Jason’s funeral was today. He was diagnosed 7 months before I was. He was a pastor at a baptist church, a husband and father of 2 kids age 9 and 11. He served his country as a chaplain in the army. He was 43.
I’ve known him and his mother and father for over 20 years. It’s so very true what they say….no parent should outlive their children. I sat behind the family and felt the anguish of his mother and father staring blankly ahead as their son’s open, flag draped coffin was just 6 feet in front of them. Heart wrenching music played and a montage of life long pictures flashed before everyones eyes. And there sat his children. How hard it must be to comprehend at that age that you will no longer have the physical presence of your loving father. I can’t imagine.
A close friend that knew him from seminary gave the eulogy and could hardly get through it and read an account of just how much he meant to the men he served alongside in Iraq. I have so much admiration and respect for him as he stepped up and volunteered when he heard how much of a need there was for chaplains in the army.
I couldn’t walk up and view him. I don’t want to remember him that way. I want to remember him the way he was. Bright eyed, mischievous, intelligent, outspoken, self assured yet humble.
SHUT UP!! SHUT UP…you have no fucking idea what you are talking about…is what I wanted to scream at some lady who, was trying to comfort his mother with the words “he’s in a better place” and “God needed him up there in heaven so that’s why he had to go.” There is nothing to say. Don’t make what you feel is an uncomfortable silence awkward by saying shit like that to a mother who has just watched her son battle multiple myeloma with 14 months of chemo, radiation and stem cell treatments. The mother who went through ups and downs during that time being told it looks like her son’s treatment is working and survival rate can be 10 years plus. But then suddenly…no. It’s too late. And in the same month as her son passes, yet another close friend of hers is diagnosed. 3 in less than a year.
I know it’s selfish but, knowing someone close to me was fighting a malignancy as well makes me a bit more brave. I don’t know how long I have, but I do know when I get there I will have a friend waiting for me.
Please hold your loved ones tight and let them know just how much you love them.