I had a lot in common with Jason.
I met Jason in early 1998. He and I both grew up in church, so it was appropriate that we met in church. We were both pretty burned out on it too. I can’t speak for Jason, but I can say I didn’t really have much problem with God, but I’d just about had it with his people. We were the same age, and we both liked music, and as I recall, at the time, we both had interest in making our own music.
We went our seperate ways. I lived in Columbia, Mo., while Jason lived north of Columbia.
I knew Jason’s dad a whole lot better. Clyde’s a good man. Around me, he always talked straight and had a lot of wisdom to offer, and was always smiling. Eventually I found myself in an accountability group with him and one of his friends. I learned a lot from them. I was going through a really rough time of my life at the time–it’s called my early 20s–and they helped me sort a lot of issues out.
One of those issues was where I was going to live and what I was going to do with my life. And Columbia, Mo. is the place for a lot of people, but it definitely wasn’t–and isn’t–the place for me. So I said goodbye to Clyde and Dwight and a whole bunch of other people and headed east.
The last time I saw Jason was at a friend’s wedding, just a month or so before I moved. I was in the groom’s party, and one of the bridesmaids seemed really nice. I was thinking I’d go talk to her, when Jason swept in. Next thing I knew, they were making plans for later in the week. Call it a date, call it what you will. What I know was once Jason was in the picture, she stopped returning my glances.
I took a job in St. Louis. Jason went into the military. My job didn’t work out. Jason’s military experience didn’t work out. I looked around a lot and didn’t find anything perfect. Jason looked around a lot and didn’t find anything perfect. I dated a girl. Jason married a girl. I wrote a book. Jason had two kids.
Jason struggled to pay his bills but he had everything I ever wanted. I sometimes struggled to remember to pay my bills but money wasn’t the issue. I’m sure that if our paths had crossed again this year, Jason would have considered me successful. I know I would have considered him successful. Each of us had what the other wanted.
Jason hanged himself last month. He left a wife and two kids and two parents and countless others asking questions.
I don’t know what it would have taken for my situation and Jason’s to be reversed. An outsider looking at both of us in 1998, knowing where we’d both be in 2002 and having to pick which of us would go where, might have guessed I’d be the one in the ground now.
But now, I wouldn’t do what Jason did in a million years. And maybe I do know the difference. I have people to call. Sometimes when you’re struggling with something, you need to talk to someone. And, I know this isn’t the popular thing to say these days, but there are some things you just don’t want to talk to your parents about, at least not first. And I don’t know who Jason had besides his parents.
It’s really awful not knowing who to call.