It’s a Great Puzzle — If You Like Games

The Great Puzzle - Jules ShearI don’t have a lot to say. I wrote Jason Iverson Is Dead yesterday and so I’ve had a couple of days to think about it. It will surprise no one that I think his death is not a bad thing for him. But it sucks for the world. And it is heartbreaking for Angela and his mother.

I’ve been to many funerals in my life, and most of the people in attendance believe in heaven. Yet no one takes a death as a temporary separation. Sure, you will here platitudes about how he is with God now. And that soon we will all be together in heaven. But even to the true believers, it must sound like a crock. The loved one is gone. Maybe you will see them again, but you know they are gone now. That is concrete.

The whole thing has me thinking of Jules Shear’s song “The Great Puzzle.” It does have some appropriate lines such as, “Like a candle that’s been recently blown out; I can still smell the smoke.” But mostly, it speaks to my feelings. It is a great puzzle, and I do like games. Just not this one.

Jason Iverson Is Dead

Angela Ellingson and Jason IversonSome twenty years ago, living a life so radical and subversive that it fills me with anxiety just to think of it, I met Angela Ellingson. We were infatuated with each other, I suppose — although not in any sexual way. We were more like 5-year-olds on the playground who thought each other very keen. But friendship had clearly bothered my girlfriend at the time (later my wife) and her boyfriend at the time (later her husband, it would seem). We were kindred spirits: militant, bookwormish, and broadly curious.

Her boyfriend Jason Iverson, was also a friend of mine. He took on mythic proportions in my fiction. He was interesting and intelligent, but what fascinated me about him was his day-by-day control of a life that was, by my way of looking at things, out of control. Where I hid from troubles Jason confronted them and generally prevailed. He was the kind of man that I’ve always wanted to be like. Or at least more like.

Jason Iverson Died

Two years ago, I wrote, “There are few people from the past I want to have any contact with. But I wouldn’t mind hearing from Angela or Jason.” So when I joined Facebook, I looked up Angela. Her last post was on 11 April 2015 and it read, “Happy Birthday Jason, I miss you.” That was ominous. So I clicked over to Jason’s page where the last post was on 20 September 2014, written by Angela:

I know many of you already know this as Jason and I shared many friends, but not all. Jason died on Monday, September 15 from complications from being hit by a car while crossing the street of Friday the 12th. I am not going to continue his Facebook page forever as I think that is kind of creepy but I wanted his friends to know what had happened. He apparently had a blood clot that reached his brain causing a stroke while he was asleep, but as he wasn’t being monitored it wasn’t noticed immediately. He was resuscitated but he as he was without oxygen for 17 minutes after it was noticed he was in distress, he was brain dead and his mother and I had him removed from life support as he was already gone.


It seems inconceivable to me. Jason was always “the man.” How could such a thing happen? Although it does have resonance for me. I often tell people that drivers are trying to kill me as I walk about. It is meant as a joke. But to most drivers, pedestrians are like insects flying across the street: nothing to worry much about. As a result, I’m hyper-vigilant. When you are a pedestrian, you are in a war zone. What I mean by my little joke is that you should treat drivers as if they were trying to kill you.

I’m extremely sad that Jason is dead. And that it should have happened due to something I worry about excessively, makes it all the worse. He was a musician who I never got a chance to play with, and now I never will. Now I’ll never even talk to him, although I do remember our last conversation where he related an amazing true story of his life.

As for Angela, it must have been — and probably still is — crushing. They were together 23 years. I’ve never managed much more than a few years in any relationship.