This there now
a tribute to clay
Clayton Ryan Johnson
09/16/86 - 05/17/2020
This is just a story about an amazing man, brother, son, father, and husband. Clay is my little brother and life took him way too young. Clay left behind a beautiful bride, and two amazing kiddos. Prior to Clay’s passing, he was dedicated to building his own delivery company called This There Now. This is a story about Clay.
Clay was born on September 16th, 1986 in Dallas, Texas to Chris and Tonya Johnson. Clay was the youngest of three kids, and had a sister, April and brother Brian. Clay died on May 17th, 2020 due to the injuries sustained from an ATV accident. Clay leaves behind a beautiful wife, Merilee, his son Cam and daughter Ava.
I know what you all are thinking, because I thought the same, he was only 33, he was way too young. From here on out I want to change the way we think about Clay’s life. At the age of 33 Clay lived 17,690,400 minutes. This is 17,690,400 individual moments shared among everyone in here.
Mom and dad, this is 9,460,800 minutes until he turned 18. Merilee this is 4,730,400 for the 9 years you two have been married. For Cam and Ava this is just under 4 Million minutes of memories that have been created. Today, we are going to focus on the memories that have been created.
Almost immediately, there was something special about Clay, and that was humor. Starting in his childhood and through his life, Clay knew how to make others feel the joy of laughter without even trying. Most notably, Clay is referenced as the funnier version of Jim Carey and would often imitate his various movies like Ace Ventura and The Mask.
At the age of 14, Clay’s life changed forever when he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This would prove to be a blessing in disguise later on in life because it caused Clay to research. And research Clay did.
In 2011, Clay married his beautiful bride Merilee and almost immediately we watched Clay change into a man. A man is not a term I would ever use to describe my baby brother but here we are. Clay evolved into an incredible man. 7 years ago Cam was born and 5 years ago Avilene was born and once again Clay started to evolve.
So who was Clay. Clay’s motto was “Die Young, as late as possible.” Clay knew how to live life to the fullest. He loved to drift, 240s and the G. He really loved anything to do with driving. He even began building his own company, This, There, Now LLC and was a contract courier.
At the age of 33, Clay accomplished more than most will in several lifetimes. Clay was a successful business man, entrepreneur, an awesome son, and a loving father and husband. I always looked at Clay as being the man with no fear and just the right amount of knowledge. Clay shocked me, and most people here, every day with something new. I am sure we all have received one, if not many, of his research videos.
Clay’s life was not all magic and sunshine as this story may lead you to believe, and I truly believe Clay was the only person that could handle what life threw at him. Through the ups and downs, Clay found a way to still come out on top. He changed his stars and he did it on his own. Throughout life Clay was always Clay, and it is a good thing he was. Merilee told me that she used to get upset by how much he researched, but now she is well informed and better equipped to take care of Ava because of it. Even when Clay is making us upset, he is still helping us. Martin told me something that so many people of have told me about Clay, the first time I met him I thought he was an asshole. Martin you are not alone. But this was just who Clay is. Asshole or not, people are better for knowing him.
In January, Clay and I had a conversation that has really made an impact on me. We discussed Ava’s diabetes, Let me be 83 (an organization dedicated to diabetes), and the overall health of the family. The most important part of this conversation for me was I finally got to tell my baby brother how proud I am of him for the man that he has become. He was far from perfect, but we all are, however, Clay was working towards the life he had always wanted. He was spending time with family, researching, building his business, drifting, and just having fun. He had confidence about him that was just unmatched.
I had a rule with Clay regarding his videos, he can send me those videos as long as we still lived in the moment. Clay knew the importance of laughter and how important it was to me. He still shared his daily videos on the Pandemic, politics, or crypto with me, but he also included some of the greatest and funniest memes and quotes. While I can’t share with you all the normal things we shared together, I can share that Clay’s heart was filled with joy. And if you have ever heard him laugh, that is the one sound I know we are all missing right now.
However you knew Clay, he had an impact on your life, and most of us are feeling the impact by the silence of our phones. Whether he was telling you how to eat, making you laugh, sending you a video on crypto or government, or getting banned from Waffle House, Clay’s memories will live on.
If we can learn anything from Clay, it is that we need to treat every moment as if it is our last. Die young, as late as possible is a quote from Ashley Montagu that Clay lived. We need to follow Clay’s example and maximize our time on this earth.
“As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss, but we carry on, because we have to, because our loved one would want us to, and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us.”