I met Jesse over a glowing bonfire. I, the new one, knew barely a soul. The crowd thinned and I sat with Jesse for hours. So strange to find one so young…17 then, maybe…who contained so much. I remember thinking that he wasn’t even a peer but somehow an elder. A man in a boy’s suit. An elegant boy’s suit, that. We talked about how different it must have been to know people only by firelight… as people once did.
The next fire was small. Just a few of us at a cookout to celebrate Trump as the sun sank. There’d been some earlier slapstick while we made Jesse a smoothie and everyone chimed in with recipes. Advocating for probiotics –which amused him; rice milk- which didn’t. Jesse was already graduated and already diagnosed. He seemed more of a boy that day…thin but carrying something in him that I couldn’t put my finger on. Kind of itinerant. He was wearing a tweed waistcoat and a cap and looked like a young man from a James Joyce or Steinbeck novel stepping off the family stoop for the last time. Ready to make his way in the world. The fear of the known and the unknown all mixed up.
The sadness of losing this extraordinary person is close to me today. I am so sorry for the many who knew him far better than I. Lisa and Ed, especially… and all the surrogates and friends who’ve loved Jesse into being the person we’ve all been touched by. He carried so much for us. May this generous, sprawling circle of people carry him within for a long, long time.