Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jon, If You're Out There

Late in 2010, I received a message from Jon Vacura. He had read the Cauliflower Chronicles and wanted to share some of his own story with me. That story inspired me, and recently, my wife reminded me of his story. She had never forgotten it because her birthday coincided with a key but tragic event in Jon's life.

I published a blog for Victory Belt about it. Since that blog is now gone, here is the post that I wrote in Dec. of 2010:
As a journalist, I have met a variety of people. Each person I have met has a unique story, a story much more interesting than mine will ever be. That’s why I love being a journalist; I get to hear and share these stories. Many of my favorite stories are in The Cauliflower Chronicles, but the publishing of that book has led to more.

Which is why I want to tell you about Jon and Katie.
After reading my book, Jon added me on Facebook to tell me that he enjoyed it. I clicked to his profile to make a reply post on his wall and noticed that he listed a blog just below his picture. I loaded the blog out of curiosity. What I read felt like a punch in the stomach. The title of the blog: “For My Katie.”
I am a man made of words, and suddenly I had none, which feels a bit like stepping into the cage with your arms taped behind your back. You’re defenseless. You take every shot on the chin. So I kept reading, each sentence another blow.
Katie passed away on March 27 from a cerebral aneurysm. She was 24. Jon considered her to be his soul mate, and he maintains the blog as a tribute to her brief but beautiful life. The blog is filled with essays—memories scrawled as though in the fog of a dream—and photographs—of Katie and of her letters and of her artwork. Jon is like us. He is a fighter. I suspect that his writing is therapeutic—his way of fighting through—but more than anything, I think that he writes so that he can remember. As I read, I realize that Jon is more of a fighter than I will be. He has been in that cage with his arms behind his back since March 27.
In one of his messages to me, Jon wrote, “No one and I really mean no one has been able to really reach out to me and help put what I’ve been through this year into perspective the way your book did.”
That was the greatest compliment for my work I could ever receive. I’m not sure how it did, but I am happy that reading my book softened at least one of those blows. I urge you to read Jon’s blog. Maybe you sharing Katie’s memory will make some of the future blows easier, at least a little bit.
Jon's beautiful blog has been closed. I don't know why, but I am sure he had his reasons. Unfortunately, Jon deleted his Facebook as well.

Jon, if you're out there, drop me a message. I'd love to catch up with you and hear more of your story.

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