In Memory of John Ezzard (1984-2012)

John was a couple years behind me at Boston College.  I don’t exactly recall how we initially met, but we quickly became close friends because I was Japanese and he was interested in Japan.

John had a great laugh.  He and I come from a different political mold, he of the moderate left and I of the lunatic right.  His major was psychology, but we always somehow ended up talking about politics, my major.  He would usually make an intelligent point and I would counter it with a borderline radical position, to which he would always respond “What????” and  just crack up laughing.  I always tried to say the most insanely and absurdly conservative things around him because I loved arousing that laughter from him.  I never knew whether he really thought I was as nuts as I made myself out to be, and I never told him how I respected his perfectly rational, thoughtful and measured positions.  That was the kind of relationship we had.

As he showed in our political discussions, John was a very smart guy, but I know that life did not come easy for him.  Perhaps because I was older, or because I was so bossy, I frequently gave him advice about school, work and life, oftentimes unsolicited.  A gentle guy, John always respectfully listened.  I remember telling him one time that he should be concerned that a person as immature as I was was giving him advice, which was my subtle way of saying that he, of greater heart and soul, was destined to make far greater contributions to others in the world than I was, if only he could get his act together.

I last met up with John last December.  By then, John and I hadn’t seen each other for a while.  Even though we were reunited at Boston College when I returned there to study law, he and I went our separate paths after I graduated from law school in 2007.  We remained in touch thereafter, though, so I knew how badly he wanted to come to Japan to teach English on a government-sponsored program called JET.  When he finally made it, I hoped that Japan will turn out to be everything that he hoped it would be.

I think it was.

Shortly after I was transferred to Tokyo, John scheduled his winter break so that he could spend a day in Tokyo with me on his way back to the U.S. for Christmas break.   I remember vividly that cloudy day we spent together touring Tokyo.  I remember meeting up with John at the Meiji Shrine before going over to the Tokyo Tower to enjoy the view of Tokyo from above.  I remember making our way out to Akihabara, where we had lunch at a ramen shop near the station.  But above all, I remember that John had found his calling and success as an English teacher in Aomori, which is in northern part of Japan.  As we exchanged business cards like all professionals do in Japan, he proudly (but humbly in his usual, somewhat shy fashion) told of how he was selected to give a presentation to a large crowd of incoming new English teachers.  He then introduced me to his girlfriend, and I thought that John is finally in a great place.

Later that night, John, his girlfriend and I had an early dinner at a sushi restaurant.  I introduced him to raw horse meat there, or at least I think that was his first time trying the somewhat unique Japanese delicacy.  We ate close to the Shinjuku station because he was going to catch a train from there to the airport to fly back to the United States.  At the station, he gave me an apple pie and a small cup to drink Sake in, each a gift from Aomori.  Then we shook hands and said our goodbyes.

That was the last time I saw John.  It was an unceremonious farewell because I thought I’ll be seeing much more of him now that we were in the same time zone.  A year later, there will be no next time.

I do not handle death well.  I don’t know how I feel or what I want others to say to me, so I have even less of an ability to understand and comfort the family who feels the greatest loss.  The only thing I know is that despite a friend’s death, my life must go on.  But tomorrow will be different from how life was a day ago.  John is no longer around to make my life better through his infectious laughter, his big heart and his gentle personality.  Those are the qualities that I will always remember about him.  Those are the things I will miss the most about my good friend.


11 Responses to “In Memory of John Ezzard (1984-2012)”

  1. 1 Anonymous November 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Joe..prayers your way! God gives and takes away…we don’t know why but it sounds to me like you have many great memories to help you through your journey!

    • 2 joesas November 7, 2012 at 6:56 am


      I do have the memories, but that’s all I have now. That, and faith that he is in a better place.

      Thank you for your prayers.


  2. 3 Robert Ezzard November 7, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Beautifully put.

    • 4 joesas November 7, 2012 at 6:55 am

      And John was a beautiful human being.

      Thank you for commenting, Mr. Ezzard.

  3. 5 Mike M. November 10, 2012 at 10:29 am

    John and I had a similar friendship during his time in Orlando after BC. A couple years younger than me and struggling with the rut he had found himself in. I’m confident that he was living his dream and had found the happiness he so richly deserved. Although I got to see him and Erika when they were stateside, I never made good on my threat to come visit him in Japan. Now it just won’t be the same, and I can’t shake the feeling that the world has lost some of its’ luster now that he’s not around to brighten it.

    • 6 joesas November 10, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Thanks for reading and responding, Mike. The world is indeed just not the same without him.

  4. 7 John Ezzard November 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I met John when he was little and I was older, and that was our last contact until Facebook, but we then we got a kick out of sending each other humorous asides and calling each other our “Internet Doppleganger. I looked forward to one day seeing him in person but sadly now will not have that chance. It’s very apparent he crammed a lot of life and love into the time he got, which should be an example to all.

    • 8 joesas November 25, 2012 at 6:53 am


      Thank you for leaving your thoughts.

      Why is it that we always say “there’s next time,” and it seems like there isn’t? But I have faith that, as you noted, he lived a full life in his short time with us, and that’s all we can really ask of anyone.

  5. 9 Caitlin November 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I’m so sorry, Joe. He was very fortunate to have you as a friend.

    • 10 joesas November 25, 2012 at 6:52 am

      And I to have him.

      Thank you, Caitlin.

  1. 1 瀬田博之さんの追悼 « The World According to Joe Trackback on November 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

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