Friday, November 2, 2012

Losing Jason: Part III

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 2ndanniversary 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 III: The Tweet-Up

As Tuesday was turning into Wednesday, I still was lost. I didn’t really have an outlet that I could unleash. I didn’t want to share what I was feeling because I didn’t want to burden anyone. Additionally, I had worried that some unjust blame would start getting dished out. I understood the mistakes I had made, but when feeling emotionally unstable, I am the type who would easily lash out. The situation that caused my rift with Jason was because I sided with our friend Jeff on a completely minor issue. The last thing I wanted to do was blame Jeff for my choices. During this time, I knew Jeff was worried I would blame him and lash out. I think he still worries about it to this day, regardless of what I say. I was very cognizant of the fact that I am capable of this, so I was very mindful to not let it get the best of me. It was late, but at least I started learning something about my brief rift with Jason, right?

So I was looking for something, anything to connect with. I stumbled across the following on Facebook:

            Raccoon River Brewing Company
6:00pm until 10:00pm

As many might already know we lost an amazing person this weekend, Jason Schippers. We have caught wind that his friends in Colorado are having a fundraiser on 11/3/10 to help raise money to give to Jason's family.

With Jason being a large part of the twitter community we thought we would use this weeks @dmjuice #dmtweetup to do the same. Please come and enjoy how many of us got to know Jason. With laughs and drinks at a local watering hole. If you would like to, there will be a collection jar to "buy schippers a drink". All of the money collected will go to Jason's family.

Even if you are not on twitter please come and join us. Find out why @schippers enjoyed tweeting, and meet some new friends. If we have learned anything from Jason there is no such thing as "too many friends".

As Jason's friend Rich Mackey said, "Give love. Get love. Leave love behind." Let's help Jason's family, and leave a few bucks in the jar.

I really had no idea what a “Tweet Up” was, but knew I had to be there. If anyone was doing something for Jason, I was going to be there.

Carl and I trying to smile in a tough situation
I got off work early and drove downtown to the bar. I really didn’t know what to expect, nor if I would know anyone there. I went anyway, just wanting to be in his element. I remember walking upstairs and looking around, lost. Someone asked if I was there for the “Tweet Up” and all I knew to say was, “I’m here for Jason.” They smiled and pointed me to where everyone was. I donated some cash to the fundraiser, grabbed a beer and sat back. As expected, I didn’t know anyone who was there. After a few minutes, the woman he interviewed with the day after our Tough Enough marathon, arrived. It was good seeing her and we started to catch up and, of course, talk about Jason. Shortly after, my good friend Carl came in. Carl and I have a long standing friendship. We lived together for a year, and is probably the favorite guy I ever shared a place with. He’s just a genuine person and we both understood what the other was feeling, to a point. Along with him was Brandi, who I had never met but had heard of. She became one of Jason’s great friends after I had faded from the picture. She shared stories with me about how much Jason would still talk about me, and never anything negative. She mentioned how much he loved looking at my Facebook, commenting how happy I looked with Marshall and Rachel. It was very sweet, and yet heartbreaking. He should have seen it in person. I still have a hard time balancing that in my mind. I don’t drop into self-loathing as much as I once did, but during everything that was happening, I beat myself up extremely bad.

As previously mentioned, I had written a eulogy of sorts. I didn’t know what to do with it, but for reasons I don’t know, I just was carrying it with me. I didn’t know if I wanted to share it or keep it to myself. I just didn’t know because it was a eulogy/letter to Jason and he could never hear it. As I sat with Brandi, she somehow became my link to him. Without even thinking about it, I decided to let her and Carl read it. Now, I’ve decided to let you all read what I wrote:

            “Time heals all wounds.”

We’ve all heard that quote many times. I usually believe it to be true. I’ve seen it time and time again. Unfortunately I stand here knowing that I was not given the time to heal a wound…a wound that I so desperately wanted to heal. Jason and I had a falling out. It was the worst mistake I could have made. How could I lose touch with someone I was so close with? Someone who I had considered a dear friend, a close confidant, a partner in crime…a brother. Jason was family to me and I was to him. We said it many, many times to each other. Why did we have a falling out…well, because I kept butting in where I didn’t need to. He came to me, confided in me, trusted me. I judged. I didn’t help. I cast aside. I regret. Jason would never have done that to me. He never judged. He always helped. He drew me closer and never cast me aside. I learned so much from him, yet apparently not how to properly be a friend. He called me his best man. There was only one best man in our friendship…Jason.

I met Jason oh so many years ago. I first heard of him, not by name, but by the beloved nickname given to him by our mutual friends…Fish. I was invited over to his apartment one Sunday night to watch a WWF pay per view. I walked in and met a man who would forever change my life. On the surface, we were extremely similar. We shared a love of professional wrestling, video games and our beloved Magic Bullet blender. We joked, laughed, I introduced him to the UFC and we just had a great time. I remember leaving his apartment thinking, “That’s a good dude. I hope we hang out more often.” Little did I know I had been introduced to a person who would be with me through so much.

Over the next year we connected sporadically through wrestling and movies, but the night that changed our bond forever was known to us as “Wedding Crashers Night”. I had tickets to see an advanced showing of the movie Wedding Crashers. I invited Jason and went to the theatre. As we got ready to go into the theatre, Jason spotted a Lazer Rock Girl. He had a sly little smirk on his face. We all know the look. We went and sat down, he smirked to me and said “I’ll be right back.” He came back about 10 minutes later beaming and asked me “Will you be my wing man at Drink tonight? I’m meeting up with the Lazer girl.” I was impressed. We went to Drink that night and I played wingman. I distracted the Lazer girl’s friend for hours while Jason and her talked. At about 4 am we finally got back to his place. I asked if he was going to keep talking to this girl after tonight. He looked at me and said “No. I kissed her and she has weird lips. Thanks for helping out tonight, though.” I don’t know why, but this was just a priceless moment for me.

There are so many great stories I could share. The time he was visiting from Colorado, we went to Carlos O’Kelly’s with his family and friends. I had a special margarita…the Marla. We went to a party at my place, got Angie a little too tipsy and took care of her. The time my wife Rachel and I visited him in Colorado and we end up performing UFC moves on each other. The time he was coming back to Iowa and spent the night before a big job interview at my place. We ended up staying up until 3 in the morning watching old WWF Tough Enough episodes and just talking. In over 3 years, there wasn’t a day you and I went without a text, phone call, e-mail or a get together. There are just so many great times, conversations and memories between me and my brother Jason.

The one thing I miss more than anything is how he would greet me every time we got together. The first thing he did was see my wife and say in a high-pitched tone“RACHEL” and give her a big hug. He would then turn to me with his hand outstretched. We’d slap our hands together and give a hug. The kid could hug, man. He had so much love to give. It was also the look on his face when we got together. He had this little smirk. The smirk said so much, but to me it always said “I’m happy to see you and I love you, brother.” I miss that look. I have pictures of that look…but I want the real thing again. Unfortunately I can’t hug my Fish any more. I miss that more than anything.

There are so many great things we could say about Jason. Honestly, we could go on for hours and hours. Every one of us was touched by him in some way. He was a guy who brought out the best in everyone. He found the best in people and always focused on that. He never looked at your faults or your negatives. He loved every one for who they were. He had so much love to give and it’s evident that he spread that love to as many people as possible.

I just want to say to Jason…Fish, I love you brother. You meant more to me than I could have ever admitted or shown to you. Do me one favor, keep me a ringside seat up in heaven. I’ll be looking for you when I get there. I love you, Fish.

In retrospect, I realize there are not enough words to express what he meant, but at the time this was something that I needed out. It felt good to see their reactions and understand, to a degree, what I was going through.

Jeff, Carl and I at the Tweet Up
There were two huge things that happened to me that night, apart from what I mentioned above. In talking to Brandi, she encouraged me to make more contact with Angie. As we sat there, Brandi and Angie were texting. She started relaying messages back and forth, but then decided it would be best to let us do it on our own. I started texting Angie and started connecting better with her. The second thing that really affected me was two texts from my good friends Rick and Kraig. There were a few guys that casually knew Jason, from UFC and movie get-togethers. I wasn’t able to verbally say what had happened so I sheepishly texted them. While both displaying sorrow about it, they both reached out to see how I was doing. They not only wanted to see how I was, they also knew the story about my rift with Jason, but wanted to reaffirm with me how good of a person and friend I was. Without even saying a word about it, they both talked me up so I wouldn’t just sit around and bash myself. I knew they were friends, and good ones at that, but that moment really made me appreciate them that much more. I’ve never told them how much it meant to me, the words they shared, but they were moments that helped keep me together.

Me and Angie
Later in the evening, we were joined by a few others that were part of our group. Jeff, Jamel and Carl joined me in throwing back a few drinks while sharing great “Fish” stories. By the end of the night, we parted with smiles on our faces from enjoying time together and celebrating the time we shared with Jason. During the drive home, I felt an extreme amount of guilt. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should not be smiling or laughing during this all. I can’t quite put the feeling into words, but it just felt wrong to have any joy during that time. I often masked my pain at home with a smile so that what I was going through wouldn’t affect Rachel, but especially Marshall. I just didn’t think he should have been exposed to something so devastating at such a young age

When we found out that the visitation was Friday night, I just told Rachel what my plan was, not understanding she would want to go as well. I felt awful because I never took her feelings into consideration. We used to spend tons of time with Jason together, most enjoyably our Sunday nights together watching Rock of Love, and I forgot that she could be upset. We had a dispute about Marshall, because she wanted to bring him with to the visitation and I was absolutely against it. Eventually she won out, and in hindsight, it was a great decision.


Jason’s Obituary:

Jason Schippers, 29, of Denver, Colorado passed away on Sunday, October 31, 2010 at Rose Medical Center in Denver of complications following surgery.

Jason was born February 20, 1981 in Des Moines, Iowa the son of Ralph and Marla Schippers. He graduated from Southeast Polk High School in Runnells and attended Central College in Pella, Iowa. He ran Cross Country and Track receiving a varsity letter from Central in Cross Country. Jason was employed as the Marketing Director at Riverton on the Platte Apartment Homes in Sheridan, Colorado. Jason loved comics, movies, music, social networking and living life.

Jason is survived by his parents, Ralph and Marla Schippers of Pleasant Hill, Iowa; a sister Angie (Jon) von Glan of Waukee, Iowa; a grandmother, Sabra Schippers of West Des Moines, Iowa; and his dog Sophia and cat Jacks.

A celebration of Jason's life with friends and family will be Friday, November 5, from 4:30 to 7:30 at Dunn's Funeral Home in Des Moines with funeral services being held Saturday, November 6 at 10:00 a.m. at Dunn's Funeral Home with interment at Glendale Cemetery.




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

 

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