On Friday, May 2nd, my former student, Jeremy Gentry, passed away. He was only 37. When I heard the news from his brother, Josh, in the parking lot of Martin’s yesterday, I was shocked, stunned, and I found myself repeating to myself and my partner: he was so handsome. He was just so handsome. What?
He was so beautiful. He was a ball of love energy. Jeremy’s thoughts, words, and actions contained the kind of love that rocketed through his heart to everyone around him. A supernova of love. It was as if God picked him out prior to his arrival on this planet and said, “Jeremy, you are going to show up and steal people’s hearts with how and who you are. People will gravitate to you because you are wise and your words carry an essence, a magic that will help people on their journey. You are a superstar and you will change the world with what you represent: love, joy, peace, verve, empathy and style. Jeremy style.”
I can imagine God saying that to Jeremy and Jeremy saying back to God, “Got it…Hurry up already.” And, beautiful young Jeremy did come and I am sure his parents and brother Josh and sister Amy always wanted him around. I can imagine he helped his mother and wanted her to do things and create books. He, I am sure, helped his brother find the right path and his sister, in some way, too.
I met Jeremy Gentry when he was a young teenager attending J.R. Tucker High School in Richmond, Virginia. I remember him clearly in my mind as if it were yesterday. His bright flash of a smile. His energy emanating my classroom with a verve and a flair that made everyone’s day brighter and better. Jeremy walked into my classroom and we bonded immediately. I, the closeted gay teacher…and he the young gay bundle of energy. I introduced him to John Irving and he immediately bonded with the character of Owen Meany. In many ways, Jeremy was like Owen – a small, slender yet muscular build. And a larger-than-life voice.
Jeremy found me a year ago. He found my website and sent me a note and we exchanged fond memories of our past together. His email to me was long and riddled with passion and a kind of poetic transcendental light that characterized his spirit, his soul. Jeremy was a gifted writer. I believe he always wanted to write the novel he was born to write. Yesterday, Josh told me that he was half way through his manuscript. This, of course, makes him an author. I should know. Once you write as many words as Jeremy can write, then it constitutes his novel of life and love and joy.
I loved and still love Jeremy Gentry. He is glued to my heart as many of the nearly one thousand students I taught. Jeremy stands out. He claimed his victory…no doubt on Friday. Now he is standing behind his parents, his brother and sister, and all of the people he touched and is rooting them on…every minute of every day. He wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s a man’s man. And, I will always cherish him for that.
I love you, young man. Now go…and change eternity so that we may join you one day and laugh and laugh and dance the dance.
You were and still are a bright shining star. We see you in rainbows, butterflies, music, and each other.