I love ya, Jay

jaytan.jpgThanks to all those who’ve sent birthday text messages and email greetings. I love you guys for all your support and well wishes.

Sandy was joined in heaven yesterday afternoon by one of my best friends. John Julian Mendoza Tan III – his full name is forever etched into my memory – died yesterday afternoon. Jay was only 32. In honor of his friendship, I’d like to dedicate my birthday post to him. (Please forgive the lack of eloquence; it’s hard when you can’t see the keyboard through your tears and a million thoughts are rushing through your head. I am typing this as the thoughts come in, and I will leave them unedited. I know Jay wouldn’t mind.)

Jay was like a brother to me, in times even more so. Jay and I shared a special bond because we were so alike. We had a love of music that few others could understand – we were the Spice Boys before Migs Zubiri and his other desert-dry cohorts decided to steal the name, and we would dance Wannabe in the Colayco hallways and didn’t give a darn – and that brought us close together. We were both big guys, and we knew well the hurt and heartache that shallow college life could bring.

Jay went out of his way to make all of us feel so welcome. He was this huge guy so full of love and joy, and it showed in everything he did. He was just so… Jay, with his booming voice and his love for life. His heart of service was so big and full of love – he was a member of the Department of Student Welfare and Services, and he founded an organization in Ateneo that catered to educating children with special needs – and he touched the lives of everyone he met.

In junior year, Jay shifted courses to English Literature and joined me and nine others in the course.(Neither he nor I really loved literature, but we thought it would help us write music.) While he and I slogged it through the two years to finish the course, we lived the hope and dream that someday we would have careers in music. I started out first, landing a part-time DJ job, but he eventually got a bigger job at a bigger station, and both of us were ecstatic for each other. We collaborated on a couple of songs, and he actually had this envelope of songs he just scribbled down and wrote – mostly for this girl who he never stopped loving – which a few months before his passing I finally transcribed into soft copy format for him to use.

I was the “G-Spot” to his “Round Mound of Sound.” I was not his best friend – that privileged honor belongs to someone who rushed to the hospital and missed him by moments, and I cannot fathom his grief at not making it on time – but Jay touched my life in a deep way that few others really could, and I can only hope he felt similarly about me. Even now, its almost 7AM and the tears still haven’t stopped. I haven’t hurt like this since my father died – and the tears are more copious, which is telling, I think and realize now, because I’ve lost someone very very very dear to my heart. I can’t wait until I hear his voice again, and until we sing again – yes, even with Bill and Danny’s off-key wimoweh’s messing up the background vocal – in heaven.

The last time I saw him, Cathy and I brought some books to his home for him to read. One of the books was Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie. You think there will still be time to spend together, you think you’ve got so much, but it can all disappear in the blink of an eye. Like Albom to his teacher, Morrie, I have learned so much from Jay in our much-too-short time together. I didn’t think it would end so soon, and my heart is tearing apart in grief.

Last night, his mother told me that when Jay and I were making music together, playing on that rinkydink piano in their home, it was ‘heaven to him.’ Yes, it was heaven to me, too. Two guys, making music.

I can’t believe he’s gone. I just can’t. I keep hoping this is a bad dream, that Jay will give me a call and ask when we’re going to Tazza to get my car washed, but it’s never gonna happen. This can’t be happening. Not on my birthday. Please, God, not on my birthday!

Okay, take a deep breath.

This Saturday, Jay’s mom has asked me to sing one of the songs we wrote together. I’m not sure which one; I’m even thinking of writing a song for him. One thing is for sure: I am going to treat this like the performance of my life. I’m not even sure how I’ll get through it, but I’m gonna. For Jay. For our Jay Bounce, our Round Mound of Sound.

I am grateful to God for having brought Jay into my life, and into the lives of countless others. He was an angel on Earth, and he will be a spectacular angel in heaven, watching over those he loves. Jay, my beloved beloved friend, please keep watch over your inaanak, Nathan – isama mo na rin si Nicki, tutal, your arms can fit all the folks you love – and when we see each other, I promise the first thing we’ll do is sing and dance. The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Wannabe, Say You’ll Be Mine, whatever song you want. I honestly cannot wait. I love ya, big guy. Til we meet again.

Here are links to Jay’s other friends who’ve written about his passing or tributes to him:

Please feel free to send me links if you have more.

Child of God • Husband • Father • Author • Food Blogger & Vlogger ••• Canberra, AU Welcome to my food blog! Currently in Canberra, AU until 2022! More than just food, though, I write about family, fun, and faith. Come join the journey!