Two years ago tomorrow our wild and beautiful Jared left this earth. There truly are no words to describe the feeling of the depth of this loss, and as we brace for tomorrow I have spent today in the grief tsunami that’s stirred by anniversaries. Part of my day has been finally reading a bunch of messages from the memorial service we had at The Refuge and the second gathering at his college a few weeks later on his birthday, November 11th. A dear friend put all of these together in gorgeous books that are family treasures.
Of course we knew who Jared was–his bright light, enormous passion, incredible leadership, depth, creativity, love for people, his intensity and curiosity.
But reading all these words and messages to Jared, to us–handwritten, typed, drawn, and lovingly shared–helped me remember in another healing way just how many people he touched with his goodness.
How he helped other people live.
How he helped other people love.
How he helped other people feel loved.
How he helped other people be more brave.
How he helped other people do dumb things, too.
There are three books worth, but here are some of the things that people wrote that made me smile, made me sob, made me feel in the deepest parts of my soul how grateful I am to be Jared’s mom.
“Jared lived in techni-color!”
“Escobar was an intern when I high school leadered, and wanted to shower in my off time. Instead, he convinced me that showering was lame and we went on an amazing hike that changed my life and made me an intern.”
“Jared made it easier to be myself.”
“I only had the honor of meeting Jared once, but our conversation and his words have impacted me to this day. I promise to be kinder, wilder, and more curious in his honor.”
“Dear Jared, thank you for always being there for me. You would pull me out of the dark and pull me into the light. Thank you for being brave.”
“You already know this, but Jared was a lantern among candles…”
“When I think of Jared, I think of a trailblazer and a gift to us all…”
“Dear Jared…you took time from your own night and talked me down for hours from me taking my life, and I will cherish you forever for it…”
“Blazer and tie, Spiderman outfit, color coded days, fedora hat, tie dye, bandana headband. Whatever the fashion, you owned it! It did not matter what others thought. You were yourself.” (+ WTF, Jared!)
“A rainbow colored love that knew no boundaries, no borders, no classes. It included all, dignified all and loved all.”
“Jared radiated love, positivity, and kindness. He was a sunflower.”
“He was someone that truly saw people…”
“He was a light that allowed others to burn more bright.”
“He made class fun–made lunch fun. made talking fun. made walking fun. made sitting fun. made thinking fun. made learning fun. made life fun”
“Jared might not have changed the world, but he certainly changed mine. Because of him I live a little more boldly, laugh a little harder, and love a whole lot harder. I am truly grateful I got to feel Jared’s warmth and light.”
There are three incredible books filled with sentiments like this.
In the coloring book we created in his honor thanks to the incredible artistic talent of another dear Refuge friend, some of the quotes Jared shared are illuminated (If you want one, they’re free here). I think of so many of them through each and every week:
“Everything is better outside.”
“People need love to show love.”
“Be interested, not interesting.”
“Be comfortable being uncomfortable.”
“Have fun having fun.”
“You can’t change the world, but you can change someone’s world.”
And the one that has sustained us for the past 2 years each and every day, that was tattooed on his leg and is now on Jose’s as well and we circle back to when we try to figure out what happened that tragic morning–”I don’t know.”
“I don’t know.”
There are things we’ll never know. No amount of circling, dwelling, assuming, presuming, make it all make sense-ing will help us know why he left this way and didn’t reach out to the countless people he could have.
But there are, indeed, things we DO know in addition to grief having no rules:
Jared was a true and beautiful gift to our family. He was amazing and annoying and everything in between, and the 6 of us–me, Jose, and his 4 incredible siblings–are so grateful for every memory.
Jared brought an incredible amount of good to the world in his 19, almost 20 short years. It’s freaking inspirational.
Jared inspires us to live more freely, more fully, more boldly, more present-ly, more wildly, more deeply.
Surviving suicide sucks, but we’ll keep on keeping on, paradox-ing as best we can. We know you loved that word, too.