May 08, 2014

the sweet prince

I have a cousin named Jonny. I suppose the correct term now is had, I had a cousin named Jonny. I don't like saying had, it has such an air of finality to it. But because I am a part of a wonderful church that believes that there is life after death, I know I will see Jonny again. So I'll keep saying have. I have a cousin named Jonny, but I won't see him for a little while. 

On April 21st, the Monday after Easter Sunday, Jonny, Jonathan Reid Ellis, took his life. Jonny was really sick for a long time. He had a toxic cocktail of mental illness that he was fighting for 16 months. 
My auntie looked it up, and apparently with the specifics of what he had the risk of suicide was 400%. 16 months is a long time to fight four hundred percent. 

There's that piece of comfort that is often offered up in time of grieving along the lines of, "He's in a better place now. He's at peace." Although initially that does little to console a mourning heart, it is true. And that's the biggest blessing for me. To know that Jonny isn't waking up everyday fighting those risks anymore. Imagine what having that burden lifted was like. 
His mom died of breast cancer five years ago, which we suppose he never properly grieved. Another comfort to me is that he is in his mothers arms again. My uncle David, Jonny's dad, said that when Jonny first saw his mom in heaven, she gave him a swift kick in the pants for coming early, and then hugged Jonny in her arms. 

Jonny was 17, he was about to graduate from Lone Peak highschool and turn 18 on the first of July. We were planning on having our graduation party together. Our ceremonies were back to back on the same day at the Mariott center, and then we were going to have our party together. It was kind of going to be a three cheers for us we made it! kind of thing because we were both on the borderline of graduating. He and I both had hit the ceiling of medically excused absenses, getting a 24 credit diploma instead of 28, etcetera. 

What's kind of surreal and amazing is that we all got to be together to see him one last time as extended family on Easter. He played badminton with my sisters, he talked about Prom with me. I was just talking and joking with him the day before. Literally the day before. The last thing I said to him as he was leaving was, "I like your shirt!" and he said, "hahaha thanks, it's my dad's." it was this black tee with the fabulous Las Vegas sign on it, except it said fabulous Low Books Sales, which I thought was cheesy and clever. 

During Spring Break, and a little more on Easter, we were talking about Prom. His prom was Saturday the 19th, but he didn't go. He asked a whopping total of 6 girls to prom. He was going to ask 9 but he was lucky enough to find out that the other 3 had already been asked before hand. It was rough. We all felt bad. I empathized with him and shared with him my worry that I might not even get asked to prom. He could keep asking and asking but I have to sit here and try to look pretty! Our grandma then suggested that Jonny take me to Prom. I said that that sounded like a lot of fun until 20 years from now when I have to tell people that my cousin took me to my senior prom. 
After he died, my mom asked me if I would have gone to prom with Jonny. I answered honestly and said that at first I would really hesitate and not really want to, but if we did go that it probably would have ended up being a blast. 

His funeral was on Saturday, May 3rd. It was beautiful. Everything about it was lovely. It did exactly what funerals are meant to do, help bring you peace, closure, and uplifting comfort. My favorite thing that was said and has since provided me with the most comfort is the talk that my uncle David gave. 

Since Jonny's death a week and a half prior, David had been holding up impeccably well. He was comforting the community that had come hoping to comfort him. He addressed that in his talk. 
"Many variations of the question has been asked, 'David, how do you do it?' 'David, how are you so strong?'"
He then shared his favorite hymn, and read almost all of the lyrics aloud. 

I Know That My Redeemer Lives : Hymns

1. I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever-living Head.
He lives to bless me with his love.
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to bless in time of need.

2. He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint.
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.

3. He lives, my kind, wise heav’nly Friend.
He lives and loves me to the end.
He lives, and while he lives, I’ll sing.
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
He lives and grants me daily breath.
He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare.
He lives to bring me safely there.

4. He lives! All glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”
He lives! All glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”

I'd like to bring attention to the second verse especially. I gave the scripture thought in seminary the other day, and I read my favorite lines of this with the promise that our Redeemer indeed, does live. And though you read this with the trial and circumstances at hand in my life, you can apply it to any circumstance or trial in yours, no matter how small. Even if you think it may seem insignificant, if it's important to you, it's important to our Savior. I know this to be true and I bear witness of it, as He blessed me through this tragedy in my life. I implore you to turn to the Savior in any time of need because "He lives to bless in time of need".

Lastly, we found this photo of Jonny about a week after his death. 

This is Jonny holding his baby [half]brother, Adam. When I first saw this I cried. I was doing a lot of crying that week, but these tears were different. The tenderness of this photo touches me so deeply. The symbolism and the actual artistic view of this photograph alone is so powerful. Traditionally, in book and film covers and posters when the character has their eyes closed, has their face hidden, or has their back facing you, they die in the story. To my mother and I, this photo looks like a hug goodbye. It looks like Adam is bidding farewell to Jonny, and Jonny is holding him tenderly. It looks as though Jonny is facing away, prepared to walk forward into life after death, but saying goodbye first. This has meant more to me than almost anything else. 

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act 5 Scene 2, upon Hamlets death, Horatio says this,
"Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight, sweet prince. and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

Jonathan Reid Ellis
7/1/96 - 4/21/14

Goodnight, sweet prince. til we meet again. 


1 comment:

emilee said...

I'm glad you found the words to write this because it's absolutely beautiful. I love you. I love Jonny. This is just beautiful.