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Remembering Jarrett Knyal

Remembering Jarrett KnyalOne year ago today our good friend and coworker Jarrett Knyal died from cancer. I wrote about Jarrett last year (one of the hardest things I've ever written) and started with these words:

I didn't want to write this post. I've known for a few weeks I would have to, but I couldn't even start it.

My coworker and my friend – in fact he was one of the coolest guys I've ever known – died Wednesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer.  He was 44. That's way too young.

Jarrett "Spiderman" Knyal (or Jarrett "Cockroach" Knyal – depending on what day you talked to him) was one of the most inspirational people I've had the pleasure of working with.

It's hard to believe an entire year has passed since those sad times. We all miss Jarrett and think of him often.

I won't go into great detail here again about Jarrett. You can read last year's post to get an idea of what an incredible and inspirational person he was.

I'm so glad I got the chance to know Jarrett and be his friend for the last few years of his much too short life. But trust me when I say this, Jarrett lived more in 44 years than many people do in 80.

It's true he's no longer with us. But as corny as it sounds, he lives on with all of us. He comes up a lot at meetings and in discussions. It's just a sign of the impact he had on the people lucky enough to know him.

I miss him. I miss going to get sushi with him. I miss driving with him in his car (he would attach his fake hand to the steering wheel and drive with the other hand – that was always an experience). I miss going to him for marketing advice and to throw ideas off him. Yup, I miss him.

Wow, it's really been a year. A year of remembering.

I'll end this with what I said last time.

Goodbye Jarrett. Goodbye Spiderman. I miss you.

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  1. Oh, my! I remember the first time you saw him screw his arm into the steering wheel! You were mortified! It was fabulous, and Jarrett enjoyed every second of your horror. ;-)
    Yeah, it feels very strange hitting that one-year mark. I still remember his brother talking at the funeral about picturing Jarrett racing around the planets… That’s what I focus on when I think of Jarrett.

    Posted by: Christy | January 16, 2009
  2. I think about him a lot more than I’ve ever mentioned. It’s hard not to really. He is missed. :)

    Posted by: Jen R | January 17, 2009
  3. Thanks Clayton. I honored Jarrett today by pushing myself an extra quarter mile during my run. Memories of him always inspires an extra effort from me when i think of his discipline, determination and relentless spirit. I feel so luck to have gotten to know him.

    Posted by: Rebecca | January 17, 2009
  4. I’m Jare’s cousin, Julie, from CA and I cannot tell you how much the two articles I’ve read from you mean to me. I miss my cousin so very much and think of him constantly – especially when I’m having a pitty party for myself. I just think of his smile, sarcasm and love for life and I get over myself. You all had the pleasure of spending your days with him and getting to be around his infectious personality daily- I’m very jealous. Thank you again for all the wonderful things you’ve said about him. He was and always will be a wonderful man and inspiration to us.
    BTW – if the fake hand driving the car freaked you out, try being 13 years old, driving with him, his fake hand AND a loaded pistol in his glove box – good times.

    Posted by: Julie Beuerlein | January 17, 2009
  5. Thank you for your wonderful posts.
    I went to college with Jarrett – he was one of the first people i met and he has influenced me more than he knew – I guess he knows now. I think it’s so cool that we both ended up in digital marketing – but unlike me, he was such an artist.
    One of my favorite memories is him teaching me to jump off his bunk by swinging on the hammock in his dorm room. I also remember visiting in the hospital, after his accident, and he was always worried about me getting home safely. I will never forget JAK:)

    Posted by: Anjali Sant | April 30, 2009
  6. I met Jarrett at Poplar Creek Music Theater (he was my boss). After Poplar Creek I would see him around campus at NIU. Many years later we were actually neighbors in Palatine. Jarrett has been a huge thread in my life and a constant source of inspiration and amazement. He did so much with his life and literally infected so many with his incredible life and attitude. I miss him like crazy. His sarcasm, his latest endeavor(s), his fun ways. I will never forget him and will always miss him.

    I also remember visiting him at he hospital after his accident and he was more interested in hearing about how I was rather then focusing on himself. It was hard for him I know since on this same visit he had a tear running down his face that he couldn’t wipe away on his own…

    I thank god the day Jarrett picked me to be on his team at Poplar Creek. He told me later he wanted folks from NIU and or U. of I. to comprise his awesome Squad, “Squad 104 – The Berms”! He was all about squeezing out enjoyment out of every possible situation. Even when we were frisking patrons for booze at PC, Jarrett told his to save the stash we had confiscated and in shifts we could take turns drinking it behind the dumpsters. He said if we got caught he was going to feign ignorance!

    Another time after our shift we went to Razzberries Bar in Hoffman Estates and he danced with everyone, he wouldn’t take no for an answer although I certainly tried to get out of it. This same visit he treated everyone in the bar to a drink on him!

    Jarrett had even gone so far one day to tell me that the accident was the best thing that ever happened to him (this was BEFORE he met Bridget, of course!) because it made him into the man he had become. I learned so much from you Jarrett….I love you and am a better person for having known you! There are no words to adequately describe the ‘hugeness’ of Jarrett and all that he accomplished in his short time with us…

    Posted by: Ellen Restis | December 29, 2010

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Friday, January 19, 2018