If you follow me on the various places I post online, you may remember I shared some sad news a couple of weeks ago. My best friend since school, Jack Wright, passed away unexpectedly. He just turned 34, and left behind his wife Alana, and their three wonderful kids. Jack was more than a friend to me – I called him my brother. I figured it was easier explain our relationship that way, than try to impress the depth of our relationship and love upon whomever I was speaking with. We lived together after high school, served LDS missions at the same time (him in Spokane, WA and me in Curitiba, Brazil). I was the best man at his wedding, and he was the best man at mine, As we started our own families, we stayed close. Even though we lived in different cities (us in Portland, and them in Seattle, L.A., and finally Texas), I still thought of him as my brother. His wife Alana became a sister to me and my wife Rachel, and we love their kids as nephews and a niece.
Jack came down with a leg infection about three years ago, while living in Seattle. It was so bad he was hospitalized, and we came to learn about a terrible antibiotic resistant strain of staphylococcus aureus called MRSA. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Most people have a benign form of staph bacteria living on their skin at any given time. It’s been humankind’s companion for ages. But in recent decades, strains have developed an almost malicious resistance to antibiotics, along with cruel new ways to cause damage. I’m in the middle of reading a terrifying but enlightening book about MRSA called Superbug, by Maryn McKenna. It’s scary stuff.
After three years, untold suffering, pain, nerve damage, expensive treatment, and hospitalizations, Jack passed away on the morning of March 1, 2011. After talking with the medical professionals involved in his care, it appears he died of fever-induced Brugada syndrome – sudden cardiac death.
It’s cliché to even say it, but the news was a terrible shock. We knew he was really sick, but no one ever expects the worst. The pain was magnified by my heart breaking for his sweet wife Alana, my sister, and the three kids. Almost immediately, I remembered a conversation during a nighttime drive around our hometown of Springville, UT when we were 17 or 18 (we had our best talks while driving). Amidst plans for building our future homes next to each other, so our kids could play together (we called it “the Castle”), we talked about what would happen if one of us died. We promised each other that if one of us died, the other would take care of his wife and children. So while I miss Jack terribly, and it hurts so much to let him go, I have tried to devote my energy and attention into taking care of Alana and the kids. Just like I promised.
Rachel and I made plans to fly to Texas for the funeral, and to stay a few extra days to help with anything we could. We wanted to be there for Alana, and the kids, and I’ll always remember those few days we spent in Texas as an emotional, solemn, sacred time. There was pain and loss, but there was also comfort and love.
Jack was a remarkable person, making strong friendships quickly, fiercely loyal, and inspiring love and dedication in those he met. I know there are many people in his life that would have done anything for him, because we knew he would have done anything for us. The week of the funeral, I heard so many stories and met so many people who Jack touched that I knew I had to find a way to document those relationships, and those memories. Not only for those of us who miss him, but for his children, so they can get to know a father they lost so early, as well as his grandchildren and the rest of his posterity.
Being the nerd that I am, of course my solution to that problem is to make a website. So that’s what I did. Remembering Kirk Jack Wright – http://kirkjackwright.com – is an online memorial to honor and remember him for as long as the Internet still has bits. I’ve already begun to collect stories and memories from people who knew him, and I’ll be the curator of those memories.
I’ve also set up PayPal donations on the site for those who would like to contribute. A memorial fund has been set up for them, and everything collected will go to cover funeral and medical expenses, as well as providing for Alana and the kids’ needs. I’ve already been touched by the great generosity that people have shown, and I really hope that there are enough people out there that can contribute, even a small amount, so that we can lighten the load on his family.
Jack, you will always be my brother, and my life has changed more than you’ll ever know for my having known you. I literally would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for you, and I’ll love you forever. I’m watching out for Alana and the kids, just like I promised, and just like I know you’d have done for me. Be good, and I’ll see you again someday.