A tribute to Jay

A few selected tributes to Jay from friends and Buzz staff members will be published in the upcoming days.  The first piece comes from The Buzz Editor in Chief, Ziye Wang, who wrote the article and created the artwork:

The first time I met him was during my weekly Friday night youth group. I was singing to the worship songs when I heard a snicker. And then another, until it became infectious to the group of boys behind me. There was Eric and Stephen and Ben, being their usual selves. What was different about the usual trio was another boy. I recognized him as someone I saw during passing periods. Thinking I wanted nothing to do with their little shenanigans, I put aside the identity of the new boy and continued with listening to the youth group leader. I was so dismissive, I wouldn’t even find out the new boy’s name for months. 

He came to a few more youth group meetings over the summer. Though I talked to him, I did not get to know him. I finally met him in school during a Buzz meeting. We were going through icebreakers, and though I forgot the question, I remember his answer made everyone in the room shake their heads, or crack a smile. To me, he was only there because Eric was there. I don’t know if he had a real passion for journalism, because I never bothered to find out. I deemed him as “Eric’s little friend,” and moved on with my day. The first time he created a lasting impression on me was during the October Buzz meeting. I asked everyone to say their name, their grade, their position, and finally what they would be going as for Halloween.

Eric’s friend answered, “My name is Jay, I’m a Sophomore. And, uh I don’t really have a position. But for Halloween, I think I’m going to wear a box with a door on the front. And when you open the door, I may be wearing a costume. Or I might not.” 

I would later find out that Jay always left an impression on people. The idea of wearing a box with the possibility of nothing underneath sent the room into nervous chatter and lighthearted laughter. I thought the idea was ridiculous, but I couldn’t help but chuckle. 

I had many opportunities to get to see Jay, but I never took up the opportunity to know Jay. It leaves me with so many regrets. What if he came to my youth group seeking hope? What if I was more friendly and opened up to him more during Buzz meetings? His close friends told me that Jay believed no one would really care if he disappeared. With the way I carried myself around him, distant and formal, it’s no wonder he felt that way. 

As I talk with my friends, it seems everyone is neck deep in confusion, grief, sadness. When I try to navigate my emotions, regret is the heaviest weight on my conscience. The only time I was able to do something kind for him was during a Science Olympiad session. He said he was hungry. Since I was already on my way to Tous Les Jour, I offered to buy him a snack. 

I cling to that slice of strawberry cake like a lifeline. That tiny act of kindness was all I offered to a boy as unique, intelligent, and humorous as him. 

Jay’s passing, I hope, will stay with me for the rest of my life. He reminds me to be kind to strangers, to have the courage to love people that I don’t know, and to remember that a war is waging in everyone’s hearts. 

If I could do things over again. I would welcome you with open arms into the youth group. I would talk to you after Buzz meetings, just to check up how you’re doing. I would buy you a whole strawberry cake. I would be willing to offer the world to show that you mattered in my life. 

Rest In Peace, Jay. 

Thank you for teaching me these lessons, and I’m sorry I realized them too late.