Almost a month ago today, my best friend was killed in a motorcycle accident. The incident was brutal for those of us he left behind, though I am relieved to say that his passing was near-instantaneous. At any rate, I was blown away by the news, as he had just stayed the night at our house a few days before. He had also taken Lisa out for her first motorcycle ride during that visit. So we both went through a gamut of emotions. I was called upon by Jon’s father to speak at his memorial, along with four other people. What follows is the words I delivered. I chose to focus on things I learned from my friend that I could continue to carry with me. I’m putting it here, in case there is anything you may be able to glean.
First things first, is there anyone here named Taylor Swift? Do we have a Taylor Swift? Looks like Jon is getting the second best funeral ever. [I crossed off something on my paper.] Now that that embarrassing fiasco is out of the way…
I’ve known Jon since we were in high school, which, if you’re good at math like I am, you’ll be able to common core yourself to the solution – that’s about a hundred years, since I’m obviously in my 50s. Point is, it’s a long time. We lived together, first at his mom’s house, then at his dad’s house, then much later at his own house. I think it’s safe to say I knew him pretty well. For example, he really loved milkshakes. He was also a connoisseur of assorted fruits. Not many people know that. But even knowing someone so well as knowing such things as their dietary preferences, I think it’s intriguing to find that you’ve learned a lot more from a person than you may have realized.
Now I don’t know if you know Donna [Jon’s stepmom], but she has a catch phrase, one that Jon and I would often say to each other tongue-in-cheek, but also kind of seriously. “What’s the lesson here?” Since each person’s experience may differ – it’s up to you to decide or contemplate on how Jon may have affected you – I am simply going to share a few lessons I learned from Jon. Take what you want and leave the rest. Like an assorted fruit tray.
Lesson 1: Life is short, especially for midgets.
I think we all know this one, but it bears repeating: life is short. You’re never so busy that you can’t spend just a little more time with loved ones. Call your mom. Make time for friends. You never know when will be the last time you’ll get to see them.
Lesson 2: The choices we make are laced with consequence and reward, but they are yours to make.
Your life belongs to you. It is too short to live it in a way that might make you miserable. You’re in charge. And if that makes some people uncomfortable, it is their issue, not yours. Jon was known for having things his way. He made all his own decisions. So make yours, and own them.
Lesson 3: The world is huge, especially for midgets.
Explore it. Expand your experiences, broaden your horizons. Jon loved to learn new things, always. Not a day went by when he wasn’t absorbing some piece of new information. You not only discover new places, things, ideas – you may also find yourself along the way. What you see of the world is but a speck. Remember that, but don’t let it hold you back. Never stop exploring.
If you don’t know how to do something in order to accomplish a task or goal, learn it. Find a way. When I first moved to Colorado Springs, Jon’s motorcycle was just a heap of disjointed parts. He was excited about it, though, and in his eyes, it was a real bike. He didn’t know how to put it together, but he spent months researching how to build that thing. He figured it out.
Lesson 4: Finish what you start.
Otherwise, there is no point. You are just wasting time (time which can be spent doing other things). He would yell at me daily for not working on the things I would start. And wouldn’t you know, in the last week I’ve completed six stories, half a script, the art for an album cover, and I took out the trash. Because I can still hear him yelling at me and I only hope that never goes away.
Lesson 5: It’s okay to go fast.
Jon (and I) would recommend going fast, and this is why: ain’t nobody got time for going slow. Some simple calculus for you: if you save just 30 seconds a day by going just a little faster, that adds up to 3 extra hours a year. Which means two more times of watching Pitch Perfect. That’s only 30 seconds a day. Imagine an extra 6 hours a year. What would you do with an extra six hours with a loved one? Or not. You can always go the speed limit.