7 Stages of Grief

1.Shock & Denial

Sunday, May 20, we found out our friend Jimmy had been shot and killed.

2. Pain & Guilt

...set in quickly. Not so much the guilt. Alright, well maybe a little. To see such a young person go anytime is hard. To know Jimmy's character multiplies that emotion times a hundred. A confident, caring, crazy soul. How could you not feel pain?

3. Anger

Who the hell is this guy? That is, the guy who shot our friend. What's his story? Unfortunately, Jimmy has been living in Colorado to be near the love of his life and we just don't know every friend he has. That's the way life goes.

As the details of the night Jimmy was shot began to unfold and court documents were produced, anger seared further into my heart. A stranger, with previous charges, who'd never really know the amazing man he'd taken from this earth.

4. Bargaining 

I can't say I hit this stage. Perhaps Brandon did moments before Jimmy's memorial service was to begin. We were all seated preparing ourselves for the hour ahead when B said, I feel like Jim is going to jump out of those doors declaring his greatest joke ever. 


If anyone would've had the balls to do something like that it'd have been Jimmy. For a quick second, I myself thought that'd be fucking amazing. To see Jim laugh in the faces of all who loved him, all who flocked to his hometown to celebrate his life. Testing to see what he meant to us. But alas, this isn't the case.

5. Depression & Sorrow

About 48 hours into Step 1, I felt the depression set in. Not a fun realization.

Yes, our beach trip was cancelled because we're traveling to Nashville for Jimmy's memorial service.
May 28, 2012 we'd celebrate the life of our dear friend Jimmy.
A brother, a son, a friend, a loved one, an airman. A tragic ending.

6.Testing & Reconstruction 

Our vacation may have been cancelled, but at that moment reuniting with our friends is what was truly best for our aching hearts. I knew it'd be best for Brandon and even for me.
This loss has hit far too close to home.

We drove through the night, willing ourselves to Nashville as quickly as possible. The next 72 hours were spent by the pool, grilling and playing catch-up with all the boys. Those 72 hours also involved lots and lots of Jack Daniels, in Jimmy's honor of course.

Behind the eyes of each man that weekend, you could see the pain. A bit of each of them had gone to heaven that Sunday, but being together, remembering Jim, seemed to keep them moving.
And the weekend was actually quite superb.

6 1/2. Depression & Sorrow

As we tanned by the pool, we treated our sorrow with complete disregard. But Monday, Memorial Day, brought Jimmy's memorial service. We had to face the facts of what really brought us together that weekend.

Everyone donned some red, white and blue. Celebrating not only Jimmy but his favorite holiday.

The memorial was perfection. Jimmy's minister spoke, remembering the times he prayed with Jim before he went over seas, how he brightened every room, how he was one-of-a-kind.

Next up, Van, his youth minister and confidant who spoke on behalf of the friends. His speech was....what everyone needed to hear. A reminder of how blessed Jimmy's life was, how he loved each second, how he prayed for each of his friends, how he thought of us often and spoke of us much. How he'd want us to celebrate, love and carry on with the light that he so unconsciously spread.

That's when Jimmy's Mom and Dad took to the microphone. I braced myself for his mom to breakdown, but to my dismay she held it together with the strength of a million men. Her words beautiful, her heart broken. Jimmy's Dad stopped to ask for Jimbo's help mid-speech and I lost it yet again. You see, Jimmy and his Dad were the best of friends. They shared the relationship every Father dreams to have with his son. He stood there that morning wearing Jimmy's suit purchased in Paris, made in Italy and tailored in Amsterdam. As he said, Jimmy wanted to be a traveling man, and travel he did. He's right, Jimmy lived a full life, one that we each dream of but will most likely never see.

Then Janine, Jimmy's girlfriend and love of his life. She cried, she laughed and she successfully avoided ugly crying in front of us all. She read bits of emails from Jimmy professing his love for her, reminisced on how they met and declared their story ended too soon. I'm not sure if she was reminding herself how much he loved her, but I know those of us who knew him needed no reminder. He changed since he met her. I could see it, you'd have to be stupid not to. She was the one. The love of his life. No doubts, they were meant to be. Their story ended too early. My heart aches for her, for the wedding she'd dreamed of, children she'd imagined, traveling they'd planned. Too early I tell you, too early.

Closing the memorial with a slide-show, we laughed and cried as photos and songs filled the church. Afterwards, we swarmed to Jimmy's favorite mexican restaurant. Pitchers of margaritas flowed and shots of Jack were passed around. Jimmy would've been happy to see the celebration that occurred in his honor.  
It was just what he'd have wanted, in my humble opinion. 

7. Acceptance & Hope

For two weeks I've been bouncing about these stages of grief, wondering how Brandon must feel if Jimmy's loss has hit me this hard. I've hardly written, odd for me, especially these days. Work has had me swamped, the in-laws have been in town. Did I mention work was swamped {understatement}? Nothing has seemed normal in two weeks.

Today we start fresh. Today we find the balance between remembering and forgetting.
Today, we remember within grief there is life. Thank you Diana for this message. 

"You have to continue his life within your life to the extent that it had not been completed; his life has now passed over to yours and you who truly knew him can move forward quite as he intended: make this the task of your mourning, to explore what he expected of you, hoped for you, wished would happen to you. If I could only convince you, my friend, that his influence has not left your existence. Now especially he is here, and now he has all the freedom to be here, and we have all the freedom to feel him."