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Remembering Jason Burgeson
and Amy Shute

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My Forever Friend -- By Robyn (October 2000)

NOTE: this was written as an entry to a collection of essays being collected by Traci Nelson at www.periwinklekid.com

"If I were to give you one piece of advice, it would be to look to the future, for the past hurts too much" -- Jason, 2/15/80 - 6/9/00

Do you miss me as much as I miss you? Jason "Jay" was my first date, my first kiss, my first boyfriend. More importantly, he was one of my best friends. He helped make me the person I am. He showed me how to take risks, how to share my life with someone. Because of him, I found a part of me I never knew existed. Together we went skiing, fishing, and on rides to Providence merely to get hot dogs. As I came to know the real Jay, I realized that, although we were not meant to be together, he was my soulmate - "my forever friend." No matter how many foolish arguments we had, I invariably knew that the argument would be forgotten, that no grudges would be held, that he would always be there for me. When times were good, we celebrated. When times were bad, he made them better.

But how can this get better?

A tragic twist. Everything was finally perfect. It was a storybook ending that none of us expected. Through a series of unexplainable events, Jen, Kate, and I were all good friends again, and to celebrate, the three of us decided to surprise Jay by showing up at the club together. There, the four of us danced and hugged and laughed about the past, the present, and what was to come for us in the future. "This is so cool," Jay exclaimed, giving the three of us a bear hug. "I can't wait to hang out with you all together!" Unfortunately, time was not on our side that night, for much too soon it was time to go. When the clock hit 1:00 am, the music ceased, and our flawless night drew to a close as we exchanged hugs and goodbyes.

But how could we possibly know those would be his final goodbyes?

Everyone believes tragedies like this can only happen to other people. Jason was not sick. There was no accident. He was not being pursued. Someone knowingly and willingly stole his life from him, from us, because he (the killer) simply had nothing better to do that night. Jason was only twenty years old, and he had so much to live for. As his family and friends search for answers we find that there are no answers, not a word to give us the slightest comfort. The commotion has calmed down for the time being, but I dread the day the trial begins because everything, and much more, will be opened again. Reporters. Photographers. Policemen. Why can they not leave us alone to grieve?

When Jay left, a piece of me went with him. Sometimes it hurts to breath because I miss him so much. Indescribable feelings of emptiness and pain lurk within me. At the age of twenty, I have never been more afraid of the dark than I am now. Sometimes I lay awake at night, staring into the darkness, waiting for morning to come so I can feel safe again. Classes, work, and friends are my only escape, for when I am alone, I often think about him. What if we had not convinced him to go to the club that night? What if those men had just robbed him and left him alone? What if I had been there? What if? What if? What if? Thoughts race through my mind until I break down and cry. Tears are calming until my memories trigger again. A vicious cycle.

Words cannot express feelings. I wrote in a journal several years ago that when I die, Jay was someone I would like to have speak at my funeral, yet only four months ago I instead had to speak at his. On the eve of his funeral, I sat at my computer, frantically searching for just the right words to say to let everyone know exactly how much Jason means to me, to all of us. Finally, tired and teary, I sat down and sorted through letters Jason had written me, for his writing could always make me smile. There I found a card he sent me for Valentine's Day two years ago, and his words combined all of my thoughts about him into two perfect sentences. He wrote to me, "You will always mean the world to me, and the world is a big place. So when you think I am not there, not listening, not with you, I am." These words I used to say my final farewell to him. . . I only wish he had been here many years from now to read them for me.

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