I am one of the luckiest people I know when it comes to my friends. Whether it is people I see everyday, or those I haven't seen for years, the friendship of so many wonderful people is helping to pull me through. My friends have been with me constantly helping me to see there is a light at the end of this tunnel. They remind me of the great things Jason did in such a short life... they remind me of what I can do to honor him... They remind me that there will be joy in my life again. They keep me busy and distract me from my negative thoughts. They let me talk about my fears, my guilt and my memories. And, they aren't afraid to have me around knowing I may lose my mind at any time. A true friend knows that "they can't stop the rain, but they can hold the umbrella." And I have so many true friends.
Jason was a true friend to so many people. That was evident based on the number of people who showed up at his service or who have sent us cards and letters since. He was the most social person I think I have ever met. He and I shared the gift of gab and the desire to entertain and engage everyone we met. He was the happiest kid around... I was, and am, so lucky to have had him… He was an only child which can be hard, but he decided early on that he was never going to be alone. Whether it was talking to kids or adults, he was going to be the center of it. I remember when he was just 3 or 4 years old. He had gotten a power wheels jeep and he wanted to drive down the street. So, he got in it and started driving with me walking behind. Each house we passed, he would drive up the driveway, up the path and then start yelling… “Hello, do any children live here..” If no one responded, he would just turn around and go to the next house. That is how he met the Schmidt’s, Patrick, Joseph, Quinn and others in the neighborhood. His friend Tanner mentioned he did the same on his pink and green bike one day when Tanner moved into the neighborhood… He just came into Tanner's backyard, introduced himself and started riding bikes with them. He was “Mr. Social..”
Brother Tom from Chaminade told a story about how whenever he would have a prospective family walking with him around Chaminade, he would seek Jason out. Jason would introduce himself and then spend the next 10 plus minutes telling them about Chaminade, the teachers, the students, you name it. I am sure he convinced many a family to bring their children there. He could truly talk to anyone about anything. Speaking of Chaminade, one of Jason's friends told me a story about his freshman orientation day at Chaminade. Jason, made sure to walk around and meet everyone. Each person had a name tag on. Over in the corner was a quiet young black man named Rotimi. Jason never saw color, he just saw people (which I am so proud of him for to this day). So, Jason went straight over to Rotimi, started talking to him, told him he had the coolest name ever, then took his name tag off, gave Rotimi his and spent the remainder of orientation introducing himself as Rotimi. He was a character.
Not only was he a storyteller, but he was a master debater. Choose any subject and he could argue with you about it for hours. I'll save some of those stories for a future blog.
I think one of the main things I will miss will be talking and debating with Jason or watching him work a crowd. He was a master.
Dude, I love you and always will and I will miss you dearly every day for the rest of my life.... mom
A dear friend told me that a great way to cope with the loss of my son is to write about him, how he impacted me and others throughout his life and what I am doing now to try to move forward through my immense grief. So, today, I start with the first of what I assume will be many blogs to come. Jason was truly a light in his short life, a light that will burn in me forever. While it is still incomprehensible to me what happened, I know I need to move through it and lead a life that Jason would be proud of. Guilt is one of the toughest things to deal with in this journey so far. So, over the last few days, I have started each morning by telling Jason I am sorry for what I could have or should have done to help him and I ask him to forgive me. Each time a thought comes into my mind about why I didn't do something more or why I didn't see something earlier, or why I didn't understand the magnitude of the issues he was experiencing, I try repeating that statement again.... "I am so sorry for what I could have or should have done to help you and I ask you to forgive me." It is hard sometimes to clear those guilt thoughts from my mind, but I know I must keep trying. We all know that Jason always told us "I got you." So, I know, given this, he has forgiven me. If any of you out there are feeling some level of guilt because you failed to respond to a text, or couldn't go out when he asked you to or noticed he wasn't himself but just chalked it up to a growth pain in his life or you just didn't keep in contact because life just moved on... tell Jason you are sorry, ask him to forgive you, and rid yourself of the guilt. I know he forgives all of us and I know he will have all our backs as we move on with our lives. And, also, take a moment to drop a friend a note just to say hi and and remind them you are there for them.
Now, on a lighter note, given the blistering heat outside, I know many of you may be heading to the beach. That reminds me of a story told during Jason's service where Jason, himself, should have felt some level of guilt over his own actions. Anyway, the story came from Brandon "Beef" Rappaport a friend of Jason's from his Chaminade days. During the boys senior trip to Newport Beach, Jason felt Beef was just a little too white and needed to work on his tan quickly. So, Jason said, like he did so often before, "I got you" and he gave Beef a bottle of baby oil and told him to lather up. Of course, by the end of the day Beef was fried and barely able to move. Jason's reaction.... "the baby oil worked.... just look at all the color you got.." Now, in this particular case, I am not sure if Jason's life mantra of "I got you" was meant as a support statement or as something else..smirk.. smirk....and maybe he had a little bit of guilt over his baby oil recommendation. But I know Beef forgave him and laughed it off. Anyway, for those heading to the beach, forget the baby oil, protect yourself and enjoy your day....
We don't know everything that contributed to Jason's final decisions, but, in hindsight, given what we now know, we are certain that CTE played a part in it. One of these days we will have that fully confirmed and, when we do, we will certainly work with others to do what we can to help in both dealing with, lessening the impact of, and preventing CTE. If you would like more information about CTE, check out one of the links below:
Boston University CTE Center
Concussion Foundation Organization
Dude (Jason), I love you and always will and I will miss you dearly every day for the rest of my life.... mom
Fear is something each and every one of us face throughout our lives. While I always feared something might happen to Jason (just like any other parent), I was able to manage that fear. I guess that was because, deep in my mind, I believed it was so unlikely anything would actually ever happen to him. The fear may not have been real to me then. Of course, put me on a ladder higher than 4 feet up and you'd better be ready to catch me as I passed out. That fear, the fear of heights, I could never manage because it was so real to me. But now I am facing a new fear that I never imagined but is so real it is tearing me apart. That is the fear of a future lost. A future without my son Jason, without grandkids, without a daughter-in-law, without the dreams I had that were so deeply woven into the thoughts that swirled in my heart and mind. So, how do I overcome this fear? How do I move forward from here and build dreams of a new and different future? Honestly, I don't know yet. I am sure I will eventually find my purpose and my new future. I have shed so many tears the last month or so and I know I will shed many more. But I read a quote from William Shakespeare that has helped a bit. It said "Tears water our growth." So, maybe these tears are just helping me to start the next phase in my life, helping me to grow and find that new purpose.
Of course, a key part of my son's future would have been the future and dreams of all his friends. So, I hope I can continue to share in the happiness that his friends will seek out and realize in their lives...... I want to encourage his friends to talk with us about their hopes and dreams... to come to us if we can help in anyway... and to remind us of stories of Jason. One of Jason's best friends just asked Jason's dad, Gregg, to be a part of his wedding to represent Jason. This was such an incredible gift to us. It was the first gift of our new future.
Jason had fears, of course, some we knew about and some we didn't. I always thought he could overcome anything. Sometimes, we had fun with Jason's fears (maybe this is what we call bad parenting 101). Anyway, I remember one time we were in Laughlin, NV visiting my parents. One of the hotels had a train that ran around it. Jason was about 4 years old and was so excited to ride the train. Little did we know that part way through the train ride, a group of actors would jump on and pretend to rob the train, shooting their guns off, yelling loudly and terrifying Jason.. Jason was screaming at them "Get off my train," threatening them if they did not get off the train now he would get them, crying a little and grabbing for us to protect him while still trying to show a brave face to the train robbers. The train robbers started to laugh, Gregg and I started to chuckle and I think that just made Jason madder and more steadfast in his resolve to rid the train of the robbers and manage his fear. Later he told me he was not afraid. He told me he saved everyone from the bad guys that day. I am sure he wove an amazing tale to his friends in preschool about how he single handedly defeated a gang of train robbers and saved his parents and others from certain doom.
Another story of Jason's ability to overcome his fear came right after he became a member of the ASU football team. I remember during his first days of practice at ASU, they put him up against Vontaze Burfict, a monster of a man, and about the meanest looking SOB I have ever seen. Jason summoned all his strength, overcame his fears and stood there and took a hit from Vontaze. Jason was knocked about 20 feet in the air. But he stood back up, got back in line and was ready to take that hit again. I know he was scared to death, but I also know he knew he had to prove to himself he could do it. I also know that he probably told all his friends later how he took the hit from Burfict and Burfict was the one shaken. We all loved Jason's stories....
Dude, I love you and always will and I will miss you dearly every day for the rest of my life.... mom
Hi, I'm Jan Franklin. I am and will always be Jason Franklin's mother. He was everything to me. He brought such joy to me and so many others in his short life. I will never ever forget him.