August 19, 2001 Kim Moriarity paddled out with hundreds of others for a memorial to her husband, Jay. Sentinel Photo by Dan Coyro -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Surfer’s widow carries on the spirit of her husband Two months ago, legendary Santa Cruz waterman Jay Moriarity died in a diving accident off the Maldives, and a community plunged into mourning. Thousands of people turned out for a paddle-out for Moriarity, and a shrine of candles, flowers and notes grew at the end of 36th Avenue where Moriarity used to sit and check the surf. "Be like Jay," a note read, and it pretty much summed up what people in Santa Cruz’s surf community thought. Last week, Moriarity’s wife, Kim, sat down with the Sentinel to tell the story of how Moriarity’s death and the community outpouring affected her. Sitting barefoot on a futon in their small Pleasure Point apartment, she talked about their lives together, their dreams and how she feels her husband is still with her and with Santa Cruz. "I wanted to write something, but whenever I tried, my hand wouldn’t work and I would just start crying," she said. This is Kim Moriarity’s story: By KIM MORIARITY As told to Peggy Townsend When Jay died, all these people sent me letters and e-mailed me, and a lot of people asked, "What made Jay, Jay?" I wanted to write them and tell them that Jay was a beautiful person, just a waterman. I wanted to tell them about how we used to go to Half Moon Bay (Mavericks) before it was any big thing. It would just be him and me, and I would have a sleeping bag in the iceplant, and I would be there all by myself just waiting for the fog to clear and the light to come up so I could see Jay out in the lineup. He would be all by himself, and I wouldn’t be afraid because I was confident of his ability and his strength of mind and his fitness. I never wanted to stand in the way of what he loved because he was my best friend. I started hanging out with Jay when I was 15, and I would be in the back of Frosty Hesson’s van, and he would be up front and I would just listen to everything that was going on. We did everything together, and when the reality hits of how he’s not physically here anymore, it’s really hard. We got married Aug. 19, 2000, in South Lake Tahoe. We went up there with dirt bikes and our mountain bikes. We were going on a dirt bike fishing trip. We were pulling this trailer, and when we pulled up to this chapel, we looked like hillbillies. We must have sat in the parking lot of Raley’s for a couple of hours saying, "Should we do it? Should we not?" We didn’t want to hurt anyone by eloping. We drove to Carson City to try to find the same church where my mother eloped with my dad 30 years ago, but we couldn’t find it, so we drove back to Lake Tahoe. Then we went to Safeway and bought three sunflowers and a piece of chocolate cake, and we got married in that chapel. And after, it was just me and Jay sitting there holding hands and saying, "Gosh, you’re my husband" and "Gosh, you’re my wife." We had our own language, like we would say "handofitz?" if we were asking the other person to play gin rummy and "girlens" and "boysens" for each other, and Jay never cared who was there, he would call me "pi-pi" and "girlens" in front of them. He was never embarrassed to be himself in front of people. We don’t have a TV, and we would just sit here and talk about philosophy and watch our snakes. We were best friends. When I walked around that corner on the day of the paddle-out and I saw all those people, I was just in awe, and I was carrying my board and my right hand was tingling so hard and I knew it was Jay holding my hand right then and telling me what to do. We always had things in three. Like we would kiss our (wedding) rings and knock them three times together, and he would always kiss me three times before he left, and when I saw that people out in the water had made three rings, I was just in awe. I could feel Jay there, making the connection from a spiritual plane to the physical one, and I just felt blessed. I have my reiki certificate, and it’s about channeling energy to heal, and last night I was sitting on the couch with my hands on either side of my face in a meditative state, and after a while I couldn’t feel where I ended and the couch began, and then all of a sudden I felt Jay’s hands, like they were holding my head, just holding me, and I could really feel him there and it was so rad. Jay and I used to hold hands and pray that we would grow old together. We were together 24/7. We were just together all the time. I only had one rule and that was in the winter, call before it gets dark or be home before it gets dark. Just before Jay left (for the Maldives), I gave him the book, "The Other Side and Back" by Sylvia Browne, and it’s a book I want everyone to read because it changes people’s lives, and he read it on the plane and he called me to say how much he liked it and that he wanted to read all her books. I even found some letters afterward in his backpack that he had written to me on the plane. I got to talk to him on that Wednesday, and he said he was doing more diving than surfing, and he said he got to swim with a huge turtle and that was rad. I was going to talk to him Friday. His birthday was Saturday. But he didn’t call, and I went to work and thought he must have been on a photo shoot. But then someone came to the register at O’Neill and they told me my mom needed to talk to me and when they told me what happened ... I don’t know how I made it here. It’s been two months, and I have a stack of cards and letters and checks from people, and I am going to write every one and thank them, if it takes me five years. I just want to say thank you to everyone so much. I just felt this big hug from Santa Cruz during this thing. It’s true that we are one big family. And everyone at O’Neill and all the people have been just great. I’m so grateful for where I live. I feel like, with Jay gone, I have to give twice the light now, to let people know we are here to love other people. Jay was like that. He would pick up people’s change and give it back to them when they dropped it and open doors and let little old ladies in front of him in line. No matter what he felt inside, he’d never pass someone with out a "Hey, how’s it going." Life was sometimes hard, but he was always positive to everyone, and I think he could inspire people to be bright and happy and good to each other. My job is to keep the ball rolling, to tell people to smile like Jay, to be like Jay. Just let the little old lady in front of you, let someone have a wave in the lineup. It seems like too many people try to make themselves happy by tearing down their house and building a bigger one. Happiness is inside. I think: How many people can I reach with that message, to be conscious and realize that your actions affect other people — from the way you drive your car, to the way you paddle out. Throw money in a tip jar, give the Domino pizza guy $5 instead of $3. That’s what Jay used to do. When you put it out, it will come back tenfold. Right now, the dust is starting to settle, and I think about the dream Jay and I had, of having a little house up north. We had so many dreams, and I feel like I did a 180-degree turn and I’m on the same path, but just walking backward now. I’m just waiting for when it will flip around so I can see clearly again. With the money people sent, I’m going to set up the Moriarity Foundation and use it for things like Jacob’s Heart (children’s cancer support group), Ride-a-Wave (a water sports program for the disabled) or high school surf teams and maybe scholarships. I want to keep it local. The other day I was out there with Ride-a-Wave, and there was this little girl with cerebral palsy named Megan. I was on the front of the board with my legs wrapped around her and Danny Cortazzo was behind, and the waves were just macking like they never do at Cowell’s, and we paddled out and there was this huge wave and Danny just spun the board around. I couldn’t believe he was doing it, but we caught that wave and we were just belly boarding all the way in, from outside to inside, and I put out my arms like I was flying. That little girl was so stoked, and that was like a blessing, to be there in that moment of her life. And Frosty said, "Isn’t it scary the amount of love there is?" and I said, "It is." And that’s what I want to tell people about Jay.