This February will mark the 20th year that I have been missing Jason Garfield Sullivan. Twenty years ago I tried to imagine myself twenty years later, wondering if I would ever stop missing that boy. Now I know. Absolutely not. My life is beautiful and amazing and full of love and not a day goes by that I am not grateful for all I have been given. I am also grateful that I got the opportunity to know Jason and share a little time with him here before he had to go.
This wasn’t the first time, but the other day I Googled “Jason Garfield Sullivan” just to see if anything came up. When a person who isn’t famous or known for something dies before the internet is around, it’s very hard to find them on the world wide web. Here are some of the things I can remember about the coolest guy I’ve ever known so that Jason can exist not only in my heart, but on a search engine as well.
Jason was born on November 2nd, 1970. He had blonde hair and blue eyes and a deep, scratchy voice that I wish I could have saved in a bottle. The palms of his hands were big and his fingers were short in comparison. He always played that game where you grab your own arm and act like your hand is going to attack someone. I forget what it’s called but, man, he did that a lot! He also stuck his finger in your mouth when you were yawning so you couldn’t finish your yawn. I do it to my kids now and they hate it as much as I use to.
He wouldn’t eat or drink before brushing his teeth in the morning, and now neither will I.
He always had black toenails from playing basketball in shoes that didn’t fit him well. I remember laughing to myself as I looked down at his toes while he lay on his last bed. He was a really good basketball player and I loved watching him play.
He had gorgeously full lips that I loved to kiss any chance I could. Jason had a chiseled jaw and looked like a movie star (as my mom would say) and his nickname was Hollywood. He was confident and cool and funny, but he was also vulnerable and wanted to be understood. He said he was a lover, not a fighter more times than I could count.
He loved Elvis. He would slow dance with me to “Fools Rush In” just because I wanted him to. I choreographed a dance to a vignette of Elvis songs in his honor. He loved it. And he loved me.
Jason was ambitious and never saw the law school acceptance letters that came in the mail alongside the organ donation thank you letters. His dream was to begin a legacy. He wanted a family that he could love and take care of. We talked about our plans endlessly. It was his favorite thing to do.
Jason taught me that it isn’t okay to say and do things in the heat of the moment that hurt the ones you love and just expect it to be okay after you aren’t mad anymore. It sounds like common sense, but it wasn’t where I came from. When I was upset, he would take a walk with me and listen and make me feel like what I was feeling was totally understandable and acceptable. And when he was upset, he would find me. We didn’t have cell phones back then.
When he died, he was teaching himself to play the piano. He would play the violin and harmonica for me whenever I asked him to. He was a great dancer.
He would walk, hike and take step aerobics with me and I know he would be practicing yoga next to me today if he was here.
Jason was a good and loyal friend. A whole group of his friends named their sons Jason. Seriously, he was so awesome that there is a little, tiny cult of Jason Juniors out there.
He loved and admired his mother more than anyone else in the whole world. Even at a young age, he understood her sacrifices and gave her credit for all he was and all he had the potential to become. He loved his grandparents and his aunt and his uncles and his cousins. At his funeral his father told me that he must have been a really good boy. I told him that he was more than good and that it was sad that he would never know.
He fell on a hike by a waterfall on a warm February day and he died five days later.
I can’t hear the song “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor without at least wanting to cry. I always thought I would see him again. But the last time we spoke we told each other that we loved each other and I can’t really ask for more than that. The last time I held him in my arms, I crawled up in the bed beside of him and told him that I was sorry his life was over so soon and that I would miss and love him forever. And I meant it.