I received some news on Sunday that I’m still trying to process as it just doesn’t seem real. A friend of mine passed away unexpectedly on May 30th. He was only 37.
I remember the first time I met Jeremy, or Jer-Jer, as I affectionately came to call him. I was still in college and had gone up to Chicago to visit a close college friend who had graduated the previous year, and he was at that party. That evening I didn’t say a whole lot; I mostly just watched all these people around me who seemed smarter, more witty and cooler than I’d ever be. Jeremy was one of those people. I wanted to be like him and the others at the party. I wanted him to be my friend, too.
It was another year or so, I think, before I met Jeremy again. What surprised me was that he actually remembered me from that brief introduction at the party. What surprised me even more was that he greeted me warmly, almost like an old friend. From that moment on, it was how Jeremy always greeted me: a big smile and a warm hug. We exchanged email addresses, and kept in touch periodically over the years. But we didn’t keep in touch the way most people do. While I might write a straightforward message to Jeremy, he would write anything BUT that back. His messages, usually hilarious and almost always over the top, often had me in stitches. Those of you who knew him will know exactly what I mean.
In many ways, I didn’t know Jeremy all that well; I didn’t know much about his family, his childhood, his goals…and he didn’t know that much about me, either. But it didn’t seem to matter. We had the bond of simply liking each other and laughing together, and that was enough.
I got to see him last year at the wedding of the college friend who introduced us, and I’m so grateful I had that time to reconnect with him in person. It still seems unreal that he’s gone. I’m going to miss his off-beat, acerbic sense of humor that shone through best in his emails. I’m going to miss how, of late, he’d randomly start an IM chat with me on Facebook about some random topic. I’m going to miss how he would have given me that big hug and warm smile when we would have seen each other again. I’m going to miss my friend.