I am sure I have said this before. Death happens way too often in my life. People I know. Friends. People I’ve supported. Family (Church, extended and chosen), they all matter and touch me. Sometimes their deaths hit me hard…harder than I expect. It’s like a weirdly knitted/sown/crocheted afghan. The different patterns are the people from all my walks. It’s big and covers me whole keeping me warm and blesses me abundantly with its size. Is just as odd as my life and doesn’t please everyone to the eye, but has a lot of character. Then, there are the dropped stiches, extra yarn pulled out and holes that are slowly being filled and some that will never be filled again.
Jason was my friend. I met him the way I meet a lot of people, on Wheeltrans. No matter who I was travelling with or where I was going, the bus I was on picked him up about two or three times per month. Not very much, but just enough to form a friendship. The first time I met him it started with hello and a helping hand. The driver asked him to turn off his power chair a couple times, I saw he had a head proximity switch. I looked over and could see Jason’s eyes widen, trying to say something,
“Can your chair turn off?” Assuming he communicates with his eyes.
He immediately looked down.
“Does looking down mean “no”?”
His eyes flew up.
“Eyes up “yes”?”
His eyes shot down, then he looked at me and gave me the most beautiful smile. I asked him I could help him chat with the driver, to which he said yes and then we talked the whole trip through. A friendship was born. A few years later, I started supporting someone at a day program and guess who attended that same program, Jason! Our friendship grew. I mean, we couldn’t swear, talk about girls or our favourite new beer, but, we made the best of it.
I tried to create a friendship with Jason outside Wheeltrans. For someone who lived in full dependent housing, was deemed not to really understand or communicate and had no family, it was hard. The first few times I called his house to talk to him, his staff laughed at me, hung up on me or didn’t trust me. I finally ran into him downtown with his best friend, ex support worker. I called her to make plans to go to the bar, hang out in the city or get together with Jason. We always had the best time together. I wished we could see each other more. I left the day program and only saw him once a month and calling was useless, even though I tried often. So, we made the best of the time when we were together.
I got a call last week from a friend from the day program. Jason died. I cried. I will miss him so much and am lucky for the opportunity to have ever met him. You know those people who you just click with, they have an added sparkle to them and they’re just infectious? That was Jason. A rocker at heart, with long hair, had good taste in women and was a straight shooter, letting people he loved know they mattered and living his life as best he could. And I for one, know how much that life that I didn’t always see was riddled in sadness, abuse and mistreatment at times. I did my best to speak up for him, keep him safe and take care of him. Not knowing what I didn’t know laid heavily on my heart. We talked about it sometimes, or changed things at the day programs to make care better. Sometimes he’d ask me to do things his staff wouldn’t. He was more compassionate and patient than I’ll ever be.
Love you Jason, I’ll never forget you