A Tribute to Combat Jack: This Is Why I Hate December
I hate December. It’s the month cancer took my father and grandmother away from me, years ago. The cold comes around, Christmas lights go up, and I’m immediately reminded of saying goodbye to both of them, years apart but ironically enough, almost on the same day.
So, when this December rolled around, calling Combat Jack was nagging me. I let all of November pass, partially out of being busy, but mainly out of avoidance. I was scared to hear his voice weakened by cancer. I knew that it would be my undoing but I also knew that I needed to talk to him.
I finally got up the nerve to call, and he was too weak to talk. So, I was put on speakerphone. I poured all the positive energy I could into the phone, and within a few minutes, I heard him speak up.
It wasn’t the same voice that I’d usually hear booming through my computer speakers—it was the one that cancer and chemo had given him. It scared me. It jolted me back to holding my father’s hand, as I told him that even though I’d be lost without him, it was okay for him to leave. It made me remember hugging my grandmother for the last time after cancer had done its number on her.
I couldn’t let Combat know how shook I was though, so, to compensate, I perked up even more, and joked about how he could now add me to the list of big name celebrities calling him with well wishes. He, in turn, made sure to let me know that my call was just as important. I got to tell him how much I loved and appreciated him, something that wasn’t uncommon for me to do any other time, but now felt more important than ever.
I didn’t feel good when the call ended. What I heard in his voice has haunted me ever since we hung up, and it was confirmed today. The thing that I heard that sounded so eerily familiar was a reminder that there is no rhyme or reason to how fragile life is.
People have been saying "sorry for your loss to me," and what I want to say back is, it’s not my loss. It’s our loss. Reggie granted us access to our own culture in a way that was unprecedented. He belonged to all of us, and he took his duties very seriously. He knew how important his work was— and also knew that it was much bigger than him.
It’s hard to size up his legacy because he was still in the midst of writing it. It may sound like hyperbole, but he was in middle of changing the world.
He was my friend and a source of support in a way that felt disarmingly pure. I’d jokingly recite his show outro to him from time to time, and he’d laugh. But I’m not sure he understood that at times, those words were the only thing that got me through the day. I am at a complete loss and in utter disarray.
There are so many other people who he was around on a daily basis, and I can’t imagine how they must feel right now. His sons, daughter, their mother, the entire Combat Jack Show and Loud Speakers Network are all in my thoughts, and have my deepest condolences.
“Internets, you know what time it is:
Dream them dreams
Then man-up and live them dreams,
Because a life without dreams is black and white
And the universe flows in technicolor and surround-sound.
—REGGIE ‘COMBAT JACK’ OSSEE