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Sunday, September 2, 2012

From Janelle

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I have spent many an evening the past couple of weeks, hands poised on the computer keyboard in vain, to write a tribute to Jason for Four Perspectives. Somehow I feel like I owe it to Jason- my confidant, my champion, my banter-buddy, my best friend - to at least make the attempt, however ill-conceived it may be. Although I can’t help but think, if I don’t do him justice, I may be in for a major haunting where he forces me to stick needles in my eyeballs or makes me lick the bottom of my shoes or something (hey- I know Jason, and I’ve watched “Supernatural”, I know how this works).

So I began several times, with a random thought which soon fizzled out and didn’t come close to covering all I wanted to say. Then I started with the facts: how we first met as colleagues at a Provo Elementary School, and how I thought he was completely conceited, and all the kids in the school mysteriously adored him, and, hey…he was single (a rarity in my line of work). But after typing an entire page about the history of the first couple of years of our friendship, I realized that a litany (that would be a “prolonged and tedious account”) of facts would not do his memory justice, either. Plus, it would bore readers to tears and probably Gerb would never publish it anyway.  So I would have to come up with something new.

Recently, I started to think about the weeks before school started every year, and how Jas and I would talk about the mountain of tasks to be done to get our respective classrooms ready for the coming year. We would have similar experiences – standing in the middle of the classroom, gazing all around, feeling not a little overwhelmed and not even sure of where to begin. Sometimes we’d give up and just go home, putting it off until tomorrow, then go to a movie and out to dinner. But eventually the work HAD to get done, and the only way was to focus on one small task at a time to accomplish and then…. well,
just START, already.

So here is my start. Just the barest outline of my memories, really. I hope that in some small way, these things will remind you of the man you knew, or that maybe you will catch a glimpse of the man I have known and loved for the past 12 years.

Jason was the man who….

  • wrote blogs, read blogs and made friends through blogging
  • could keep up with my humorous banter like no one else I have ever met
  • gave the best hugs, even though he said he wasn’t much of a “touchy” person…yeah, whatever….
  • was the only other person on the planet who listened to the Harry Potter books on CD as much I do
  • sometimes was very sensitive to my moods and needs and was so tender and kind….and sometimes was a total GUY, oblivious…
  • went on walks with me along the Provo River Park Trail, along the foothills in Provo, etc., talking about anything and everything
  • surprised me last year by coming to my classroom on the last day of school to help me because I was stressed out
  • spent hours burning all my class DVD’s for me so I would have one less thing to worry about
  • could talk me “off the ledge” with a calm, soothing voice when I was completely frazzled about something
  • watched episode after episode of “Smallville” with me until he fell asleep
  • brought me a helium balloon and took me to lunch on the one-year anniversary of my grandma’s death
  • made me CD’s of songs he liked (which I never knew the names of when people asked)
  • had a strange, prejudiced aversion to country music (except, somehow, “Sweet Home Alabama”)
  • could figure out almost any song title or artist name if given enough time 
  • had a great memory for movie plots and lines and could quote any line from “The Emperor’s New Groove”, for instance
  • knew just when to grab your arm or leg during a scary movie for maximum impact
  • was very frugal, but once in awhile would spend a lot of money…. mostly on computer stuff or camera stuff, but sometimes for fun stuff like WICKED tickets, clothes, a trip to California or New York City, a new SUV…
  • let me “vacation” at his house for a few days while he was in New York for Spring Break and I needed to get “away” for awhile but didn’t have any money
  • took pictures at my sister’s wedding and of my nieces and nephews for free
  • had to have the light “just right” to take his photos
  • walked out of the Nickelback concert at the USANA amphitheater with me because the language the singer used in between songs was offensive
  • sang and danced with me to the music from said concert in the parking lot
  • made grocery shopping fun just by idle teasing and chatter….and letting me ride on the cart
  • talked to every waiter or waitress or cashier like they were old friends
  • sweet-talked a waitress at Texas Roadhouse into giving us 9 hot, fresh rolls to go –for free
  • planned my “Wicked” themed birthday party last year, blowing up about a zillion green balloons, some of which had pieces to a “puzzle” message inside them (I had to pop all the balloons to find the message, then put it together)
  • won 4 tickets to “High School Musical” on stage in Salt Lake, and took 3 of the hottest women he knew (me and two of our friends) I don’t think he knew how much those tickets were worth when he offered them to us…
  • wouldn’t tell anyone how old he really was…. but finally told me just a couple of years ago (I felt VERY special then, like I was Ethan Hunt from “Mission Impossible” or something)
  • invited me over for dinner on random Sundays to enjoy his sister’s cooking…. and once in awhile his barbeque or tortellini soup
  • walked me to my car every time I was leaving his house and always said: “Drive careful-ish…”
  • needed some serious arm-twisting before he would go shopping for clothes – but I got him to Macys and Kohls a couple of times
  • wouldn’t let me be the one to walk on the outside of a sidewalk or the edge of a road
  • would sneeze, then say “Bless me” right after – unless you were really quick and beat him to it
  • doubled up on his car payments so he wouldn’t be in debt for too long
  • parked as far away from other cars as possible so as to lessen the chances of getting a ding
  • got up early, even when he didn’t have to (I never could understand that)
  • took me in and let me take a nap at his house when I showed up at his door on the last day of school, too exhausted to drive home safely
  • loved with all his heart and would do anything for someone he loved
  • put his arms around me and held me while I sobbed to him about my sister having cancer, and on the day my grandma died
A character on some cheesy chick flick I was watching once years ago said something that I’ve never forgotten, that has always made me think of Jason: “I loved who I was when I was with him.” I will miss the person I was when I was with Jas, for that was when I was truly ME. He brought out the best in me. (Well, OK, also sometimes the snarky, more opinionated me, but mostly the best….)

One beautiful thing that happens when someone dies is that everyone remembers all the good, valuable qualities in that person’s life. We talk and write about what an amazing person he was, and thank him for his influence for good in our lives. How sad that we do not often think to do the same every day for the people in our lives before they are gone. One favorite song of ours was “If Today Was Your Last Day” by Nickelback. All of the lyrics are poignant, but I want to leave you with my favorite part:

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you're dreamin' of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day

If today was your last day
Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?
You know it's never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are
So do whatever it takes
'Cause you can't rewind a moment in this life
Let nothin' stand in your way
Cause the hands of time are never on your side

This is for you, my dear friend.  Remember: “Just like a tattoo”….



dbs said...

I only knew Jason through the blogging world but I am not surprised he kept himself between you and the road. I am so shocked! I haven't visited his blog for about a month and I am just so shocked. He always wrote encouraging positive things on my blog. What an amazing tribute you wrote. So sorry for your loss.

Corine said...

I know you don't know me, but I can't help not caring about someone Jason cared so much about. Give yourself a bit hug for me; you are in my prayers. And thank you for the awesome tribute to Jason.
An old friend of Jason's and one of his adopted sisters,

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