Update: May 20th

Hi everyone,

I suffered a minor stroke last week.  That is resolved for now and I can function normally.  The stroke was caused by my heart that is only working a limited capacity and has created a nice clot that is sitting in the heart chamber. I am now on blood thinners to allow the clot to be reabsorbed and reduce the risk of more strokes.   I found out last week that my heart is slowly giving out and cannot be repaired.  Its only a matter of time till it stops functioning.  How long, we don’t know.

I made the decision to go to my sisters home for this chapter of my life where my family can work with hospice to care for me. Mark & Russ are supportive of this and have done wonders for me. Its hard to leave that half of my family but I will get 24/7 nursing care as my sister is a RN as is her best friend/neighbor.  So, its a good decision and they will visit me often.

I still want to work, via phone and email as long as I can.

The cancer treatment worked very well but the aging heart trumps the cancer at this point.  I am off all other medication so maybe I will be able to eat food and taste it again. Hope so.  The doctors will not speculate on how much time I have so we will just have to play it by ear.

I know this is hard.   Allow your grief to be released and care for yourself.  Im doing that also. I’m just getting adjusted to this.

I love you all.  Thanks for your love and support!

Feel free to share this with the appropriate people.

-Jay

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38 thoughts on “Update: May 20th

  1. Jay — Your words continue to inspire and challenge us in so many ways. Please continue to know how powerful is your passion and leadership, how appreciative we are for your friendship, and that most of all.. know you are deeply Loved ..

    We will look forwrad to your next update, until then,
    with deepest gratitude and appreciation for all you do…
    ~~R

  2. Dear Jay,

    I just wanted to tell you that you have been a huge inspiration to me – in my life path, working with birds, and in the strength and vulnerability that you’ve shared in writing this blog. I’m so glad to have known you in this world, and the world has been lucky to have you. Thank you thank you for the lives you’ve saved and the way you’ve changed how we humans see our responsibilities to other animals. It is a huge gift.

    With love and gratitude,
    Max

  3. Jay –

    My love to you. It has been a long time since we last saw each. I know that Mark and Russ took extremely good care of you and your family will do the same. I took care of my mother and father and it was an honor to be by my mom till she wanted to be with her husband who passed three years prior to her. You are a lovely man with a hugh heart. Look at the work you did! You are blessed….Marianne

  4. Jay, I know I dont know you but Ive heard Mark speak of you many times over the years. You are a truly loved man and you have touched many hearts. You are corageous and my heart goes out to you. God Bless you.

  5. Dear Jay ~
    I am so very sorry to learn of all you have and are dealing with. Life can be so hard, and seem so unfair. Why the good ones get called back home too early, who knows.
    I have worked in health care 35 years, and work closely with Hospice as well, so it sounds like this next phase you have decided is the best one for you. I am sure it will be yet another adjustment, but it sounds like between your sister and Hospice you will have your family/companionship, medical and emotional needs met. Death is the hardest part of life, as i say, and it sounds like you are approaching your uncertainty and decisions with a clear head and much thought. I know it can’t be easy to be in your shoes, at all.
    My heart goes out to you Jay. I will keep you in my daily good thoughts and prayers.
    I can tell when I met you when I first volunteered at The International Bird Rescue/Research Center, that your work with helping the birds all over this world is not your work, but your life and your passion….it was very clear then, as it always has been. I know you have touched countless human and animal lives and are so loved and appreciated by many more than can be counted.
    Be good to yourself, and do some things that you want to do…just for the fun of it, as you can!
    And let others now do for you, as you have been such a selfless individual in giving to others…it’s time for the others now to take their turn. Take each day as it comes and keep thinking positive thoughts Jay. The power of positive thoughts on the mind is a most powerful thing!
    Miracles can and do happen. Praying for a miraculous healing for you Jay!
    With much respect and love,
    Linda Jensen

  6. It is SO hard to find the words… trying to find the “right” words… what to say…

    Feels so awkward. Stupidly awkward. We’re so used to living the future, planning what we’re going to do tomorrow, next week, in a month… Now, we’re reminded that every second has value… What are those things – gnats, that live for just one day… What if we were gnats?

    Time is so precious. I wish we had more time.

    I love you Jay. Going to your sisters sound like a good plan.

  7. I am so proud of who are & what it must take to deal with all of this. You & I haven’t spent a lot of time together over the years, but you have such a bubbly personality.
    My life has been blessed to have you in it. I will always carry you with me, no matter where I go.
    I work with older people doing home health-care. Death had become easier, but in my world no one dies

  8. I love you Jay. I miss you and am grieving. Be peace, listen to the birds and follow them always. We all leave sometime, know that your time here has been epic! Will speak into the wind now and then. I hope you will hear me.

  9. I’ve been in this position before. I hate the fact that I can say that. That moment, realizing that you’re speaking to someone who has months, weeks, maybe only days left in this world and you want to say something…..but what? And through the tears I recall what my mom said to me as a terminal patient: “I just want to know that my life had MEANING.” Jay, your time here on earth has had so much meaning. You have touched so many people. You have educated people. You have inspired them. Not to mention the millions of avian lives you’ve saved. My hope for you is that you will be soaring with the pelicans; graceful, serene, free of pain and looking down on all the people whose lives you have touched in such a positive way. You, my friend, have left your mark. Love you. ~Deanna

  10. I love the shining grace I see in every word and every picture I see of you. I hope to be half as poised and beautiful as you when my time comes. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend to my brother all of these years. I love you and will see you on the other side.

  11. Jay, once again your frankness and strength facing this is amazing. I hope that you have some time to enjoy food and other things that you have been unable to on your medication. Sending you lots of love and I will enjoy today, as I am reminded how different cards can be dealt unexpectedly!
    Sharon xxx

  12. Dear Jay,

    Please, feel how much you are loved. Ponder what it means to have devoted your life to compassion, to have touched so many people’s lives, and to have healed and restored wild creatures back to Nature.  For so long, you have been a  teacher, a friend, a leader, an inspiration, a national hero in the face of massive and calamitous disasters.  Reflect on the grace and the humility and delightful humor with which you have lived.  It is people like you, Jay, who gives us reason to hope and who make us strive to emulate your example… I love you, Jay!   It’s impossible to believe that YOUR heart’s capacity is not infinite — for I have seen it that way, always.   Let your own heart be strengthened by the immense affection for you which swells in so many people’s hearts, for you.   There will always be lively wings, wherever you are, my friend. Much, much love, Cindy Margulis

    ________________________________

  13. How can I say goodbye to you, from when I first met you I felt I had always known you. Never have our two hearts been far from each other and never shall they be. I have come to accept that we will be parted in this reality for a time but not for long.

    As I walk in beauty you will surround me and I will be glad of your presence in my heart. You will be the air I breath and in the water I drink, you will be in the laughter of my daughter and the call of the loon. We will never be parted my best friend. I leave you in the tender care of your loving family, where you need to be right now, they need you.

    Do not fear the future my friend but embrace it look to the new possibilities of your next adventure. I will be waiting to hear all about it, as we hold hands once again on the other side of this life.

  14. Jay,

    I feel so grateful to have known you and to have had the chance to work along side you even for a short period of time. As so many others have already said and I’m sure so many more will say, you have been truly inspiring. The passion and selflessness that shine through in your work are a beautiful example for us all and will continue to be so for a very long time.

    The time I spent working with you and all of the other wonderful people at Bird Rescue remains one of the most amazing and happy times in my life and for that I cannot thank you enough! I still laugh when I think about the time I almost knocked you over during the Montana spill when we were all running to grab that goose we caught with the net launcher. You were such a good sport about being shoved by somebody twice your size. Haha!

    Thank you for teaching me and for showing me that we are all stewards of this planet. I never would have grasped that concept so well had I not known you. Your words and your legacy will resound in my heart and mind forever. Thank you so much!

  15. Jay,

    From the moment that I first met you at the Effects of Oil on Wildlife conference in Myrtle Beach I have enjoyed every minute of my time with you. Thank you for all that you have given me in my life. You are an inspiration and you will live on with me through my life and the stories that I share about you with others.
    You have made such an incredible difference to so, so many – human and especially non-human. You are an incredible person Jay Holcomb.

  16. Jay, your heart is tired because you’ve used it so much and received so many critters into it. And people, too. You have loved so many and so many love you. I want for you what I have wanted for myself; to have animals and people around you always. I send you love, with all my heart. I will never forget you.
    Linda

  17. Jay- We should all be so blessed and so fortunate as to be able to know as you do what an amazing impact and difference you have made in your lifetime. You are a true inspiration in how you have lived your life and how you are dealing with this chapter. All the animals you have touched and the people you have inspired are truly richer for having been in your presence. Linda

  18. oh, Jay… what to say.. I admire you, who you are, what you have done, your spirit and life.. I wish I had magic words to say. Wisdom to share, as you have shared so much and made me look at things in a different way. I wish you strength in your journey. Know you are loved. I wish Medical knowhow was good enough to make it all better..
    Love you
    Laura

  19. Dearest Jay, My heart is full and my eyes are brimming. Life IS eternal, like you, I have been given a glimpse of that through a thin veil. Our time on earth is fleeting, our actions while we are here prove who we are. Your actions have be exemplary. How wonderful that I got to meet you here, though I would have loved to spend many years with you, playing cards, caring for animals, or just wondering. Some people you meet have an impact that goes beyond life, that goes ten fold for you. We are not finished yet.You are, and have been since i met you, often in my thoughts and forever in my heart. My love to you Dear Heart.
    Jude

  20. Hi Jay, thanks for your blog, thanks for you. What an inspiration you have been to so many people, you leave behind a legacy my friend. I really enjoyed my short times with you each oil spill in Cape Town (yes including the ‘big one!’ 🙂 ) People can’t help but admire and respect everything about you. I will always be grateful for assisting me to the EOW in 2007 at a bad time in my life it brought some sunshine back into it. I hope these messages from us all, all of those who love you and care for you, bring some sunshine back into your life right now, when you need it. We will all meet up again in our ‘next chapter’ xx

  21. Hi Jay,
    Your life’s work has been awesome. Amazing what one guy can do, especially if he has as many friends as you do.
    I think you have had more than your share. It sounds like it is a good choice to move but I know you will miss Mark and Russ and especially Elizabeth. You have kind of an unpredictable set of challenges here. As the doctor said, who knows.
    Once I had a hospice patient who got unpredictably better and went to Hawaii 3 times before she finally died. It was a gift and fun for her to prove everyone wrong.
    Thank you so much for keeping us in the loop. Please know I send my best wishes!
    Love
    Judy Kordich

  22. jay, thank you for always inspiring me and so many thousands of others around the globe. you have always been helpful and generous with your knowledge. I truly believe your magnanimity will live on in future generations of wildlife rehabbers. you are loved and will be missed by so many of us…may the next part of your life’s journey be peaceful and pain free. sending you gentle hugs from seattle

  23. Hi Jay,
    I’m glad we have the opportunity to share what you mean to us and I hope you do realize what an impact you’ve had and will continue to have in the most meaningful of ways — caring for each other. This was my first impression of you, that you cared about others. Be it the birds, your fellow rescuers, all the pain-the-asses you had to deal with, even me, a lowly newcomer to bird rescue. Your simple actions – a smile, remembering my name, giving me a ride home from Monterey, all the stories of different captures and spills, always treating me like a colleague – these actions mattered to me more than you will ever know. You know that I recently became the mother of a human baby and it’s taking me some time to figure out how to get back to my animal care work, how to pick up the pieces of the dream I had of becoming a vet. I’m keeping you in mind as I contemplate my next steps and I will always try to emulate you and the care and dedication with which you did your work in the world. I love you, Jay.

  24. You have been my suoer hero. You got done the impossible when it needed to be done. I love you
    You are my super hero. You always got done what needed to be done. I love you Jay

  25. Clearly looking for the right words to expess my feelings and can’t edit post. I hopr you know how much you have meant to me.

  26. Dearest Jay,

    My heart is heavy at the thought of you being in pain, and of having to leave this earthly plane far too soon. But I am certain – as I know you are – that abundant and limitless love, peace, beauty, and joy await you on the other side. I sincerely hope that you are profoundly and viscerally aware of how many lives – both human and animal – you have touched and saved while here; of how many people you have inspired to follow in your footsteps to work selflessly to help animals in need; and of the tremendous and lasting impact you have had on wildlife throughout the entire world.

    You have truly made a HUGE difference in this world, Jay, and you will be leaving behind an astonishingly beautiful and meaningful legacy. Not many people can look back on their lives and say this with such certainty. Yes, we all make small differences here and there, but you are an incredibly special man whose contributions are absolutely enormous. It is not hyperbole to call you a true hero for wildlife. You have passionately and tirelessly devoted your entire life to protecting and saving animals in distress – it is clearly your calling, and what you came here to do. And you have done it to the greatest possible extent. I truly feel there is no greater, and no more noble, calling.

    And I do believe that, along with your loved ones who have already crossed over, the animals will be there to greet and celebrate you when you make your transition. (There is going to be one heck of a party when you arrive!) Your life has been a precious gift to countless others, and you will never be forgotten. We are all better for having known you – and though we will greatly miss your presence here on this earthly plane, the echo of your life and of your soul will live on forever in each of our hearts. When the time comes, may you have a peaceful and beautiful transition surrounded by those you love and who love you most deeply, both here and on the other side.

    With love and peace,
    Dyan

  27. Jay, you may not remember me much but it is Jeff from the old Bay Area days when we struggled though the whole HIV thing together. I still happily put up the colorful platypus Christmas ornament you gave me at one of my tree-trimming parties in the Oakland hills tree-house each year and simply smile. My sincerest thoughts are being sent your way in these difficult times. We tried to make peace back then when we weren’t sure we’d be around and found huge support in each other. I recall several visits to the bird sanctuary in that little place you worked out of in Berkeley. Lori Moak-Kean passed on your news to me. I was always saddened that we fell out of touch. (BTW, I am now living in Santa Barbara.) A big hug is being sent your way. You are one of the most honorable people I ever met who actually made a difference in this crazy world … and I will always remember and respect you. Much love and I hope we meet up again to soar in our many paths of ‘life.’ XO, Jeff

  28. Hi Jay,

    I’ve been thinking about you especially this week as you transition to a new living situation. I hope it’s all working out well for you. I can imagine that, while it might be different and a difficult spin on things, that you are physically more comfortable and can enjoy food again, which is huge! I’m glad that you are still involved with work too.

    Anyway, just wanted you to know that I’m sending positive thoughts your way and wishing you the best as so many others are as well.

    Marge Elliott

  29. Jay
    Others have already spoken much of my thoughts and feelings. I can only add that I have often thought of you and always smiled.
    Your goodbye message is still in my voicemail.
    This Cajun girl is a better human for having known you.

    Dana

  30. Hi Jay,
    Just a note to let you know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I remember you well from our time working together (NWRA and IWRC) in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, and I have a huge amount of respect for who you are, what you do and have done, and how you have helped and inspired others. And here you are…still inspiring others. Peace and joy to you.
    Elaine Thrune

  31. Add to the chorus to let you know that you’re in my thoughts every day, and I’m sending you peace, love, strength and light. I wish there were something I could do to change the outcome – you are such an inspiration to so many. But since I can’t, I offer my humble support; whatever you need, whenever you need it. Bright blessing, Jay bird.

  32. Everything I feel has been said in the messages above. To have left such a legacy in the world and inspired so many people to continue with the good work is incredible. May you find comfort and peace in knowing this. Your genuine love for all is contagious… you are such a truly kind and good person, Jay. We love you, too.
    Pamela Ball

  33. Jay,

    We met when I volunteered cleaning oiled seabirds at Marin Wildlife Center in the mid 1980s.
    I was an Animal Control/State Humane Officer with Peninsula Humane Society at the time.

    I came up to help out a few other times as well.
    You had a raven at the front door who would greet you with a very human-sounding, “Hi!”
    If you returned the greeting, he would repeat a couple octaves lower!
    As I told Rebecca, after cleaning your bear den, it took a while before I could eat my Mexican peanut chicken again!

    I’m now in Ventura working as a Wildlife Officer (née Game Warden)
    Rebecca just directed me to your blog.
    I’ll have to catch up on your recent history, but do TAKE CARE!!

    Dennis Rosenberg

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