Rebecca Donaldson

The first night I met Jelo I didn't notice him. I only had eyes for Nick - who I've married and with whom I have two kids. It was this night in June 1997 that launched Nick and I, though, and it's all thanks to Jelo. As it turns out, I owe my life as I know it to Jeff and to Ed. The two of them convinced Nick to go out that night - against his will cause he was "tired and grumpy." Jeff's love for Nick kick-started the love we carry today. Jeff convinced Nick to go out because he wanted so much to spend time with him. As love would have it, we've had 11 blessed years to love Jelo back.

Getting to know Jelo was an epic journey. Each year we saw we each other grow, and helped each other grow.

What sticks out for me the most in my friendship with Jeff is all the sit-down conversations we had. Each time we saw each other we sat and had a connected conversation. In the early days, when I first met Nick and was getting to know Jeff and other key friends, Jeff and I mainly talked about love. I was a babbling brook of love having found Nick. Jeff spoke often of wanting lasting love, someone to grow with and share his life. We saw him try a couple of times but it just wasn't right until Tiffany came along. What a perfect compliment they've been to each other. They both radiate through eyes so clear and generous. Their love was strong and gentle, passionate and kind, seeking adventure and giving comfort whenever and wherever. How inspiring.


Our conversations grew up like we did (and when I say "grew" I mean that I am 8 months pregnant in this pic), shifting to business growths and pitfalls, getting married, politics, families, and what makes a home are just a few - always co-mingled with talks about the Matrix (we agree that the Architect speech in the second is the most profound), South Park, and the Simpsons, of course - we were never too grown up.

I'll do my best to share more on this page about our years together. Right now I'd like to share about Jeff's visit with us a few weeks ago. He stayed in our house for one night on his recent business trip. His flight came through San Francisco anyway so he arranged a layover of a day and we saw him here. He gave our boys stuffed toys from him and Tiff. A kangaroo with a baby kangaroo in her pouch went to Aiden (our 4-year-old) who promptly named her Punky. This is the first and only toy Aiden has ever named. A koala with a baby koala on its shoulder went to Orion (1 years old) who cuddles it incessantly and has it as a permanent crib buddy. We talked about everything. Australia, America, Tiff in her job, him in his job, family, friends, growing up, the fact that he was finally filling out physically - we had no idea if he would ever get some real meat on his bones. He was so completely at ease with life. We'd seen him have moments like this before, but this time he was fully at ease. It filled us with so much happiness for him. We told him so.

His time with us flew quickly. It was tough to see him off because having him around is just a good thing, but we knew we'd see him again. There was no doubt of his permanent status in our lives. We would save our vacation, skip Burning Man, and see him and Tiff in Oz in the coming year.

I drove him to the airport. I wish I could remember what we talked about. It doesn't matter. I remember how he looked. When I dropped him off he and I both held a hug for a few seconds. We squeezed and stuck with each other in the hug. I told him I love him and said to hug Tiff for me and tell her I love her. He said he loved me too. Turned and left.

I'm better for knowing him. He inspired me to think and feel big, dream and follow-through. He didn't have to make noise to bring attention to himself because his actions, his adventures, and his accomplishments spoke loud and clear. He believed in me as completely as I believed in him. With that kind of person believing in me, how could I not grow and dream and choose adventure and create purpose in my life? As the abundant universe would have it, Jelo is one of several who inspire me at this level, but none in the same way as he. No matter where I took myself or what I tried or what I took on in life, there was always room for Jelo and Jelo made life sweeter.

I'm not ready to believe that he's gone.

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