For those of you who knew my uncle Jeremy, and there were thousands around the world, there are many things you have all come to know about him. However, one would only need to spend a mere 10 minutes with Jeremy before you would learn all about: his chickens; couch surfing; how to cook one of the following: a whole pig, goat, or perhaps some small foul; a random fact about theater, celebrities, or some small grain of knowledge you’d never use again in your life; and perhaps possibly, how to properly set a kitchen table and clean a restaurant’s worth of dishes.
Jeremy was probably the only Sommer in existence to tolerate spicy food. He was one of the only people I’ve met who considered “regular ingredients” to be pomegranate syrup or a 50lb bag of whole wheat flour. He went grocery shopping for weekend trips and our family reunions like it was his last weekend on earth. He loved attractive Jewish male actors more than I did. He once made me cut down a tree outside his front house. A TREE. He had a “wine” collection that had turned into 70% vinegar. He once made me cry because he refused to take me to In n Out Burger. You couldn’t see the back of his pantry cabinets to save your life. And so many more ridiculous things that made Jeremy who he was…
Something happened between Jeremy and I during the last 8 months of his life – we realized we needed each other. Unlike before, I felt, our separate existences never needed to serve each other much of a purpose, besides our family reunions when I needed Jeremy to cook and he needed a mouth to feed. And during those last months, I tasted something that I had never truly come in contact with – this time it was bittersweet.
After hearing Jeremy’s diagnosis right before Christmas of 2012, the prognosis stated he had 6 months left. Jeremy made it to 8. And almost right up until the end, he still remained his true Jeremy self. At times, growing up, I didn’t know how to connect to my stubborn, loud, (and sometimes) obnoxious uncle, but when I came back to school this year, more than just our last name called us to be together.
When I came to visit Jeremy in January, he brought me to Glide for the first time. He may have been on his phone the whole time, but I know that over the past 25 years of him attending this church, Glide helped him find a community that would accept him no matter what. The mission of Glide is love unconditionally. While I had my differences with Uncle Jeremy in the past, I came to Glide letting go of my baggage, and embracing our differences, as well as our similarities. Coming to Glide with Jeremy is something I will hold sacred and special as I am sure many of his 50 couch surfers, family, and friends will as well.
Jeremy gave so much. He gave meals to the hungry (me), he gave shelter the poor (some couch surfers), and he gave until the very end. In fact, he is still giving. I look up to my uncle for being generous to the world: spreading culture, stories, laughter, food, and music. I look up to him for always being curious, for standing up to anyone, for being unique, and most of all, having a loving heart, although he may have had a hard time showing it.
I will miss my uncle deeply, in a way I couldn’t have ever imagined.