Co-Presidents’ Message – February 2024

Feb 1, 2024 | Co-President's Messages

I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to share with all of you this month. The more I thought about it, the less clear I was. My brother’s birthday is in February and while I wanted to acknowledge that, I wasn’t sure how to do so. I remembered something I ‘wrote’ during the first year after he passed. He loved Phish (I did not) and I was looking for a way to connect with him even though he was no longer here. I read it over and realized everything feels just as true today, as it did almost 8 years ago, even if I feel it all differently. 

In honor of my big brother and his love for Phish, here is a letter I wrote to him, using only lyrics from various Phish songs. Happy birthday, big brother. I hope you’re jamming wherever you are and while I miss you and wish we could celebrate together, please know I  am totally ok not having to listen to a single second of your jams. 

If you are here with me, I trust you to lead the way, but where did you go when the lights went out? I got a blank space where my mind should be, I think I’m still me, but how would you know? I’m swinging on a lifeline, entangled in the remnants of the knot you left behind, just asking you to help me make it finally unwind. I’m worn and bruised, but I am here at least. 

I struggle with destiny upon the ledge and I gasped that day when you slipped off that edge. It’s a minute in time that we exist and then we slowly make our way into the mist.   What is the truth? What is the faithful lasting proof? Is this an everlasting spoof?  I was taught long ago to bide my time and take it slow; but then I learned just yesterday to never waste the day. I’m convinced all day long that all I’ve ever learned is wrong.  Do you ignore what you don’t understand?  Do you always recognize your fate? And is it always just a moment too late?  If this life was easy, I wouldn’t think about the past.  Here I am stealing time from the faulty plan;  and for you, I’ll try to live a life that feels completely free. I’ll toss away stuff I don’t need in the end, but I’ll keep what’s important, and I’ll know who’s my friend.

The light is growing brighter now; obstacles are our stepping stones and I’m doing the best that I can, I suppose. You can’t imagine all the times I tried to uncover the source of the tears that you cried.  Time is a river that flows through the woods and it leads us to places that will be gone before long.  When you’re young, you think life is a game, but then somebody leaves you and you’re never the same. Don’t worry, I know in time we will weather this storm. Listen to the silent trees- silence is contagious in moments like these.  All these places and people belong to the puzzle; one of the pieces is gone- it’s you. We want you to be happy-  ’cause this is your song too.  

If I were near you, I wouldn’t be far.  I know you’ll meet me when you see me.  I’ll feel no more curiosity and I will see the path ahead of me.  Only a dream, it’s true, but I’d see it through if I could still be wasting my time with you. For now I am leaving these thoughts with you and I hope time will not erase.   You smile at me from your picture frame, my life keeps on changing, but you stay the same. So many moments that we should have shared. The days turn to years; it hasn’t stopped yet, and the memories we shared, I will never forget.

– Jen Schwartz, COPE Board Co-President