Sunday, September 9, 2012

Remembering Jason - Around the World...

Today is Jason's birthday.

This is the last photo I know of in which Jason took of himself in his 
“home away from home.” (found on his blog :o) Jason loved the desert 
and would sometimes go there alone for long periods of time…

Jason is my brother (friend since childhood/adopted bro). Though I have not lived near him since I was 16, and though we have only seen each other in person a few times since we have been adults, Jason has remained one of my absolute favorite people – one of those rare friends that you know you will be friends with forever… I’ll admit, there is probably much I don’t know about him because of the many years living far away from each other. Perhaps I don’t know him like I think I do (I doubt it).  Regardless of this – he has left a greater, more lasting impact on my life than I ever supposed possible. And even with the span of years between visits, I have always LOVED to be around him. That is why I have to reflect upon him now, and say something about him today, on his birthday – the day that each of his friends and family celebrate his remarkable life and the unique way that he changed their lives for good!

For many, Jason’s influence was felt as the teacher who really cared about them, made learning fun (and for some – possible), and helped them to treat others with kindness and be good people. For others, Jason’s impact was made as a fellow actor or teacher in the workforce… or perhaps he changed their life when he brought them the gospel as a young missionary. Others he influenced as a photographer and friend who knew how to capture the beauty in each person and in each moment - helping them create a lasting memory...

I have seen so many tributes to Jason from people in various settings and we all have different stories to tell… But I dare say, there are a couple things I’m sure all his friends can say about Jason -  that he had both a purity and kindness about him and a light that just radiated from him; and for those of us who love to bask in the light, it feels so good to be in his presence…

It's always been that way. He has always been that way.

When we were kids, Jason built me up like no one else could. He made me laugh. When we were kids, we were “the best of friends” as he would put it, quoting the song from “The Fox and the Hound.” I will always cherish that... that, even if for only a short segment of this life - he called ME his best friend! :D That made me very happy, because those who know Jason know - there is no better friend to be had. And I really wanted to be a good friend to him. I continue to count him as one of my best friends... 

When we were kids I thought he was the most perfect person I knew. I looked up to him. And, I have a strange confession… to this day; I still don’t want to disappoint him. Even with little things... I’ll be doing some silly thing, like taking a long time to choose which socks to purchase and I’ll imagine his spirit lingering near and saying to me, “Corine, you’re wasting time, just choose some socks!”

Miles laughs over that one; his response is, "Yeah," (speaking to Corine’s imagination Jason), "Tell me about it!" 

I think of how he treated me like I was the most amazing person he ever met. How he treated me like I was incredible. And I wonder what he thinks now, if/when he ever sees me from above. Yeah, I sincerely hope to not disappoint the sweet guy who once had me on a pedestal…

He knew I wasn’t perfect though. Jason was always honest and unafraid to let me know when I needed to work on something. LOL! :D And yet, I knew it was because he cared. Consequently, I could talk to him about almost anything (I was too proud, and too hard on myself back then to admit certain things) – things other people wouldn’t understand and might make fun of - and I knew he would respect and appreciate... I felt safe, talking to him. So it became one of my favorite past times... just walking and talking with Jason about our hopes, dreams, thoughts, and current projects, like the stories we were both writing etc. (Yeah, we were kids. :).

We also read each others journals – in our teens… Yeah, I really am serious! One day he showed up with his journal to show me a few of the things he wrote. The next thing I knew he asked if I could bring my journal for him to read. :o I'll admit, I first took out a couple of pages that I though might be embarrassing, but then I took it to him! The next thing I knew, he asked if we could exchange journals for the weekend and read to our heart's content. Yeah, we did it! LOL And you know what, I LOVED that he was so real, and so open and honest, both with his journal, and in upfront conversations. I loved that he really shared his life with me! And I loved that he was that interested - in me and in my life... I have since then, never met anyone who has shown so much interest in the lives of others...

Many years later (after years of seeing him only now and then at family gatherings) I discovered that he had continued the trend of sharing his life with others - this time with the entire world via blogging. Jason was just that way. He showed great interest in all his friend’s lives. I also share this interest in my friends, and hope and pray to be able to show it the way he did. This is a goal I have, inspired by the influence Jason had on me. I want to share my life with others, the way he shared his life with me. I want to show interest in my friends' lives, the way he showed interest in mine…

One of my favorite photos of Jason… love that smile! And the Calvin hair really cracks me up!

Photo: Last day of school: Z group.

Jason is incredibly unique. He has a way about him unlike any other. He loves music. More than that though - He speaks through music. He always has. He always talked to me through song. From the time we were only 12, up until the last time he spoke to me, it was through song... I was only 12 and he was 13 when he dedicated a song to me for the first time. I know, only 13! Jason was way beyond his years - and has a heart bigger than the whole outdoors. I love that boy more than words can tell!

 Jason was a school teacher. He started out with fourth graders (taught sixth as well) but ended up teaching fifth. The kids he taught became his; they loved him! Even kids in other class rooms would sneak into Jason’s class room to see him. He was the rock star of teachers, and the kids loved to brag about having him for a teacher, or having him draw a “Z” on their foreheads (he was "Mr. Z" to the kids). One cool thing he did was make it very clear to his students at the beginning of the school year that he expected them to become friends with every single one of the kids in their class. Tall order, but the kids loved him and wanted to please him. He made sure no one was left out and that the kids in his class all knew that in his class they were loved! That is how he rolled in the small circle of friends I enjoyed with him when we were friends as well. He was kind to everyone.

There is SO MUCH to tell about Jason. He has so many talents, and did so many really cool things in his life. Seriously... he was an actor; guitar player; amazing teacher who won distinguished teaching awards; juggler of butcher knives (no kidding!); artist (he drew a darling poster of Lady and the Tramp for me when I turned 16 – claiming that I was Lady and he was the Tramp. I LOVED it! :D); amazing photographer; (there is no end to his talent; can I end the list here???).  

But what really makes Jason special isn’t the talents he developed, but who he is… There is NO ONE else like him, anywhere… And I can promise you, that I am among MANY who know him and feel the same way. Jason LOVED people; and is LOVED by many. He lived his life making others smile. That’s what I love most about him. I love the light that shines from him, and the way you can’t do wrong in his presence because he is just SO GOOD. And no, he wasn’t perfect. I could tell you of a few times when I got angry at him and of a few things areas where he could improve. But it didn’t matter, because after all was said and done he still made you a better person. And when he is with you, he makes you feel like you are the most important person on the planet!
Now and then, especially just after I would see him at a family gathering, I would go to Jason's blogs and read a pile of his amazing writings. I remember reading one in which he wrote about what he wanted to leave as his legacy. Here is a quote from that post:

"It’s not what I leave behind when the days of tomorrow have passed, but it’s what I am living today…my living legacy. That ‘gift’ which I give back to the world, the heirloom I pass down to as many as I can—

"I am a teacher."

I know Jason wanted to leave a legacy as a teacher, and he definitely did! But I wonder if he realizes that he left an even greater legacy as a bright light and a son of God with an amazing heart just by being himself As I have gone onto the Internet since his passing I have read countless writings which showed just how normal it was for others to love to seek him out and be around him because of the light that radiated from him.

I have written in my journal of him so many times since his passing four weeks ago, and even before reading the writings of others I could have predicted them, for that was the way I was writing about him in my journal. I still cry. I know it may never completely end and I will go running to find him when I leave this life – to hug him, and give him a piece of my mind for leaving this world so soon! But he hasn’t really left us. Because the lasting effects he had on so many will continue to be felt – forever! I can’t go on living without still thinking about him; neither can his other friends and family members. Jason lives on in our hearts and in our minds – constantly telling us that we can do it, that he believes in us, and that we are "wonderful" and "awesome"… :)

I’d like to share with you something I wrote in my journal a couple of weeks ago…

"I know I must sound like a broken record, the same topics on my mind over and over again. Yes, my thoughts are still on Jason. Life has not been the same since his passing. I am not in routine yet. I, (who exercise faithfully EVERY day of the week EXCEPT for Sunday), have only exercised once since Jason's passing, and that was to help me cope (which I am doing incredibly well at the moment! :).

"Yesterday though, I did finally get some exercise. Not in my exercise clothes, and not with exercise as the motive. I was inspired by Jason to touch a couple of lives. I biked to see one friend, then later roller bladed to see another. I just wanted to reach out to them and be a friend. I wanted them to feel loved and important. :) I wanted to lift, love, and touch lives for good - the way Jason always did...

"I desire to get back to writing letters, especially to a couple people who most need my love. I desire to continue reaching out to others who need my love - as much as I possibly can... In short - I desire to do nice things for others, like Jason did... 

"I will continue to be a better person for the rest of my life, again and again, because of my associations with Jason. :)” 

I was not surprised to go on the web again a few days ago and see that people are still posting tributes to Jason daily on a blog that he shared with some friends of his (the blog one of his friends asked me to write a tribute on). I was also not surprised to find that all over the web people are writing tributes to Jason, and even starting service projects in honor of him! Surprised? – No. Because Jason. Touched. Lives. Here are just a couple links that I found the past few days (I wish I had copied the others that I have seen since his passing!)

Project Z - A blog dedicated to doing random acts of kindness in honor of him, for his birthday. There is a map which will show the services people performed and where; and if they want to they can also post a note about how Jason influenced their act. Anyone who wants to participate is to send their story to The stories will be posted anonymously, since with Jason, most of his acts were done in secret and you only found out about them through the grapevine.

The following is taken from Jason's personal blog ( Here he shows a video of the kids in his class singing a song of thanks to him for being their teacher. He noted that if there were ever a movie made about him he would want this to be the final scene. And so I leave it with you as the final scene in this post about Jason (which was also the final video shown at his memorial)...

Thanks for giving us so much to be thankful for, Jason/teachinfourth/Mr.Z/Bro/Friend... :) We love and honor you and your life! 

PS. You've got a friend...
Corine :D

UPDATE in reference to Project Z: Here is a link to a blog post Jason wrote in which he encouraged small acts of kindness to his blog readers: Two Please

In this post he tells of how he loves to purchase ice cream for strangers and of how easy it is to make someone's day. I love Jason's tradition (as well as the idea to give away ice cream in honor of Jason) for obvious reasons, as well as for a not so obvious reason... Maybe I'll tell you about it some time. :)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Corine,
      This was such a beautiful tribute and so full of memories. You've captured Jason so well. I love the photos you chose to share. That first one I think has become one of my favorites, simply because it joins Jason with the desert he loved so well. Thank you as well for your kind words on my blog. I guess that is another of Jason's legacies... the desire to share and uplift through the power of the written word. I feel honored that you chose one of my posts to link to.
      It is hard to measure the impact he had on so many lives in such a short life, but I'm grateful so many people have tried.

    2. I accidentally deleted the comment made by Mindy. Then I realized I could copy and paste it from my email, so I pasted it above under "Anon" with Mindy's name at the bottom.

      Sorry Mindy that I accidentally deleted it! At least it is back with your link still attached.
      PS. Thanks again for your kind comments about Jason. This time of year I think of him more as service comes to mind more than it does during the rest of the year. He is a great friend and inspiration! :)
      Merry Christmas!
      Corine :D

  2. I won't be able to thank you fully for the articles on your web-site. I know you'd put a lot of time and energy into all of them and hope you know how much I appreciate it. I hope I could do the same for someone else sometime.

  3. Mindy, I am SO PLEASED to see you here again! :D Thank you so much for your kind comments! And yes - "It is hard to measure the impact he had on so many lives in such a short life." Jason has had a HUGE impact on my life, and I just really HOPE that I will come to make a difference in the lives of others the way he does!
    Corine :D

  4. Anonymous - Thank you SO MUCH! :D I would love to know who I am welcoming and thanking; who are you?! It means so much to me to know these posts make a positive difference!!! THANK YOU AGAIN, AND WELCOME...
    PS. Feel free to tell me who you are, if you want to; everyone is welcome here! :)
    Corine :D

  5. I want to say a few words about Jason... I am Corine's husband. Over the years I have learned much about Jason from Corine and I feel like I know him. She loved this man and I can see why as he was truly a Christ like person, and a person I sure want to be more like. When I learned of his death I cried also, I wish I could have helped him in this life. So anyways I want to say Jason you have left a legacy of love behind and I look forward to the day I will meet you in the after life and we can become friends, I know we will be. I don't say this lightly as I feel it and it brings me to tears.

    1. Miles, you and Jason are both very sweet and good men; I'm sure you would have been great friends had you gotten to know each other. :)


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