Saturday, January 7, 2012

Remembering Jaron: Five Years On

"We all have our time machines.  Some take us back: they're called memories.  
Some take us forward: they're called dreams."  -Jeremy Irons

2005, the day before Jaron's business school graduation, and two days before I decided to buy a bike, learn to swim, and start training for an Ironman.  
My father likes to say that life has a way of giving us just about as much as we can handle.  At times that strikes me as unduly optimistic, as wishfully ascribing purpose to the immutable forces against which we each wage a deeply personal struggle.  The circularity can seem excruciatingly apparent: if life gives us exactly as much as we can handle, it is only because we've no choice but to handle exactly what life gives us.

Five years ago today, my younger brother Jaron passed away, suddenly, terribly, and avoidably.  He'd done nothing reckless or improvident; quite the contrary, he had just made the most considered decision one can make by asking his girlfriend to accompany him through life.  Yet literally days later, he was taken from us only through careless, dismissive acts by those in whom we place our deepest trust at our moments of greatest vulnerability.  Life ultimately gave him no chance to handle his situation, and afforded his fiancée no choice but to attempt to fathom answers that would not be forthcoming.

We cannot grasp fully the ways in which our past shapes, motivates, and explains us.  We are each a product of granular experiences accreted onto a substrate of philosophy and will.  Ten million small eddies meld into an irresistible torrent that propels us forward to face experiences and adventures unknown.  We're captains of boats with unreasonably small rudders, crewed by an infinite number of monkeys.

Yet sometimes we find ourselves, despite it all, in the presence of undeniable grace and wonder so powerful, and so unexpected, that it summons tears at the impossible, profligate beauty of life.

Jaron, 2006, skydiving into metaphor.
Perhaps all we can do is to hold our hearts open so that we might recognize and embrace these fleeting moments before they pass.  Sometimes we're so consumed by thoughts of the future that the present is but a flickering torch, one inevitably insufficient to pierce the distant shadows.  Immediately surrounding us, however, is the world of awe that we have been given, and that we must treasure.  To lower our gaze is to behold the distant stars.

I miss ya, buddy.  Every day.


  1. beautiful post, Damon. I'm thinking about you today.

  2. Wow- this is beautiful and i love the pictures too. You're so prophetic in your writing! Love you!

  3. This is a great post and tribute to your brother. Thinking about you and I'm sure he'd be really proud of all that you've accomplished.

  4. DW, it amazes me how beautifully you can express your feelings and make a semblance of sense out of the inscrutable. You've become such an adept writer that even I am impressed beyond words. Reading this tribute to Jaron brings tears, not only because of his memory and the feelings of loss that always come with thoughts of him, but because I couldn't have expressed his leaving us any more poignantly than you have. He was a remarkable son - - just as you are.

  5. Thinking of all the Taaffes today, how much I love you, and how lucky we are to have you.

  6. As a Wheeler High School teacher, I am thinking of Jaron and that he is from a family that made our school a better place. The Taaffe family changed the course young people at Wheeler take before they go off in the world so they can make IT a better place. I cannot think of a greater legacy.

    Thank you for writing such a moving tribute and reminding us all of the importance of each and every moment!

  7. I'm torn between complimenting you on your writing, adding my own thoughts and reminisces about Jaron, and chuckling at the skinny bookish Damon 1.0.

  8. ...oh, and the above was posted by your cousin Leon, who apparently has a random identifier rather than a screenname.

  9. A beautiful tribute. I am thinking about you. It is only about a week until the 10th anniversary of my mom's death. It really does make you think, make you stop, make you cry, make you smile, make you live a little differently...

  10. Damon, I was friends with Jaron and one of his customers. He was a highlight in my day when I would get an email from him. Always positive, always funny, and always the best! Crazy that I thought of him today and to Google him and found you. (This is not a real post for those who read it, it was a joke Jaron sent me to get my attention. I am not really kidnapped.) This is one of his emails he sent to me AS A JOKE: Thursday, January 26, 2006
    9:57 AM
    Police Advisory


    To all law enforcement professionals/concerned citizens:

    2 days after having gone missing, Veronica Castellana of RN Market is considered to have been kidnapped. Sources say that she seemed ‘somewhat stressed’, but was otherwise acting normally prior to her disappearance. Several associates of Veronica’s have described themselves as ‘highly concerned’ and ‘grief-stricken’ over the affair. Says one Jaron Taaffe, a professional associate of Veronica’s: “We had just talked about starting up her new ad campaign! Everything seemed to be going well, then she just up and disappeared. I never thought this could happen to someone I knew.”

    If you or anyone you know has information as to the whereabouts of Veronica, please contact your local authorities. There is a reward out for any leads that result in the identification/incarceration of her captors.

    Thank you – and remain ever vigilant.

    -The Authorities

    Jaron Taaffe

    He was so much fun to talk to as well. I was wondering if I can use your message above to send in a Newsletter to my customers and to remember Jaron. If not, I will understand. I would put your name on it and send it to you as well (provide an email). Thanks. I definitely wanted to share his cute humor though.

    Veronica Castellana My Web site is I give continuing education to nurses and work with attorneys on cases.

  11. I also have a picture of him. I couldn't post it. I can send it to you though. He would close his emails with:

    Thanks – and remember…strangers with candy are BAD!