I'd like to think that one or two of my online friends have noticed my distinct absence recently. I've talked to some of you about this but it kind of all starts with this...
My friend of 4 years and second-in-command of my business, Jason passed away on February 28th. This was the only person that really understood what my stores were all about. He literally ran my second store. And we were about 2 days away from going into business together to open a third store.
All that is really secondary to the loss of my friend. I got the call Thursday around noon. His brother called to give me the terrible news that Jason, his fiancee Theresa and his brother Josh lost their lives in a house fire. How does that happen? I mean nobody dies in a house fire caused by a malfunctioning clothes dryer. I looked it up...there are only 15 deaths a year attributed to dryers. Why the fuck did 3 of them have to be so important to me. Jason's room was over the garage and the dryer was located under the stairs. His father and his brother Josh made it out but when Josh realized Jason and Theresa were still in there. Josh rushed back in to save them but fate wasn't going to have it that way. They were trapped in the room. The stairs blocked by fire and the only window blocked by an AC unit that they couldn't get past. Jason was only 25. And he was one of the greatest people I know. He never seemed to be in a bad mood, he could always make you laugh. He just had this special geek charisma. I kept hoping it was some cruel joke and then I kept wondering why it couldn't have been someone that deserved it.
I don't think I've cried this much in my entire adult life. I'm usually Mr Bottled-Up-Emotions but not this time. It was too much and I knew it would be an insult to Jason if I didn't let me feelings show. And how do I deal with the guilt. We were friends but I ran my Portsmouth store and he ran my Virginia Beach store so we really didn't hang out much. I feel like I should have done more with him. We did talk practically every day whether it be phone, IM, or e-mail. Sometimes about store stuff, sometimes about how awesome Supernatural was and sometimes about total nonsense. And the double whammy is that not only did I lose a friend but I lost my best employee. So not only do I have to deal with my personal grief but I also have to run both stores. He passed away on Thursday and I had to work Friday, Saturday, Sunday and then work Monday, go to the viewing on Monday, funeral on Tuesday and work Tuesday night.
At the viewing I met his parents for the first time. It's not how I would have wanted that first meeting to be. There were about 50 people just from my stores that came to pay their respects to Jason and his brother. His parents were a bit surprised but when my wife and I got up there and they found out I owned the store his Dad got up and hugged me and started crying. They told me he loved that store. And that's when I realized I'd lost the only person that cared as much about my stores as I did. Maybe even more. And I didn't even know his parents. Next week sometime I'm, going to give them a call and meet with them under better circumstances. I can only imagine if I had to bury two of my kids. It's just not right.
And all I do when I get off work is sleep or do mindless things. And everytime I think I'm past it all I catch myself saying things like 'Jason that at the other store' and I feel bad that I forgot he's gone. I really don't know where I'm going with this other than just trying get it off my chest. I'd like to think that things will get better but until they do you'll just have to deal with emo-Steve.