When memorializing someone the memory is anything but objective. Time goes by, other people experienced the same event or person differently, and you do your best to leave the past where it is and continue toward the next horizon.
So bear with me and allow me to start out by thanking everyone who helped me through a very dark period in my life last year, when I lost the man I saw myself building a future with. To those who sent cards and letters of sympathy, to those who offered condolences and an open ear, and to those who said nothing but held me as I stumbled through that crazy maze called grief, thank you. Your kindness and consideration sustained me.
Thursday will be the one-year mark since James (Jack, Jim and Triple J to some) died in a car accident. Instead of the details of his death, I’d like to introduce you to him as I remember him from life. You would have liked him. You would have been glad to make his acquaintance and maybe even get to call him friend. He wasn’t just a guy who would go to Hell and back for the people he cared about, he would kick open the gates and buy you a t-shirt and souvenirs before he made the return trip.
We met in college whilst performing in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (because that’s what higher education is really about). He lived life with the same “Here I am” verve that he brought to the stage. He was always patient and thoughtful, whether it was teaching me how to play Chinese checkers while we waited for our takeout or handing my butt to me in a bout of Pac Man. He never made you feel like less than you were, and he never blamed his mistakes on others. I was always challenged to be better when I was with him, but never made to feel like I wasn’t good enough. He taught me not to take my life or my loved ones for granted, but to remind the latter how much they rock my world and to carpe the crap out of the diem. To burn rickety bridges with shoddy footing and to rebuild and maintain the ones that matter.
You know that exceedingly cliché, bile-inducing saying “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened?” Once you get past the almost irresistible urge to right-hook the purveyor of said chestnut in the chops, you realize it’s both right and wrong. There is never a time when the person who is gone is not missed. There is no “get over it” stage, only an ability to work through it.
Eventually, you are able to smile again. You remember, and you laugh, whether you’re with people who loved him too, in a crowded grocery store, or by yourself listening to a particular song or watching a sunset.
Thank you for being in my life, James. I’ll always hold a place for you in my heart.
*To those who have taken the time to read through this, I dig comments, criticism, or any excuse that allows me to check my email. So if you would like to vent or share, please send questions and whatnot to Sophia@statesmanexaminer.com .