Remembering

I met my friend Jake in October of 2000 when I moved to Chicago. He was an up-beat show-tune loving copy writer at an agency. And I was moving there to work at an agency.

That December I received his Christmas letter. In his letter, he had a good portion dedicated to his friend, Miriam Wolfe, who was killed in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  Every year since I have been reminded that Jake will never forget Miriam. Or the other 269 people aboard that flight.

With the influx of Social Media, Jake’s status update today was the reminder of this important person, whom I never had the pleasure to meet:

Jake is remembering Miriam Wolfe and the other 269 people murdered in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, 22 years ago today. If you were still here, Miriam, we would totally be spending our days making fun of Bristol Palin on Facebook. I just know it.

The thing about Jake’s updates that I love is that last sentence.  Every year for the last ten years I’ve had a glimpse into Miriam’s personality via something socially topical that would have given her a laugh, an eye roll or a tearful hug with Jake.

This year, Jake’s update took on new meaning for me.  On October 31, 2010 I lost my friend Jason. Though we still don’t know what took his life, the loss has been profound.  As I commented on Jake’s status, he reached out via email to give me some advice on loss.  In doing so, I had the opportunity to share my previous posts about Jason and give Jake a sense of who Jason was. Just as Jake has given me a sense of who Miriam was – every December 22 for 10 years.

A few minutes ago, after a few emails back and forth, Jake left me with this:

It’s better to suffer the pain of loss than to have nothing to mourn when it’s gone.

I’m glad I knew Jason as well and as long as I did. I’m glad I was overcome with emotional and physical pain when we lost him. I’m glad I have something to mourn. I’m also glad it gave me something to share with so many new friends and old friends alike.  And it reminded me that as long as I have stories about Jason – and can paint a picture of who he was with my words – he’ll never really be gone. And his influence will continue to reach more and more people.

I don’t need any better Christmas present than that.

To read more about Miriam see Jake’s current blog post here.

22 Years Ago Today

To read more about Jason please see my previous posts:

The Measure of a Man

Unbearable Grief and Overwhelming Love

On Loss, Life & Learning – 8 Things Jason Schippers Taught Me