There’s a lot of debate in the world about how you measure a man – number of friends? Wealth? Influence? Power? No one seems to really land on the right measure. For me, knowing one man for the last 4 years has definitively answered that question.
My friend Jason Schippers died on Sunday. He was 29. After being ill off and on he went into surgery last Friday to try to find a root cause and hopefully correct the issues he was having. Saturday I had a chance to visit him thanks to his very loving family – and talk to him a bit. I even got the chance to tell him I loved him. Talk with him about when he’s better; leaving the hospital. He even tweeted:
Then a day later some complications arose and without getting into details, a week later, he was gone. We’d all lost our Skippy.
But this isn’t about Jason’s death. It’s about how he lived his life. His outlook on life was simple. He treated people well. Better than well. Ensured he had fun with friends at every turn. He put himself into everything he did. Everyone who met Jason couldn’t help but LIKE Jason. He wasn’t afraid to express his love. Or to fight to allow others to express theirs. We had him over for dinner more times than I can count and he always left our house with hugs and an “I love you” for both Brian and me – and he meant it.
Jason wasn’t perfect (hey, who is) but he lived his life with an abundance of love and joy for everyone around him. Whether you knew him for 4 days or 14 years – you were special to Jason. And he made sure you knew it.
I think the most telling legacy Jason left behind is reflected in the number of people I’ve met since his death. People whose only connection to me is Jason. Literally dozens of people in Des Moines have reached out to me and I’ve been reaching out to them. His family has welcomed Brian and I with open arms throughout the last several difficult weeks. I’ve also gotten to know other wonderful people right here in Denver whom I never would have met except for Jason. My twitter feed is literally blowing up. And I’m making new friends – and finding new support -all because of Jason.
Jason’s death has a lot of us reflecting. For me, the biggest reflection is on how I live my life – and how he lived his life; how he treated others; the joy he spread everywhere he went; the legacy he left behind. I find myself wondering if I can be as good a man as Jason. And as well loved when I’m gone. They’re some big shoes to fill, but I owe it to him to try.
So if you’re looking for how you measure a man, please find any one of us who knew Jason Schippers.We’re all over the place and we all have stories we’re willing to share. He’s the best measure I’ve found in my nearly 40 years. By his example: Give love. Get love. And leave love behind when you’re gone.
Peace out, Boy Scout.
We’ll miss you, but you’ll live on inside each and every one of us. Forever.