Thursday, October 31, 2019

In Memoriam—Jeremy McIntosh

My friend—Jeremy McIntosh

The last time tragedy took someone I was fond of, and after the initial shock of their loss wore off, I wrote. That’s how I process my thoughts, open to the grieving, and share with others. Yesterday, I learned that an old friend from Battle Mountain—Jeremy McIntosh—passed away suddenly. Jeremy was that rare individual who seems to know everyone and be loved by everyone. His loss struck deep, not just at me, but all those around him.

This morning, as I was preparing to write up this memorial, I opened Facebook to gather a couple of pictures from his page to share. My feed was flooded with an outpouring of sorrow, grief, condolences, and warm memories. They weren’t directed at me of course, which is the point. The fact that Jeremy had touched and impacted so many lives was testified to by the overpowering will of those in his vast, vast circle.

Jeremy was easily one of the most unique individuals I’ve ever met. He befriended me—a scared, shy, “new kid”—when he recognized (according to him) a kindred creative soul. What I remember most about Jeremy was his ability to draw. He always, always, always had a sketchpad or a spiral notebook, filled with his doodles, drawing, portraits, and experiments.

Once, Jeremy shared with me the start of a comic book he was working on at the time, a kind of X-Men/Justice League group of super heroes. This being Jeremy, though, the group wasn’t going to have it easy. Their budget (for fighting crime and evil) was astoundingly small, and limited. They would have to become self-sufficient or the group would be disbanded.

That was Jeremy. A guy who could see the beauty of the world, but knew that it was finite, knew that it required work to maintain and grow.

Jeremy was a reader. A voracious consumer of books. When I knew him, through high school, he was reading mostly fantasy novels. His library of stacked paperbacks mixed with a few hardcovers, was enviable. We shared that love of reading, and talked about authors and stories, and exchanged books. We branched out into movies, and he recommended The Highlander to me—it was a good recommendation. My mother reminded me that she’d lent him one of Terry Brooks’ Shannara books. He devoured it in days and returned the borrowed copy in perfect, pristine condition.

There's that smile!
Always conscious of others, and how his actions might impact them.

Jeremy was one of the people I made an active and concerted effort to track down and friend on social media. Back in the day, Jeremy had believed in my writing. He was interested and encouraging and present. I wasn't sure if he'd read anything of mine, but I recently discovered that not only had he bought my books, he'd been encouraging others to buy them too. Reading through the memories and thoughts of others this morning, that was the epitome of who Jeremy was—he believed in and liked people for who they were. He saw what they were capable of and urged them to pursue it. If he could, he would help you accomplish great things.

I think he saw that in himself too. A relentless pursuit of who he was and what he could become, just like when he taught himself to backflip. He did this first by standing on a four-foot tall cinder block wall surrounded by concrete benches, concrete tables and more concrete. He leaped out, backwards into the air in an impossibly tight spin. The first time I watch him do it, it freaked me out. I had visions of him slamming his head into any one of the many concrete shapes that surrounded us. 

He didn’t.  He was always successful. He was very much like the speaker in the Shel Silverstein poem Hug O’ War:

I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins

That’s how I will remember him. Friendly and a friend. Accomplishing things that scared me. Smiling his ever-present smile, one that said the world was very clever for remembering to include Jeremy McIntosh in it, because the world was a better place with him in it, and people were better for having known him.

I'm certainly glad that I knew him.

Jeremy, you are missed.

4 comments:

  1. this was absolutely beautiful!! thank you for writing such a lovely piece for my brother !!I had forgotten all about the backflips at the junior high!! lol

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    1. Deepest condolences on your loss. I'm glad to have known him and to have shared this with you.

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  2. This is so beautiful and true. Jeremy will certainly be missed by all whole knew and loved him.

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  3. This is beautiful. Jeremy was a special person to me. Someone I needed to keep me in check. I’m a people pleaser and Jeremy kept me in check telling me to shrug it off or walk away (in more colorful words of course) Pygmailions- his business was a second home to me. The artists, the friends and family of them became my family. This is an absence that will be felt forever. So to you and everyone feeling this loss, my sincere condolences! His art will forever live on in everyone he’s tattooed or met. ❤️

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