Below are a few thoughts I would like to share about my dear friend who passed away suddenly...
Sadly, only a few, special people will be aware that recently the world lost a kind and gentle soul named Jean Marie Eklund. A woman of many, many gifts, unfortunately she was the victim of forces internally and externally that sometimes thwarted her genius and well-being.
In 1971, thanks to the Fickle-Finger-of-Fate, I was lucky enough to have my path intersect with Jean’s. Or perhaps a more plausible explanation is that a nameless, faceless worker in the Cal Western housing office thought it might be quite the joke to assign two 18 year old girls with the same name to the same small freshman dorm room. Oh, if only I could thank that worker, as by his or her random act, I was thrown together with Jean, a girl who would become my dear, dear friend, and who shared four really tacky yellow dorm room walls with me. College was a new adventure for both of us and my freshman year was very, very special because I shared a once-in-a-life time experience with Jean who was an incredibly gifted person and wonderful friend.
I consider Jean to be my Cosmic twin as not only did we have the same name, but we were also born 3 days apart. We had many other things in common that sealed our friendship which sadly, for reasons of pure distance of geography (Jean in Santa Barbara, me in the Pacific Northwest) was not as close as I would have liked once our freshman year was over.
Jean was a brilliant and beautiful person. She was a kind and funny, despite facing adversities that were sometimes almost insurmountable. An outstanding writer, a talented musician, a poet, an artist, she had so many gifts. I was often in awe of her many gifts and was jealous of an intellect and creativity that made her shine in ways that mere mortals like myself can only envy.
The Jean Marie I remember was lithe, funny, brilliant, and so very gifted. I am heartbroken that so many important people in her life, including me, were not there for her when she needed us. I do however, take solace in knowing that her soul-mate Dave was incredibly devoted to her and she him. Truer friends there never were. I am so hoping they are together again for all eternity.
I like to remember her the way she was when we were together at Cal Western in 1971…. We had so many good times, decorating our dorm room to commemorate the Massacre at Wounded Knee and in the process, horrifying most of our dorm-mates as it was Christmas time and our decorations were not what our dorm leaders had in mind! We enjoyed many an incredible sunset off the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Point Loma, talking late into the night while listening to records in the dark…..the brief time we shared one small spot on this Earth will always be a happy and memory for me and for the others who were lucky enough to also share that special time with her.
Just a few months before Jean and I met James Taylor wrote an incredible song called, “Fire and Rain.” I’ve listened to it a million times over the years, but now it holds special meaning for me as I will, from now on, always think of Jean when I hear it.
Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can't remember who to send it to
Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again
I am sorry I couldn’t attend her memorial service but in my heart and soul I have said a reluctant goodbye to her. My deepest sympathies to her mother Annette and to her friends who loved her as I did.
Goodbye dear friend.