I know you’re gonna think it’s ridiculous that after some time, this is the way I am finally reaching out to you. (Haha… funny, but not funny.) I can hear you laughing over that one though… ‘cuz you and I both know it’s true. But that’s just the kind of guy you were. Facebook was just “blah” and ridiculous most of the time because you valued genuine connection and interaction so much. Facebook was a cop-out to living real life. And it really was to you. Honestly, I didn’t always understand. You were so intense, so intentional, so passionate. And I see, now, how you could be that way. You were someone who was constantly fighting for his life. You valued every single day, every person, and every moment. It was all a precious gift to you. Any moment of time where you could genuinely laugh with someone, make someone’s day, or run around like a little kid and not remember the pain, you soaked it up with every fiber of your being. I don’t think any of us really knew that. We never treated you like you were sick… and you absolutely hated it when people did, but looking back, I know that I didn’t fully appreciate you for who you were and what you were going through. I didn’t know it then. But maybe it was denial. Maybe because I didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that things could get real bad at any given moment and we could suddenly lose you. Maybe we even argued over stupid things because I had expectations. Actually, I know it was a big part of it. Even if some of it was about ministry, in my mind, you weren’t going to get sicker. You weren’t going to die. I wasn’t going to let it happen. We were going to talk. We were going to laugh. We were going to be passionate. You were going to run. You were going to keep chasing me around the sanctuary to take my beanie off my head. You were going to preach. We were going to argue. We were going to fight, and I was going to treat you like any other human being because that’s who I wanted you to be. No, you had to be better. And not just “better”. You had to be better than everyone else. Because you were different. You were special.
You were special.
I don’t think any of us thought that you’d leave us so soon. You believed with your whole heart that God was bigger than all of it. And when you couldn’t, I believed for you. We all did. We believed with you. Your faith fueled mine. I thought that one day, we’d truly would start our own ministry and you’d speak to generations under us like you’ve always dreamed and like we always talked about. Heck, Jamin even drew a silly comic about our past adventures. ‘Cuz it was awesome! And we believed it would only continue. I believed I would always see you in the front row, off to the side, sometimes pacing, worshipping, jumping, standing with your arms folded as you soaked in God’s presence, as I would lead worship from the stage. And that you’d live out your dream impacting people and inspiring them to live wholehearted lives to God. You just wanted to see a group of people fully alive. Engaged in community and loving each other. Sharing lives. Loving God. Seeing miracles. I remember we used to always talk and “passionately discuss” how that would be accomplished. Haha. So zealous you were. You had a vision. And you knew it. And there was no time to waste.
I know that aside from ministry, and doing great things for God, you just dreamed of making a difference in simple ways. That’s what was amazing. You wanted to fall in love, get married, and have a family. You just wanted to be a dad. Gosh, how you just wanted to be a dad. You wanted to live out a life exemplifying what it looked like to really love a wife, your kids, your neighbors, your boss, on the most basic level. It didn’t have to be fanfare and a huge stage and millions of people. You just wanted to love. You wanted to show people that it was possible to live so whole, full of love, full of joy, healthy in every aspect of life and loving God all the while. How I wish I could see what that would have looked like. What a lucky wife. What lucky kids. What an awesome family you would have created. I feel the pain of not being able to see that.
I wish I could go back in time just a little bit, and look at you in the eyes, and tell you that I still care about you deeply. And get another one of your awkward hugs from you. (You got better at hugging though. I think I should take credit for that. Haha.) I know I couldn’t return the heart and love you had for me, but I still loved you. I wish I knew how to cherish your heart better than I did. But I hope you knew that I loved you. And that I didn’t give up on you. I was just too full of pride, and too afraid, too hurt, to keep going. But how I wished all the time that I’d get one of your dorky texts one day. I never stopped thinking about you.
I am so happy though. Happy that you’re free. Running. You’re probably flying. Kicking a soccerball around. Eating all the food you can get your hands on. With your favorite pairs of shoes. Yes, pairS. Haha, I won’t forget our shared passion for shoes and fluffy sweatshirts. I remember having found the Vibram Five-Finger toe shoes and coming to see you, excited to share my discovery of them, only to find out you had just found out about them, too. Haha. Stuff like that would always happen. That made me laugh. And we were going to go get some. We went, but you just couldn’t make up your darned mind because there were too many pretty colors to choose from. Haha. I’m glad you finally did. And what a good choice.
And right now you’re prolly pushing everyone in mounds of snow, tackling them in it and rubbing their faces in it. How you loved to do that… -_- and you were never gentle about it… but to make it up, you would always clear snow off my car and shared your mom’s awesome chocolate chip cookies. I did like that part :] Those were my favorite.
Watermelons will always make me think of spending every day during the summer time at your house… I got sick of them after a while. Haha.
I won’t forget the 100 mile bike rides through the neighborhood and through the park until it got super dark and we were eating bugs… with YOU leading the whole way and wearing all of us out… unbelievable… hahah…
And I won’t forget how you drove over in the middle of the night to Leann and I’s apartment when I was horribly sick, and you stood out my window with poster boards that said, “I love you! Get better soon!” with one side having only one of your crooked smiley faces drawn on it. Haha. They were always kind of crooked. Before I saw it, you told me to look out my window and I freaked out cuz I didn’t know why you were telling me to look out my window. Haha.
I’ll remember going camping with you and Leann to Lake Michigan… even in your frail health, and despite us yelling at you and telling you not to, you carried Leann on your back EVERYWHERE because she had a hurt ankle and you knew she loved being on the beach. You even went up the darned sand dune. Geez.
And I won’t forget how you surprised me for my birthday and rented out a cabin up North by the beautiful lake… just cuz you knew I needed to get away and get some fresh air…
I miss you, Jesse.
Even though I feel like a fool, coming back only after it’s too late to say all this… Thanks for sharing your life with me. For sharing your heart. For not holding back. For sharing your writings with me. For sharing your most vulnerable thoughts. For giving. And for loving me like you did. I won’t forget you. I’ll always remember you as the burly mountain man you always wanted to be, with an outrageous beard and dreads, awesome shoes, your favorite bright yellow flannel shirt, deep manly voice, laughing, and loving, and pouring your heart out to those you loved.
You truly made the most of your time, and of your life. I believe that. You fought hard.
And now you’re free.
I’ll see you soon, Jesse.
As we always used to say to each other, “Don’t do anything that I would want to do with you.”
And here’s some extra smiley faces because you loved them so much.
:] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :]