Thursday marked the Autumn Equinox. The day of the year where there are equal parts night and day. Exactly 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness before night begins to outweigh the daylight hours.
Yesterday, cooler air helped to solidify the change and it almost felt as if on cue, the universe too had received the news that Jon was no longer with us. That the sun wouldn’t yet have the strength to shine as it once had and would need some time to learn how to keep us warm again.
Just as the end of summer always feels unfair and never long enough, Jon’s death has that feeling of unfairness. An injustice of time bestowed upon all of those that loved him.
That somehow God must have been mistaken in this decision. Somehow, we unintentionally have all found ourselves on the wrong side of right and wrong, fair and unfair.
Because nothing feels fair about losing Jon. Nothing feels fair about a wife being without her husband, a son without his father, parents without a child, brothers without a brother, friends without a friend.
Nothing seems fair about experiencing Jon’s infectious smile, his sense of humor, or his kind heart and having it ripped away. Suddenly and without warning.
Honestly, it almost feels cruel. That perhaps had we been afforded some type of warning we would have known better. We would have taken the opportunity to soak up his smile a little longer, hold the embrace of his hug a little tighter, listen to his voice more closely knowing it would be our last time.
The duration of darkness is often lengthened by such thoughts – a continuous loop of what ifs and should haves.
But I also think about all of those whom were never given the chance to experience his love. The unfairness of having never known Jon and what they missed. A life devoid of Jon would be the true injustice.
It is unfair to have loved him and have to endure the pain of life without him but man, what a blessing it is to have known him.
Most of you probably picture him exactly how I do right now, with that smile; the one that could pierce right through to your heart. One glance and you knew you would never be the same. A mannered politeness that could outshine any southern gentleman. So much so that years ago, I told him if he called me “mam” one more time, his shift at the bar would be filled by someone else. “Stop calling me ‘Mam’, Jon. I am only 2 years older than you”. The ability to tell a story that only he could tell. And boy could he tell a story. Jon had mastered storytelling the way a painter perfects his canvas. Effortlessly and with every detail perfectly placed. However, nothing compared to or even came close to his warm heart. A genuine heart which forced him to hold a willingness to help anyone, anytime, no matter the circumstance. If one person could define “he would give you the shirt off his back”, it would be Jon.
But if you really wanted to see his face light up, all you had to do was ask about Jonathan or John Boy as he liked to call him. Jon loved being a dad. His face lit up differently when Jonathan was around. The pride obvious. How blessed he felt to call you his son, Jonathan.
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they interact with children, and Jon always found his way into any child’s heart. My children never left his house without a handful of candy and snacks, causing my youngest to always ask “where’s the man that hands out the snacks” after a haircut at Ms Amber’s house.
I spoke to Jon when I was pregnant with my youngest son and voiced my concern that my older two boys were only 2 years apart and my youngest son would be 6 and 9 years younger than his brothers. He laughed and told me not to worry, the age difference would not matter, the middle son would bridge the gap. Just to make sure they understood that brothers always take care of brothers and everything would be fine. He knew from experience, having been perfectly placed in the middle of two brothers.
But what I will always be most grateful to Jon for will be for marrying one of my best friends. For showing her what it meant to be truly loved by someone. For bringing Jonathan into her life and an extended family to love and appreciate the woman she is. Jon and Amber could be as different as night and day sometimes, but like night and day they complimented one another perfectly. To see them together was to bear witness to true love and happiness. It may not have been enough time, but many spend their lives searching for what Jon and Amber had together.
For many of us, life will never be the same without Jon and it feels like there will now be a permanent indicator etched onto our life’s timeline. Life before Jon died and life after Jon died, in the similar way the Autumn Equinox evenly divides the light and darkness.
Jon was pure light. So bright at times, it could often be blinding and many may wonder how they will ever be able to find their way again without him. We often stay silent when we are unsure of the words to say or how to comfort someone being forced to walk through darkness. Instead choosing avoidance in an attempt to prevent the wrong words from being spoken. But the antidote to darkness is light and Jon left behind rays of his light with all of us. We each carry that gift having known him. We keep it aglow by speaking his name often. By sharing the memories out loud we were lucky enough to make even if we know he would have told them better. By still making sausage gravy even though it will never come close to being as good as Jon’s. By holding the hands of Jonathan, Amber, his parents, brothers and family members for as long as they need. By offering help without hesitation or hidden agenda. By smiling when we think of him, even though it may still hurt. We fight the darkness with the shield of his light.
Because although the Autumn Equinox signals that darker days lie ahead, they are always temporary. The sun and warmth ultimately find their way through, it simply takes some time.
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”