I dedicated the last issue of Jack Magazine to my father, who had passed away just as the magazine was being completed. His death was expected, and long-drawn out. He suffered a great deal, too long we thought. There is no measurement of grieving dependent on how someone dies, but there is a measurement of surprise. I experienced that recently when a friend died suddenly.

This final issue of the magazine is dedicated to James Quon, who died young on June 18, 2010, after suffering an unexpected massive stroke. I knew James while living out in California, when I started Jack Magazine, for he and my sister were in a long-term relationship at that time. My thoughts of James were that he was sweet and laid-back, always ready to listen and lend a hand. Of male figures during the time I lived there, he was the sanest and most grounding. We lost touch after I moved from California, but found each other again on Facebook later, where I was treated to his pleasant, often positive, updates.

Following is a piece that my sister, Elaine, wrote:

Memories of James

I met James in the 1990’s.  Our first date was to a movie – I can’t even remember the name.  But it was really stupid and boring and we laughed because a man had fallen asleep and snored off and on throughout the entire movie.  I was also nervous.

I asked him from the beginning what he liked to be called and he said “whatever you want to call me” so James stuck, although everyone else calls him Jim or Jimmy.

James had this quiet calmness about him, but he and I also had some personality connection that we had a great time together.  Something about both of us “got” each other.  I laughed so hard so many times I would end up in tears laughing.  Even after we broke up in 2002, we would still hang out with each other on and off until the time I moved
back to Chicago in 2006.  Each time was like no time had passed.  We would laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and my time with him was wonderful.

My family loved him and I loved his family.  When you go through a breakup, it’s not always just two people ending a romantic relationships.  Often times you lose each other’s family as well.  His and my family didn’t treat the other any different.  My family still loved him and his family me.

Since 2006 and my move back to the Midwest, we kept in touch but less sporadically.  He had a whole new life I didn’t know too much about. I found his sister, Sylvia, on Facebook.  I texted him earlier this year to ask him why he didn’t tell me she was on and he didn’t know!

I think that was the last time I had contact with him. Wednesday morning, June 16, 2010 – I logged on to Facebook as I groggily drank my coffee.  I saw a post from Sylvia to pray for him as he had a massive stroke the day before, was in extremely critical condition and in a coma on life support.  My world stopped.  That night, I booked tickets to L.A. just for the weekend to see him, hold his hand, tell him I loved him and that many others did, and to fight.

That was not to be.  He was declared deceased just before 1 pm PST on Friday, June 18th, 2010.

At the airport, I couldn’t get out of the city that night.  Storms rolled in and delayed my flight.  A woman next to me, who questioned me to extent about my last-minute trip all the way from Chicago to L.A. just for the weekend, looked at me and said “I don’t know you honey, but why don’t you try to get a refund on your tickets and use it to go back for the services since, by the time you get there, you’ll have to turn around and come right back.”

I took her advice.  When the services are set, I will take a day or two off work (allowing more time for quirky weather and flights!) and go back.

How do I write in words how I feel?  I’m in a long-term relationship with a wonderful man and have been for the past 4 years – my dear Jeff.  I love that when I say “I need to go there to be with him” he understands.  He’s not threatened and I love that I can tell him everything I feel about the situation and have him just hold me while I sob.  I am truly blessed.

James was 42.  Taken suddenly, without warning, way too young.  He was so loved by his family and friends.  This has shaken me so much.  Life is so precious.  Relationships from our past and present and future are so important.  Just because it didn’t work out romantically between him and I doesn’t mean I didn’t love him.  He had just graduated from UCSD last year and hadn’t found a job in his field yet.

He worked so hard for that degree!  James loved and laughed and gave of himself to others freely in only the way he could.  He and I shared a relationship together that is different than anyone else’s relationship.  But I’m reminded that is true of any relationship – romantic or not.  We lived together, we were together 5 years, and nobody else has quite those same memories.  Just as nobody has the same relationship my sister and I have, or my mom and I have,  friends and I have, or Jeff and I have had for the past 4 years.  They are
unique to only us two.

I could write pages and pages of memories from our history together. But that doesn’t convey who he was, why our life together ended as it did, or why I’m so sad of his passing now.  He was, plain and fact, a GOOD man.  Just like all of us, flawed in some ways and so unique in others.  Everyone loved him.  He is going to be so very missed.

I imagine my dad greeting him in heaven, along with his dad, who also passed at too early of an age.  My brain can’t wrap around all of the wonder he must be experiencing now.

I spoke to him out loud last night, at the off chance he could hear me.  I said “I’m so sorry, James.  I love you.  Remember the Tam ‘o Shanter.”  The last reference, only something he and I would know about in our unique experiences together.

I love you, James.  So many people do.  I wish I could have gotten to the hospital in time to tell you that in person.  I’m sorry things ended the way they did between us.  I understand a bit more now your love for me and how you tried but I was too stubborn at the time to see it.  I miss you.  I always have since I left.  I’m so sorry I wasn’t a better person back then to see your efforts.  Life took us in different directions.  I’m very happy now with Jeff.  I love him dearly.  I want to always be with him during my life on this earth.  I know you too, found other loves and were happy.  You and I will always be connected.  And someday when it is my time to go, I will wait for you to greet me in heaven – along with my father and all those who passed before me.  I will give you the largest, longest hug ever.  If I can cry, I will sob with happiness to see you again.  Until then, my friend, enjoy your new eternal life!