There is nothing to compare to a child dying. Even if that child is thirty-four years old. I was there the day Jason was born. I was there when he took his first steps. I was there when he starting talking and laughing and smiling and hugging back. I was there.
I'm sure I could have been a better Aunt. I am sure I could have done more, or loved him more or something more. Even though I know he wasn't in his body today as I stood next to casket once, twice, ten or more times, it doesn't matter what I 'know'. All that matters is what I feel. And what I feel is deep abiding sadness. A deep loss.
Jason was a fanatic for WWII, the weather and karaoke. He wore Aviator sunglasses, was an avid fan of anything MSU and watched more movies than all my friends put together. He was competitive in business, a talker who made you laugh and always had a smile on his face. Sure, he had his dark moments, or months or years. Don't we all. But that did not take away from his spirit.
The same spirit of adventure he had at four years old when he was playing outside and suddenly disappeared. We couldn't find him anywhere. The police were called and it was hours before he was discovered happily playing in the national football stadium two very busy four lane streets away. I don't know how he managed to cross all those streets. I don't know how he managed to get into a locked stadium with fences around it. But he did. And that was Jason. When he set his mind to something, he did it. I pray that same spirit lives inside of me.
I am proud to be his Aunt Rhonda. I love him dearly. He was my Jason. I mean, he is my Jason. His spirit lives. This I know, and feel.