Tuesday, December 28, 2010

second christmas

christmas #2 without Jarronn has come and gone. and we all managed through it. there really is something to getting through "the firsts," and i'm glad that we've done that and made it through half of our "seconds" as well. but the big days and holidays aren't completely easy either. they still come with moments of longing. and with unspoken--yet understood--words between the family. and the underlying knowledge that we're trying to make the best of what we have.

christmas dinner was small and held at my house. this was a big improvement from last year when i neglected to put up a single holiday decoration or feel an ounce of christmas cheer. and i was thankful for the improvement in my attitude. i cooked. did some decorating. and even baked my christmas cookies (something Jarronn loved).

most of the day was fantastic -- enjoying the time with my parents and Jarronn's immediate family. exchanging beautiful and thoughtful gifts. watching football and taking post-meal naps on the couch. we went through old photos and snapped some new ones.

the biggest snag came with me cooking a leg of lamb that didn't seem to be turning out as well as i had hoped. when i cook for other people, i take it pretty seriously. so the thought of christmas dinner turning into a bust had me stressed. it also had me missing how Jarronn loved cooking the entire meal for thanksgiving and christmas dinners. filling his shoes can sometimes be really, really tough.

and that, of course, applies to more than just food prep. there's the friend shoes. the sibling shoes. the cousin shoes. the godparent shoes. and the child shoes. all big. all hard to fill. none really possibly to fill. but i wish i could. i really, really wish i could.

i am, however, thankful for what i can do. bring our families together. carry on his memory. find new joys in life. and prayerfully make it through the rest of "the seconds," "the thirds," "the fourths," and so on.

i pray you and yours had a merry christmas! and Jarronn would want me to wish you a happy kwanzaa too!

Monday, December 13, 2010

in loving memory


wow. it's been three weeks since i've blogged, which is much longer than i prefer. but it's been for good reason. i started a new work assignment, and it's been keeping me busy.

last monday, Jarronn's parents, brother, and i planted a memorial holly bush in Jarronn's honor. this is signficiant for a few reasons. first, while Jarronn and i and his family all felt/feel that cremation was what we wanted after he died, it does mean that we aren't really left with a place, like a grave site, where we can visit to remember and reflect on Jarronn. and while i spread some of Jarronn's ashes in our special spot in jamaica, i obviously can't visit that site on a regular basis. when one of Jarronn's friends had told me that he visited the site of his accident after he had passed, the idea didn't really sit well with me. that we would remember him at the place where things took a turn for the worse. and so since late last year, i've been trying to arrange for a space within close proximity, with beauty, and with a connection to Jarronn.

i'm happy to say that we planted the bush at woodend sanctuary -- the place where we got married. steps down from the grove and alter where we exchanged our vows and were surrounded by the love and support of our friends and family, is a small, young holly bush. it has just a few branches and just a few red berries, but i'm praying that it grows and flourishes, provides a snack for the birds, and provides a peaceful reminder on the days when i vist there and sit on the nearby bench.

we kept it small and intimate - just the four of us -- because it felt easier and right that way. we used our hands to grab handfuls of dirt and plant the bush, carefully patting the dirt into place and introducing the bush to its new home. talking to Jarronn along the way.






after the tree was planted, i read from khalil gibran's "the prophet." on our wedding day, in that same place, my mother had read the poem about marriage from "the prophet." last monday, i read the poem about death.

Than Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."

And he said:

You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.

Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.


---

that stanza in bold got me that day and seems to get me every time.

we each took some time to say a few words. some that were positive and some that were still questioning of God's purpose and plan. some that were happy about what we'd done in Jarronn's memory and some that were pain-filled as thoughts turned to how much life has changed since he died. Jarronn's brother, theo, even noted how the bush's branches looked like they were arms outstretched, ready to give a hug.


and i couldn't help but think about how much woodend, on a cold december day, looked a lot different from our may 15 wedding.



but it also looked a lot like the fall 2008 day when i brought Jarronn there to show him the place where i envisioned us getting married. and us looking up at the tall trees together, looking at the deer nearby, and thinking about our future.

when i go back to visit, and sit on the bench by his holly bush, i'm going to do all of those things. look up at the trees. watch the deer in the distance. smile about my past. and think about my future.

Monday, November 22, 2010

memory monday #6

yesterday i had brunch with two of Jarronn's long-time friends, who i'm glad to say became my friends years ago as a result of my relationship with him. marck and ludgina both went to rutgers with Jarronn, laughed with Jarronn, and grinded through engineering with Jarronn. while they were all just friends back in school, marck and ludgina started dating after college and are now married (Jarronn was a best man in their wedding).

it was so good to see them. there are so many happy memories connected to them -- a road trip to upstate ny to visit them. their visit to md and stay in my apartment (i begged Jarronn to hang curtains in my room the night before they came, which made my downstairs neighbors come knocking around 12:30 a.m.) a great time in vegas and a hilarious post-ride photo from the stratosphere ride (so good, i actually purchased the $10 copy. this video gives you a sense of the ride, lol). meeting in nyc during the holidays and ice skating in central park. Jarronn always wanting me to show off my best meals when we hosted them for dinner. them putting us on to moscato d'asti (years before anyone thought to mention it in a rap song). a funny voicemail in left creole that Jarronn saved and would replay for us to laugh at. hearing that they were going to have a baby girl. marck as a groomsman in our wedding. and tons of time laughing with each other, at each other, and about the dynamics in both of our relationships.

i can honestly say i feel like i've known both of them for much longer than i have. and it's always been so easy to understand why Jarronn loved them both so much. as i sat with them and their beautiful daughter yesterday, there were so many moments when we laughed. and as they sat on one side of the booth, and i was on the other side with an empty spot next to me, i could imagine Jarronn there and me nudging him or squeezing his arm as we shared in the laughs. not like old times. but just like old times.

today's memory monday was written by ludgina. on august 10, she wrote:

Jarronn was my brother from another mother! We sometimes bickered as if we were brother and sister too☺. We went to Rutgers together and from Week 1 we were great friends. I miss him. The last time we spoke/texted was on July 4, 2009. After that we played some serious phone tag. My two wishes are that I could have had just one last conversation with him and that he was able to meet and take a picture with my daughter who was just shy of 3 months when he passed away. Although Jarronn is no longer here on Earth, I am grateful for all of the great memories (we had some good times!), and for being able to have known such an inspirational and wonderful person. The candles and wooden piece in this picture were given to me by Jarronn in January of 2004. I haven’t lit them since he passed so it was very special for me to light them on the anniversary of the day he became an angel watching over us. Until we meet again J. 

- Ludgie Baby.

“God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for tears, and LIGHT for the way.” ~~Unknown~~


and if you've never seen this video marck put together to honor Jarronn after he passed, you should check it out!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

rejection

there are many moments, many days, when thinking about the pain that many others have experienced and endured gives me the courage and the acceptance to get through. to keep moving. to be.

but then there are random times, sometimes very real and sometimes perhaps even suppressed moments, when none of that seems to matter. the times when the person with the far more tragic story than mine can't help at all.  and the stories of endurance don't give me any hope.

it's the moments when my pain seems to be fully mine. and the times when i feel fully alone. and the times when i fully want to reject it all. it's in these times, i don't want someone to relate to. because i'm at a point where i'm too tired of embracing it all. i don't feel like moving toward getting better, because i'd much rather move toward what used to be. toward a previous state of me.

it's at these times i'm extremely selfish. and without any apology for it. though also not without guilt about it. it's at these times i cry aching, ugly tears. but never as many as i would like to. it's at these times i look for someone else that would be better suited for this stuff. but as i add names to a list in my head, i quickly scratch them off.

i don't like these moments. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

empty

i've been coming to the end of things. finishing things that were here when Jarronn was here. the last of his cocoa butter. the last of the glass cleaner. the last of the giant tub of country crock. all empty.

last month, it was the huge bottle of era detergent. the very special detergent that Jarronn told me was the only detergent he would use. that he had searched for years to find a detergent he liked, and era was it. i once went to two grocery stores looking for era and bought tide when i couldn't find it. he went out the next day and found some at bj's. told me i could use the tide for my clothes, but his had to be done with era. i finished it. now it's empty.

it's a natural attrition, i guess. things run out. and they get replaced by new things. my products. my choices. whipped butter for the country crock. tide for the era.

but it's funny how finishing the era feels like the end of one.

what used to be a simple exercise in rinsing and recycling large plastic containers has become much tougher. much more sad.

they remind me of all the change my life has gone through. of how time keeps moving. and that there was a space, once occupied by Jarronn, that is now empty.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

white plates

last week, i had a few friends over for dinner. i was excited, because it gave me a chance to pull out a lot of the things in my kitchen that i registered for and imagined using once i got married. the nice placemats. the cloth napkins and napkin holders. the place setting holders. the bone china serving dishes.

in preparation, i went out and bought some new plates. not that i didn't have plates in the cupboard. but these were white plates. nothing too fancy. in fact i got a whole 18-piece set at ikea for less than $25. but they're white. which is what i wanted.

when Jarronn and i were picking things for the house, we collected a mish-mash of things -- from my apartment, his apartment, and housewarming gifts. i asked that we get white plates, because they go with everything, can be mixed and matched, and food always looks good on them.

but Jarronn didn't like that idea. and he could be pretty adamant when it came to choosing things for the house. almost as though he didn't want to be labeled as the man that left all "domestic" decisions to the woman. we registered for a nice set of white china at crate & barrel, but for the everyday plates, he chose a light yellow colored set. and he seemed passionate about it, so i compromised on it. and really, the set he chose was lovely.

since Jarronn died, i've hardly entertained like i'd (we'd) hoped to. but when it came time to do my own dinner, i got my white plates. and after i finished setting the table, i stood back and felt so pleased. it was just the way i wanted it to be.




having a partner is great. and i would never choose white plates over having Jarronn around to compromise with. but being able to make my own decisions, without the need to compromise is also great. call it my attempt at appreciating the situation that's been given to me. but i do appreciate it. and i do like that sometimes in life, i can get just. what. i. want.

Monday, October 18, 2010

memory monday #5

on saturday, i went to a family and friends get-together at my mom's house in new jersey. i tend to question if everyone feels that their family is crazy in the same way Jarronn and i always have. but in any case, i guess this is why our families always got along so well.

everyone in my family loved Jarronn (especially my aunties, who would ask if he had a much older brother or wealthy uncle somewhere). and seeing how well he got along with my family meant a lot to me.

today's memory comes from my older cousin, nikki. she was the maid of honor in our wedding and has always been more like an older sister to me.

It was July 5, 2007 (I think that's the right date). It was during the party at the club house in Princeton to celebrate 5 years that you guys were at the house. I arrived late, but was so surprised to see how much family was there that i haven't seen in ages. You were there with your hair in a curly style (looking gorgeous as usual), and Jarronn was by your side in an African get up that I thought looked great on him. I always thought you guys looked amazing together. A part of me was jealous of the connection you two had. (but good jealousy, I promise.. lol)

Anywho, throughout the night I had a chance to talk to Jarronn and was always impressed with the way he spoke. I had plenty of laughs as he acted silly with Maria... had a blast taking silly photos of him playing around with Nick, and smiled as he did a quick twirl on the dance floor with Tianna. He filled the night with a couple of jokes, and had a wonderful way with kids. You know how we Tomlinsons can be a bit lively, silly, foolish, loud and love making up songs out of the blue at times). That night Jarronn fit right in like he's been a part of it all for quite a while. He was an amazing person, you knew that the moment you met him, and were convinced it was the truth the moment he spoke.

That day wasn't the first time I had met Jarronn, but that day was the first time I knew he would be ... and is... family.

A few photos attached of the silly man! :-)

Love you so much Jess!
Nikk





Thursday, October 14, 2010

the question

a lot of people ask it.

and i typically have a different answer every single time. not even because the way i'm feeling fluctuates that much. but more so because i haven't gotten the script down. not the kind of script that is politically correct. but the kind of script that accurately and succinctly captures what it is that i feel.

the question "how are you doing?" seems much better suited for people with lives that are far more normal than mine. for lives that contain events that don't cause people to say, "i can't imagine..."

i find it incredibly challenging to capture how i'm doing in a simple response. or in a couple of minutes. i struggle to be honest about the very difficult moments without sounding like i walk around depressed all the time, which wouldn't be accurate. and i struggle to prevent others from pushing me back to "better" before i'm really ready to get there. (if such a place even really exists). and no matter what i say, i feel unconvinced that i was able to come close to conveying my true feelings. my state of "doing."

so after i fumble through my response, thinking in my head that i'm talking all over the place, most people tell me i "look good." or even great. and i wish i knew how my look now compares to what i looked like before all of this. is it just as good? or just good with all things considered?

and after every one of those conversations, i leave thinking, "man, Jessica. you need to get your script together."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

struggle




i am blessed

in so many ways

and yet...

i sometimes

struggle

to not feel sorry for myself.


Monday, September 27, 2010

memory monday #4

last week, i spent a couple of nights on my couch -- something i don't do very often and something i hadn't done in a very long time. while sometimes sleep just takes over, i generally wake up unhappy with myself for falling asleep on the couch. mainly because it typically means sore muscles and me not feeling that refreshed. my dreams get a little more crazy. i feel like i'm oversleeping. on one of last week's nights, i even woke up and went to call Jarronn on my cell phone to tell him about something running through my subconscious mind.

somehow Jarronn never had this problem. in fact, on at least two or three night per week, he would fall asleep on our couch. a big part of this had to do with the amazing fact that he had an ability to fall asleep ANYwhere. i'm convinced that you could have put him on a slab of concrete, and he would have been knocked out. and while i would try to wake him up and get him to get in bed, i was usually pretty unsuccessful. and my persistence would typically lead to him getting upset with me.

and so this series of repeated events became yet another lesson in relationship management: learn to pick your battles wisely, and leave the small stuff alone. if he really didn't want to get up, leave him be. and i knew he'd eventually wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. and either do some work he hadn't finished or get in the bed.

this week's memory is from my cousin maria, who -- like Jarronn -- also has had an affinity for our big leather sectional. she would actually look forward to sleeping on it when she would come to visit us.

on september 8, maria wrote:

Apart from the endless mischief and trouble that we caused together, my favorite memory of Jarronn was when we would fall asleep together on the couch. We'd been doing it since we first met, and it didn't matter the couch: from Jess' couch and loveseat at her townhouse in Jersey in '05, to Aunty Jen's couch at home, to their incredible leather couch in Maryland: that was the one time I got Jarronn to myself, and selfishly, I loved it. 

Even though we were sleeping and weren't speaking, it was the one moment where I didn't have to share him with anyone else. It was this long period of silence that felt so comfortable and so safe, that I almost hated waking up. It may sound ridiculous, but during that time I felt like we were bonding and it was this special time that I cherised when no one could interrupt. 

Jarronn and I don't get to physically take naps anymore, but I fall asleep with him every night feeling incredibly secure. I love you "big cousin."

Love,
Your "Marsie Baap" (*insert Jarronn's Jamaican accent*)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the clothes

it took me nearly a year to sort through, pack up, and give away Jarronn's clothes. in a sense, i'm glad i waited so long, because i think the passing of time made the process far less emotional. some people had asked me about my plans for the clothes soon after he died, and i really couldn't wrap my head around it. as much as i rationally knew that they were material things, i couldn't muster the energy and strength to take on the process.

when i got to the place where i was ready to move the clothes, there were other people who assured me that i shouldn't feel pressured to get rid of things that i felt emotionally attached to. but at a certain point, the clothes being there became less of a comfort and more of a painful reminder. more of a hindrance.

but i did struggle with the idea of just giving all of the clothes away to strangers. Jarronn had a lot of clothes and loved clothes. it was hard removing items that i knew he loved. that i knew he'd worn on specific dates. that i knew he'd never gotten a chance to wear but had hoped to.

so i'm so thankful to the family and friends who took many of his items. his brother likely doubled his T-shirt collection. his boys got sweaters and business wear and shoes. some of my friends took an item here or there. and even my dad is walking around lynchburg, va getting compliments on how "cool" his new sneakers are. (yep, Jarronn and my dad were similar, even down to the shoe size). it means so very much to me to know that things Jarronn loved are with people he and i have loved.

there are still a few things left behind. some are things i gave him or just always loved. others are things i was slightly hesitant to give away, but when all of the choosing was done, they were still there, and i took it as my sign to just hold on to them. for now. for a little longer.

overall, with this kind of thing, you just hope that you're doing what the person who's gone would want. and you can never be sure. and maybe, if you're like me, you even jump back and forth between questioning if it really matters and resentful that you have to make the decision. so in the end, after the thinking and consideration and waiting and delaying and rallying...

you do what's best for you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

memory monday #3

football season is fully under way, and in honor of the nail-biting win the redskins had over the cowboys on sunday, i thought it best to post the memory below.

this one is from one of Jarronn's boys, derek aka "d. mitch." on september 13, derek wrote:

Well I couldn't lite a candle for my bro on 7/30 due to being out of town. I also find it difficult to face losing someone whom I hold dear to me. However, I found remembering Jarronn a little less difficult yesterday. As I fixed my plate of food, threw on my Redskins jersey and got ready for the season opener against the Cowgirls...excuse me, Cowboys (lol)...I happened to think about Jarronn and how hyped he would've been for this game. As I looked at a Redskins vs Cowboys diaper cake that my wife and I received at her baby shower (yes I married a Cowboys fan), I grabbed my boy's homegoing program off the mirror and put him right down on the cardboard football field where he could lite it up and cheer on the home team the way I know he would've if he was here. Last night was a good night for remembering Jarronn.

i'm so glad that derek and his wife rasheida have been able to maintain a beautiful marriage, in spite of their differences when it comes to football. Jarronn could deal with me being an eagles fan, but he told me and many other people that it would have been a deal breaker if i was a cowboys fan. :-)

i'm pretty convinced that he orchestrated the whole d. mcnabb trade to washington, because he was determined to make me a skins fan, even in the afterlife. and he would have gone absolutely nuts at the season opener. so i represented to the point where my voice is hoarse and a few cowboys fans left the game disliking me.

derek -- thanks for sharing this great memory and photo. you and rasheida have been amazing friends, and i know Jron would be incredibly proud of you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

pacific nw

a couple of years ago, i got it in my mind that i wanted to travel out west. i guess i've had my share of island vacations, so i was looking for something different. so i started talking it up to Jarronn. telling him that it would be great to see some of the beautiful nature that the u.s. has to offer. and he seemed open to the idea.

last month, i finally took my trip. my mom and i spent nine days in the pacific northwest, traveling from california to oregon to washington to british columbia. and it was nothing short of fantastic.

we started by flying to san francisco, where we spent the day hanging out in union square, the yerba buena gardens, ghirardelli square, and alamo square.





on day 2, we headed north for a beautiful day in napa valley, which i definitely plan to visit again.





on day 3, we drove north on the california coast, driving on winding roads through beautiful redwood forests, until we reached mendocino, ca. we walked around the small town and down to it's beach. by the end of that day, i'd already reached the point where i needed to empty my camera so that i could take more photos. (i had a couple years worth on it, so it was long overdue).

on days 4 and 5, we set out on our drive north up the california coast and into oregon. driving along the coastline, the views were pretty phenomenal. and some of my favorite music playing from my ipod made it even better. (below are the ones that remind me most of Jarronn).
  1. for all we know - donny hathaway
  2. so amazing - luther vandross
  3. more of you - fred hammond
  4. thank you (i won't complain) - fred hammond
  5. simply put - fred hammond
  6. true love - stevie wonder
  7. caught up in the rapture - anita baker
  8. just the way you are - billy joel
  9. long distance - brandy
  10. to be free to be who we are - harold melvin & the blue notes
  11. coming home - john legend (the song i walked down the aisle to)
  12. again/another again - john legend
  13. the sweetest thing - lauryn hill
  14. joy ride - mariah carey
  15. gravity - sara bareilles
after 20 hours of driving, more than 1,000 miles, and one dirty little nissan versa, we arrived in portland, or. we spent a night there and visited their downtown farmers market, the ancient chinese gardens, and ate some great meals.

on day 6, we took the train north to seattle, wa. we enjoyed beautiful sunsets from our hotel's rooftop deck, and on day 7, we took a tour to mt. rainier -- the highest mountain in washington state and the cascades mountain region. breathtaking. and a tour guide straight out of some sitcom.

on day 8, we took the train to vancouver, british columbia. we had lunch at the art gallery and rented bikes and rode around the sea wall at stanley park.

on day 9, we woke up early and took a whale watching tour from vancouver to victoria -- the capitol of british columbia. it was quite the adventure with 10 ft. waves, but it was worth it to see the orca whales swimming in their natural habitat. (forget shamu!) we explored victoria for the day, and fortuitously stumbled upon the best breakfast/brunch restaurant on the island while trying to find a different restaurant.

my computer is acting slow, so trying to post photos from every day would take me hours. but you can check out the remainder of pics that i posted on facebook.

Jarronn didn't get to go on this trip with me. and i wished he could have seen it all. i cried along the way. while driving. on my pillow before going to sleep. even once while out to dinner. i missed along the way.  but i'm living. i've lived. my photos of friends and trips and special moments from the past year and this memorable trip remind me of that. i'm glad i've chosen to live.

and beautiful nature like what i saw reminds me that God is real. and big. and i'm small. not insignificant, but small. too small to make big plans and see big pictures. and that's ok.

Monday, September 6, 2010

memory monday #2

today's memory is from one of my long-time college friends, kwaku. he, of course, got the chance to know Jarronn through me. but he -- like many of my guy friends -- formed his own friendship with Jarronn along the way.

on july 23, kwaku shared two memories. the first had me cracking up, and the second made me shed a tear:

When Jess first told me about Jarronn
When I first got hired by the Department of Education, I would travel around the country and talk to students about financial aid.   One of my trips took me to beautiful Newark, New Jersey (there is nothing there).  I tried to figure out who I knew in the area, and Jess came to mind.  We decided to meet up for dinner and catch up. While we were eating, Jess started talking about this guy she was dating. I didn't know who the guy was, so I instantly started hating (which is my nature). She spoke about how good of a guy he was and how happy she was. She told me that if I was able to meet him, I would like him. Like I said before, I am a hater, especially when it comes to guys around my female friends.  Fortunately for Jess, she was correct. When I met Jarronn, he was probably one of the coolest guys I ever met. He was down-to-earth and relate-able and loved to laugh (he laughed at every one of my jokes). He made it difficult to hate on him.   I could understand why Jess was so in love and wanted to share her happiness with everyone.  


Jarronn and Morgan
One of my favorite moments with Jarronn was when we were all over at Mike and Ashley's place for a small get together.  Of course I brought my daughter with me, because you can't leave a 4-year-old home alone.  If you met my daughter, you know she is initially very shy but tends to warm up to people over time.  For some reason she was instantly cool with Jarronn.  While everyone else was talking about politics and other non-important things, Morgan and Jarronn were laughing and joking all night long.  By the end of the night, I literally had to drag Morgan home, she was having so much fun.  I know for a fact that Morgan would have been bored to death if it wasn't for Jarronn. 

When Jarronn died, I had to explain to my daughter what happened.  It was probably the hardest conversation I have had with her to date.   She told me that she was going to pray for Jess and Jarronn.  I thought she was just repeating what she heard other people say when you talk about death.  But later on that evening, she prayed without any encouragement that Jess would be OK and that God would take care of Jarronn.  To my knowledge, that is first time I heard Morgan pray about anything other than food.  It is funny how big of an impact you don't realize people have in the life of a child until they are not around.
 

thanks for sharing this, kwaku. i don't think i'll ever forget when Jarronn realized just how funny you were and felt the need to tell me about his discovery. :-) thanks for keeping me laughing through the tears. and please hug morgan for me!

if you'd still like to send me your memory or photos about Jarronn, you can at any time. email jarronnandjessica@gmail.com.

Monday, August 30, 2010

memory mondays

in july, i asked people to send me their favorite memories of Jarronn and/photos of them with the candle they lit in memory of Jarronn. i've really enjoyed reading everything people have sent my way, and i thought that instead of trying to share everything in just one post, that i would spread them out over multiple postings.

so this is the start of what i'm calling "memory mondays," where i'll post the memories and photos that friends have sent me.

the first one is from samantha, whom i've never had the chance to meet, but she and Jarronn went to freedom church and suitland high school together.

on july 22, samantha wrote:

Jarronn had the most amazing and warm smile:) That's what I remember most of him. I just remember how nice he was to EVERYONE!!! I think of his picture in the yearbook (I'm sure you've seen it) w/ his crazy outfit on!! LOL when he was voted class clown or most school spirited (???). Can't remember which one... but he has on that tight shirt!!! LOL Too funny!!!

I feel blessed to have even met such an awesome person. My life feels even richer to have known him. Your husband was/ is one of the best to have walked this earth and is a reflection of you.

---

now i don't have a scanner, but i felt that i couldn't deprive those of you who don't own a 1998 yearbook from suitland high school. so i did my best to take photos of the fanastic photo samantha referred to (it was for most school spirit), as well as an added bonus.




samantha keeps the program from Jarronn's memorial service on her dresser, and below is the beautiful photo she sent along. thank so much, samantha.


if you'd still like to send me your memory or photos about Jarronn, you can at any time. email jarronnandjessica@gmail.com.

Friday, August 13, 2010

signs

two nights ago, at 11:34 p.m., as i straightened up my room, i compulsively picked up my blackberry to check for new email messages.

and i had one.

i opened my inbox and saw the sender name was Jarronn Jackson. written in bold. jumping off the screen. my heart jumped. at first, i thought it had to be that i was reading the subject line, not the sender. so i stared. and i hesitated to open it.

when i did, i found a random message with a few words and a hyperlink. spam. it made no sense.

i closed the message. put down my phone. but as i put away the ironing board, i asked myself, "what had i hoped to find?"

perhaps a long lost message that had been trapped in cyberspace for over a year was finally going to reach me. or some kind of supernatural occurrence would allow Jarronn to communicate with me from another realm. i looked at his picture on my wall. reminded myself that this isn't a movie. this is real life.

and as much as i might hope for the supernatural, i have to settle for the small signs. things like a beautiful sunset, orbs in photos, songs on the radio playing at just the right time, or receiving the passage read on our wedding day in my inbox on july 30:

("Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:12-17)


these are my signs. my messages. i'm not even really sure what they tell me. and i try not to look for them or look too deep. but i appreciate them. and i hope they keep coming.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

after july 30

the past two weeks have been hectic, and i really appreciate all of the kind words, prayers, and thoughts and that so many of you sent my way.

the anniversary of Jarronn's death came at a crazy time, as i was working hard to finish the final projects for my masters degree. at times it was hard to find the meaning in completing my work as i was constantly reminded of the fragility of life and significance found not in titles, degrees, and accomplishments, but in relationships with the people we love.

but i'm happy to report that as of tuesday, i've completed my course work. now it's just a matter of waiting for my grades so i can officially declare my success.

in the day before the one year mark, i anticipated that i would be ok. that just like so many of the year's holidays have passed and felt no harder than living any other day without Jarronn, that i would be fine. but july 30, 2010 proved to be a lot tougher and lot more teary than i anticipated. writing the story of what happened likely didn't make that any easier. and while i never want people to stop reaching out to me with their words of encouragement and love, those words do remind me of everything i've had to endure. and i wish so badly that they weren't necessary.

thank you to everyone who sent in photos and memories of Jarronn. i'll be posting them over time, so if you'd still like to send something, please feel free to do so, by emailing jarronnandjessica@gmail.com. and i can't tell you how happy it feels to hear from those of you who signed up to be organ and tissue donors. how beautiful. i mentioned how the washington regional transplant community has been a huge support to me since Jarronn's death, and i received the following except of a poem from them this week. i hope it touches you.

To Remember Me

Give my sight to a man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby's face or love in the eyes of a woman.

Give my heart to a person whose own heart has pain.

Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.

Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.

Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.

If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all my prejudice against my fellow man.

Give my sins to the devil. Give my soul to God. 

If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you.

If you do all I have asked, I will live forever. 

Robert N. Test

Friday, July 30, 2010

what happened

one year ago, Jarronn and i woke up at home. there was seemingly nothing special about that day. other than the fact that it was national cheesecake day. we got ready for the day in our bedroom, and watched the fox 5 morning news as we got dressed. they announced national cheesecake day and the new red velvet cheesecake flavor. this sent Jarronn into a random song and dance about "red-velvet-cheese-cake, red-velvet-cheese-cake." i bent over laughing. told him we had to make sure we got some.

i left the house before Jarronn and headed to capitol hill. i had a senate foreign relations committee hearing to attend for work. and as i sat in the audience listening to senator kerry and others, i posted my first "tweet" on the twitter account i had signed up for the day before: "hopeful for peace in sudan." by the end of the day, i had a whole new appreciation for the word "hope."

i got into the office and had a regular day. answered emails. checked things off my list. and then i poked around the internet to see what i could find about national cheesecake day. i called Jarronn around 2:30 p.m., which was about the time we'd typically check in with each other. we talked about our days briefly. and talked about cheesecake. i asked him if we were going to go to the cheesecake factory after work. he said he wasn't sure. that he had to pick up his godson from camp. that he wanted to get on his bike. really wanted to get on his bike. i told him the news i saw online said we'd have to dine in if we wanted half price cheesecake. he said he'd figure things out and call me back.

i left work at 5:30 p.m., eager to get home. when i came through the door, i found Jarronn and his godson in the living room, playing on the nintendo wii. i greeted them and headed upstairs to change out of my work clothes.

going to the cheesecake factory was still on my mind as i came back downstairs. i was wondering if we'd still have a chance to go. i went into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door, and as my eyes scrolled down the shelves, they stopped as i saw a huge slice of red velvet cheesecake in a to-go container. i got excited. asked Jarronn about it. and he explained that he had been in the parking lot of the cheesecake factory when i spoke to him earlier. we decided we'd eat it later that evening. after that, i sat on the couch and watched Jarronn and his godson play their video games, laughing every now and then at the competition between them.

soon after, three of Jarronn's friends came over on their bikes. we joked about a funny situation from the previous weekend (when me and my girl friends had run into Jarronn and his bike crew in adams morgan). we talked about darfur, and Jarronn made me proud in the way he explained the situation to his friends. and Jarronn tidied up the house. swept the kitchen floor. put things away.

around 7:30 p.m., they decided it was time to go. they were going to take Jarronn's godson home and go get something to eat. as i sat on the couch, i thought to myself that i really didn't want him to go. i wanted him to stay there with me.

Jarronn came over to me on the couch and said he'd be back in a couple hours. that we'd eat that cheesecake when he got back. he bent down to kiss me, and i kissed him on the cheek. he said to me, "i can't get a kiss on the lips?" it softened my attitude, and so i kissed him on the lips. he replied "thank you" or "that's better." and 30 seconds later, he was out the door.

i spent some time on the computer. looking at friends' photos. trying to pick out a baby gift for my former boss. i got on the phone with my mom. talked about my day. told her Jarronn was out on his bike. complained about all of my gray hairs. told her my stomach was really hurting. so i decided it was best for me to take a nap. i got off the phone and stretched out on the couch.

it seems that within minutes, just after 9:00 p.m., the doorbell rang. i jumped up, a little confused and not having a clue about who it could be. i opened the door and found kim, who was dating one of the friends who had been with Jarronn. i said hey, and she said, "Jarronn got in an accident." panic ran through my body as i said, "oh my god." but she quickly reassured me that he was fine. that he would be alright. and it wasn't something she was just telling me. i knew it's what she believed. she said an ambulance had taken him to the hospital and that she would take me there. so i grabbed my shoes. and i blew out the candle Jarronn had lit earlier that evening.

we headed to the hospital and had some difficulty finding it. i was anxious to get there, to see Jarronn. but i didn't have any feelings of dread or worry. i even cracked a couple jokes on the way. when we got to the hospital, Jarronn's friend aaron met us in the parking lot. as he held back tears, he explained that Jarronn was in bad shape. that his foot was broken. that Jarronn had been complaining about pain in his chest.

as we walked into the hospital, i realized that i'd need to cancel a trip i had planned for the following week. that i'd have to stay with Jarronn and make sure he got better. aaron told one of the emergency nurses i was Jarronn's wife. i was eager to get an update and hoping to see him. the nurse asked us to follow him into the family room.

i started to get confused. why do we need to go to the family room to talk? why is this nurse acting so somber? why is he telling me that they are doing the best they can? that he just needs me to stay strong? i asked the nurse, "you're doing the best you can to do what?" as my mind raced and asked, "isn't it just a broken foot?! isn't he going to be ok?" the nurse told me they were trying to keep him alive.

at this point, i'm in the room with all of Jarronn's friends who had been riding with him. i call my mom. tell her Jarronn's been in an accident, and we need to pray. i get off the phone. i tell everyone in the room that Jarronn is going to be all right. and i believe it. because in my mind i'm thinking, "God, i know there's so much more for Jarronn here. i know how incredibly special he is. there's just no way he can't make it."

minutes later, after we all sat in silence, the nurse returned. this time with a doctor. he asked for mrs. jackson. i raised my hand. he came over to me. explained that Jarronn had a lot of internal bleeding. that they had tried to drain the blood out of his body and give it back to him. but the strain was too much on his heart. he was sorry.

i shot out of my seat.

"no."
"no."
"no."
"no."
"no."
"no."
"no."

i sounded like a broken record. and i felt like my "no's" could make it untrue. i asked them if they could go back and try again. feeling as though there had to be a way to bring him back to life. that this couldn't be it. it was supposed to be a broken foot. maybe broken ribs. how did we get here? people in the room were crying. covering their faces.

i sat back down in my seat. and then i prepared myself to make the two most difficult phone calls i've ever had to make. i called Jarronn's parents. my heart broke two more times. i made calls. people called me. people showed up at the hospital. it became a blur.

they invited me to go back and see the body, but i couldn't go right away. i wasn't sure if i wanted to have the image in my mind. knowing that it would be there forever. and that perhaps i wanted all of my memories of Jarronn to be ones of him living.

but eventually i went. he looked so similar to so many nights i had watched him sleeping. i touched him. kissed him. told him how much i loved him. felt like he was hovering over his body, observing the situation and, like me, wondering how this could have happened.

eventually, i had to leave the hospital. and Jarronn wasn't coming with me. and he wouldn't be there the next day.

and i realized how many things would never be for us. no children. no first anniversary. no cruise in january. no jazz in the garden that friday. and no red velvet cheesecake that night.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

remembering Jarronn

next week, friday, july 30 will be one year.

it's pretty hard to believe. some of you have asked what i have planned. to be honest, i'm really just hoping to get through the day. and down the road, i'm more interested in marking the day of Jarronn's birth as opposed to the day of his death.

but i do recognize july 30 as a good time to remember Jarronn's legacy. how amazing he was as a husband, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, and co-worker.

so i've put together a list of ways to honor Jarronn's memory and legacy, for those of you who'd like to do so. feel free to do one or all of the things on the list.
  1. become an organ and tissue donor. Jarronn was an organ and tissue donor, and after he died, knowing that his body gave "life" to other people was a bit of a comfort. in addition, the washington regional transplant community has been a huge support to me since his death and does the same for hundreds of other donor families. they assign a special representative to every family and send regular letters and pieces of literature related to managing loss. i keep many of them around the house for inspiration and comfort. register to be a donor.

  2. make a donation in Jarronn's honor. after Jarronn's death, we set up a memorial fund in his honor through our church. the church meant a lot to us. we joined together. grew together. grew as individuals. went through marriage counseling there. and right before he died, Jarronn had talked about wanting to start a small group for motorcycle riders. they've also been a huge support to me. many of you contributed to the fund last year, which i greatly appreciated. if you'd like to make a donation, please make checks payable to Zion Church, and write "Jarronn Jackson Memorial Fund" in the memo line. mail checks to Zion Church - 1400 Mercantile Lane, Suite 242 - Largo, MD 20774

  3. light a candle. on july 30, during dinner or at some other time, light a candle to represent Jarronn. share good memories about him and take a photo of you with the candle. if it's not too much trouble, email me your photo at jarronnandjessica@gmail.com. i'll collect and share them on the blog.

  4. share a memory. between now and july 30, email one of your favorite memories of Jarronn to jarronnandjessica@gmail.com. i'll collect and share them on the blog.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

memories

it probably sounds strange. but sometimes i feel like my past with Jarronn wasn't real. or i ask, how could it have been real? it's hard to reconcile the thought of him being here at one point, but somehow not here now. the world with him and the world without him seem so distant. so different. so hard to examine side by side.

death means that a person is here one day and gone the next. that's the reality. but wrapping your mind around the concept is a different thing.

and so i find myself at times reminiscing. thinking of moments and memories. and i question. did that really happen? how did i get from there to here?

it doesn't seem like Jarronn's presence should affect the reality of our past together. intellectually i know it was all real. but maybe, intellectually, it's hard to understand why we're not making more memories now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

sudden loss

in my most recent dream about Jarronn, it seemed as though i was straddling time. in one sense, it was as though i had gone a year without seeing him, similar to how things really are. and he was returning from some kind of business trip that had him away for a long period of time. yet, at the same time, it was as though the setting of the dream was one week before he had died. so it was as though we were outside of normal space and time.

in the dream, i remember us talking on the phone, just after he returned. we were making plans to see each other, and i could hear the familiar tone in his voice as he talked to me. that tone that said, "i'm so happy and proud we're together. that i can call you mine."

when i saw him, we caught up. talked and laughed and shared.

and then i got serious. i told him that he may have a hard time believing me, but that in one week, he was going to get in a motorcycle accident. he listened as i told him the details. how it would happen. how he would die. and how i would wish i could have looked into his eyes after the accident and before he passed away.

he seemed to acknowledge everything i said as true. i told him that if he thought i adored him before, that he would really be showered with love now that he was back and given everything that was about to/had happened.

i woke up from the dream and was surprised by how i felt. as i've described on this blog, when i dream about Jarronn, i usually wake up disappointed to realize it was a dream and not reality. and that i'm still struggling to wrap my mind around him really being gone.

but waking up from this dream was different. instead of disappointment, i felt relief. and even a sense of peace.

and as i reflected on the dream, i thought about this: death is never easy. and a loss is a loss, whether the person who passes is eight years old or 80. none of us want to see a loved one deteriorate or suffer with pain, and i'm at times thankful that Jarronn died at such a good place in his life, without any major life pains. but i recognize that there is a significant difference between losing someone after they've struggled against a terminal illness and losing someone suddenly.

i don't think you can ever fully prepare yourself for the death of a loved one. but when there's some kind of notice, you can say your goodbyes. your final i love yous. you can discuss life beyond their death. and how they want to be memorialized. you can hear them say they want you to be happy. or let them know you'll carry on their legacy. you may even feel relief when you know they no longer have to suffer. and you can look into their eyes one last time.

i think my dream gave me some peace, because in it, i was prepared. i could see the death coming, and so i got my chance to say what i wanted to say. i felt like i had my moment. like there was some sense of closure. like i didn't have to rely on my heart to tell me that Jarronn knew everything i felt, because he was there talking with me and acknowledging it all. like he was prepared too.

these are all things i've missed.

so it was a good dream. and more importantly, while i could have stayed and dreamed for longer, it was a good dream to wake up from.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

the pain of the pain

it still hurts.

hurts to know that he's gone. that i'll never get one more conversation. one more hug. one more reaction to news i have to share.

while it still hurts, the pain has gone through changes. it has morphed. evolved. feels different.

it's less physical. it's less about the actual absence (which over time, i've been forced to learn to live with). it's less about the uncertainty of tomorrow (since, over time, the living becomes proof that making it is possible).

but there is what i've come to call "the pain of the pain." the undeniable recognition that i've had to experience this. endure this. that life could hurt this bad. that it's mine to carry.

somehow the thought of the pain, the reflection on the pain, causes pain.

maybe because though i know it may continue to evolve over time, i also know it has forever changed me.  and i liked the me before the pain. or maybe it's because no other pain before this one seemed to so deeply penetrate every aspect of my life. to the point where i can't separate myself from it. and to the point where i know what others who've experienced this kind of loss have said to be true: the pain doesn't go away; you just learn to live with it.

that doesn't really sit well with me. doesn't seem very optimistic. doesn't seem like much comfort. or like any of those other positive things i've always tended to extract from life.

but as painful as it is, it may in fact be real. real life. real pain. real long. really.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

action jackson

in the weeks following our wedding, Jarronn and i had the chance to run into many of the people who had attended the ceremony and reception. so many of them had nice things to say about the day. how the venue was beautiful. how the food was great. how the dj was on point. how the deer came out of the woods to watch the ceremony, seemingly right on cue.

but more than anything, people commented on our vows. how touching they were. special. amazing.

on most occasions, people seemed to give more attention to Jarronn's vows than mine. this was even the case during the ceremony, when people darn near shouted "amen" and broke out into applause as he read them to me.

Jarronn's vows were amazing. and i understood that hearing a man make a declaration like the one he made was something people don't often hear. but in some ways, i felt like i had missed an opportunity to write and share more in my vows (which i kept short only because Jarronn begged me to). that i had missed the chance to display in front of our beloved family and friends how dedicated i was.

it may seem silly, but my insecurity about this caught up with me one day when we were at home. and after i heard yet another person go on and on about Jarronn's vows. i told Jarronn about how the situation bothered me. at first he brushed it off, telling me not to think about it. but when he could see i was genuinely upset, he made me stop what i was doing, grabbed me by the shoulders, and gave me a talking to.

he told me that my vows were perfect, and that he was the only person whose thoughts mattered. he told me that even though he wrote vows that people thought were eloquent, i was right in acknowledging that much of the fuss had to do with him being a man. and he went on to tell me how he and one of our groomsmen, lennox, had a conversation in which lennox told him, "you and jessica said some really great things up there. it all sounded really good. but now it's time for you to put your words into action." (i loved the fact that my husband surrounded himself with other wise, married men). Jarronn reiterated to me that in the end, the words didn't matter if we couldn't look back years from now and see that we had done the things we'd vowed to do.

and at that point, i was so impressed with, and so thankful for, how much he got it.

it reminds me of something one of Jarronn's rutgers friends reminded me of in a message she sent me a few weeks ago. she told me she spoke to Jarronn in the week before he passed and then had a conversation with her husband about one of Jarronn's facebook status updates that said, "love is a verb." i think it was something we had heard in church.

regardless of where it came from, i'm so glad that Jarronn loved actively. that he backed his words up with action. that i was on the receiving end of those acts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

father's day

happy father's day to all the fathers.

i spoke to my dad yesterday and got a few good laughs in. all before letting him go so he could dedicate his full attention to tiger woods (you'd think tiger was his third child).

i spoke to my father(-in-law) too. shared some laughs. and shared some sorrows. though he and i share the sentiment that one day/holiday isn't necessarily more difficult than any other day, i do know how special father's day was for him, Jarronn, and my brother(-in-law). even in the times when all he wanted to do was have pizza at home from their favorite spot or just not go anywhere. the boys did just as he asked and made it his day.

and i'm saddened to know how much Jarronn's death has hurt his father. how it has challenged his faith. and challenged his spirit. i've even talked to Jarronn about it in my dreams with him. when he's asked me how his father is doing. and i've told him he's taking it really hard. and in turn, Jarronn's face turns sad and concerned.

the truth is, it's not the natural order of things. for a man (or woman) to bury a child. and Jarronn's father reminded me of that as we stood in the emergency room looking at his son's body. parents invest dreams in their children. perhaps even in a different way than how a person invests dreams in their spouse.  i'm trying to deal with my deferred dreams, but i wish i could do more for Jarronn's parents.

father's day also reminds me of how much i wanted to see Jarronn as a father. how we'd talked about it not being a given that we'd be able to have children but how much we wanted them. and he always thought we'd make a good team, because he was a morning person and i stay up late (i'm sure there were some other reasons too.) he wanted something like five kids, and i told him i thought we should start with one and then see if he still felt the same way. but it wasn't surprising coming from someone who absolutely loved children. he was a fantastic godfather (he was playing the wii with one of his godsons at home on the night he died). and making a child laugh was probably one of his greatest joys.


i rounded out the day by reaching out to the fathers in my life. something that i know Jarronn would have done, being the great friend that he was. i wish that the kids of all of those men could have known uncle/goddaddy Jarronn in a deeper, longer-lasting way.

but this story gives me hope...posted on Jarronn's facebook wall back in may by a dear friend, joe:

Freezy! Was sitting in the car with the kids the other filling Mother's day out in secrecy. Well, Josiah happened to be sitting shotgun filling out his share. When trying to get Men In Black to play for him, the iTouch shuffled instead to Kirk Franklin's My Life, My Love, My All. Josiah immediately looked up to me with a face I'll never forget and said with a smile "I like this song......It reminds me of Mr. Jarronn." I told him it reminds me as well. Thanks for being my friend, and part of my family's lives. Miss you brother! Well Done!

lull

when there are lulls in my posting, it typically means one of two things: 1) life is extremely busy with deadlines, events, etc. or 2) there's a multitude of thoughts and feelings floating around in my head, but i can't quite figure out how to articulate them.

this recent lull has been due to the latter of the two circumstances. lots of thoughts. lots of feelings. but not lots of ability to put those things into words. not lots of motivation either.

so i try not to force it...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

the recurring dream

i've always tended to have dreams that were on the crazy side. or at least on the long side. Jarronn would always comment on how the recaps of my dreams seemed to go on and on, full with "and then"s. my dreams hardly tend to convey one comprehensible storyline. instead, they jump around from place to place. people morph into other people. and they often relate to something that i heard or experienced in the day before.

for years, i've had a recurring dream that takes on slightly different details each time but always has the same central theme. i'm enrolled in a course for school, and somehow i've gone the entire semester without attending any classes. and i realize this on the day of a huge exam that's worth half my grade. 

and so i panic.

and i'm so relieved when i wake up.

a bit strange, i know, but i have in fact spoken to at least five other people who have a similar recurring dream. what it means? i couldn't begin to tell you.

in the past 10 months, i've developed a new recurring dream. and like the other one, there are always slightly different details, but always the same central theme. Jarronn is back. he never was dead. just away. somewhere. but never dead. and i am happy. and think about how to share the news with everyone. and i am ready to pick up where we left off. to do all those things i'd hoped to do. to go back to being a wife. to get on with my life. and while it all doesn't make logical sense, it feels simple. 

and so i embrace it.

and i'm so disappointed when i wake up.

Monday, June 7, 2010

what others know

on some level, i guess we're all limited in knowing what other people know/think about us. if we meet the friend of a friend, we're typically completely oblivious of the details our friend has shared with that person. whether they be good or bad details. and in the days of the internet and online social networks, the same can be said for the strangers we meet.

but i guess my situation circumstances have heightened this for me. have made me more aware of how much i don't know about what others know. about me.

sure, i have this blog, which some people choose to read. and some of those people publicly follow the blog, and their username lets me know who they are. but others read without following. and still others follow without a recognizable identity. and some people don't read or follow, but they've heard my story.

and it becomes this interesting thing. where at times i interact with people and find myself wondering if they know about me. what they know about me. or i find myself assuming someone knows my story, based on their associations with people i know. sometimes my assumptions are right. but just as many times, my assumptions are wrong.

and it may not seem like a big deal. in fact -- one day, it likely won't be a big deal (which is both a good and sad thing). but right now, as there's still a level of freshness to all of this, it matters. it shapes the way i relate to people. what i say and don't say. the things i avoid. my level of comfort. how much i brace for impact.

in the days after Jarronn died, when i had first gone back to work, my commute was one of the hardest parts of my day. it was during that time -- an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening -- that i felt thrust into the world and like an alien on a foreign planet. i was riding and walking with people who were going about their daily routines at a time when nothing in my life felt scheduled, on track, or planned. and as i walked down the street and people passed me by, all i could think was that they had no idea what i was going through. and that surely, if they did -- even as strangers -- there'd be no way for them to just go about their routine. that maybe they would want life to stop just like i did. even if just for a moment.

but that's not how it goes. how it works. the world keeps turning. life keeps going. and i get further and further away from my loss being the primary detail that's shared about me. and what others know about me.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

quiet

it's quiet.

travel plans to atlanta got canceled due to rain. so i'm here...

made some oatmeal. for the first time since the last time i made it for Jarronn. delicious, but lots left over. probably need to downsize the recipe.

quiet.

around me and in my head.

i'm resisting the urge to make it loud again. to instead, embrace, enjoy, take in the silence. to feel balance. to still feel secure. to feel me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

what remains

when Jarronn and i got into "the thick" of wedding planning, we tried our best to split the responsibilities. i found the venue, and he gave his approval. i gathered the caterer proposals and arranged the tastings. i booked the florist and created our invitations. and he was responsible for finding the photographer and the dj/musicians.

in doing his research, Jarronn found a couple of potential photographers, mainly through the recommendations of friends who had gotten married. i came across genevieve leiper's website and passed it on to him one night. he was hesitant to look at it, because he felt i was imposing on his assignment. and once he had looked through it, he complained (in jest) about the fact that i had found the photographer he wanted to go with.

our meeting with genevieve was wonderful, and we were ecstatic about working with her. i remember Jarronn asking her to tell us "her story" of how she got into professional photography, and how i thought that was so interesting. both her story and his asking. how it was another example of how much he cared about the details of people's lives.

i vividly remember the morning our electronic proofs arrived. we sat on the couch, looking through the slideshow of images and relived the moments of the day.

less than a week before he died, Jarronn sent the message below to genevieve:

Hey Genevieve,

I had to send you ANOTHER message to let you know how incredible you are at what you do!

There are two reasons that I say that, the first is that EVERYONE that has seen our online proofs always comments about how great the shots are, photographically and creatively!  The second is that I have been to another wedding since and have seen at least three other people's wedding photos and NOBODY can touch you!  You and Amy were working your behinds off all night and captured some great moments and pictures.

Your work will help us forever remember our wedding day as beautifully as we lived it on that day.  YOU'RE THE BEST and I have given your contact information to a few friends of mine as a result.

Be well,
Jarronn and Jessica


--- 

and now those photos are what remains. i'm so thankful that we made the investment to capture everything that that day was. the people. the details. the smiles. the love.

genevieve recently wrote about her coverage of our wedding on her blog and posted some of her favorite photos. i hope that you'll check it out.

Friday, May 14, 2010

wedding vows, part II

thanks for all of the lovely comments about yesterday's post.

in the lead up to our wedding, Jarronn repeatedly begged me not to outdo him with my vows. he'd remind me over and over that we were aiming for a minute or so of talking, and that he didn't want me to write something too eloquent that made him look bad. well, if you read his vows, you'd know that there was no chance of him being outdone. i was pretty blown away. and in my head, i thought, "i'm going to kill this guy for outdoing me!"


but in the end, what meant the most is that we both meant what we said. and knew it. before God. and all of our family and friends.

wedding vows
may 15, 2009
by Jessica Moreland

Jarronn –

Without knowing it, you’ve transformed my thoughts about love. Where I once doubted the notion of true, head-over-heels, totally devoted love, it is through you that I have come to learn that it really does exist. I thank you for accepting me for the person I am. For challenging me to become the woman I’m purposed to be. For sharing in my triumphs and encouraging me in times of disappointment. And for making it your personal mission to keep me laughing. {{ad lib}} -- As was exemplified here today. (smile)

There are days when seeing you, and knowing that we have each other, makes every challenge of life seem small. Loving you feels effortless. But on days when it may feel difficult, I vow to still love you. To show you patience, kindness, forgiveness, and support. I vow to encourage you and not tear you down. I vow to trust you in leading me and our family. I vow to honor you as my husband, to accept your imperfections, and to recognize the greatness inside of you. 

I vow to keep God first, and work to make our relationship one that brings Him glory. I vow to pray for you and your strength. And I vow to depend on God to make me the wife you need throughout the different stages of our lives.

It’s my prayer that I’ll be able to look into these same eyes 50 years from now. I couldn’t be happier to be marrying my best friend. I couldn’t be more honored to become Mrs. Jarronn Jackson. And I couldn’t be more excited to spend the rest of my life with you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

wedding vows, part I

saturday is our wedding anniversary. the lead up has been a bit rough.

in the planning of our wedding, Jarronn and i decided that in addition to the more formal, traditional vows, we would also write and share our own. those of you who were at the wedding, know how special the vows were. those of you who weren't, may have heard about them. and some of you have asked to see them.

so i figured that in the lead up to saturday, it would be appropriate to share them. today we'll start with Jarronn's. tomorrow will be mine -- same as the order in which they were recited. the words and emphasis are exactly the way he typed them. (the quotation marks and underlining were inserted by Jarronn -- typically as his places of emphasis and humor.) hope you enjoy the picture of our love.

wedding vows
may 15, 2009
by Jarronn Jackson

Jessica Alicia Moreland also known as Chatty, sometimes known as Babylove, commonly known as Boo,

As we stand here today, I continue to be in awe of how omnipotent and wise our God is.  Throughout our relationship you have been my homegirl, my support, my best friend, and the love of my life…and today I will finally call you my wife.

I vow to you that I will take the responsibility that God has entrusted in me to lead our lives together and be a responsible, considerate, open-minded, and ever-loving husband.

I promise to love you in the way that you need to be loved by listening to you, compromising with you, and praying for you.

I promise to keep our love "fresh," by following the old wisdom of "whatever you did to get her, you have to do to keep her" and finding new things for us to discover and enjoy together.

I promise to keep our love "fun," by being spontaneous, and continuing to "date" you throughout our marriage.

I also promise to accept the vulnerability that comes with loving you so completely and unconditionally.

I promise that I will "try" to not let the pride of a man cloud my judgment in our marriage; and if it does, I vow to be "man" enough to admit when I am wrong.

I promise to give you not only the euphoric, intimate, and romantic "eros" love, but to love you completely, always. Eros, philos, and agape. With this agape love, this selfless, unconditional love, I promise to always work and always try. Through the years, I may need a reminder of this, but we can always go to the DVD!

With these promises that I have made to you today, I cannot guarantee that I will be all things, always, but I promise to always try and be an active participant in our marriage. Prayerfully, as we look back on our marriage many, many years down the road, we will see that all of these promises have been fulfilled.

It is with these vows that I pledge my unconditional love to you today and always!

Monday, May 10, 2010

a big deal

so in my post about my 23 days off from school, i talked about wanting to travel. and last week, i took a much-anticipated trip to chicago for two days. my first and last trip to the chi was at an extremely happy time in life -- july 2008, and i was coasting on the high of just getting engaged and preparing to transition to my current job.

that 2008 trip was filled with lots of great times. visits to obama headquarters. boutique shopping. a lazy bus tour. my first encounter with big bowl. dancing with my favorite player d. mcnabb. and of course, great reunion time with my girls from college.

i had hoped that my second trip to the windy city would be under much different circumstances. more so along the lines of a surprise trip there to celebrate Jarronn's 30th birthday. but while the trip wasn't exactly what i had originally wanted, it turned out to be wonderful.

so why chicago, and why now? about six weeks ago, my boss and i started talking about the oprah show. she told me about her experiences going to the show, and i shared how going to her show before it goes off the air next year was one of my "bucket list" items. to my huge surprise, she said, "why didn't you tell me this before?" ummmm. huh? long story short...she sent a few emails and got me four tickets to the may 4 taping of the oprah show! talk about a big deal!

(yes, i have the best boss in the world. no, you can't email her for a hook-up.) :-)

and so we went to chicagooooo (said with my arm extended and in my best oprah shout). me, my mom, and two of my girlfriends. we scored a hotwire hook-up at the swanky hotel sax, and we ate our way through the city. hot asian buns. wine flights. massaman curry. and corn tortilla tacos. (man, i love food.) you can check out some photos below.



the show airs tomorrow, may 11. i wouldn't get too excited about seeing us in the audience, but you never know.

yes, chicago trip #2 was certainly different than what i had originally planned. and i definitely had moments where i thought about the what ifs and the should haves. but i had fun. and i was grateful.

and for the first time, in a very long time, as i sat on the plane (of course in my window seat), and descended back to reagan national, i felt happy to be coming home. and that -- just like oprah -- was a really big deal.

Friday, May 7, 2010

heart break

lucky in love. that's how most people would label me. and i can't really argue with that. i've been blessed to know amazing people and to be in relationships with amazing men. men who have treated me with respect, loved me despite my flaws, and never wanted to hurt me.

and i tried my best to be all of those things to them as well. but i wasn't always successful. in fact, i know i was even the cause of some heart ache. heart break. hurt.

it's not something i say with pride. it's not something i say to imply that i somehow had the upper hand. there's no good feeling in knowing you hurt someone you love.

there were many times i wished i could have been the one to bear the heart break. it's not that i didn't have my own share of pain in those situations. but i knew that i ultimately was the cause of the hurt. the cause of the disappointment. the cause of things not going back to how they used to be. or how they wanted.

while i always had the best intentions, i always feared, somewhere deep down, that the pain would come back around to get me. that it was only a matter of time. that the luck was sure to run out. that i'd be the one who'd end up on the other side. wanting more. unable to have it. heart broken.

and that's where i've found myself. now i know heart break. and heart break knows me. only it didn't happen the way i thought it would. or thought it could. it wasn't caused by a man. instead, it's heart break caused by God. and i'm not sure if that's better, worse, or no difference at all. but i imagine there are a lot of similarities. feeling betrayed. feeling like a fool. searching for reasoning. waiting for a call (or in my case, an answered prayer). feeling abandoned. and trying to figure out where you went wrong. what you did wrong. and what could possibly make things better.

h.e.a.r.t. broken.

i hope God is as sorry as i've been.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

23 days

i can't tell you how happy and relieved i am that my semester is over. wrapped it up last night and feel like a 16-lb. weight has been lifted (that's one pound for every week of hard work).

the summer semester starts in 23 days, so i'm hoping for a break that is both relaxing and fruitful. i'm sure the time will fly by, but somehow i keep adding things to my list of to-do's in my head. my most-used phrase these days seems to be, "that's another thing i hope to do while i'm on break." and if you're wondering -- yes, i'm known to be over-ambitious.

but here's a sampling of what's on my list, if you're interested:
  1. blog more
  2. catch up with family and friends i haven't seen in a long time
  3. read a book for pleasure
  4. enjoy d.c.'s outdoor scene
  5. deal with more paperwork
  6. travel (more on that later)
  7. give my talent to a good cause (nu-aaa)
any other suggestions??? 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

mah neesh mah

working as a sales representative meant that Jarronn got to meet all kinds of different people. he’d often come home or call me during the day with stories about people he met in a waiting room, the doctors he called on, or the front office staff. on occasion, the story might have even been accompanied by a photo he snapped with his blackberry — like the one below of a 80+ year-old woman wearing rocawear sunglasses. (something he had found hilarious.)


one of the reasons why Jarronn was so great at his job was that he had a gift for connecting with people. for the offices where there was a doctor that seemed less than eager to meet with him, he’d charm the front office staff — memorizing their names. things about their families. or their favorite things to do on weekends. since he died, i’ve found business cards and slips of paper with his notes about someone he met, so he could remember the details later. it wasn’t that he wasn’t genuine in his interest in the lives of people he met. but he was intentional. and he knew how much it would mean to people when he remembered details about them.

in the weeks after he died, i received lots of thoughtful messages, cards, and emails from his co-workers. one of them noted: "Jarronn is such a positive & humorous force; all lives are changed as a result of him. I have never seen a man so sure and excited about his marriage and his wife and his God and his family. You gotta know how much of an impact he made on our customers, his co-workers, I have barely sold a drug since Jarronn left us." i even got a card from one of the doctors offices he called on — something that i felt was a true testament to how much of an impression he made on people.

one of Jarronn’s favorite doctors was dr. jacobs. as i understand things, when Jarronn first started his sales job and calling on dr. jacob’s office, all sales reps were confined to standing in a corner and waiting, if they were lucky. the unlucky ones just couldn’t come in at all. fast forward three years, and Jarronn took me to dr. jacobs’ office where the staff couldn’t have greeted us with a warmer welcome. and dr. jacobs took time out of his packed patient schedule to visit with us. that day, he blessed our future marriage with a hebrew prayer, shook Jarronn’s hand heartily, and gave him an approving and supportive pat on the shoulder. it meant a lot to both of us.

this week, as i was getting ready for work one morning, i was searching through the nightstand next to the bed, looking for something. it’s full of things collected by Jarronn that i’ve yet to sort through, but it often turns up useful items. a tube of chap stick, a book of matches, or a needed document. on this particular day, i found a tiny blue slip of paper — a prescription sheet from dr. jacob’s office.

on the tiny slip were two words, written in a language i couldn’t understand. but i immediately knew what i was looking at. i immediately imagined Jarronn talking to dr. jacobs. asking him to teach him some new terms in hebrew. writing it down so he’d remember it for their next conversation or the one he’d have with the next jewish person he met who spoke hebrew.

and so i immediately went to my computer. opened up google. and searched for the words on the tiny slip of paper in my hand. i searched for meaning. i searched for the knowledge Jarronn had. i searched for connection.

what i found was that “mah neesh mah” was the phonetic spelling of the word “Mahnishmah.” Jarronn had written it in a way that he’d remember the pronunciation. and the meaning of “mahnishmah”?

it means “what’s up?”

and so i smiled. i felt that connection i’d been looking for. and i replied out loud, “not much, boo. what’s up with you?”