Friday, January 07, 2011

Yes, I'm Being Followed by a Moon Shadow

Moon Shadow, unknown date

I dreamed of him again last night. Every now and again he visits and I tell him how much I miss much he meant to me...and I hold him tightly as long as I can before he has to go away from me once more. Even after almost 30 years, the tears well up and spill over my cheeks with the intense missing of step-father, Jerry Roberts. He came to us a funny, gentle and playful angel. He made our mother smile and laugh like we'd never seen her do...he made us all feel safe and loved. He made us feel precious and seen and relevant. We mattered. He loved our mother deeply and he loved us girls like his own.
And then he left us. He didn't want to, but for whatever reason, God took him home. He was killed in a car accident in December of 1983.
We watched the joy leave my mother's face and turn into deep sadness. Our little world, our utopia by the lake, under the boughs of Hickory trees laden with moss...was completely shattered. Only a deep chasm of emptiness and grief remained. My sister and my mother and I were forever changed...forever altered by an unimaginable and unbearable grief.
and Here I sit, almost 42 years old....with the same wounded heart of the 14 year old girl he left behind...
I need to tell you this. It is a part of my story, but it is only a part of the reason why I am writing this now. Sitting here vulnerable. Fighting the tears that blur the computer screen as I type.

He comes to me in dreams every now and again...sometimes picking me up in his truck. Sometimes we talk on the phone. Sometimes we meet at the lake; but this time we met at the track and he let me drive the dragster he named "Moon Shadow". Why, after almost 30 years, did I get to drive it?
I think I know.
He knows how I struggle. I feel his presence around me much more so these days...and I hear the sweet phantom sound of his southern voice. When I worry about not being alive for my children....or when i feel the energy drain from my body and I succumb once again to the blue-plate-special-illness of the month. When I am fearful and a little crabby, I remember his playfulness and his smile and his i reveled in his attention and generosity; his dark and kind eyes looking back at me...his gentle voice filling my ears. I adored him beyond reason. He was mine, and our everything. He was a wonderful father to me and my young sister. The only one I ever really knew. He loved us deep and wide.We felt it. We knew.

...and so now, I've gotten to drive the car. I had always yearned to. I would dream of it when we'd go to watch him race at the drag strip....he'd let my sister and I sit in Moon Shadow every now and then just to have the thrill of sitting in it...
I know it sounds silly, but I think the dream, well it was a message from him...and in a way, a message to you and that is why I am spilling open here, wider than ever, to bring you the message.
He knew I needed to finally drive the car. To feel the power as I pressed down the gas and the loudness came and the front end came up off the pavement. I felt empowered. I felt alive and joyful. I knew where I needed to go. I knew what I had to do. I instinctively knew how to drive it and I wasn't alone because he was watching and he was proud.
In the dream I was driving the dragster, yet I could also see myself in it at the same time. He was showing me that I could do it...he was showing me what he saw as I drove.
and what a thrill it was to be driving!

But more so, I think his message was this: no matter how limited our time here on this Earth, love is the only thing that matters. It is the only thing we can truly leave behind.
What we leave behind in the hearts and minds of others is all we have. It is all we can truly give.
He gave me all of the generosity, laughter and love to pass it along. Life is so precious. So mysterious. So filled with beauty and despair and resilience and grace and tragedy. I am learning how to love the questions. I'm learning to love with my best possible love. I understand that I will always be a work in progress. I am learning to be more gentle with myself. I'm learning to find more and more humor in it all. And I've finally gotten to drive Moon Shadow. I know I can leave here any time now, knowing I've planted seeds of laughter and generosity and love. This was his message to me.
He gave that to me.
He gave me that, to give to you.

In Loving Memory of
Jerry Stephen Roberts
November 6th 1949 - December 27th 1983


  1. Jennifer, you have written so many beautiful things...but this one is the most beautiful, inspired, touching, and purely magical writing so far! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful man with us and giving us some insight into what a father and husband should be...and what a huge difference LOVE can make in a life.

  2. Thank you
    Thank you
    Thank you

    for this gift....
    for this ride....
    for this beauty
    that is you.

    I am breathless, and teary eyed as I walk through this beautiful waking dream. Thank you for sharing your Moon Shadow. I can literally feel the rumbling pedal, and smell the engine fumes leftover on my skin. Your father was a fine man w/ an amazing spirit which he has generously infused into you (he is always w/ you.)

    I want to hug you....

    Love u,

  3. What a beautiful post Jennifer, and a beautiful dream! What a gift to be shown yourself as others see you, strong and capable and loved.

    And just know that you positively EXUDE love. Every day I can see and feel the love you send out into the world, from all the way on the other side of it!


  4. ok, i usually dont go for the touchy-feely stuff but, sigh. just, sigh.
    and what lovely pictures! he looks so happy and relaxed there, just like you described him! as i was reading, i was trying to picture him and thought to myself that i was picturing something too perfectly straight-from-a-movie, then i scrolled down and there he was! exactly what i pictured!
    I'm so sorry you miss him but you're so lucky to have had a father like that. im jealous.
    what a potent dream, too. i hope you can hold on to that and not let it pass you by.

  5. I am a stepfather and always assumed that it was a lower rung on the love ladder, but now I see that it is not the title, it is the time given to a child.
    My computer screen is having that same blurry look right now.
    Thank you as always for your love. I will hold your face and Jerry's in my mind as I wake my child this morning.

  6. beautiful post..kindness and love are the things that transcend

  7. What a blessing to be so loved, even now from the other side sending you strength. You are really special Jennifer Valentine. I was crying too reading this, but now I'm feeling that strength too. Thank you so much for sharing.
    love you,

    i'm gonna have to put on some cat stevens now. :)

  8. I am so incredibly touched by all of your lovely comments...
    I am a fortunate woman. It means so much to me that you are here in this space with me and my writing...

  9. Thank you so much for pouring out your soul. You write so so beautiful and it makes me want to hear more and more of your life. You are such a special person and don't ever ever think you're not. You have touched so many other people too.
    Love and hugs!! ♥ xoxox

  10. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing :)

  11. Jennifer, what a beautiful way to begin the New Year. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Loved these words you wrote:

    I felt empowered. I felt alive and joyful. I knew where I needed to go. I knew what I had to do. I instinctively knew how to drive it and I wasn't alone because he was watching and he was proud.

    It's going to be a wonderful, "crazypants" weekend ❤


  12. Such a beautiful way to honor and remember a missed loved one. Thank you. :-)

  13. Dear Jennifer,
    Thank you for the words that spill from your heart, they are so beautiful. My brother just died, instantly, suddenly, of a massive heart attack at 47 years old. He had no warning signs, no symptoms, no reason to suspect he was leaving us. He was my gentle giant, my kid brother--I was always like his second mom and I love him so.... He saw me through the sudden death of my son, (11 years old) and I always worried for him (after his children were born), I never wanted him to ever have to live through that kind of pain. Now I watch as his little girl cries for her daddy, her night in shining armour. And..his son who has become a man overnight trying to fill his dad's giant shoes. My heart breaks for them. He came though to his little girl,just like your dad. She told her mom, "Daddy came to me last night, he was holding my hands and he told me that we are all his heart and soul. He said, "Please don't be sad because Daddy loves you and I am happy." Love does transcend this life and the veil between Heaven and Earth. We need only listen. I know with my whole heart we will one day be together again.
    Thank you Jennifer, you are so special, an Angel. I feel blessed to visit your special blog and have my soul touched with your beautiful words.

  14. Wish i could of met my Uncle Jerry, he sounds like an amazing person...hopefully he'll be waitin on me upstairs. Love your writing Jennifer!! Next time he visits tell him he has a nephew that cant wait to meet him!!

  15. Dearest Jen, words cannot express how I feel when I read your tribute to Jerry. Pure and true love is the only thing that comes to mind. Thank you for your beautiful words and as always I love you dearly!!! Aunt Jan

  16. Dear Jennifer, your words paint such beautiful images and brought tears to my eyes. I can only imagine how hard that must have been to lose a beloved father. What a blessing to have been the recipient of his love and to have loved him in return. Love always, Karen

  17. Thank you Jennifer,these words have been a blessing.

  18. oh my goodness darlin. this made my eyes leak and the goosebumps rise high on my arms. you are such an excellent writer. be so happy remembering the happy times and know he loves you and is watching over you. xo

  19. Thank you so much for this Jennifer, my mother is his sister Jan,she was pregnant with me when he passed away just 3 short months before I was born and I never got to meet him.I wish I had. I knew how amazing he was just by the way my mother still talks about him.

  20. Jennifer, this is an amazingly beautiful tribute to a man that was obviously incredible, and more of a Dad than many birth right Dad's. I can see the kindness in his eyes and his smile in your photo you've shared. What a gift in your lives he was and continues to be today. This is testimony that our loved ones never truly leave us, and are with us in Spirit and one day we will be reunited with them. Thank you again for sharing your talent, your thoughts and your beautiful spirit through your writing of this blog. It is a message to me of how I'd like to one day be remembered. Someone that made a difference in others lives...

  21. thank-you for sharing that love, jennifer. i can feel it. namaste.


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