It was several years ago that Jason, known as Mr. Z, came into mine and my family's life. He was a teacher at the school where my children went. My son was in the 5th grade and would come home from school and tell me about a Mr. Z who he adored. I didn't know until later, but my son would follow Mr. Z into the lunchroom and sit by him to eat his lunch. Mr. Z told me he didn't know who this kid was who had attached himself to his side. Over time, he got to know my son and a friendship blossomed.
As that school year progressed, I would go to the school to help my son with projects he had in his class. One day, I was waiting out in the hall and a teacher, Mr. Z walked by and told me, “Welcome!" He walked into his classroom which was across the hall from my son's. I continued to sit in the hall waiting for my son's project to begin and wondered and marveled as I saw student after student over a time of about ten minutes sneak into Mr. Z's classroom to wish him a happy birthday and then come out giggling heading back to their classes. Who is this Mr. Z, I wondered? It was obvious the kids in the school adored him and not just his students who were in his class at that time!
Months passed by. Spring came. I was waiting for my children to come home from school. The door burst open and I was informed by one of my children that their special needs brother wouldn't come home from school. Thinking that he was just being stubborn like he sometimes would get, I grabbed my bike and went to try to persuade him to come home. Riding my bike normally worked. As I rode up to the school where the cross walk was, I saw my son on the ground and Mr. Z kneeling by him. I introduced myself and Mr. Z introduced himself. After assessing my son, I very quickly realized that my son was going into what we call an attack. I had very little time to get him home before paralysis took completely over. I told my children to stay with my son and that I would be back shortly with our truck. Mr. Z assured me that he would stay with the children and then told me that he had read my blog, had read what my son dealt with, and would take care of him until I got back.
I raced home puzzled. A teacher at the school, read my blog, and more interestingly, had read my posts about our Levi. As I got back to the school, Mr. Z picked up Levi and put him in the truck for me and told me that he hoped he would be okay. After I got Levi home and settled, my son who adored Mr. Z told me, 'Thank goodness Mr. Z was the crossing guard today huh mom."
And so it began... I went to Mr. Z's blog to find out about this teacher who took the time to read about our Levi and in our time of need, would stand guard and help our family. As the school year progressed, I had more interaction with Mr. Z and was impressed with the teacher that he was. The relationship he had with his students and the joy of learning that he instilled in their hearts and minds.
Months passed and our friendship continued. Mr. Z became Jason to us. One day, he came to me and asked if he could do a photo shoot of Levi. We agreed and what enfolded was a gift I will always treasure. Jason was able to capture Levi. Not the handicapped Levi that the world sees but the Levi that we, his family sees. Jason's gift with photography is unlike any that I've ever encountered.
Jason became a part of our family. He is a friend to us, an uncle to my kids. When ever my kids would have a special celebration, we had to make sure and invite Mr. Z. He made my kids feel like they were one in a million when he was around. That they were the only kids in his life.
About two years ago, my son who adores Jason asked him if he would teach him to play guitar. Jason talked to me about it and we set up a weekly time for he and my son to play and practice together. That time would become one of the highlights of Jason's week and ours. Having Jason in our home weekly, sitting and chatting for a bit before and after my son and he would play guitar, the impromptu singing jam sessions that would follow with several of us sitting around singing, the incentive to make sure my house was clean (or at least the downstairs) because he was coming... one must keep up appearances right? (It's a mom thing.) It's been only a week since Jason left us and I miss him coming through our front door in a painful way.
Jason was always the gentleman. He wouldn't speak negatively about others and he wouldn't let anyone around him speak negatively of others. He wouldn't let me be down in the dumps which sometimes drove me nuts. I would try to wallow and feel bad and he wouldn't let me. He would remind me of the beauty and goodness around me. If I was going through a hard time, treats would mysteriously show up on my front porch. One time I caught him. He had meant to sneak some peanut butter cups onto my front porch but I was sitting outside on my porch and caught him. He sat down next to me and proceeded to spend the next hour cheering me up making me laugh with his goofy stories.
This past year Jason was my daughter's school teacher. We will be forever grateful for the influence for good he was in her life. When she started in his class she was painfully shy and when would try to talk in front of the class, it was just above a whisper. Through the year he helped her to build her self confidence and both my husband and I were delighted as we saw her progress through the year and blossom. All because of Mr. Z, Jason.
I could fill reams of paper with how much Jason has meant to us. The good that he brought into our lives. I consider it a huge blessing that we were able to get to know Jason and have these memories of him. He has left a gaping hole in our family. He will never be forgotten. I know that he is busy on the other side doing that which he was busy on this side, building and encouraging children to be the best they can be. Lifting others and making them smile and laugh.
I miss you Jason. Until we meet again...