Monday, December 3, 2007

Remembering Old Friends...

Yesterday I went to the "Gift of Life Celebration" (AKA memorial service) for Jason Michael Bradley. It was a bit of a sobering experience. I got to hear about and understand my friend more than I had considered.

I had helped his sister, Sarah, a bit by scanning a few of Jason's old pictures to have them available for the family and to present in a slideshow for the reception following the service. We met over coffee and perused my MP3 collection to come up with an appropriate soundtrack. An hour and a half of music, and we hadn't even gotten through the 'R's in my pop/rock folder yet. Sonya spent about 11 hours and was up until 8:30 in the morning arranging them all and setting them to appropriate songs (cussing at my laptop the whole time for not working the way she expected it to).

The testimonies provided by his family, friends, even our old choir director Rick Hartsoe, gave a greater insight to the man I knew, and all of it confirmed what I had known about Jason for years: that Jason was all about love and joy. Here is a man that lived more in 29 years than most could in a century. He had seen more of the country by the time he was 25 than most would see in their lifetime, yet he still had the time to make everyone in his life feel like the most important person in the world. No one could recall a single harsh word or emotion from him. This big teddy bear of a guy embodied unconditional love - and it was felt by everyone there.

My writings aren't usually this disjunct, but it would take me days to compile and organize my thoughts on this event and my subsequent feelings about Jay. Suffice it to say, the service wasn't sorrowful or regretful. One always regards the death of someone so young as a tragedy and with a certain amount of regret, but with Jay, there was none. Tear, yes, but not regret. He lived an AMAZINGLY full life and blessed absolutely everyone whose life he touched. So much so, that rather than focusing on what might have been, everyone was focused on how grateful they were to have known him at all.

Everyone's familiar with the concept of "Pay It Forward" by now. Well, jay was the impetus for more kindness, love, and smiles paid forward than most anyone I can think of. He inspired everyone he knew to be cheerful, helpful, and loving.

The world is more indebted to Jason Michael Bradley that it will ever realize...

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