A personal statement from Michael Leventhal , Co-founder of CLoud-Burst.tv
My great-nephew Jason Blinder passed this weekend at age 29 after a lifelong struggle with Crohn's - a tragic loss for family, friends and all the people Jason might have touched had his life taken a different turn. I truly believe Jason was destined for a distinguished career as an advisor to Presidents.
There is a plaque at F.A.U. honoring Jason for both his significant contributions to the university and his exemplary term as Chief Justice of the Student Supreme Court. Jason was an accomplished student of the law, of medicine, religion, history, naval vessels, science fiction and more. As an undergraduate, Jason had been asked by a representative of the World Bank to submit an economics paper. While attending the University of Pennsylvania Law School, he was asked to clerk for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court..... an more.
While I shall never forget Jason as the sweet, caring person he was, I will always remember him for what he would have become... had his life had taken a different turn.
Michael Leventhal Co- Founder of Cloud-Burst,tv
I’ve waited two weeks to write this. I needed some distance before I could pen a somewhat public missive. On June 15th, 2013, one of the greatest people I’ve known in my life died. His name was Jason, and he was my best friend.
No, more than that. He was my brother.
I met Jason in the summer of 1995. The president of the middle school we attended at the time introduced us. It was a small, private school, with fewer than a dozen students per class. She thought that Jason and I would hit it off. She couldn’t have been more right. Our first conversations were of Star Trek and Star Wars, ripe topics for two geeky boys just about 13.
Our friendship developed over the years. We were confidants for each other. We shared the secrets too personal, too secret for anyone else. Our lives were lived in long conversations. And now, at the end, I see that they were never long enough.
Jason was remarkable. Brilliant, bold, effervescent in how he approached life. From the age of nine, he suffered from Crohn’s disease. His was a particularly debilitating variety. I sat many times by his bed in hospitals grand and awful. But no matter how ill he became, he was always the most alive person I knew.
At Jason’s funeral, we heard again and again the same refrain. He could meet you for five minutes, and change your life. He was in my life for eighteen years, and it was deeply changed because of him.
When Jason met me, I was an introvert. Nervous around people. Angry. So very angry at the circumstances of my world. He was my first friend. His nobility inspired me. Once, at school, there was another young man being viciously picked on by our peers. I would have avoided the situation. I would have moved away. Don’t get involved, I thought to myself. Getting involved will only turn their terrible attention to you. But Jason was rarely afraid, and never of people, especially not of bullies. They could never earn his fear. Even death could barely do that. He marched up to those kids, and he was a little bit of thing in those days. His words were grand, though. Grander than his years or his aspect. He spoke; they listened. And I followed him. I learned a great lesson that day: get involved. It changes people. Jason knew that intrinsically. He was a good teacher.
As I write these words, I recognize how much I will miss him. How much I do miss him. He was a poet, a scholar, a healer, an advocate, and the dearest friend I’ve ever had. He was stubborn, but I loved him for it. I loved him for everything he was. All the good. All the bad. All the in between. All of it made him glorious. He strove for dignity in his life. He had it in abundance. He had everything in abundance. Except time. But what time he was given, he used abundantly. May we all be so wise in the time given to us.
I spoke at Jason’s funeral. I spoke to people who knew him. People who wanted to know him. And to everyone who mourned him. He left behind a loving family. He gave me brothers, Ethan and Ari, and a second set of parents, Todd and Helene. I love them all. But I also spoke to Jason, though I didn’t call him that. I called him Jase-Ra. It was an intimate name – one I shared with him alone, a sign of my everlasting affection.
I told him – Jase-Ra, in that place of peace where you now reside, I want you to know that I have been and always shall be your friend. He would have appreciated, I hope, the significance of the message.
Everyone who knew Jason is better because of knowing him. We are brighter. We are nobler. We are more generous. And now, even now, we learn from him to value the time we have because it can be so damned short.
I miss you, Jase-Ra. I love you.
I am a lecturer in the department of Ancient Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. My doctoral degree in Classics from Johns Hopkins will be completed in the spring of 2013 (so close!). My areas of interest are the cultural history of the Roman Empire, reading and reading culture in antiquity, pedagogy and educational theory in both historical and modern settings, and gender and queer theory (theories). I am also married to the most wonderful of spouses, who happens to be my live-in editor, too. And I am the father of two high-energy boys, who keep me bouncing.