In September of 2004 I started teaching at Sunset View Elementary. I was fresh, super fresh, and had no clue that 33 students in a portable classroom outside was going to be hard. I had spent hours setting up my classroom, laminating name plates, creating cute bulletin boards, organizing my shelf of books, and vigorously creating lesson plans for the week. Little did I know that within the first few hours of the day I would be tested, pushed, and challenged by several of my new students.
I was exhausted when that 2:30pm bell rang.
As I was walking to the copy room in preparation for the next day another teacher stopped me in the hallway with a big smile. He had obviously been teaching for a few years now and had the first day jitters out of the way. He asked one simple question with incredible excitement, "How did your first day go!?" I doubt he expected my reaction...I burst into tears telling him I was questioning on whether I should be a teacher, whether it was going to get any easier, and asking him what in the world I was going to do tomorrow.
Needless to say, my coworker rushed me into his classroom, shoved a box of kleenex in my face and started to laugh. He proceeded to tell me all about his previous struggles with students and how he managed to get through the rough times. After laughing for a good 20 minutes from his detailed stories he sent me on my way. I remember as I was walking out of his classroom, I turned around and asked him what his first name was (I only knew him as Mr. Z at the time.) Little did I know, that would be the beginning of a great friendship.
Throughout that year, we would run into each other in the hallways and during meetings. He somehow convinced my good friend and coworker, Ashlee, and I to be councilors during a week long camping trip with over 60 students. Red Rock became a tradition for Ashlee and I for the next three years, because we loved it so much. Near the end of that school year, I moved into an apartment in south Provo and quickly realized that he lived about five doors down from me. We attended church together, ward activities together, and quickly became friends outside of work. He gave me encouragement while I was heart broken over a failed engagement. He took me off roading and allowed me to sing (scream) at the top of my lungs. He literally became the big brother I needed to get me through the hard times.
We perfected the saying "Laughter makes the best medicine."
The following school year (2005-2006) we solidified our friendship along with Ashlee, Janelle, and Gregg. We quickly became "the fab five" with weekly dinners, movies, and hanging out. Our crazy personalities loved the chance to unwind after exhausting days of teaching. Below is a picture of the whole gang for Halloween. Jason and I dressed up as Professor Snape and Hermoine from the Harry Potter series.
That summer we decided to go on a road trip together to celebrate school being out. It turned into a hilarious week of crazy adventures and memory making. We visited San Diego's Sea World, Carlsbad, Disneyland, California Adventures, Santa Monica, and Las Vegas. I've been so blessed with incredible friends throughout my life and the opportunity to create lasting memories...this was definitely a part of that!
When I married Dallas and moved to the bay area, I was so excited to start my new life with my absolute best friend, but afraid to have to make new friends and leave such dear ones in Utah. Luckily over the past four years of living here, both Janelle and Jason have had the chance to come out for visits. We've been able to keep creating amazing, fun memories and be there for each other despite the long distance.
We were still as crazy as ever...
Still able to fill our adventures with incredible experiences...
Janelle and Jason remained as members of my family.
A few days ago I received tragic news from Janelle.
After a long and sad struggle, Jason lost his battle with depression.
My heart hurts.
I'm heart broken that he felt like that was his only option.
I feel so sorry for his family, friends (myself included), and students that have lost such an incredible influence in our lives.
I have such guilt thinking I could have done more.
I have such a strong testimony in our Savior, Jesus Christ, and know that He is truly the only one who knew the magnitude of pain that Jason must have been feeling. He knows what we are all feeling; in our times of absolute sorrow and incredible joy. He gave His life, so we could return to live with our Heavenly Father one day.
Jason, I love you, big brother.
You will be greatly missed here on earth, but I have no doubt that I will see you again. We will be reunited and I will give you one of my crazy hugs while squealing at the top of my lungs. We will be able to laugh together again and probably do a bit of hip shaking dancing, I'm sure.
Til we meet again...
Palace of Fine Arts