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In Honor of Jon-Jon Sherman – On Your 21st Birthday

A personal message from the heart by Esther Mejia

Trigger Warning: Suicide

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, people are here to help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

Last year, we were all navigating through a pandemic, through social unrest, through uncertainty, through separation from those we call family and through our own personal loss. Some ambiguous and some not so much. We were all in it collectively; we all felt it. As we continue through it, it’s been so hard.

In my family, many of us have health issues, so our focus last year was on keeping ourselves safe for fear that one of us would get COVID-19 and succumb to it. Each passing month, we thought, “so far so good.” Everyone had stayed healthy. I was so focused on running my business during a pandemic and simply surviving that I lost sight of checking in regularly with people who are living with depression, like my nephew.

It was a Sunday in late August, and I had met up with friends in Aksarben. We hadn’t seen each other in so long. We had enjoyed each other’s company (socially distanced), comadriando and laughed a lot. We were winding down our time together when I received a phone call. Nothing could have prepared me for what my sister was about to tell me. Unimaginable loss. My nephew, her son who didn’t come home from work the night before, had been found. He had completed suicide. He was only 20. 

JON-JON, TODAY’S YOUR 21ST BIRTHDAY!
Happy heavenly birthday, Jon! You were such a beautiful kid. You had the kindest heart and spirit. You were a foodie, a sharp dresser, had great taste in shoes and had the most gorgeous smile. You were so darn adorable. Every time I saw you, I just wanted to pinch your cheeks and give you a big fat hug.

Jon, I wish this life could have been better to you. You had a great future ahead of you, and you were finding spaces to thrive. Selfishly, I wish that you had lived longer and experienced more. I wish that we could have been together more to listen to you and support you. I wish I would have checked on you more often. We could have celebrated your 21st birthday together today just like we did with your brother, Eli.

Instead, we will celebrate your birthday without you at Lauritzen Garden because you loved to go there and loved flowers so much. We will have birthday cake in your honor and spend time together with your mom and dad, Dulce and Allen, and your brothers, Mike, Thomás and Eli, too. We know you are with us, but I would give anything to have you physically with us today instead. You are so very deeply loved, Jon-Jon, and we deeply miss you. I hope you have found the peace that you deserve.

RAISING AWARENESS THROUGH THE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
In honor of Jon-Jon Sherman
I know many families have experienced that same loss as our family. I know we are not alone in this pain. The only thing our family can do is to continue to honor Jon’s life. We created the Jonathan “Jon-Jon” Sherman Memorial Scholarship to raise awareness about depression and suicide. It provides funding for tuition, fees, books, or other expenses such as food, medicine, behavioral or personal care for students attending Metropolitan Community College.

Read more about the scholarship here.

TO CONTRIBUTE
To contribute, please click here and select the designation from the dropdown menu: Jonathan “Jon-Jon” Sherman Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, people are here to help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. 

The content above is a personal story told from my perspective as Jon’s aunt. I am not a mental health expert, so my reactions may not align with recommendations from the mental health care community. Please excuse any unintentional insensitivity.