Last Friday, we did an activity with 8th grade students at school where we had a chance to consider how the different parts of our social identity resonate with us, challenge us, give us power, isolate us. Family structure was one of the 6 categories. While that is only one component of social identity, it jumped right out at me because not a moment goes by that I am not faced with my family of three, which is doing just fine, except the presence of his absence. I haven’t gone back to the online journal for a while. But today I wanted to remember what I wrote on the day Jared died, 9 years ago today. Here it is:
Jared died this afternoon at 12:30 pm. As prepared as we all were for it, and as much as I knew that it was time, it was still hard, at that very moment, to know that I won’t see him anymore. My love for him is woven into my very being. It has been 11 years since we met and 4 ½ years that we’ve been married. Right now, it’s very hard to remember the last 11 years because what is so much in the forefront of my mind is the last 10 months, especially this last, most difficult month. But as I sift through the images and memories in my mind, I find the Jared that I will remember and treasure forever: gentle and steady, full of life and laughter (and a good bit of sarcasm), generous, honest, faithful, handsome, genuine, strong, a loyal friend, full of the fruits of the Spirit of God within him.
Jared lives on in Caleb and Noah, and even in me because, as we’ve grown together over the last 5 years, a lot of him has rubbed off on me and for that I am thankful. Both of us have grown a great deal, even through this struggle. It pained Jared that he might die and not have a lifetime to put into practice the things he was learning. One of the things I appreciate most about Jared is his fairness, his willingness to listen and consider the opinion of another. He wanted to learn and grow and change for the better. And he possessed so much that he offered kindly and respectfully. He was such a gift to us all and will continue to be long after his passing.
I’m sure as time passes I will run across so many things that remind me of him and make me smile. Here are just a few that I can think of right now. I will cook from his Harry Potter notebook filled with all the recipes that “made the cut.” I’ll sit on the living room rug and enjoy our children. When it’s nice out, I will grill chicken and vegetables with Italian dressing marinade. I will always cheer for Ohio State football and enjoy the NCAA basketball tournament. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read the Psalms again without him in mind. I will recognize movie quotes and even quote them myself at appropriate times. Although it is unlikely that I ever use the chain saw or ax, I will somehow get free wood and build fires on cold days. I will listen to music and hear the bass line (something I never did before I met Jared).
I have posted a new picture. It is one of Jared in September of 2005 at our church’s Oxford Circle Community Festival. It’s a perfect way to remember him, outdoors, smiling, full of life and about to show some neighborhood kids how to dunk.
I’m so thankful to have shared a part of my life with him. And I’m so thankful for a compassionate God who held us in his hand through this ordeal. I’m so thankful that, after this long, difficult struggle, Jared has a new body now. There is no longer any sickness or pain. Before he died this afternoon, I had just been telling his sister that I had St. Olaf choir on the iPod and I was thinking of bringing it up to have it playing quietly in the room. We never got to that, but now Jared is joyfully singing the songs of heaven.