Jane St. Onge

Jane will be dead a year this August. I was very lucky to get back in touch with her seven years ago. We talked a lot on the phone. We exchanged several letters. She was at once in bad shape, physically and mentally, but still her perfect self, contentious, skeptical, funny, smart. We were a couple of nuts together back when.

The first time I saw her, in New Paltz, she was leaning late at night against a pillar in a bar. Her hair chopped off, she was dragging on a cigarette, and looking too cool for words. God only knows what she saw in me.

We loved each other. She saw me through the worst of my bad times and I repaid her by being the absolutely worst boyfriend I could be.

She was among the great people I’ve ever known. Even in her terrible moments she found more joy in her life than most people will know. She could take perfect delight in the simplest things. She gardened as though she had discovered it. She made pictures. She made dresses. She was a math wizard.

Jane read books like some people have fevers. She had been a compulsive diarist. She could outthink me, most days, and got the jokes of life that I couldn’t get.

That sly look on her face, and the way she could turn toward a person and smile, were so real I can see and feel them right now.

She liked to smoke and drink, and that’s what killed her. The week she died I was thinking, “you know, she’s going to live forever, that woman,” and then the news came. She was gone. There were only a few people I knew around town who remembered her and I made sure to tell them.

In fact, in my life only Madam Vandam, who once had been Jane’s close friend, understood what a loss it was. Here we are almost a year later. I note her passing here, now, because this is the New Paltz Journal, and anyone who walks down Main Street in New Paltz is walking a path she once illuminated with her great spirit. We miss her, terribly.

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