Monday, March 1, 2010

happy birthday Jarronn

today is Jarronn's birthday. his 30th.

when he was alive, i had really looked forward to celebrating him and this milestone. i imagined a big party. where lots of people got to tell him how much he meant to them. how special he was. because i didn't think he had a true appreciation of how much the world loved him. and i wanted to surprise him with a trip. because we loved to travel. and i wanted to get him a nice gift, maybe a watch. (gifts was definitely his primary love language). i just couldn't wait to see how happy it would all make him. how thankful he'd be for life. a beautiful, joyful, and love-filled life.

Jarronn and i met when he was 24, so the first birthday i celebrated with him was his 25th. my co-worker tamika and i treated him to dinner (one of our group's rituals) at macaroni grill, one of his favorite restaurants, where he always ordered chicken rustica -- and he'd make sure to pronounce it with his version of an italian accent. (he later learned how to replicate the dish at home -- lucky me!)

he also celebrated by throwing a "quarter-century party" with our friend and fellow j&j-er vincent at ida mae's in nyc. he had a great time. and perhaps a bit too much to drink. when i spoke to him the next day, he asked me if i had made it to the party (he confessed months later that he knew i was there but was playing it cool). i reminded him that he introduced me to one of his friends as "his future wife." it was one of many inside jokes we had. but it's funny how things turned out. he'd later make jokes about being a prophet who claimed me and spoke it into existence.

there are special memories from all of the birthdays that followed. on his 26th, i told him i loved him. on his 27th, i gave him his favorite tie and cuff links. on his 28th, i mailed him a can of cashews while he was away on a ski trip, and he called to say, "girl, you must really love your man!" and on his 29th, we kept it low key as we were saving for our wedding. just church, family and homemade carrot cake with cream cheese icing (his favorite).

today is tough. surprisingly so. tougher than thanksgiving or christmas or valentine's day -- those seemed like any other day. but today is the day to celebrate Jarronn. it's his special day. and i so wish i could see his reaction to all of the amazing emails, cards, messages, wall posts, and calls so many of you have sent in the seven months since he passed.

two weeks before he died, i was working on a birthday celebration for one of my close friends. she was turning 28, and a group of us decided to put together a bunch of things in her honor -- a surprise luncheon, a slideshow with comments from friends, a scrapbook, gifts, a night out, etc. i admittedly remember being tired in the week leading up to the weekend of events and saying to Jarronn, "we're doing a whole lot of stuff, and it's not even a milestone birthday. maybe we should be waiting for her to turn 30." about two hours later, Jarronn was washing dishes, and i was watching tv on the couch. he called out to me and said, "you know, i was thinking about what you said earlier. about it not being a milestone birthday. but really, i think it's good that you guys are doing this now. because even though it's not a milestone, you never know what life might be like when she actually does turn 30. people might be in different places or different stages of life. it might not be possible to do something like this then. so it's good that you're doing it now."

i looked at my wise and amazing husband and said, "you're right, boo."

happy 30th birthday, Jarronn. thank you for changing my life, simply by living yours.


  1. Wow, this is an amazing snapshot of your journey of love with Jarronn. It is evident that he will definitely live within your heart forever. My heart goes out to you, my sister. I can only imagine what is must be like to endure as you have. Be encouraged and know that your family and friends have much love for you.

  2. Oh man, that last paragraph about our girl's b'day celebration really hit me. I remember her saying the same thing to us in her surprise, that "it's not even a major birthday, I'm so grateful for all of this, you guys."

    We were all pretty exhausted trying to bring everything together for the celebratory activities, I remember. But it was so worth it! It was because of those preparations that I got to see Jarronn so many times in the month of July. And I got to see him in different lights than before.

    When some of us were scrapbooking at your dining table late one weeknight...and complaining about how long it had taking me to assemble just one page--he walked by and essentially told us to hush it up and keep working. :) He noted that he was impressed that we were doing all of that to celebrate someone. And again as we were moaning about how much longer we had to go with the scrapbook, he walked over and kissed you at the table.

    We later watched him play Wii with his Godson...saw one of his best-friends stop by, and also one of his cousins.

    I feel like I witnessed the essence of J-Ron that night. Everything that he was to so many people, what he valued: the importance of family, the importancs of friends, the role model he was, taking time to encourage others, coaching others, fun & playful, sweet and sentimental. A great great package.

    Happy birthday Jarronn.

  3. I often think of the last day that I saw Jarronn. It was the day of that truly unforgettable birthday celebration.

    During lunch, Jarronn was cracking jokes and telling stories and making everyone laugh as per usual. And as we were leaving, we talked about how he was approaching the "big 3-0." It is crazy how unpredictable life is. But I am so grateful for the fun memories and good times we were able to share.

    Jess, you do a beautiful job of honoring Jarronn's life, and reminding us to treasure the time we do have with the people we love. Thank you for that. And happy 30th birthday to Jarronn; you are dearly missed.

  4. Happy 30th birthday Jarronn! Love you Jess!!!

  5. Every birthday is a big deal, a blessing. Imagine how many people didn't make it to the ages we all are now. I think about that a lot and so I make a big deal out of all of my birthdays cause I know I might not see the next one. I'm grateful.

    I just read the post about your father liking (really, loving) Jarronn and how Jarronn not only came to him in a dream but that your dad actually remembered it. I think he came to your father, the night before his "milestone" birthday to send a message to you in a MAJOR way. He's here, and he is still loving you & always will, just from afar. Maybe next time your dad dreams about him they'll get to the end of the game and your dad can say who won. You know he'll be mad if Jarronn does! Lol.. Happy Belated Birthday Jarronn! & a ::HUG:: for you, Jess!

  6. I'll never forget that day either. It was the last time I saw him as well. He had so many jokes and I remember him falling out of his chair at dinner :-)

    I remember talking about our futures while the ladies were catching up at the beginning of the function. His life was and still is such an inspiration to me.

    Thanks for honoring him Jess!

    We love you!

  7. I sooooo remember that first dinner and Ida Mae's was an incredibly fun night! Lord, Jess!! Thank you for capturing the homies heart and keeping his memory alive! Love you!!! ❤️