As Jimmy said a few months ago, “growing old is not for sissies.” These last few years have been unimaginably challenging for Jimmy and me, and we’re definitely not sissies. One thing we both knew and experienced, through every difficult moment, was the feeling of being buoyed up by all the people in our lives. Everywhere we went, at arenas, at events, and even in the hospitals, we were surrounded by love. There is a whole world of people I want to thank for the incredible kindness you showed us.
Since those early days and all through the decades, Jimmy’s fans became a big, boisterous family. Thank you for creating the world’s most joyful community. The smile that Jimmy beamed at you from the stage was sparked by your spirit. I think that’s why he loved performing so much. He was so grateful to the community you built around him. Your sympathy and support inspire and comfort me and my family.
To the teams of doctors, nurses, hospice workers, and caregivers, your compassion was overwhelming in the best possible way. Jimmy listened to everything you said and followed your every order. You gave him hope, even at the most hopeless moments. Thank you for your tenacity in seeking the best solutions at each stage of his illness. You were honest, brave, and empathic; you showed us such dignity and goodness. I could not have asked for a better team of professionals.
To all those who work with and for Jimmy and me, thank you. We know that we’ve surrounded ourselves with the best, most honorable, most generous people, and we know how fortunate we have been for all these years. You made our lives better in thousands of ways, big and small, each day. That was especially true during these last few years. I hope you know how much we care about you and always value the work you do. It is deeply comforting to know that I can depend on your loyalty, your sincerity, and your respect. You have earned ours in return.
To my amazing friends, you have expanded the meaning and depth of friendship. Jimmy and I felt your breathtaking love and compassion throughout our lives and, especially, over these past few years. Jimmy brightened telling you stories over long dinners as the cicadas sang. He loved occupying his place at the head of the table, looking at the people he cherished. You created a microclimate of affection that surrounded us like the sun. It gave us hope; it felt like a celebration even when things were grim. It’s a balm to me now. Without your friendship, we surely would have fallen. I wish each of you has friends as gracious, generous, and kind.
Jimmy was love. Every cell in his body was filled with joy. He smiled all the time, even when he was deeply ill. And his sense of humor never wavered. Jimmy was always the optimist, always twinkling, always making us laugh.
To my family. I cannot begin to express what you mean to me and Jimmy. I cherish you, I love you, and I am unfathomably grateful to you every day. You are my heart.
One of the last songs Jimmy recorded was “Bubbles Up.” He sings, “Just know that you are loved, there is light up above, and the joy is always enough. Bubbles up.” Jimmy knew he was loved. Right until the end, he looked for the light. Thank you for giving joy to him and to me.