While a lot of you may know that I lost my brother Jase to suicide, many of you wouldn’t know much about who Jase was as a person. I am sad that some of you didn’t get the chance to meet him. I got 29 years with Jase. That, in itself, is a blessing. For 29 years, I had a little brother and a best mate all rolled into one. He was a bloody good bloke. I know if you had met him that you would have liked him. Everybody liked Jase.
There were 4 of us kids. My two elder sisters, Jase and I. It was a great childhood. I would often hear my aunties and uncles telling my parents that they couldn't believe how well Jase and I got along. Sure, we had our usual brotherly bickering moments but we always looked out for each other. We spent nearly every waking minute together. At times, it felt like we were just in-sync, like twins. This kind of brotherly relationship was all I knew, it was just normal to me. But I always knew that it was the best relationship brothers could have.
We filled our days playing EVERY sport we could think of. Whatever sport just happened to be on TV that month, we were playing it. Tennis and basketball on the water tank, three-hole golf course from tree to tree, soccer, footy, surfing and cricket. Table tennis in the garage, even Olympics on the grass. We were competitive, but we loved it. And when it wasn't sport, we were building something or getting our hands dirty. From treehouses to flying foxes, anything that kept us outside, full of adventure and curiosity.
We shared a bedroom until I moved to Sydney to start a carpentry apprenticeship at 18. This was the first time in our lives that we were apart. As a young adult, this time apart really cemented in my mind just how much Jase meant to me. I missed my little brother. It was only a few years before Jase finished school and followed in my foot-steps to become a carpenter and we were living together again in Sydney.
Life was good! We shared so many young adult experiences, we even got to work together as carpenters. I like to think in the years we were working together that I taught Jase a little bit of Carpentry. But Jase was a master craftsman. He was very good with his hands and extremely talented. He always wanted his work to be perfect and most of the time, it really was.
I always admired Jase's confidence and sporting talent. He was my little brother but when it came to sport, I looked up to him. Basketball is where he really shone, he had an aura about him on the court and a never give up attitude to the game. But he was also a gentleman, always shaking hands at the end of a good battle.
Jase may have been tough on the sporting field, but he always seemed to have a heightened sense of compassion towards other players, especially if there was ever an injury. He seemed to feel their pain. I remember when I broke my leg at soccer and Jase drove me to the hospital. His face appeared to show more pain for me than what I was actually experiencing.
One of Jase’s best attributes was most definitely his sense of humour. He was cheeky, a joker, always ready to have a laugh. He was genuinely a funny guy and people loved that about him. He always knew how to make me laugh. I miss how well he knew me, and how well I knew him. We could be laughing at the same thing, even if nobody else thought was funny. It sometimes felt like we had our own language.
Jase and I never held grudges against each other, we made up quickly if we ever argued and we weren’t afraid to say I love you. We were always in touch even if we were traveling in different countries. We were a part of each other’s lives, no matter how far away we were from each other.
Jase may have looked like a big, strong guy, but he really was a sensitive soul. He genuinely cared about other people. He was incredibly sympathetic to everyone else's struggles. But he found this difficult to express in himself.
I saw Jase go through some very dark times in the 6 months before his passing. But I will always remember him for who he truly was. Before he lost hope, before he felt like there was nothing that could help him. We shared so many wonderful memories and these are the ones I will carry with me.
My time with Jase and his passing has taught me a lot about life. It has taught me that life is short and that you need to make the most of the time you have with the ones you love. While Jase was a caring, gentle man, he wore a smile even when things weren’t going well. Jase has taught me that being a man is not about being tough and pretending things are ok when they are not. Men can cry, men can be vulnerable, men can feel like they have failed. But that’s ok. I wish Jase knew that, I wish he knew that what he was going through was normal and that things would get better.
Jase, you will always be my best mate and a champion in my eyes. I will miss you every day little brother.