Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Losing Jason: Part II

On October 31st, 2010, my best friend Jason Ryan Schippers a.k.a. Fish passed away due to surgery complications. It’s been difficult to come to terms with this, but on the 2nd anniversary of the events, I wanted to let my thoughts and emotions out via this blog. Each posting will coincide with an occurrence from that date two years ago. This is not going to be easy to write, post or read. This is my view and emotions from this. I don’t know what this will accomplish, but telling this story is something I feel compelled to do.

Part II: The Phone Call

I woke up on Halloween morning, 2010, with the expected hangover. I swore off Four Loko that day, which I still have not touched another drop of. I moved only slightly from the couch for the first few hours, but was starting to feel better about mid-day. As I was sitting on the couch recuperating, I had a sharp pain in my heart. Given the amount I had drank the night before, I assumed the combination of energy drink/alcohol was the culprit as my body rejects energy drinks. I wish that had been the case.

Jeff, Dickey, Fish and me
Marshall was in need of a diaper change, so I got up to take care of my fatherly duties and let Rachel relax. As I changed him, my phone started to ring. It was Jeff. Given that I was mid-diaper change, I ignored the call and figured I’d call back later. I assumed we would just laugh about the night before and talk football. You know; the usual “guy call”. The only difference is that he called again…and again…and again. Admittedly frustrated, I answered the last call as I took Marshall downstairs. Upon picking up the call I could tell Jeff had a different tone to him. Sometimes you can just tell that something was wrong and this time, something was definitely wrong. After a few seconds of asking how each was feeling from the night before, Jeff uttered the words that I was not ready to hear, “Wahl,” he started “Fish is gone.” My immediate response to him was, “Shut the f*** up.” I didn’t know how else to respond. I immediately sprung up from my chair and ran to Facebook to check Angie’s page. Just minutes earlier, as I was upstairs with Marshall, she posted his passing. I immediately went into a state of shock. I looked over and Rachel just mouthed “Is it Fish?” All I could do was shake my head. I hung up with Jeff after some moments of silence and just glazed over.  Rachel asked me if I would like some time alone, to which I just nodded, so she took Marshall and headed out for a while.

I didn’t know what to do with myself. I picked up the phone and called Jason’s, ex-wife Erika, to pass the news along, assuming no one had told her. She didn’t answer and I had no words available to leave a message so I just hung up. I blindly walked over to my WWE DVD’s and grabbed Tough Enough: Season 1 to watch. When Jason moved back from Denver previously, he stayed at my house and we stayed up all night watching it. He went to his interview the next day, tired, but got the job. Funny thing was the woman who interviewed him was a friend of mine’s wife. Jason mentioned my name during the interview and I’m guessing mockery at my expense helped seal the deal. At least, he liked to tell me that.

I don’t know how much time passed while I watched the show. I don’t know how long Rachel and Marshall were gone. When they came home, I had not cried. I had not yelled. I had not really reacted. I just sat there, like a statue. I couldn’t fathom what was going on. I do remember looking at my son, feeling blessed that he was there but also feeling ashamed that he never got to meet Jason. I still regret, to this day, that Marshall never got a legendary Jason hug.

I also decided to send Angie an e-mail, but really had no idea what to say. How do you convey how much you care for them and how much sorrow you have? It was a very basic note and to this day, I still wish I would have said more. I just didn’t know what.


Words cannot express my sorrow for you guys. Rachel and I are sincerely sorry that this has happened. I'm sorry and sick that I'm not there for you guys and for Jason. May God bless all of you and if you need anything when you get back to town, please let me know.


Jason and I toasting...and toasted
Later that night I received a text from Erika. It turns out my number was not in her phone and was wondering who I was. Once I responded she called. She had heard about Jason and wasn’t sure how to react. I don’t remember much about the conversation outside of feeling anger. She didn’t seem devastated by it, the way I was. I know their divorce was fresh and the feelings there were still new, but I couldn’t comprehend the tone of her reaction. She did e-mail me an apology the next day, saying that she is just shocked and doesn’t know how to react. She didn’t want to come off as cold hearted, because that wasn’t the intent. She just had a hard time quantifying all the feelings she had. We still run into her from time to time but for me, it’s different. I have no ill will and wish her the best, but I wanted more. Then again, who am I to tell anyone how to grieve? Everyone grieves in different ways. I like to be alone and write. Others want to cry from the rooftops. It helped open my eyes to the fact that no one can understand how anyone else feels in a situation like this. We all are going through the same thing, losing Jason, but he affected us all differently. For years, he was one of the most important people in my life. For others, he was a great guy they casually knew. It’s going to hit everyone differently and it’s never my place to judge how someone else reacts.

Going to work the next few days was tough. I sent my managers an e-mail requesting that I not be on the phone and be able to handle projects without interruption. I couldn’t take talking to people. I put my headphones on and lost myself in my thoughts. There were many times I almost broke down, but couldn’t do it. My manager James’ birthday was that Monday and our group would be hosting a little party in the lunchroom that afternoon. I apologized to him but said I couldn’t come in. I was going to bring the whole vibe down, plus only a select few knew what I was going through. He completely understood.

I spent Monday and Tuesday in a haze. I rarely spoke and barely acknowledged those around me. My friends who work with me were e-mailed why I was distant and they understood and gave me space. I obsessively went looking for newspapers that printed stories about him and waited for information on the funeral. I reached out to his new girlfriend, who could not have been more helpful and supportive. I didn’t know what else to do. Emotions were starting to pour out in ways I didn’t expect. I sent him this e-mail and I couldn’t understand why:

I can’t believe you are gone. Despite the fact that we haven’t talked recently, I always kept you in the back of my mind and in my heart. You were a true friend and a wonderful person.

I have gone through life not believing in regret. I figured that every decision I made led me to the next step in my life. Without those decisions, I wouldn’t be where I am. However, as I sit here today, I have regret. I regret that you and I did not rekindle what was one of the greatest friendships I could ever have. I take full responsibility for it. You tried to talk to me but I was foolish and un-accepting. We both used harsh words after that but I think we both knew, there was never true intent to hurt each other. We spoke from frustration and not from our hearts. Had I just spoken from my heart, we would have not missed our time left here.

I will never forget you, my friend. You were like family to me and I am absolutely crushed. I was sitting on my couch Sunday when my heart hurt for a moment. It was a strange moment but one I let slide. I found out an hour later that you had passed at about the same time as my heart hurt. I wish I could have talked to you once more, just one more night to hang out and have fun like we always did. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. I was not there as a friend when I absolutely needed to be.

I just want you to know that you were one of the sweetest, most genuine and wonderful people I have ever been blessed to know. We shared so many great times together. We trusted each other whole heartedly. I knew I could turn to you and you knew you could turn to me. I know you are in a better place right now and will be waiting for me when I arrive one day. I just wish you weren’t there right now. I just wish we had at least one more great memory to share. I love you, brother. You were one of a kind and a true treasure to us all.

I’ll see you when I get there…

I also wrote a eulogy, of sorts. I knew that I wouldn’t be talking during the funeral. I had briefly e-mailed Angie but there had been no other contact, and given the state of our friendship, I didn’t dare ask to read it. I will post it in a later section of this blog, though. To be perfectly honest, though, there was no way I would’ve been able to read it out loud. My emotions just wouldn’t let it happen.

Previous Entries: Part I / Part II / Part III / Part IV / Part V / Part VI / Part VII


No comments:

Post a Comment