Jeff and I met in 1976 on the first day of college. We were 17. My first memory being Jeff prancing around the room in his blue Philadelphia Phillies smock wearing nothing underneath and being livid if someone tried to sit on his bed or even touch it.
We became friends pretty quickly because Jeff was easy to connect to. We were always able to make one another laugh. And I loved to hear him laugh. Jeff had an inherent warmth. He made a perfect stranger feel as if they knew him their entire life. In 36 years, Jeff and I never had a single fight. Disagreements maybe, but that was it (like he would never let a sip pie cup with milk in his car because he said you could never get the smell out of it spilled).
During college Jeff once got the better of me in a trade when he gave me his Hello Dolly record for my Cat Stevens record. With his love of Bruce Springsteen and his kind of music, I could never quite understand what he was doing with a Hello Dolly album and he never did explain it to me.
Cloths were never important to Jeff as anyone who knew him could tell you. He once interviewed a famous designer, Bill Blass, and asked him if he could tell a good dresser on sight. Mr. Blass said to Jeff, “Your not.” But Jeff did not care and liked the way he dressed.
Jeff was a great listener and a great talker. We would speak on the telephone endlessly about life, our kids, work, money and our wives – exchanging advice until one of us had to finally cut off the conversation to get back to work.
Success never changed Jeff. When no one was buying his books he acted the same way when everyone was. It was not about the money or recognition but about the words, sentences, paragraphs and the work. His writing was comfort food which we will all need to get through this unbearable time.
Jeff adored his family. Sherry was and will always be his soul mate and she made him feel so loved and content. She made him complete. Their love was so pure magic as you could see the way they looked at one another. And Jordan, Alex and Eden, you were so loved by your father. There is so much of him in each of you and you do him so proud and always will.
It is impossible to do Jeff justice in a few minutes. I had 36 years with him and it wasn’t nearly enough. We have been terribly cheated. It isn’t fair and there are no legitimate answers as to why. But his presence on this earth was a gift and we were all incredibly lucky to have shared it. We must honor Jeff by living each day as if it is our last, ask questions, hug the people we love, and buy lots of real newspapers and hardcover books.
Jeff and I were not born as brothers, but became that. Jeff, you will always be a part of me and I will always love you. The world is a better place because you were here. I will miss you more than you could ever imagine.
Barby and I will always be here for Sherry, your girls and your entire family.