A Eulogy for my brother Jeremy

It has been a month since Jeremy left us. It is still very painful.

On the morning of December 28, I led a service for my brother Jeremy with my family. We gathered at my grandparent’s Pond House, which was my great-grandmother Miss Lillian’s house. My grandfather’s father built a circular stone fire pit out back behind the house. It is large enough to sit the whole Carter family.

I sat next to Jeremy’s ashes and delivered this eulogy. I wrote it in the early hours the night before the ceremony in a log book that I bought in Plains. I did not know what I wanted to say, but I decided beforehand that I would write it in one take and let these words just tumble out.

I left the book out in the Plains Inn for family members to write whatever they wanted to say. Some have asked that I circulate the book. I will keep their words private, but for my eulogy, I want to share it with Jeremy and with you. I miss him.

Today we are celebrating Jeremy’s life. He was a son, a brother, a loving uncle. He was 28. There is no way around it–he left us way too soon, and I am just profoundly, desperately, and crushingly sad.

He was a good brother and he let me in. I helped him get into school so he could finish up. I helped him form a plan for success. I trusted him with Charlie and he loved being an uncle, probably more than anything.

He had been frustrated with school and career choices and his future for so long, and in the past year he was excited about his path forward. He had hope. He had a plan. It is this part of his future that I will mourn almost as much as I will mourn for him. I am going to miss him terribly. I already do.

28 years. That’s too young. But Jeremy did give us 28 years. I had 28 years to be his brother and I am thankful for that. I am thankful that I was able to grow up with him, and he me.

We took sibling rivalry seriously. We fought all the time growing up, mostly because we became each others’ favorite pastime. I was usually better at video games than he was and he was usually better at sports than me. He was always faster, so every game he made up for us naturally had to incorporate some sort of race. And when he won, he took gloating to an obnoxious level. He would smile the biggest smile. He would cock his head back and to the left and wear this big, toothy, ear-to-ear grin. He was very proud of himself.

One of the most random, ridiculous, and funny stories about Jeremy involved beating me in video games in a major way. One day when we were pretty little, we were playing in our driveway racing matchbox  cars or melting army men and Jeremy found an anthill where the driveway met our rock garden. Amongst the trail of ants going to and from the anthill, Jeremy found one carrying a diamond. Not a diamond shaped object, an actual diamond. I immediately tried to claim it, since I was playing outside too and was older, but he wouldn’t have it. He snatched it from the ant and ran inside calling for dad. “Dad! Dad! I found an ant carrying a diamond.” Dad was skeptical. Jeremy, if you actually found a diamond, if this is a real diamond, I’ll buy you a Sega Genesis. A week later, we–no, he had a Sega Genesis. At 5 or 6 years old, it was better than winning the lottery. Not only did we play hours and hours of Sonic The Hedgehog or Toejam and Earl, but if I started to beat him, he would often “pull rank” and turn off the Sega just as I was about to win. That would often start a fight that he was more likely to win. Win at any cost. Jeremy was nothing if not committed.

My parents kept the Sega Genesis diamond. None of their friends ever reported that they lost a diamond. They asked. It’s the most bizarre and funny diamond story I’ve ever heard. They mounted the diamond in a gold ring for Jeremy to present to a girlfriend some day. The one. I hate that he never got to do that. I hate it.

It is awful that we are gathered this way for this reason, but I am glad that we are all together for him. I am glad that we are in Plains. He liked it here. He liked fishing. He still holds the record for catching the largest brim I’ve ever seen or heard of. He kept the mounted fish in his room, but he was most proud that Papa keeps a board with the fish’s outline in his woodshop. (I have it now.) He cherished the chances he got to go out hunting with Dad and Papa here in Plains. In fact, I think that hunting in Plains was the only thing that would get Jeremy out of bed at 5:00 AM. Ever. But he loved Plains and he loved these family vacations because he loved his family. He loved refreshing his jokes that had gone stale with Jamie and me. He loved staying up until about sunrise talking with his cousins. He had a special bond with James and Sally through Georgia State, with Margaret through being almost exactly the same age, with Casey through a near identical taste and appreciation for the offbeat. He loved hearing stories and going around the room and catching up on Stephen’s and John’s film projects. He loved seeing me the next morning to get me up to speed. “You’ve got to get Stephen to tell you the story about him skateboarding through Israel.” He loved his family.

Above all, he loved being an uncle. He really did. In writing this, I scrolled all the way up in my text messages to the ones I sent him when Charlie was born. The day before, he texted me “GIVE ME UNCLE STATUS!!” Then he asked me if I was nervous. And excited. Then we texted back and forth and finally at 7:57 PM on May 2, 2013, I sent him a picture of his newborn nephew. He wrote “OMG IM SO HAPPY! AND TEARING UP!!!” and I Sent him more pictures of Charlie and he responded with “I have to change by background already?!?!” I told him that he might as well get used to it. He responded “:-) I love you bro”.

I love you too Jeremy.

8 thoughts on “A Eulogy for my brother Jeremy

  1. Thanks for sharing Josh. I will have to pay more attention to what ants are carrying. But seriously, sending you lots of love. May you have comfort with thoughts of all the good times you had with Jeremy.

  2. Hey Josh! I loved reading through these fun memories with brother Jeremy. As you know, I had the privilege of playing with Jeremy when our ages were single digits, and I love that he stayed just as fun loving in his adult life. Although his physical body has retired, I pray that you find some comfort knowing that his presence with you, Sarah, and Charlie is no longer limited by earth’s boundaries – he’s with you all the time. His energy is electric so I know you feel it! I love you all and am here for you. Praying for peace and comfort for your family during this extremely difficult time.

  3. Josh, I’ve known you for a pretty long time, and I’ve never known you without a smile on your face. It’s a trait that you and Charlie share, actually. So to see you feeling this kind of pain is a different kind of heartbreaking. But you do such a wonderful job telling stories about Jeremy, I feel like I knew him, despite only meeting him once. He will never be completely gone as long as you are there to share these stories and let people know what an amazing person he was. That is your special gift to him, and I know he would feel honored. I only hope someone loves me this much to share such wonderful stories about me someday. You are a great big brother.

  4. Josh, we are thinking and praying for you and your family. Thanks for sharing your Eulogy, there were parts of it that made me smile.

  5. Beautiful Josh. I wake up and its a normal day and it hits me, Jeremys gone. He always made me feel like i was loved and special to him and i hope he felt the same. I think he did. I miss his hugs, i miss him wanting to show me something cool, i miss his riddles. I will miss how enthusiastic he always was when i had a theme party. I just plain miss him. If Jeremy loved you, you knew it and you are right, he sure loved his family and I feel very fortunate to have been considered part of it. Hugs to you Josh..

  6. Hey Josh, thanks for sharing these beautiful words and vivid memories! I only got to spend small amounts of time with him, but one takeaway that I always had when I got to talk to Jeremy was laughing at something I’d never even thought of before and thinking, “I should get to know this guy more!” So, thanks so much for writing this. Your brother is definitely a diamond, and having sharp enough eyes to see that allowed you guys to enjoy his time here on Earth. You know I’m always sending prayers and positivity your way.

  7. What a beautiful tribute, Josh. My heart breaks for you and your family; I can’t imagine what the silence left behind feels like. Thank you for sharing your eulogy — your love for your brother echoes in every word.

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