Monday, November 30, 2009

dry cleaning

i hadn’t been to the dry cleaners in a really long time. made lots of attempts, but never seemed to make it there. this started to become a problem, because i was missing some of my favorite clothing items. i also knew that i needed to go and see if any of Jarronn’s clothes were still there. i wondered if the people at the dry cleaners had been trying to call Jarronn’s phone to get him to pick up his unclaimed items. his phone that i leave turned off, yet still pay the bill for.

last night i cleared out a box of items from Jarronn’s car. i found a dry cleaners receipt for 7/27/09. three days before he died. i knew his clothes must have been there.

i took my bundle of clothes into the shop. it’s owned by a married korean couple. the husband asked for my phone number. i asked him to change my name in the computer to “jackson.” his wife sorted and counted my items. i handed her the receipt for Jarronn’s clothes and wondered if i might make it out before having to tell her about him. i figured she might not have remembered we were married.

but she did.

those who were at Jarronn’s memorial service might remember me talking about how much everyone loved him. “even the people at the dry cleaners.” Jarronn would frequently tell me how much he liked this particular shop. how they knew exactly how to lightly starch his shirts. how he’d greet them in korean. how they were christians. how they were always happy to see him. i once picked up his clothes, shortly after we got married. i gave the woman the first three digits of his phone number, and before i could finish, she exclaimed, “mr. jackson! oh yes, he is [our] #1 customer!” of course, i smiled. he was my #1 too. when i got home and told Jarronn, he smiled ear-to-ear and laughed so hard. probably said something like, "i love my people."

so when i stood there today, and she said, “your husband, mr. jackson hasn’t been here in a long time,” i had to swallow hard. i told her he had died in july. that it was a motorcycle. i'm not sure she understood my english. her husband came up front, and i told him the same thing. they were shocked. and saddened. and sorry. i told them how much he loved coming there and thanked them for always taking such good care of him. i wished we could have said more to each other, but the language barrier got in the way. the husband carried Jarronn’s clothes out to my car.

as i drove off, a couple of tears fell. wish i could be taking those clothes home to him. wonder when i’m supposed to pick up mine…

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the why vs. the what

church on sundays isn't quite the same. but it's still fulfilling and worthwhile. this past sunday, our pastor (keith battle) talked about how he deals with trials in his life. with the deaths, illness, and other struggles, 2009 has been a tough year for a lot of people (can i get an amen?).

pastor battle talked about how he's learned to avoid doing what most of us do when tragedy and trials happen in our lives. he's learned to resist the urge to ask "why?" it's a natural thing, but the truth is asking "why?" doesn't help us move forward. it also implies a sense of entitlement that none of us has really earned (that's a jessica addition).

instead of asking "why?", pastor battle suggested that we ask "what?" as in, "what am i supposed to learn from this?" now i can honestly say that i often look for lessons in life. and that i believe life is all about learning, growing, and getting better. but i can also honestly say that after Jarronn died, i had no capacity to see a lesson in the situation. in my mind, Jarronn's death wasn't worth some lesson i might learn. it wasn't worth the pain that it caused me, his family, and so many of the lives he touched.

but there are some things i've learned. not sure that they're the ultimate lessons. those might come months or years down the line. but they're good ones, i think. i've learned that we have false perceptions about the amount of control we have over our lives. i've learned that grieving is a process that chooses us and can't be rushed through. i've learned that the human spirit is incredibly strong and has the capacity to overcome anything.

and perhaps pastor battle is right when he says, "pain is the greatest classroom." pain, unlike happiness, gets our attention. i swear i thought i was being attentive enough, but apparently, God had a different opinion. and oh, how i'd hate to go through this class and not learn anything. left to repeat it over and over, until i receive my passing grade...

"When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one
as well as the other." - Ecclesiastes 7:14

Friday, November 20, 2009


i made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. one of Jarronn's staples. i made him two pbj's back in 2005, the night we had our talk. the talk about liking each other as more than just friends. after a year as friends, we joked about how maybe it was something in those sandwiches. or the full moon. or it being the first day of summer.

Jarronn told me he liked those sandwiches, but i think he was just trying to boost my ego. the truth was that we liked our pbj's very different. i like thin layers of peanut butter and jelly. Jarronn liked to pile on both. we both learned to make them in the way the other person liked.

on certain mornings, i would make pbj's for Jarronn to carry in his lunch bag. he appreciated it a lot. i was happy that something so small could make him happy.

i miss having him around to do things for. having someone to make happy. someone to buy gifts for (he LOVED gifts). and someone to cook for. of course i can do all of these things for other people, besides Jarronn. but really. it's not the same. throughout this situation, i don't think there's been a moment when i've felt the absence of love. on the contrary, i feel extremely loved. but i miss giving love. in the way i was once able to.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


a few weeks ago, some of my girl friends took me on a weekend trip to arizona for my birthday. (i have absolutely amazing friends; more on that later). it has taken me a few weeks to post about this, mainly because it took me so long to get the photos together.

arizona was great. i had been there many times before, because my father lived there for about seven years. i had really wanted to take Jarronn there. to see the grand canyon. and sedona. a new part of the world. i unfortunately never got a chance.

this trip was special, because outside of knowing i was flying to arizona, i had no idea what the weekend had in store. as with all major events/occasions these days, i headed into the weekend in a bit of a funk. it's hard to get excited about things in the same way i used to. my normal attitude is to jump into things head first and ensure a good time for myself and others. but lately, i feel like i've lost some capacity to do that, and when i realize it, i'm depressed to see how i've changed. that i'm not quite myself.

but the weekend definitely got better. that's what happens when you're surrounded by amazing people. they took me to sedona, where we drove through the red rock mountains. we climbed the vortex and felt the peace that comes from seeing how spectacular God's work is.

my friends made me laugh. made me relax. got me a massage. got me full. made up my face. made me dance. made me cry. gave me a rock. gave me memories. and gave me power -- in the form of a purple bracelet. :-)

if you're going through something difficult, i highly recommend taking a trip somewhere. it doesn't make everything different or change circumstances when you get back home. but there's something about how different scenery can take you to a different place, if even mentally.

enjoy the photos...

Sunday, November 15, 2009


sometimes it's hard to know that pain in life is inevitable. if i could tell myself, with a guarantee, that this was the roughest it would get, that i had hit the bottom, that there'd be no pain worse than might make it a little easier to bear.

instead, i live with the possibility that i have a lot more living to do. and though there will likely be much more happiness than pain in my life when it's all said and done, pain will be a part of this journey. it feels pretty daunting. i try to tell myself that this will give me the strength to face all of the future pains, but let's be honest. i can't be so sure.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

grocery store

i decided to stop by the grocery store last night on my way home. i've hardly been to the grocery store since Jarronn died. i used to go every three or four days. it was one of my household duties we'd agreed on. Jarronn used to tell me i was weird for calling it the "supermarket" and not the "grocery store."

the thing about going to the grocery store (as i learned to call it) is that i usually run into people i know. on my way in, i ran into one of Jarronn's flag football teammates. he told me he and his girlfriend wanted to get together soon. i told him i looked forward to it.

went inside and grabbed a few things. between health nut, 12 grain, honey oat, country wheat, sweet crunch, and oat bran -- it took me about five minutes to choose a loaf of bread (really, how can there be so many choices?) it was a lot easier when Jarronn was around. i'd always just pick up his favorite brand.

i got into the check-out line and scanned the magazine rack. in the midst of learning that fergie's husband is cheating on her, the guy in line in front of me turned around and asked, "do you know someone named Jarronn?" i think my eyes must have showed happiness and sadness at the same time. the guy had gone to high school and played in the school band with Jarronn. he told me how he had a photo of the two of them from his freshman year. how he had seen the two of us together a few times, which i wasn't able to remember. he insisted that he buy my groceries. soy milk. bread. syrup. cookies.

we went outside, and he seemed eager to tell me a few Jarronn stories. i'm always up for those. he told me how he played the drums, and that people would tell him how great he was. but he'd always say he had learned from Jarronn. he told me other stories of things he'd done, because he saw Jarronn doing them. the long hair. the gum chewing. the sayings. stories of how Jarronn stood up for him when some dude wanted to beat him up.

we talked about the motorcycle and how Jarronn's accident made him decide against getting one. i told him i understood. that it's hard because Jarronn loved his bike so much. he said, "yeah, but he loved you a lot more. i saw him with his helmet once, but i saw the two of you together all the time." it might sound silly, but that was good to hear. something i needed to hear.

maybe i should go to the grocery store more often...

Thursday, November 5, 2009


seems like every song has a memory connected to Jarronn. but this particular one always gets me. when it first came out, i made a big deal about how fine michael ealy was in the video. i made Jarronn watch it with me, and i told him i thought beyonce' might be my cousin, because she has the little moles on the side of her eyes like people in my family do. (he thought that was funny). i'm not a huge fan of beyonce's acting (and who the heck knows what the water scene is about??), but i do love the looks that she and mike ealy exchange in this video. i think they capture that feeling of being totally amazed by someone.

one night during our honeymoon, we were riding on a shuttle to dinner, and the song came on. the shuttle was full, so Jarronn rode in the seat directly in front of me. i placed my hand on his shoulder and sang along with the song. sang the words to him.

now as i hear the lyrics, that all seems ironic. and funny that they still apply now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

three months

three months since Jarronn's been gone. a quarter of the year. longer than the time we spent married. right after he died, i wondered how it would be possible for me to function. the thing with stuff like this is that one day, you look up, you realize that three months have passed, so obviously it's possible. the future doesn't look more bearable, but at least you have the proof to know you can make it.

even after three months, i still struggle with the reality of it all. this weekend i dreamt that he was alive. that he'd only been away on a trip. he made me laugh. i told him he was "so silly" (something i must have said to him at least three times every day). i watched him sleeping in bed. i went to tell people he was back. but i stopped short of it when i remembered that he couldn't really be back. i had seen his body in the hospital. in fact, he's really gone.

still, i seem to spend most days lost in thoughts where i imagine he's back. and i imagine feeling just a few minutes of what he made me feel. and i imagine the life we'd dreamed of. and i imagine a regular saturday. and i imagine the sofa armrest is his lap. and i imagine him putting on his suit in the morning or mopping the hardwood floors or calling me with a funny story from his day.

i try to talk to him, but it's never anything very eloquent. which just makes me feel silly. i don't feel him around me, though i so wish i did. maybe that's just stuff for the movies. and meanwhile, time just keeps on passing. the leaves have changed. events comes and go. people celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and new beginnings. nothing stops, though i'm stuck trying to remember the details of the last five years of life. trying to move forward, yet not wanting to. enjoying some wonderful moments, while being reminded of how much has been lost.

three. whole. months. people say time flies. and it does. but i've fully felt these past three months. the reality and weight of each day and moment without the love of my life.