Saturday, September 10, 2011

Live Like You Are Dying

If I could remove four words from the world’s dictionary they would be “We need to talk.” Every time in my life I have heard those words - the proceeding statements have always been negative from being fired, to getting the news of my mother’s terminal cancer, to getting caught for doing something bad or wrong, to hearing about the death of a family member.

When I opened my eyes this morning to see my husband, he was sitting solemnly on the bed next to me and the first thing he said was “We need to talk.” After hearing those words, my stomach immediately sank. He continued, “Jason was in an accident on his motorcycle and he’s dead.”

Jason was Zach’s older cousin (on his mom’s side) and for you to understand Jason, you need a little history. Jason was a veteran of the recent wars (in the last ten years: Afghanistan/Iraq) I can not be clear on all the places he was while he served because those were confidential and he was uncomfortable talking about it – so we never did. But his job in the military was to be a phlebotomist. A phlebotomist is an individual trained to draw and give blood in a medical unit. Understanding that was his role in the military, you can imagine that the things he had seen and heard would have left him shaken. After finishing his tour in the military, he struggled for many months to figure out his own life.

He had a daughter, prior to the war, named Kiona. She is now a teenager. While we were home this past August, we had the pleasure of spending private time with him and his family. It was good to see him with his daughter and her family. Jason’s ex-wife Sarah had remarried and had a daughter very close to my daughter’s age, so it was nice to be able to spend time at their house and it was very early on that I realized our families were kindred spirits. It was also the first time I realized how much my husband really cared about his cousin Jason. He looked up to him, not in a way that he wanted to be just like him or experience the things he had – in the way that he respected the life Jason had, the things he had done for his country, his family and the strength he had to come back from such horrible moments in his life and live a carefree lifestyle.

Jason knew his own mortality. Everyone who serves or served knows it could happen (Listening to “If I die young” by The Perry Band) but you never expect it to be after you are home, out of the war zone. Jason has rode a motorcycle as long as I’ve known him and he knew the associated risks with riding but you never think you may be on your last ride.

"In reality, we are all travelers - even explorers of mortality." ~Thomas S. Monson

To hear from his family that his cousin died riding his motorcycle was a shock no one ever expected. But the little I knew Jason, I know he wouldn’t have chosen to die in another way. Living forever and dying slowly is something people often wish for, but in essence to me seems like a truly horrible fate.

Jason didn’t die in the wars; he came home and died doing something he loved. Riding his motorcycle. I was told it was the type of accident where it was quickly fatal. I can only hope myself, I am luckily enough to receive the same fate, that ends me instantly.

For my husband, Jason’s daughter Kiona and his sister Cassie (and many others), I know that life will never be the same, but to find solace in such a tragedy is the only thing you can possibly do. (Listening to “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw) If anyone lived his life as if he were dying, it was Jason. He truly understood not to fear his own mortality.

"Don't fear your mortality, because it is this very mortality that gives meaning and depth and poignancy to all the days that will be granted to you." ~Paul Tsongas

If anyone could have been considered as “Life Fulfilled” to me it was Jason. His life truly encompassed the definition of Carpe Diem. When I think of Jason for the rest of my life I won’t think of him as a victim of a horrible motorcycle accident, I will think of him as someone who was on The Edge of Glory and met death bitter sweetly.

I will chant with the hope that his family will also come to this conclusion as they grieve his loss.

Rest in Peace Jason Craft, you did make a difference and I hope we cross paths in another life.


annied said...


Thank you for writing this. I really liked what you wrote.

Annie, Kiona's Aunt, Sarah's sister, Jay's sister-in law and friend.

Nakedeye17 said...

Thanks so much for the memorial. I've known Jay since he was a teenager and loved him very much. He is a sweet soul who lives on in our beautiful Kiona and our memories. Let's keep talking about them, pool our stories.

The photos are wonderful.

Jason's (former) Mom-in-law