In memory of Simon Schattner (1957-2006)
What Follows are two eulogies that were written for Simon Schattner in August. A collection of poetry to mark Simon's passing is in the works.
In Honor of Simon
When I remember Simon, what I visualize is a happy spirit who finally felt that his life was coming together. The last time I saw Simon, we were sitting together in Carberry's coffee shop having a chai and coffee, while he talked about how fulfilled he felt because he had joined a new temple where he would be taking classes and the people were so friendly and accepting. He talked about visiting his parents and nieces and that he felt like things in his life were better than ever except for the fact that he hadn't met the woman of his dreams yet. I remember hearing him say, "Well, maybe I'll meet her soon enough. That's the only thing needs to happen for me, but other than that, things are great!"
He then spoke about how through most of his life, he had to deal with depression, but that through friends and therapy, and a wonder outlet of poetry of music, he had learned to appreciate his life. He smiled more times that night than I ever remembered, and I felt like I had met the "real" Simon for the first time. He mentioned that he felt like his website was a major accomplishment and that coming to the Out of The Blue Art Gallery was a Godsend for him.
Our conversation faltered a bit, and he asked me if I was okay in a very genuine way. He had heard that I suffered from manic depression and epilepsy and knew that I had problems in the past year, which led me to the hospital. He said in an encouraging way that I looked great and that he only hoped the best for me. He reminded me that I played an integral role in the community and in his life. It was the best cup of coffee I had ever had. There was much sincerity deep in the soul of this man.
Simon to me was always a poet. I believe he had the spirit of a poet - pure, honest and highly creative. He also had a great sense of humor and never missed a beat in letting others feel welcomed and warm inside. I do miss him and as a tribute to him, I will be attending Temple Beth Shalom because he convinced me that there was something good that it had to offer. He said that it changed his life and that he couldn't wait to learn more about his religion again. I do believe that he is accomplishing that feat on a higher plane!
Simon's Song: In Memoriam
I knew Simon the length of the shine of a firefly. If I had known that he would soon be gone forever, I would have tried to know him better. Yet still to me and to countless others, he was not a complete stranger. Because you see, Simon chose to share his story through poetry. Daring to expose his trembling heart by placing it in our hands like jiggling Jell-O. And through the night through the rustling whispers of trees that tell tall tails, I had heard that Simon had survived some somber strife in his life, but much to my chagrin, he could not survive the dark claws of death. They say that when you die you suddenly become enlightened.
I wonder if Simon has all the answers now. Yeah, I wonder. My memory of Simon was vague since our acquaintanceship was equally vague. However I do remember a couple of not so vague interactions with him. The first being when he bought my first poetry book Sparks in the Dark. After he bought my book, he looked me with transfixed eyes and said, "Thanks Jacques, I think I need this book."
I never quite understood what he meant by that. I found his statement to be profoundly simple, but the potential meanings behind it profoundly complex. Since Simon's impression on me was complex. The next time he saw me at the Out of the Blue Gallery, he uttered, "Jacques, your book is kicking my ass." Yet again, I never truly knew what that meant, so I decided to take it as a compliment. Since Simon seemed to me benevolent, I did not question his comment. The other encounter with Simon was Out of the Blue once again. We were having an outside reading to mourn the dying amber of summer. Simon got up and read one of his works from memory.
After he was done, I remember thinking, "Simon, you deserve a standing ovation." But I wasn't brave enough then to give him one. I am brave enough now. In that moment, I realized that I was amongst friends, amongst family, amongst artistry consumed in the sunny swallow of creativity, where artists stand on the shoulders of each other nursing yearnings of building a brighter future. And Simon was an artist of the highest caliber, but was as humble as a dying fire. Now Simon is living yes living under a different sort of weather as a winged white horse transfer parts of his soul into the hearts of those of whom he made an indelible impression like crystallized imprints to mitigate our tensions. And as I speak these words today in the grandeur of the heart of this Cambridge community, the legendary Out of the Blue Gallery, I shiver as I feel Simon's essence hanging on the walls, immortalized and forever free in the world of art and beauty. And that's the way it should be. I'm just sorry he had to die in my poetry.
--Jacques "The Hatian FireFly" Fleury