Our journey of joy with Jeff began when after moving from a row house in Philadelphia to the suburbs, and having saved enough for the down payment and the extras, my husband, Harry said we could add another child to our two wonderful and amazing boys. I had the feeling I’d been waiting for someone.
Jeff had beautiful blonde curls and at just a few months old he followed the beat of music with his tiny hands, and later danced to music to the delight of his brothers and family. He would delight his sister who came along unexpectedly 18 months later. Jeff was easy, laid back, and great fun with his wit, excitement and humor. It was the beginning of a family life of great love that would make us feel we were in a mini Camelot.
At age 6 Jeff dictated a play, “My Son the Sergeant” and his brothers did the writing for him. At 9 he had a poem printed in the local paper. At 12, he won a $500 prize in a poetry contest.
It was during that time that Jeff and I had a game going. We would agree on a topic and each of us would write about it in poem or story form. We would then compare our work to determine which was better. I was amazed that more often than not, Jeff’s work was better than mine, and writing was my chosen profession.
In elementary, junior high and high school, Jeff was a friend and a leader. He was a relaxed student, but followed the family dictum. Since all the children were academically capable, by paying attention and doing their work they could earn a B. Earning an A was up to them, but C’s were unacceptable.
He went off to college and again became a leader, a player and earned recognition as a writer. After college he toured the country before taking a job at the Orlando Sentinel. His excellent work and receiving awards and being nominated for a Pulitzer prize brought an offer from the Wall Street Journal in Chicago. He had met the wonderful and beautiful Sherry Margolis at a friend’s, Mitch Gerber’s wedding and began a life of love and devotion that came to include Jordan, Alex and Eden. The depth of his love and concern for them was unending. Jeff also brought to friends, neighbors and professional colleagues a joy, a talent and compassion that was enormous.
In my own autobiography when reflecting on my children, I wrote that my oldest son was the child of my mind, because of his brilliance, my second son was the child of my body, because in addition to being brilliant, he had a dynamism and vigor that made whatever he undertook possible. I said that my daughter was the child of my heart because she was filled with love for people and the need to give herself to them.
I said that Jeff was the child of my soul, because his feeling for life, for others, for caring and compassion, reached the depths of my own soul.
In the tragic circumstances we now face, my head is battered, my body is deflated, my heart is broken and my soul is bruised, seemingly beyond repair.
I want to share with you what I hope will help me, his father, his loving wife and children, siblings, nieces and nephews, friends, neighbors and colleagues.
We were all remarkably blessed to have had Jeff in our lives, not long enough, but we had him. He would want each of us to continue to make the best of ourselves and our lives. Jeff was a blessing, and to honor him we must be all that we can be, do all we can do, and contribute all that we can to one another and every where we can. May we all be blessed with remembering Jeff and appreciate that for too brief of time, he was part of the joy, humor, fun, compassion and love that are the essence of life, and of Jeffrey Zaslow.