Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jonathan

Tomorrow is Jonathan's birthday, and he would be turning 30. Throughout the month of March, I always try to do things that remind me of Jonathan -- I eat foods that remind me of him; I watch movies he loved or that we loved and referenced regularly; I play board games; and I try even harder to live by his "anything for a friend" motto. March is always bitter sweet. It is hard to think of Jonathan and not laugh or smile in spite of the piercing sense of absence. I am continuously reminded of how blessed my life is because Jonathan was in it...even if for not as long as we wanted. Beginning tomorrow, I plan on posting a picture and a Jonathan story each day until the 15th. Feel free to add your own stories to the comments or email them to me, and I'll add them in.
Several years ago, I wrote the following for the That's Gonna Leave a Mark blog, but I never posted it here. I'm including it now with a few changes.

When I think of “Jonathan stories” my mind is flooded with millions of stories. I can never settle on one that seems just right or that can begin to explain any part of who Jonathan is. Over the past six years the things that have blown me away is how much Jonathan was in the little, every day things of life. I knew how much Jonathan meant to me, but I don’t think I realized how much Jonathan was a part of me – a part of who I am and a part of my every day life. Not long after Jonathan died, I was having lunch with a friend in downtown Jackson. We were sitting close to a window and were in the middle of a deep conversation. I was mid-sentence when through the window I saw a Red Bull truck, and I stopped immediately and just sat there. My friend told me that one day these small things would be what makes me smile in remembrance, but I’m not for sure I believed him. I now know he was right.
It’s the small things that bring the Jonathan stories, moments, and memories rushing through my mind. The small things like a new board game on the shelf at the store – a game that would be perfect for an all night gamefest, and a game at which Jonathan would obviously beat me. I almost always think of Jonathan when renting a movie. The obvious movies like The Ladies’ Man or Lock, Stock aren’t the ones that stop me in my tracks. However, movies like Butch Cassidy, Ronin or What About Bob, or Mean Machine, or even the latest movie with lots of car chases and explosions are the ones that make me stop, smile, and maybe laugh out loud. When in the grocery store about my bi-monthly shopping for food I come across Tab or Fresca, I always think of those post-church, Sunday night parties at the Devore’s. Foods like meatloaf, crunchy romaine toss, French bread pizzas, chocolate chip cake and yellow cake with chocolate icing all have Jonathan attached to them in my mind. I never see a blue, Z71 drive down the road that I don’t listen for it to sound like JD’s truck or think of the times Jonathan would use the intercom to tell motorists to go faster or get out of his way. There are millions of these small things, and they are the things that I cherish most.
Of all the things that remind me of Jonathan, one stands out the most. Jonathan loved sunsets. He was borderline obsessed with them. His ebay username even had the word sunset in it. For me, sunsets are the one thing that capture the most of who Jonathan was. As I think back, all of our serious, heart-to-heart conversations happened while watching the sunset. On the Reservoir watching the sunset after playing catch for an hour, we sat and talked about how he really felt about moving to California; we talked about life and dreams and what those meant to us. A year later after spending the day on a road trip for a shoot, we watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean from Ventura and realized that not much had changed in how we viewed our lives and dreams.
Jonathan often got frustrated about being in California, and he needed to be reminded of why he was there. No matter where Jonathan moved (and he moved tons in that year and a half), one of the first things he did was to find a place to watch the sunset. He couldn’t always find time to go and sit to watch the sunset, but he tried to at least three of four times a week. His place (which moved each time he did) was a place he could go and sit for an hour and forget about whatever was going on; it was a place where he could re-charge. Sometimes he would call while he sat and watched the sunset; on busy days it was often the only moment he got to sit still or make a call. He would try to describe what he was seeing, but as often with God’s creation, words never were enough. He often talked about how the clouds made a difference in the colors and the beauty of the sunset. In a place that often seemed Godless to him, Jonathan could always see God in His sunsets. I think it served as a reminder that God hadn’t called Jonathan to California and just left him; God was still there with him.
I don’t get to see the sunset daily, or nearly enough as I would like. I often only get to see them when driving home to Mississippi. But when I see the sunset, I’m reminded of all of who Jonathan is. Eudora Welty says, “The memory is a living thing – it too is in transit. But during its moment, all that is remembered joins, and lives – the old and the young, the past and the present, the living and the dead.” Sunsets have become one of my favorite things too because as I watch, with the help of my memory, if only for a moment, Jonathan still lives.


molly said...

Loved reading this. I'm glad you can still feel like he's with you. LYMIB

Kearsmom said...