Thursday, November 8, 2012

Losing Jason: Part VII

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 VII: Where I Am Right Now

The journey has not concluded, nor will it ever. Sometimes terrible things have to happen in your life so that you can learn and find the good within yourself. We’ll never truly know why Jason had to leave us. It’s nearly impossible to accept it and move forward. The thing is we have to move forward. Life has not stopped. The great thing is that his memory and legacy live on. He inspires, not inspired past tense, but continues to inspire. He gave each person he touched, whether for a moment, a decade or a lifetime, something to learn from. Jason knew how to treat people and how to inspire the best from them. He brought a bit of joy and warmth to those he encountered. The world lost a truly unique and one of a kind person, but by accepting what he taught us, his legacy can continue. His legacy in my mind is to always be the best you can, not just in what you do but how you treat others.

I’ve changed in major ways and some silly ways, too. I have a new appreciation for comic books and the characters within. Their symbolism is pretty powerful. I love watching Marshall get so excited playing with his Superman and Batman figures. I love immersing myself in the imagination and fun of these, but I also love the psychology of these characters. It’s a completely 180 from what I used to be. One thing I know for sure, if I raise my son to be at least half as good of a person as Jason, I’ll be extremely proud.

Throughout this entire process I’ve learned quite a few things about myself, and honestly, quite a bit I didn’t like. I’m not the most likable person around, honestly, a good amount of the time. I’m loud, brash, opinionated and not always considerate of others. At the same time I am very compassionate, loyal and genuinely care about people in my life. It takes a special type of person to care about me. I learned that I needed to channel the positive aspects of myself far better than I had been. The problem with being as passionate as I am is that it can come across negatively. I’m too passionate at times, but I guess there are worse things to be, right?

Every relationship with Jason was unique. He made you feel special and important, whether you were a close friend or simply an acquaintance. In my case, he believed in me and made me better than I truly ever thought I was. I became a better person, husband and father simply by spending the time I did with him. He taught me that you can be who you are, let others be who they are and just love them for who they are. We’re not made from a cookie cutter. Our uniqueness makes us special. He taught me to treat people right, like they matter because everyone does.

I learned that I know the right path and what I should be doing to live a good life, but I somehow lost my way. My directions became skewed but I now know how to stay in the right direction. I hope I continue to follow the right way and not get detoured again. I do feel the guidance of an angel on my shoulder, though. I am confident he’ll continue guiding me on the right path.

Angie and Jason
I also learned that I am absolutely blessed with some of the best friends a guy like me could ever hope for. So many people seemed to pop up right when I needed them. The support has been overwhelming and to feel that love is humbling. I have a newfound appreciation for the people in my life. The lesson from Jason and my rift that I take away is that it’s okay to disagree with friends, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are still the same person I choose to have in my life. One disagreement doesn’t need to ruin a lifelong friendship. We disagree because we all see the world from different angles. There’s no such thing as the correct angle; what works for me in my life may not be the best thing for you. As friends and family all we really need to do is be there for each other. No one knows how low I was. There comes a time, though, when you have to pick yourself up and rise; rise to be better than you were before. I had to learn from the pain to become a better person, husband and father. It’s truly a special thing to be able to see someone fall, only to help them up and also see them succeed. Love and friendship can conquer all. The support I received pulled me up and I can never thank those who helped me enough.

One journey ends, but another has begun. For me, not only do I learn from the mistakes I’ve made but I’ve learned from the good he’s given me. Why did Jason care, support and love me so much? I may never know but I will continue to look for that positive, that good…that “Fish” within me. If we all learn from and pass along the things we learned from him, this world would be a far better place. Keep his love and legacy going. We all know he would do the same for us…and then some.


As we complete this part of the journey, I wanted to take a minute to thank those who have been so supportive and loving during the past few years. There were times where I would have shattered but you all kept me together. This list may be long, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention you all by name. I may miss someone as my thoughts have been scattered at times, but I appreciate all of you more than words can say.

Rachel and Marshall Wahl - Your love and positivity got me through when I didn’t think I could.

Angie and Jon Von Glan, Marla and Ralph Schippers – Thank you for accepting me into your lives, despite my faults. Your love means the world to me and I feel Jason every moment we are together.

Carl Nelson, Jeff Daye, Jamel Jefferson (and family), Dusty Dickey, Nick Anderson, Rick Glowacki, Kraig Kirkpatrick, Mike Swaim, Jason Bell, Marc VonAhnen, James Riley, Heather Jones, Bobbi Rissman, Brandi Smith, Erika Napoletano, Josh Puyear, Neil Bode, Amy Hughes, Kate Westercamp, Hadassah Holl – You all listened or e-mailed me at some point and I appreciate the ear and support.

To those that aren’t named, don’t think you’re forgotten. I appreciate it.

Last, but never least and always remembered, thank you Jason Ryan Schippers. In a world of acquaintances, you were a friend to all who met you. To me, you were more than that. You truly were my brother. You inspire me to be better than I am and I will forever cherish you and the memories we shared. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you often, but those thoughts are finally about our good times. They far outnumbered the bad. I said it before and I’ll say it again, save me a ringside seat in heaven. Just make sure a smirk and massive hug are ready before we sit down. I love you, bro.

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

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