Wheels were down in Denver at 6:51pm last night, the return leg of a journey I never thought I’d take. The ceremony of saying goodbye – I don’t know what kind of solace it’s supposed to provide in and of itself, but I will say that I’ve learned that like every other human being, I’m subject to the laws of inertia and motion. I’ve fought non-stop of seven days to keep moving, because physics has no explanation or condition attributed to being alone in your head with every thought, memory and Ouda. The Ouda Sisters – I talk about them often. Shoulda, Coulda and Woulda – bitches, all three. But turning their antics over in your mind keeps you moving.
I’ve realized once again some things that don’t work, like getting completely shitfaced in an effort to kill the pain that’s in a part of you that no blood can reach. Fighting an Ambien-induced sleep because you’re not done looking at pictures – equally useless, given the pictures will be there in the morning. But moreso, there’s the remarkable discovery of some things that actually do work as I wander through the type of lost that no map can fix and makes me want to punch the voice on my GPS.
Honesty: Sugar-coating is for shit, rots your teeth and makes everything seem trite. When you stand in front and beside people you love and respect enough to dispense with the bullshit, you do a few things – make it possible for them to feel the need to say nothing at all and give them the gift of compassion. And compassion and platitudes aren’t the same, little kitty…oh, no no.
Layering: Having fewer memories of Jason than most everyone in any room I’ve been in for the past two weeks, I’ve learned the value of layering. Basking in everyone else’s memories allows me to do something I never anticipated: find peace in who I knew Jason was from the day I met him, as everyone else knew him as that for the longest time. It’s the Jason Cake – and each story, memory, photo…they’re building the sweetest layer cake for me to carry with me.
Hearts: Over the past week, I’ve received the incredible gift of meeting those who love Jason. From other women who dated him to college buddies filled with stories of shenanigans. Jason earned respect because he gave it to you first – and without a second thought. I’ve been surrounded by words of love, hugs I never expected (and damn good hugs) and stories that, as we all float in this sea of grief, make us laugh.
And so I’ve come to today and what it is we do. We leave nothing behind, as Jason’s made that impossible. The little shit is so vibrant that we’ll see him everywhere for the rest of our lives. I’ll have my gift of sweet kisses, smartass remarks, giant hugs in my kitchen and the way it should always feel when a man holds my hand. Today, I’ll take those things and begin the process of finding that equal and opposite force that will require me to slow down. Pause. And change direction. I have no doubt I’ll be better for it, though there was supposed to be someone by my side on this path.
Adam, Andy, Andi, Austin, Carl, Michael, Terri, Neil, Brandi, Heather, Monika, Rich, Brian, Rick, Tiffany, Josh, Micah, Linnae, LeVar, Zoe, Suzanne, Michael S., Cara, Merredith, Shelly, Cali…brilliance, all of you. And I’m forgetting so many more, but know that it’s the limitations of my brain and no failing of having made an impression on me. As with each of you, there will be memories of Jason that I’ll hold safely in my heart. You’ll never hear the stories because they’re not meant to be heard. They’re like a secret batch of salted caramels that I can tap into when I need that deep, lingering sweetness. When I miss him so much it’s unbearable. When life randomly reminds me that the Right Now would be infinitely better with him to share it with me. When a new superhero movie comes out and I struggle, knowing the person who would be most excited has the best seat in the house instead of the one next to me.
There were two great gifts that have come from having Jason in my life for a flash: him, and everything we did, said and shared together, and the people who filled his life. I thank each of you for sharing the gift you can’t buy – your love for him. And for sharing that gift with a complete stranger who, ironically, turned out to be a redhead named Erika.
It’s what we do – moving. Jason always was and never let a minute slip by. Maybe we can each strive to be a little more Jason, even though we’ll never quite get there. For me, I’ll just hear him whisper – plain as day – “Bring it, bitch,” and rise to the challenge.