Monday, February 2

For Tony Jay

Tony. I find myself quietly saying his name throughout the day, as if speaking it out loud will make the pain of his death easier to bear. In some ways it does help, just a little. 

I think about him a lot. I think about conversations we had and the conversations I wish we would have had. I picture him wrestling Mushu on the living room floor, or blaring his music way too loud in the upstairs bathroom. I see his dimples and hear his voice and I miss him terribly.

My favorite memory with Tony was when I told him I was pregnant with Owen. Clay and I had been sharing and celebrating the news with family all day. Crying tears of joy left my eyes puffy and red. When Vandi told Tony I had something important to tell him, all he saw were my tear-stained cheeks and he was instantly concerned. I smiled and told him I was pregnant. The worry on his face was immediately replaced with overwhelming joy and relief. That was Tony. He cared about people. He cared about his family. He sighed, gave me a big hug, and, through shared laughter, told me not to scare him like that ever again. 

From the day Tony died up to the day of the funeral our time was spent planning, writing, crying, praying, and somehow pulling off Christmas with a house full of grieving family members. We had each other to lean on and we kept one another afloat. We shared stories. Even what had once been simple anecdotes of Tony’s life were suddenly cherished and priceless memories - recollections that we desperately clung to, hoping to feel him close. Though those days were hard, the ones that followed Tony’s funeral were significantly harder. After the funeral, we had to leave the support and comfort of each other and face real life as we went our separate ways. In my quiet moments alone, not knowing what else to do, I fell to my knees and sobbed. I know every other member of the family has done the same. 

Those moments of outward pain are gradually lessening, but I fear the internal sorrow will never go away. As a family we are suffering, we are missing a huge piece of who we are. As individuals we are broken, seeking peace and even just a temporary freedom from sadness.  

As the days go by and questions remain unanswered, I feel anger sneaking its way into my heart. It’s a strange thing to have a person who means nothing to us be responsible for taking away the person who means everything to us. I don’t know his name, his face, nor do I care to. But his choice has altered the lives of many. I have had more conversations about guns and bad guys with my five year old daughter than any parent ever should. There are no words to describe the hurt of knowing how Tony was taken from this earthly life. I try not to think about it. I try not to think about the person responsible. I can’t think about it. I do think about how Tony lived, though. I think about him daily. And that’s a much better way to direct my thoughts.

I also think about Jesus Christ and the pain and suffering he endured at the end of his life. I think about how I wouldn’t wish the heartache I feel from this tragedy on anybody, and then I remember that Christ voluntarily felt this very pain. He knows our suffering. He knows our broken hearts. And that knowledge, more than anything else, helps me get through each day. 

Throughout all of this, my eyes have been opened to the truly good people around us. Their acts of kindness and love remind me that light will always drive away darkness. Their service shows me that God answers prayers in different ways through inspired hearts. The good people of our community whose lives have been touched by Tony and the Hansen family have provided a strength we’ve needed and will continue to treasure. 

Two days before Tony died, I told him the next time I saw him I was going to give him a big old hug. He said he couldn’t wait. I don’t know how long that wait will be, but I do know that I will see him again and he’ll be there, ready to receive that big hug I’ve got saved for him. Until then, I will continue to miss and think of Tony every day. I will turn to this incredible family I've married into as we lean on one another for support and strength. I will try to find a way to get through the sadness and to live with a light that honors and celebrates my dear, beloved brother-in-law and his light that impacted us all.


Torrie said...

I am deeply sorry for your loss, and I know the missing will never go away, but I do know that peace does come. I know when my nephew died, for months I felt like I'd never be truly happy again. But my heart eventually filled up the holes with peace, and now I can look back upon his death and realize that it taught me to hold onto and cherish even the littlest moments, which is something I took for granted before.

My heart goes out to your family, and I'm sending up prayers for you and yours.

Angie said...

Beautiful, Jodie! Our thoughts and prayers are added to others. I hope you can feel them. We love you!

Braiden and Brittany Pickett said...

Thank you for sharing. I continue to think of you and pray for you!

Meliss said...

I think about you & your family a lot. I'm sorry for the pain you're experiencing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and testimony, Jordan! It will be a beautiful reunion.

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