In loving memory of Jerome S. Zabrzenski “Z” (August 2, 1952 – July 10, 2011). Father, friend, musician.
© Jane Bled
Each time I drive by
I chance a glance
At the 2nd-story window,
Hoping against hope
That your sunshine will greet me.
The keys languish,
Since they found your cold corpse
Next to a puddle of vomit;
Congealing beside your pillow
(An impression of your skull).
And I remember
Delectable diner eats —
The ones you fed me each morning —
After a hug;
A whiff of your shaven cheek
(That cheap cologne only smelled good on you).
We discussed, debated;
Ranted and raved,
We played our tunes,
Dreaming of discovery,
In love with possibility.
I’m thinking of you
Due to unfortunate circumstances, I could not attend Z’s out-of-town-memorial service. This is the eulogy I wanted to give. Better late than never…
All About the Music
August 2nd — this year, I missed your birthday, Z — didn’t recall the significance of the date until the next day. Remember when I made you a chocolate cake the last time we celebrated it? You had tears of gratitude in your eyes (which inspired me to reciprocate the waterworks). I think I’ve cried enough for the both of us today, as the memory of you is brewed especially strong. I miss you so much…it almost seems too trite to mention.
Anyway, please forgive my absentmindedness. You used to scold me about my sassiness; in the next breath, you’d praise my spunkiness. A minute later, we’d be stoned out of our minds, barking like dogs at unsuspecting passersby from your second-story apartment window. Our similar sense of random inappropriate humor made us fast friends.
We also shared a penchant for nonsensical mood shifts. You’d pout like a little boy with his lip sticking so far out, I’d warn you a bird might sit on it; before I could blink, you’d say, “I feel like jammin’! I got the itch!” Another day, I’d knock on your door with a scowl on my face, and you’d give me that big blue-eyed wide stare and resort to baby-talk in an attempt to mollify me — with mixed results. The peace offering: you’d introduce a song new to my ears. Our mutual addiction to music resolved myriad petty spats. The sunshine always came back.
I was looking at our old YouTube demos the other day. Blast from the past! Our videos were so corny but sincere, LOL. Oh, we fought like brother and sister about our “image” — you were stuck in some sort of a synthesized neon eighties time-warp and I wanted to channel dark, crisp, edgy hardcore pop — but I ended up relenting; allowing the slack-off in quality, because I knew you were stubborn and forgetful, and I tired of the strife. You’d probably tell me I was a bull-headed perfectionist who expected too much and harped on the least important flaws. Maybe we’d both be right.
In any case, I’m proud of what we managed to accomplish in the short time we were together. Yesterday, I found an old LOVEZEN cd — the one we recorded on your 4-track! My son and I listened to the whole album together (ofc I didn’t draw attention to the racier lyrics, hehe). I wish you could have joined us. He really loves “Geisha Undercover” — though that’s technically one of our last songs, and we wrote it after the name-change from LOVEZEN to Jayne feat. DR.Z. Bottom line: he’s a fan — and he knows who you are (“your friend who died” — a morbid statement, but he cuts right to point, doesn’t he?). 🙂
The day you passed away, it was raining — drizzling on and off. My friend Brea said that in films, rain portends trouble. Maybe that’s true in select real-life cases, too, because when I awoke that morning, I knew something was wrong. I went through the motions of my daily tasks in a haze, in a funk I couldn’t shake. Around 1 PM I saw I had missed a call from our mutual friend Cory. My phone indicated a new voice message. Cory’s voice sounded shaky. He told me to call him back immediately — then said, “Never mind, I’m coming over.”
I knew. I knew you were gone; yet that didn’t stop me from hoping my intuition was incorrect. A feeling of dread filled me. I remember touching my belly as if to reassure my unborn son that everything would be alright. To comfort him — and brace myself for the blow, hoping he wouldn’t feel the pain I instinctively understood I would soon feel.
Lightly, the rain fell.
Cory pulled into the driveway. Head down, he got out of the car. I stepped onto the porch, needing to gauge his facial expression. Before making it to the porch steps: “Z’s gone.” Like you were never there at all. Like you never existed. Like it had all been a dream; a trick of the eye. Your light: snuffed out.
I don’t remember what I said, but I remember crying softly. Not sobbing. Not wailing, or weeping. Just a couple of tears: all I could muster without sinking into the porch. I felt my bones were gone, but I pretended they were still present to stay standing. All the same, I fell. I’ve been falling ever since. Sometimes I’m sucked into a wormhole of misery, crawling on hands and knees; reverting to a state of pre-ambulatory infancy. Although you’ve been gone for 6 years, time has to yet to dull the ache. If you were here right now, you’d tell me to “get over that shit — life’s too short — it’s all about the music” — then dive into a long-winded motivational rant that would likely end in my suggesting we “get back to the music” just to shut you up. 😛
Wherever you are now — did I mention I spied a “Z” in the clouds the day you died? — I hope there are bitchin’ tunes (Frank Zappa, Woodstock-era rock; a random plethora of pop, punk, and metal), hot babes (Britney Spears and Jane Fonda clones; pretty much any good-looking woman who ever lived), and plenty of Z-made chicken wings, golumpkis, and omelettes to satisfy the munchies. 😉
One of my fondest memories includes the afternoon you called me over to your apartment and challenged me to decipher the “hidden message” in Britney Spears’ single “If U Seek Amy.” Even after listening to the song, I was stumped (hey, I never said I was the sharpest tack).
“It means, “F-U-C-K me!” you triumphantly revealed. It pains me to admit my mind was blown, haha. Upon relishing your cleverness, you put the song on repeat: we geeked out, danced as we sang along (ofc we’d memorized the lyrics by the third or fourth play), and generally acted like spazzes. Knowing us, there was probably liquor involved. A new Britney song was enough of a reason to “bring out the Beam.” 😀
Random tidbit: I still have that stuffed lion you gave me when I was in the hospital for my laparoscopy. I named it Jerry — do you remember? After my son was born, I let him play with Jerry, and told him that it was a gift from you. Even now, he remembers your name. Unfortunately, the lion’s luxurious mane didn’t survive. In a moment of poor judgment, I put him in the dryer. Now he has a mini fro — LOL. 😛
Here’s a would-coulda-shoulda — I wish I had said yes to that last opportunity to jam with you. Had I known it was my last chance, I would have sang until my voice gave out. And then I’d still be mouthing the lyrics until you turned off the keyboard. We had high hopes (literally, ha) for the future — pipe dreams — and I haven’t felt that way since.
Thank you for the precious time we shared. If my dad ever reads this post, he will probably be offended, but you and I both know you were a father to me. You showed me a glimpse of an ability I never knew I possessed: songwriting. You believed in me. I wish I could say it was enough to keep me going now — to carry out your legacy and realize the dream we both shared: to have a professional-grade audio of our album recorded. But I have to apologize, because I fall short of that herculean task. My heartsickness is still too strong. At the moment, I am well enough to rise to greet the day, live for my family’s well-being, and find happiness to cherish in small moments of bliss. Maybe one day I will live for me, too.
No promises, okay? I don’t do well with those. Except this one: I will always love you.
Thank you for reading. Here is a sampling of Jayne feat DR.Z’s unfinished rough demos:
Sorry, Z — I know that I stylized your stagename incorrectly when I uploaded the tracks — but I can’t access my ReverbNation account anymore. Mea culpa.
Our partial album is also available on NumberOneMusic.
Peace and love.