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Jonathon Mike Gundrum, 21, lost his battle with depression on Dec. 1, 2010.

He was a resident of Oshkosh, but called Horicon his home. He died on Wednesday afternoon at University Hospital in Madison.

Jon was born at home on July 5 in Dallas, Texas. His parents Becky Brath (Marty) and Jeff Gundrum (Jajan) of Horicon, mourn his loss. He is survived by four siblings Matthew Gundrum, Emily Borkenhagen (Tim), Jacob Gundrum, Timothy Gundrum (Torri) as well as two step sisters Juanita Brath and Amanda Gibson (Matt) and two half brothers Bernie and Jeffrey Gundrum.

Jon was a graduate of Victory Christian High in Neosho. He was employed by Sonic in Oskosh. Jon enjoyed snowboarding and exploring the Horicon Marsh. Christian Life Fellowship in Mayville was Jon's church home. Jon was a soldier in the U.S. Army, following in the footsteps of his older brothers Jake and Tim.

Jon was loved by many and had a smile that would warm the room. He had a great sense of humor and loved to make friends and family laugh. Jon's favorite things to eat were popsicles, hot pockets and microwave macaroni and cheese.

In addition to parents and siblings, Jon is survived by his maternal grandmother Elaine Crivello and paternal grandmother Helen Gundrum, nieces and nephews Allie, Elliot, Gabe and Lincoln Borkenhagen and Lexy, Hailey and Tai Brath as well as many aunts, uncles and cousins. Jon also is survived by his very best friend Heather Perrotto who on many occasions counseled Jon through difficult times. Finally, Jon also leaves behind his pet dog Hercules.

Jon was preceded in death by his beloved grandfathers Mike Crivello, Bernard Gundrum and Wesley Nehs.

Services for Jon will be on Saturday at Christian Life Fellowship, 113 Clark St., in Maville. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a memorial service at 4 p.m. and light dinner to follow in the Mayville High School cafeteria, 500 Dayton St. Any memorials may be made to Axis Infiniti Youth Ministry of Christian Life Fellowship in Mayville.

Matthew 28:11 Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.

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My Story...

January 6, 2012

 Written: January 28th, 2011

I know this is unbelieveably long. I had to write a story out for some support groups I have joined and I wanted to share with whoever wants to take the time to read my memories of this. This is what I went through. Take it or leave it.

I have no idea where to start… I never thought writing what I’ve repeated to people thousands of times it seems would be so difficult to write. Do I start backwards or forwards? I guess I’ll try to start from the beginning. I met Jon on a mission’s trip for the church I had started attending. From what I knew Jon was just the skater kid with the hair. But on the way to our destination I met Jon…about an inch away from my cheek with his nose. I was pretty shy at 18 and had no idea why this 15 year old was creepily staring at me so closely. I had no idea that this playful, goofy boy would become my best friend. We spent the week together on the trip having paint fights and goofing around. He also helped me run lines for the skit we were doing. He always cared about other people. Part of why this is so hard.

We fast became friends; attached at the hip… he was like the little brother I never had. (I have 3 younger sisters) When our youth pastor had to suddenly leave, Jon fell back into drugs and alcohol which he was introduced to at a very young age. We fought and we cried because of the drug abuse over the next years of his life. He started out with smaller things like weed and Aderal and moved to much worse things over the years like heroin, cocaine, xanax. A few days before my 19th birthday, I took him to a field and threw a shovel at him and told him to start digging his grave because that’s what he was doing by taking drugs. He cried, I cried and he agreed to go to rehab. He was there for a week, they released him, to this day I’m still not sure why. He did better for awhile. That’s how it always was-better for awhile. And then the temptation grew to be too much and he would start up again usually small and then gradually worse drugs. Even through all of this he was so loving of his family and friends. Of course he made very poor choices while doing drugs. He crashed two vehicles in his short lifetime due to blacking out from drugs.

I stayed up with him countless nights with my hand over his heart to make sure he was still breathing and I could feel a heartbeat. I was terrified of him overdosing. He was my little brother and big brother all rolled into one. I took care of him and he took care of me. He struggled through bouts of depression and struggled with suicide since I met him. He always came out of it and always told me he would never do it, that it was too selfish and he didn’t want to hurt me or his family. Through him, I realized that I wanted to be a drug and alcohol counselor for people and families like his that struggled through this. He always said he taught me everything I knew and always encouraged me telling me that I would be the best AODA counselor that had never done drugs out there.

In 2008, I started school in Minneapolis, MN, 5 hours away from home and 5 hours away from Jon. It was difficult not being there directly and I worried about him often. I came home for summers and breaks as much as I could. In 2009, he decided to get his life together and join the Army like his two older brothers. I was so proud of him. He was strong and healthy and happy again. He was an excellent soldier and loved the life of discipline. He graduated Basic in July 2009 and I went to S. Carolina to see him. I had never been more proud of anyone in my life. He then continued in training and was proud of the fact that he had turned down his “favorite” drugs (prescription pills) during that time. In one of the letters he wrote me, he told me that his drill sergeants called him “smiley” because he was always smiling or struggling not to smile so he didn’t get in trouble. He came home and again stayed clean for awhile. Because of financial reasons, I had to miss my fall semester of 2009. I am grateful now to have spent this precious time with Jon during those months.

I went back to MN January of 2010. During that semester Jon had numerous friends, also addicts, commit suicide. He would call me up crying and tell me how sad he was. When I came back for the summer in May 2010, I realized just how bad he was. He would just look at me and start bawling. I took him to the doctor that week and got him on some anti-depressant medicine. This started to help and he had been doing much better over the summer. But he was still taking drugs off and on.

He left for more military training the end of July and I had no idea that this would be the last time I would see him. I left the first week of August for MN again. Jon and I continued to talk on the phone and online during this time but I was unable to come home until Thanksgiving. Two weeks prior, I did everything I could to get a hold of Jon but had no luck. I left WI angry that he had not answered any of my numerous messages or took the time to see me. What I didn’t know was that he had been on a 2 day drug binge over my break. I finally got a hold of him on November 30, 2010 when I was back in Minneapolis again. We talked online for awhile, then texted, and then a phone call. He was sad again. The drugs he was coming off of normally made him this way. I had seen it a million times, held him a million times while he cried because of the depression these pills caused after the high was gone. Again, I had no idea this would be the last time I would hear his voice or hear him say I love you too lil sis. He and his mom had gotten into a fight- a normal fight, a fight that any parent would have with their child over the same circumstances. This night was nothing different than the many before. He told me that he wanted to die but that he wouldn’t because it was selfish. I reiterated that he would put me in a psych ward if anything ever happened to him. We talked until he was calm and I was tired. He had just finished promising me that he would not do anything stupid. It was 12:15 am on December 1st 2010.

He was at his brother’s house (also an addict) and his brother’s roommate and one of Jon’s best friends. He was in the room down the hall. His brother’s roommate found him hanging from a low ceiling beam at 1:15am. The doctors say he had been hanging for about 20 minutes. I received the phone call from his hysterical mother at 3:25am. His mom and I were very close. I was a part of their family and had planned to call her in the morning to find out more about the fight her and Jon had. I knew that something was wrong the moment I heard her hysterical on the phone. I couldn’t understand her and I started to cry, it was bad… I could just tell. Then I heard her say between gasping breaths “Jon…hung…himself…” and then more hysterics. I remember saying, “no, no I just talked to him, that’s not true”. She told me they were on their way to the hospital and she would keep me updated. I remember her telling me to go back to sleep… I’m sure that must have been the shock talking. When you just find out that your best friend tried to kill himself, you don’t just fall back asleep.

I was hysterical at this point. I tried to call one of my friends that lives near here. I was in shock and I wasn’t thinking straight at all. I called multiple times but his phone was on vibrate I found out later. So I started calling my mom repeatedly until she finally answered but I was too hysterical to explain. I couldn’t even breathe and I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up or pass out. I was able to gasp out exactly what his mom had said to me. As much as I was part of Jon’s family, he was part of mine. He was always looking out for me, my mom, and my 3 younger sisters. She was trying to calm me down through her own tears. I remember crawling from my bed to the tissue box. I couldn’t stand and I was having trouble not hyperventilating. I kept telling her that I needed to come home. I needed to come home right now. It was about 4am. She told me to come home but I needed to calm down first. The adrenaline that was running through my body would be enough to get me home despite my very few hours of sleep. I started trying to pack a bag; I couldn’t see or think straight.

His mom was updating me through text, he was at UW Madison hospital, they had revived him but his condition was grave. I didn’t even recognize that word, “grave”, I ignored it and kept driving. It was a 4 hour drive to Madison and it snowed almost the whole way there. I begged God for his life during this time.

I arrived around 8:45am and met his brother at the doors. I asked him “how bad?” and he looked at me and said “really bad”. I could barely walk, my knees felt weak and I’m pretty sure he supported most of my weight on the walk to the room. We met a lady in the hallway before we got to the doors of the right area. I cant remember who it was but I heard a female behind me say “this is his best friend, she was the last person to talk to him”… I heard that phrase constantly the rest of the day. That became my identity that day. “His best friend, the last person to talk to him”. I had tried to prepare myself for what happened next but there is absolutely nothing that could have possibly prepared me.

His family was all in the room. His mom was wailing, “my baby, my baby” over and over again. And my best friend, my lil brother was laying in the hospital bed with machines breathing unnaturally for him. His mom saw me near the door, I felt frozen with fear. She walked over to me and grabbed my arm and pretty literally dragged me over to him. She hugged me like I had never been hugged before. I can remember clear as day her grabbing my hand and grabbing his hand and shoving them together saying, “hold your best friends hand, hold your best friends hand.” Everything was repeated over and over. She was repeating over and over, “Jon, Jonathon, your best friend is here, your best friend is here now, you love her so much Jon, open your eyes for her, open your eyes Jonathon.” I held his hand so tight, I could barely breathe. My whole body convulsed with pain and I thought I would pass out. We all stood there and cried. I don’t know how much time past, but we were told that we had a meeting with the doctors to discuss what was next. More people were showing up as more phone calls were made with uncertainty but still the use of the term “grave condition”.

During the meeting with the doctors, we were told that he was brain dead from lack of oxygen for too long. That there was nothing they could do for him. And then we discussed options for him. Donating organs, life support… details none of us were ready to discuss but were being forced to. The reality that he was gone was sinking in. The jerking motion was small seizures and the fact that he was trying to breathe on his own was only because that’s what the body is meant to try to do. But he wasn’t coming back again. There was a mix of emotions around the entire room from anger to devastation to shock. His older sister was trying to get packed with her husband and four small children to start driving from Mississippi. We were going to wait to do anything until she got there around midnight.

We made phone calls and told anyone we could think of to come say goodbye to him. There was a steady flow of people in and out of the room they had us in and in and out of Jon’s hospital room. Room #6. I held his hand and talked to him and kissed his forehead. He started to sweat and I remember flashing back to all the nights and days that he had been on drugs and he would be sweating so badly. I didn’t recognize then but the fact that he couldn’t hold a normal temperature was his body shutting down.

There was a group of us standing outside of the room, waiting for the nurses to move him and do what they were doing to care for him. Things happened so fast after this. I heard a nurse say, “mom, we need you.” And then I was being pushed by someone behind me and being told you need to get in there right now. This wasn’t supposed to be happening right now. His sister wasn’t here. His brothers had both run to get a hotel room and things to accommodate us for the night that we were supposed to be spending there. I remember grabbing his hand and begging him, please no… his mom was repeating “mommy loves you Jonathon, mommy loves you”. I couldn’t breathe at all, I couldn’t see through the tears but I could hear everything: the beeps of the machines, the sound of the breathing machine forcing air into his lungs, people crying and gasping for air through the pain, and I could feel him convulsing on the bed as his heart stopped beating and a loud whine came from the machine near me making sure I knew that he was gone. I could hear wailing but didn’t realize that that sound was coming from deep within me. Jon died at 2:23pm on December 1th, 2010.

I only lasted another minute in the room, then I couldn’t take it anymore and I remember shoving through people to get out. I couldn’t breathe at all. My best friend was gone, he wasn’t in that room anymore and I couldn’t handle being in there anymore either. I almost collapsed in the hallway but my mom helped me get to a chair before I did collapse. I remember crying so loudly and I knew people must be able to hear me but I didn’t care. I was in more pain than I had ever felt before.

I never went back in the room. I sat outside for the next few hours. I remember wanting so badly to know what was going on inside the room but I couldn’t go back in there. We left around 5pm I think. Someone drove me the hour home, I was grateful…I would have never made it. As I left, I was handed a piece of paper with his hand print on it. I came to the hospital with a human being and I was leaving with a piece of paper, it didn’t seem fair.

The first friend that I had tried calling at 3:30am drove 10 hours round trip to be there for me the night that I lost my best friend with me. The next couple days are still a blur. I only remember certain things. I remember being in shock. I remember crying more than I have ever cried and the deepest crying I have ever felt. I remember making phone calls and helping make arrangements and putting a slideshow together and talking about the funeral and urns. I remember feeling like the whole house was boats on the ocean and we were all just floating around each other not really seeing anyone. There were always people and always someone trying to make me eat or drink something. There were people everywhere.

There’s really nothing I can really say about the funeral. It was so very difficult to see him laying in a casket. He looked like he could get up and smile at us again. They messed his hair up. The funeral service was beautiful and difficult. There were over 500 people there. He was loved more than he ever knew.

And now here we are, still grieving, still hurting…missing our loved one desperately. Things are so very raw right now. I have had an amazing support system throughout this. I have amazing friends and then I have the people that don’t necessarily understand and that can’t handle my break downs or my anger. I’ve always been a really patient person and the anger I feel at times at no one in particular borders on rage. I’ve had people tell me that they know just how I feel; they lost their dog last month. I’ve had people tell me that after 2 weeks I should be “over it” already. I’ve heard all the cliché things: God needed another angel; it was his time to go…blah blah blah. I know that people are trying to “help” but sometimes I wish they would shut up. It’s hard to hear that it was a 21 year olds time to “go”. I’m a very strong Christian and it’s difficult to hear that God needed another angel…no he didn’t, I need my best friend. So again, this is all very raw and new to me. I’m sorry this is so long… I haven’t learned to condense it yet.

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