Jeromy was the most over the top full of life person I ever met. I had the honor of growing up with him and I think that was a huge blessing because were I tended to be a little on the safe and restrained side, he was always there to show me how to experience each moment to the fullest.
When we were 6 or 7 he sprayed the slip in slide in the back yard down with a FULL bottle of baby oil, turned up the sprinkles and planned a super hero sprint followed by a dare devil slide a super speeds into the children’s pool he had placed at the end. And while the trajectory and the math behind it didn’t work out in his favor (in fact the sound of his oiled body bouncing off that kiddy pool sidewall will make me laugh to this day when I remember it) he still took that hit laughing.
When we were 9 he climbed on top of the red metal shed in my parents back yard and announced he was going to jump off like a G.I. Joe. I sensibly warned him that jumping off a shed would hurt and he would get in trouble. He looked back over his shoulder at me and said well how much punishment could there possibly be if I am already hurt? Then he winked and jumped. When he hit the ground he rolled with the impact and rose standing with his hands in the air over his head. TOTALLY WORTH IT! He yelled back up at me. I never jumped.
By the time we were in high school he could take anything in stride and most of our adult life the pictures from every family event and BBQ with friends has his smiling face or some goofy practical joke caught in the act. He knew that laughter and love mattered more then anything else he could give you. When you were with him your bucket overflowed with that laughter and love.
Despite my sometimes being to scared to live a life without regrets the way Jeromy did, he always found ways to push me out of my comfort zone and keep me laughing while he did it. He is responsible for my first ride on a roller coaster, my first F bomb, my first adult beverage, and the first time I walked away from everything I knew and decided to live a life I wanted to live instead of the one I was living at the time.
We were young and in college and he told me that you can never be amazing if you’re too busy worrying about being normal. At 19 he knew the truth. It is better to live a short life that you truly love then a long life that makes you miserable. So it never surprised me when came home and announced he was joining the service and going to see the world. And it never surprised me when he brought home another strange stray human to nurse it back to life. All those international trips, motorcycles, and friends with baggage were his way of changing the world and experiencing as much of it as he could.
He had so much to teach us and every one of us picked up something different. He taught me to use my fear as a tool and not a crutch that kept me from trying new things. He taught some of you to be responsible and to treat others with respect. He taught some of you to love others well or what it was like to be loved for the first time in your life. I know because from the moment he passed the stories I hear are ones filled with honor, life, and love. And after that, there isn’t a better legacy you could leave behind.
So while he will be missed greatly and his shoes can never be filled. I know that the light that shined from his soul flickers in all of us today. And if we focus that little piece of him that he left behind to help someone else, to love well, to be alive, to try something new, todo the right thing just because it’s the right thing… then he continues to live on.
Because loving well is a legacy that lives forever.