The day after Jon’s funeral, I said I wasn’t going to write about his death on my blog anymore.
That was crazy talk. I currently think about Jon for about 58 of every 60 minutes. How could I stop writing about him now?
I was browsing through my hard drive the other night and stumbled on this old photo. I lost my breath for a second when I saw it. It’s one of my favorite photographs. A framed print of it used to hang on the wall of my townhouse in northern Virginia, but I left it behind when I moved to Joburg.
As soon as I rediscovered the photo, I knew I wanted to write a blog post about it. I took the picture in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary in Swaziland in June 2008, at the top of Nyonyane Mountain. Nyonyane Mountain, as the Swazis among you know, is a sacred place.
Jon was standing next to me when I snapped the frame on my Canon Powershot. The Land Rover in the distance was his. That Land Rover, strange as it sounds, was also sacred in a way, at least to us. It was Jon’s prized possession and he and I spent lots of time together in that vehicle, talking and laughing and sitting in silence.
I remember exactly how I felt at the moment I shot this. I felt utterly overwhelmed by the beauty of the sunset on that sacred mountain, and by the intense, inexplicable, impossible feelings I had for the crazy man who owned the gas-guzzler in my viewfinder. I wanted laugh and cry, to scream at the top of my lungs. I wanted to explode, or melt, or break apart. Instead I stood there, quietly aching, and took a picture.
On that day I consciously admitted to myself that I loved Jon. Another 18 months went by before I said it aloud, and two years before I came here for good.
I’m glad I found this photo again.
Speaking of which…The reason I found the Land Rover photo is because I was searching desperately through my archives for video footage of Jon. And believe it or not, even though I have a great video recorder in my DSLR and a nifty little flip cam, I found almost nothing. Jon and I weren’t very interested in video, for some reason. I only used my video recorder to interview people on assignment.
I have no idea how many times Jon told me he loved me. I know it was in the thousands though. I have no idea how many times he looked at me, with a serious half-smile, and asked, ‘Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?’
I would do absolutely anything to have that on video now. But I didn’t record it. Not even once.
So I’d like to offer a piece of advice to everyone reading this. Find a video camera – almost everyone has one these days – and then go find the person you love most. Your husband, your wife, your son, your girlfriend, your mom – whoever. Tell that person you love her, and record it. Ask her to do the same for you. Don’t wait. Do it right now. Or as soon as you get home tonight.
Tell everyone you know to do the same.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Here are two more nice tributes to Jon: