Jimmy’s first home at Stanford was Cedro where he lived in room 218. He was known for his dry sense of humor, fanatic love of the Portland Trailblazers and playing pool and Super Smash Bros at all hours (along with the rest of us).
In our freshman dorm, many of our dormmates shared in-depth stories about their lives in a moderated interview format called “Cedro-on-Cedro”. Jimmy’s was one of the most mesmerizing of the year. He was able to relay his fight against cancer with a levity that nobody could have anticipated, and he was something of a celebrity afterwards.
Sophomore year, Jimmy lived with me in Lantana. He declared his intent to major in Religious Studies and maintained his pool rivalry with many of his dormmates. Jimmy and I were unconventional roommates, but we bonded over our love of superheroes, self-deprecating humor and puffed corkscrew Cheetos. We spent hours talking about everything from medieval religious customs to atheism to whether Zac Snyder could be trusted to make a good Batman movie.
When Jimmy died during our senior year, I grieved for a future a little darker than the past. I think this is natural; when a person dies, we mourn for the potential that was lost. This is especially true of a bright star like Jimmy. His intelligence, positivity and unquenchable sense of humor would have allowed him to do almost anything, and I grieved for what the world was losing without his presence.
A few months ago, I was visiting Stanford and suddenly had an unbidden recollection from when Jimmy and I were roommates. It was a conversation we had while walking; Jimmy explained some medieval religious customs, and I complained about my girl problems. Or, more accurately, my lack thereof.
This memory was a welcome gift, but it made me realize that there are so many more that I have lost. How many long walks to Late Nite at Lagunita have I forgotten? How many games of pool in the common room? How many unfulfilled plans of revenge against the boys on our floor who regularly stole our shampoo?
After five years, I have made my peace with the fact that the world will never feel Jimmy’s special presence again. He is with me when I wear my threadbare JimmySTRONG t-shirt every week, or when I made someone laugh with a wry joke, and that will have to be enough.
I now grieve for the parts of Jimmy that I have forgotten. I mourn for the many lost memories of our two years living together at Stanford. I want to remember all of the stupid jokes and runs to CVS; the walks in the rain; the games of Super Smash Bros in the lounge; the pool rivalry we carried with each other for two years and the comfort we offered each other when times were tough. It’s unfair that, in addition to losing my friend, I’ve lost so much of the time we spent together. I want to keep the whole tapestry of Jimmy with me; I don’t want my friend to become a few anecdotes and warm feelings.
In a way, this grief is even worse than the pain of immediate loss. I know that these memories will slip through my fingers, but I wish so much that it weren’t the case.
I’ll always remember Jimmy as a warm, compassionate, mischievous partner-in-crime. He was the type of friend that can only be made through a year of long talks, long walks and unwavering mutual support. I miss him deeply, but my grief for him has become a welcome burden, a blessing in disguise. Holding onto Jimmy’s capacity for kindness, positivity and empathy have engendered those traits in me and made me so much stronger. It is truly a blessing to have been his friend.