My friend Jeff should have turned 41 today. He was killed in 2006 after a drunk driver drove into a crowd of pedestrians waiting to cross the street after a concert at the Backyard. The world dimmed a good bit when he left it.
I met Jeff through work. I think it was in the late 1990s. I was working at my current firm (though it had a different name back then), and we hired Jeff to help with a document review project. He was in law school at the time. We worked hard, but Jeff and I also managed to have a good bit of fun, sometimes leaving work early or mid-afternoon to catch a movie or run errands. Even everyday activities were fun with him. I remember getting gas with him once and laughing hysterically the entire time he was at the pump. I don’t remember if we were heading somewhere or just getting gas, but I remember it was fun.
Long after he quit working, we maintained our friendship. He’d drop by the office sometimes just to say hello. I remember one time in particular we talked about running. I was in marathon mode and hoped I might be able to convince my friend to run with me. He laughed and said, “There are things I love to do, if you know what I mean, that I wouldn’t want to do for four hours!”
I loved his eyes and his smile. They were mischievous. I loved how annoyed he would get at concerts if people around him were talking. I loved how he remembered set lists from concerts he’d seen years prior, and he couldn’t understand how I couldn’t give him a set list from a show I’d seen the night before. I must not have been paying attention! I love how he had no patience for things he didn’t want to do. He couldn’t focus for five minutes on something he found uninteresting, but he could watch hours and hours of recordings of Phish concerts that he’d seen countless times. I love how much he traveled. He didn’t make a ton of money, but he had clear priorities in life and did the things he wanted to do with the people he loved. I loved hearing him on the phone with his girlfriend who later became his wife. His voice softened when he talked to her, and he called her what sounded like “Pea,” though he never explained the name, and I never asked. I never wanted to intrude on that precious space.
Jeff was the first person I knew who blogged. I didn’t see him all the time, but I loved hearing his telling of the adventures of Team Wilson. His words and the energy behind them helped me learn from him, even after he was gone.
I wasn’t Jeff’s girlfriend, his best friend, or his bandmate. I wasn’t his wife, his sister or his family. I didn’t work with him for long. I was just one of many people he affected while he was with us. For that, I am eternally grateful. I love you, Jeff. You are so missed here.