I awoke from a strange dream. Into my head drifted Bruce Springsteen's "Outlaw Pete". The song really hooked me when I heard it live in LA. So I bought it and now can't hear enough of it. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my headphones and fired it up on the PC. Let me look up those words. As I click over to Springsteen.net to read the lyrics, I land on the front page.
On the site is Bruce's own recollection of Super Bowl Sunday. Bruce's great adrenaline rush is splayed out for all. "...It was a high point, a marker of some sort and went up with the biggest shows of our work life." For me, this brings a flood of memories. You see, I spent almost all of Super Bowl Sunday in the hospital as doctors tried to save my best friend Jeff's life from a horrific crash he had on his bike while we rode early that morning. My own adrenaline rush that day is summoned from a low point smashing in my gut. Its a real downbound feeling that months later I still can't shake off: The panicked call to 911 in an moment of helplessness as deep as I have ever dropped... watching Jeff after the fall. The only moments of joy I recall from that afternoon in the hospital was watching Bruce and the band do what they do best for 12 minutes on a tiny TV in the ER waiting room. For just a few minutes they woke me out of my somber state of grief that day. Tears overwhelm me as I tap this out and read it back again. But they feel oddly soothing on my face in the still of the night.
The year before, we held a little Super Bowl party at our house. Jeff was there with some great hors d'oeuvres he had made. Jeff had been a chef before his last gig as a wine and beer distributor sales rep and he made some delicious shrimp wrapped in prosciutto. Unlike myself and many of our house full of mostly Giant fans that day, Jeff had no real interest in the game. But when half time came on, and Tom Petty took the stage, both of our sound systems in the house were cranked up to 11 and Tom and the Heartbreakers went on fire. We all sang along. It was a rock and roll blast. Jeff loved it. I know because he reminded me of it while we were riding on that fateful last day of his: "I know you're gonna crank up Bruce Springsteen this afternoon." he said. "Last year was so great - the way Tom Petty was blaring through your house like a concert. That was the highlight man, not the game." Jeff never got to see or hear this year's game or concert. It was not meant to be. A few days later at home watching Bruce and the band play that 12 minutes, two days had passed and my emotions simply wouldn't prop up. I'm hoping and dreaming that one day, I'll get to hear it again and it will truly lift me up the way Bruce and the band intended.
"Jeffrey - you passed away a week ago now. We missed that Springsteen Superbowl concert. But tomorrow we'll take your favorite ride to the coast with you 'You gotta ride, man' you would always tell me. And ride we will. We covered thousands of miles, year after year after year. Its what we did. And you went out doing it in style. Kicking ass up that hill and never looking back. Tell you what I'm gonna do for you my bother, I'm gonna hook up a boom box on my bike and blast Petty and Springsteen while we roll down those last few miles one last time. It'll be great. You're friends are coming over. Let's have some fun. We'll spread some of your presence over the land and sea. We'll see you there."
We'll take Jeffrey with us on his last bike ride and scatter some of his ashes along the beautiful stretch of California coast where he loved to ride. Barbara tells me this is where Jeff first started to ride distance many years ago. So I think it appropriate for a little of him to remain there. And you're welcome to join us. Call me at 8o5-75o-8o25 if you want to join us Sunday morning at 9AM at the California Grill in Camarillo for the ride or later at 1PM for the service inside.