[Originally written on this date in 2006.]
This is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to write, and I guess I am thankful that I don’t have to say it out loud, as I am sure it would take a while, considering the fact I am overwhelmed with emotion.
Have just received the soul-crushing news that my dearest friend Jon passed away. [Feel weird not referring to him by his birth name, but I suppose it’s easier to say ‘Jon’ for continuity sake.] He had been staying with a friend in South Jersey, and I was told he had planned to come and see me this weekend. Well, when his friend went to wake him, it was discovered that he was not breathing. The cause of death [at this point] has been determined as heart failure. A part of me is relieved that he went in peace as opposed to the ways he always thought he would die, but it certainly hurts just the same.
Jon made it no secret that he had a bad heart, but not once did he let it affect him. In fact, he embraced life to the fullest extent and enjoyed every moment of it. There were numerous times when he felt death’s icy grip upon his shoulder, such as overdosing several times and having his heart stop more than should be humanly possible. No matter what the circumstances where or whether he was taking the risk to get high on thrills, Jon was not quite ready to give up, especially not without a fight. He always showed great resiliency and determination, constantly cheating death for just one more round. He always joked about it, stating: “I have sat at death’s table many times, but he keeps telling me to go away. One of these days I’m gonna piss that fucker off enough that he’ll come lookin’ for more, and I am ready for that rumble.” There were many moments Jon wondered why those around him moved on to the great beyond while he remained, always questioning the reason it was them instead of him. While I don’t know if he ever found the answer, I certainly hope he has it now.
Jon was many things to many people, and to me he was perhaps the single most influential presence in my life. He was more than just a friend to me; he was a mentor who taught me all I know about what it means to be a Carny; a brother who was there to listen whenever I needed him and had just the right words to say in any situation. There are plenty of people who he considered to be his friends and Family, but none who truly knew him as I did. We shared our deepest thoughts and feelings with one another due to the enormous amount of trust we had for each other combined with an incredible bond as friends that could compare to none other. A great amount of respect for this man will always have a place in my heart, as he has made an impact on me more so than anyone I have ever met.
There is no doubt that I will mourn him alongside the others who were fortunate enough to have known him, but Jon would want us to celebrate his life just the same as he did. Only time will be able to heal this wound I can already feel ripping me apart, and I know that it will be difficult to get over this.
The fact of the matter is that one can never be ‘prepared’ for this sort of thing. Jon was 29 and in the prime of his life. Having struggled for years to rid himself of personal demons and come to terms with the choices that he has made throughout the years, he was on his way to overcoming his addictions once and for all; it seemed that he had become a new man.
Every time he was absent from my life for one reason or another, I always knew that we would find ourselves together again and no amount of distance or days passed had the ability to deter us from wanting to remain side by side for eternity. Now there is a huge void forming that will be hard to fill as I come to terms with the fact he is really gone.
My memories are the most valuable thing I have, all of those days and nights we spent in each other’s company becoming absolutely priceless and something I want to archive some day so that I can always reflect on them with fondness, especially since I will never have another chance for an unforgettable adventure with him.
Jon will be remembered for everything he taught me, passing on knowledge in a manner befitting an intellectual scholar, guiding me the best he could while encouraging me to be my own person and pursue my own path in life. Even as I write this I can see the lettering tattooed on my wrists – FTW and DIY, a motto which he himself had lived by that was a gift from him.
For reasons I am finding it difficult to explain in words, whether it is being overwhelmed by all of the emotions currently coursing through my body or the fact I feel that none would do justice to define the feelings I had for him, I can honestly say that I cared for him greatly and yes, freely admit that through the years we knew each other I loved him just as much.
The last member of Outlaw Cirkus [besides myself and one other], the devil who dared to laugh in the face of death, has tragically expired. The King is dead; long live the King.
Rest in peace my friend, for now you are free.
Aaron McLoughlin aka Jonathan Ivylee Lovelace || October 13, 1977 – May 23, 2006