-esque running socks I ordered arrive at my house before I have to get on a plane. It’s hard to believe the day is almost here.
It’s going to be a very emotional weekend as I meet many of Joey’s friends in person for the first time and see other’s again after a year. I look forward to hearing more stories about him as I see the places where he lived and played over the last couple of years of his life, seeing the ghost bike erected to honor his memory, and just soaking up the atmosphere of Austin.
The whole weekend, as well as the race, is my chance to honor my brother, to remember him and thank him for being the catalyst I needed to get started on my journey to an energetic, healthy, and passionate lifestyle. Joey’s death was a rude awakening to the reality of death, the frailty of human life. He always seemed invincible, but in truth no body is. I saw my lifestyle for what it was, slowly taking years off my life, and determined to stop watching my life go by and jump wholly into living it.
When I return from this trip, I plan on getting a new tattoo to represent the journey and letting go of Joey. I have held him tight through this journey, but it’s time for me to fly on my own. I will never forget him or stop loving him, but he wouldn’t want the rest of my life to be all about him either. As I’ve said many times, it’s about me being a better me.
Please think of me on Saturday at 7pm as I run the Keep Austin Weird 5k. I will be taking some of Joe’s ashes with me and scattering at the finish line if no one objects. Love to all my readers, and stay tuned for pics of the new tat!
When I heard the news that Joey was killed, it felt as if the bottom had fallen out of my sense of reality. My brain couldn’t cope with a world in which my brother wasn’t out there making stuff happen. It just didn’t make sense. I felt a profound sense of loss, but it was more loss of clarity than the loss of his presence at first.
Joe had been living in Austin for the last two years, and I had seen him rarely over that time, though we talked on the phone and texted a bit and kept up with one another on Facebook. He had been home to Nashville just a month before to celebrate my oldest son’s third birthday and visit with family and friends for a few days, and looking back I’m so grateful for those days, though I would have made that hug goodbye last a bit longer had I known it would be my final goodbye.
We didn’t really talk about anything important, mostly we just enjoyed one another’s presence, and I think I saw a look of approval and even pride as he surveyed my little family and the way we interacted. Read the rest of this entry