Last night, I was thinking about Jeff Lamana. My computer was on the fritz, and I needed to buy a new one. As I transferred the components from the old tower, I wanted to call him, since he would have known what to do.
But, because of his condition, I was unable to pick his mind. So, I had to go at it alone. There are things that still don’t work; today, I was planning to fix the trouble spots.
Those plans changed when I got the call this morning. Jeff passed away at the age of 32, following a brave battle with cancer. But, though his life was cut way too short, he had touched so many people in a positive way.
It is so hard for me to accept this. Why was a good person – recently married – forced to suffer the way he did? Why would such an asset to this world be taken from us so soon?
A long time ago, I learned one of the realities of life. I was 12 when my uncle, 48, died. While consoling me, my mother said, â€œGod takes those early whose job is done.” The only explanation I have for such a tragedy is that there was no need for Jeff to continue on this earth. His work here was finished.
The last time we spoke was a few weeks ago. I was on the train going into the city. That night, the New York Rangers were playing at Madison Square Garden. But, he was on meds and unusually incoherent. My friend was just a shell of himself and, when the conversation ended, there were tears in my eyes.
What will stay with me is our last encounter. It was February 4 at the Wachovia Center, as the Flyers played the Rangers. Jeff was being honored for his work with the Phans For Hope Charity. I was there working, but met him and Adina, his wife, before the game; afterward, he invited me to join them for dinner. He couldâ€™ve chosen to be alone with his bride but, as always, the big guy with a heart bigger than life wanted me there.
Maybe, he knew this was the last time they could spend meaningful time with me. Maybe, he just wanted to have another friend around.
When I had discussed the possibility of airing a weekly baseball show, he was the first person I thought of as a co-host. I knew that my ‘in your face,’ New York style could only work with someone who had an â€˜everymanâ€™ type of voice. That was Jeff.
During the ensuing months, Jeff proved to be a very capable broadcaster. And his loyalty to the Phillies was unmatched. In fact, he lost two bets to me because of his blind faith in the team. Such fandom was only there because he always looked at the positive side of things.
He was that way until the end. Jeff always said to Adina, he wouldn’t leave her. As he crosses over, that statement remains just as significant. Anyone he had ever met will live with a piece of him. That is especially true, as he looks down upon us and sees the PhilaPhans community come together.
And, that will be his legacy. As long as this site exists, Jeff Lamana will live on. Each day, as someone logs on, he or she will be touched by his spirit, for he had meant so much to so many.
I pray that God watches over him. Just as He does with all the other angels.