Friday, August 15, 2008

The Reach * A note from Jean Fogelberg

August 14, 2008

Hello everyone,

Well, I'm sitting here in Maine on another overcast, cold day. This summer has been an unusually wet one, with widespread power outages, flooding, and dampness-caused damage to hay crops as well as small fruits and vegetables. The last week has been especially rainy, with the exception of yesterday. And that's the day I'm writing to tell you about.

It had been a difficult few weeks for me. Going through hundreds of photos of Dan while laying out the "Love In Time" CD package was taking an emotional toll on me. But when I looked out the window yesterday morning and saw the beginnings of a glorious sunny day, I felt happiness well up inside of me. I thought: "This is the day". I knew that you would all be holding Dan in your hearts, so it would be the perfect day to fulfill a special promise I'd made to him.

Dan had asked me to pick a beautiful day in late summer, go out with our friends Jon and Sherry on their boat "Free Spirit", and scatter his ashes on the Reach. He wanted me to do it just before sunset, at the marker where he would turn at the end of the day to return to the cove, and home.

I had arranged everything tentatively with Jon and Sherry for his birthday, but with the understanding that we would re-schedule if the weather was too bad. No need. The hard rain the day before had scrubbed the air crystal clear, and they were calling for temperatures in the 70's.

We left the dock at 5:00 pm, the four of us: me, Jon and Sherry, and our good friend Jean, and just sailed and drifted around the Reach. They had brought crackers, veggies, fruit, shrimp, and dips, and I brought the champagne. We talked and laughed and reminisced, just as we would have if Dan were there with us physically. There was no moroseness, no awkward silences, no sniffling, and they had packed napkins and glasses for 5, so he was included.

I was wearing Dan's favorite blue sweater and the first necklace he'd ever given me, and had my hair in a braid (he loved my long blonde hair, especially in a braid). Jon and Sherry and Jean each had on one of Dan's sailing vests, and we all had our "Quest" pins on. I had my arm around the antique brown widemouth jar holding Dan's ashes sitting next to me. Dan and I had saved Buckaroo's ashes (the amazing Maine Coon cat, "Remington Buckaroo Boone", often credited on Dan's albums) all these years, and these too were in the jar, and the night before I had cut 5 inches off of my hair and snipped it into tiny strands and put them in the jar as well. The wind was perfect for drifting about aimlessly. But at 6:15 we started the engine and headed for the marker: a green "can" that marks the edge of a ledge. Amazingly, at this point we had the Reach to ourselves... not another boat in sight.

Jon cut the engine and let the sails take us quietly the rest of the way. We toasted Dan with champagne, and at 6:25 we brought up the boombox and put "The Reach" on and I carried the jar forward to the bow of the boat. We were heading directly toward the sun, which was brilliant white gold reflecting on the water. A Cormorant sat on the green can watching us. There was a gentle northerly breeze, and as I took Dan's ashes, a handful at a time, and slowly let them sift through my fingers, they swirled and danced away from me, sparkling in the sun before landing on the water and drifting with the tide, out into the Reach. I could hear Jon, Sherry and Jean crying out in astonishment as (they would later tell me) they watched Dan's ashes swirling and glowing with the sun shining through them.

I knew that at that very moment, as we were playing "The Reach" and honoring Dan here on the east coast, out on the west coast of California our friends Charlie and Suzie were playing "The Reach" as well, and ringing the original bell used in that recording. And around the world, people were honoring Dan in their own way, and playing their own favorite songs. It was a powerful moment.

We came alongside the marker and Jon gently rounded it and steered us toward the cove, and Reach Haven. As I let the last of Dan's ashes leave my fingers I was so filled with gratitude, wonder, and amazement that, like his passing, a moment that would always be a painful memory for me would also have so many elements of beauty and magic.

"The Reach" ended, and I came back to the stern of the boat, where my three shipmates were wiping their eyes with napkins. We all hugged and then sat for a moment of silence, mentally holding hands with everyone else who was sharing this special moment with us. I threw the flowers Dan's family had sent off the back of the boat one at at time, where they followed his ashes, and we each took a lavender rose picked from Jean's garden, said our last farewells, and tossed them into the Reach.

We turned "Free Spirit" around and headed back across the Reach to her mooring, our hearts filled with emotion, and everyone recounting the incredible beauty of what we'd just experienced. As we neared the mooring, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Dan. The sun had dropped behind a bank of clouds on the horizon, lining them in red and gold.

Dan was so many things: passionate sailor, incredible musician, loving husband, true friend, and a wonderful and unique human being. It was the end of a truly perfect day for honoring him and I hope you feel you were a part of it.

Sincerely,
Jean Fogelberg

http://thelivinglegacy.net

19 comments:

mac said...

Thanks for picking up on this and forwarding it. "The Reach" has always been one of my favorite songs, and it often plays in my mind.

Ruth W. said...

wonderful....I did feel a part of it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jean,
My heart has been heavy with the passing of Dan. Strange, since I never had the honor of meeting him A dream never to be fulfilled. But through his music, he has been a significant part of my life for over 30 years. Thankyou so much for sharing your most intimate moments of a very personal day. As you eloquently wrote about your day, I felt you were inviting me along to help honor Dan and it felt very personal to me too. What a wonderful person you must be to share this time with his fans. God Bless you. Lin

Vicky said...

I was a good friend of Dan's in high school- we were in plays and speech tournaments together and I heard the Coachmen a lot and he sat next to me in art class and signed my yearbook and taught me how to draw a robot. I could go on and on. As time passes I remember so much about him. His locker was next to mine for three years. Dan became very famous quite fast and I never knew how to send a message. My daughter heard Dan a few years ago at Interlochen where she studied cello. She was 12 and her cabin buddies all wanted to yell at the end of a song- Hey Emma's mom says Hello !
Of course I have no idea what Dan was like after he became an adult- I saw him for the last time when he was 20 but I can imagine. I have felt such a loss at his death. I think its because he had this marvelous confidence. Most kids in high school feel awkward and goofy but Dan had an amazing sense of self- looking back I see now that this ease was what I feel is lost in his death- I miss knowing there is someone in the world with incredible intelligence and who trusted and believed in himself and the result was this magical music- maybe not even the physical music but how his energy and spirit radiated through his music. On second thought he could be very goofy-

nbta said...

Thanks for sharing your heart Vicky.
Dan was a talented man. God gave him a wonderful gift(s) and thankfully, we were able to share in them.

Carol said...

Thank you for sharing those beautiful thoughts.

You are so blessed to know, and to have known, such love, closeness and emotional intimacy in your life.

Dan was, is - a special artist to me. His music rests within memories I hold close.

Melissa said...

I have assimilated Dan Fogelberg over the years to the extent that he is part of my fiber and identity. There is a spiritual premise about him...constant signs posted before me in my life and my loves. He has always been with me, and remains so despite the passing of his beautiful physical aesthetic. Though having never experienced his carnal touch, his omnipresent spirit made love to all of his followers'souls.

Anonymous said...

His words are inscribed in my soul forever. thanks for sharing your intimate moments with us. What a wonderful experience that must have been!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

ALLIE said...

Pine and balsam from her woods
it arouses my senses
becoming aware to the quality of life
and to Mother Nature's gift

The salty brine scent of the sea
from the lowest of tides
makes me yearn fo my home away from home

MDI is my sanctuary and I've been to Deer Isle and Stonington. I can see why Dan loved it so much.

tktrain said...

I truly feel that I was there Jean. I can't tell you how much it means to me that you chose to share this very special moment with all of us who loved Dan so very much.

Tom Kohlmeyer

marietta said...

I've read this before, but long ago ... somehow stumbled upon it again this morning while surfing the world wide web on my phone. The words made me feel a part of this moment and I am so very grateful ... it's also very cool to see how far you've come since this occurred and how much has changed in my own life. Full circle...thank you Jean...and Dan...

Melissa Capen said...

Dan Fogelberg has left an enormous circle of "romantics". Sensitive, creative thinkers were attracted to his lyrics and melodies, and now there is such a huge void. there was a strong undertone of everlasting spirit in his words and in many ways his songs were nondenominational parables that spoke of undying love, fallen doves that flew away, and souls that transcend the body. For this reason, I really don't feel that he is gone. But many of us would really love to know his mortal story. A biography that provides detailed incidents would be so insightful.

Anonymous said...

Jean,
Thank you so very much for writing this note. Dans music meant so much to me and ever since he existence, I've felt his spirit on my heart. After hearing the news of his passing, I always felt incomplete. I guess in some stubborn way I was refusing to let him go. But this beautiful story of the day, the Reach and the love you all shared as you committed his ashes to the Reach was what I needed as a fan. I did indeed feel a part of it. Thank you Jean. Nothing but good thoughts being sent your way. I will always miss the way Dan wrote through music the tapestry of my life. I miss him. But He's still with us and always will be.

Anonymous said...

Jean,
Thank you so very much for writing this note. Dans music meant so much to me and ever since he passed from this existence, I've felt his spirit on my heart. After hearing the news of his passing, I always felt incomplete. I guess in some stubborn way I was refusing to let him go. But this beautiful story of the day, the Reach and the love you all shared as you committed his ashes to the Reach was what I needed as a fan. I did indeed feel a part of it. Thank you Jean. Nothing but good thoughts being sent your way. I will always miss the way Dan wrote, through music, the very tapestry of my life. However, I fondly look back at that Tapestry and say "Thank you Dan" I miss him. But He's still with us and always will be.

Barbara Sturgeon said...

Jean, Thank you for sharing such private and beautiful moments. The love you and Dan shared is evident that it was genuine and the way we should all love one another. Dan Folgelberg was truly loved by millions of people but the love you two shared outshines it all. You are so generous and kind to open your heart in the way you have.

Barbara Sturgeon said...

Jean, Thank you for sharing such private and beautiful moments. The love you and Dan shared is evident that it was genuine and the way we should all love one another. Dan Folgelberg was truly loved by millions of people but the love you two shared outshines it all. You are so generous and kind to open your heart in the way you have.

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