I have only a small number of people who knew me when I was young, met me during very formative years, and remain close and active in my life still today. I treasure these friendships, as they bridge the gap between one era of my life and the next, and because the number of people who knew you when you were young is finite. This week I lost one of those very special friends, and the suddenness of this loss and the tragic way in which it occurred has been almost impossible to even process.
I met Jared in college, when I was 19. He was a popular guy who threw a lot of parties and always seemed to be holding court everywhere he went, making people laugh with his crazy stories, dirty jokes, and relentless teasing. I was flattered when, one day, he asked me if I’d like to see a Sunday matinee play with him that he had an extra ticket for; I didn’t know him well and he certainly had his choice of friends he could invite to join him. I wasn’t sure whether it was a date or not though until the end when he asked me if I’d be interested in going out with him again some time. I told him I really liked him and was interested in being his friend and hoped he was interested in being my friend, too. This is not a line most guys traditionally take very gracefully, but Jared was not most guys. He smiled and said, “I AM interested in being your friend!” And he meant it, and we became the best of friends for many, many years.
To be in Jared’s orbit, whether for an evening or for decades, was something else, and I feel safe saying that everyone who ever met him knew they’d never met anyone like him before and would likely never again. He was a real life Dean Moriarty — larger than life, always up for anything and everything, and devoted almost as much to adventure as he was to his family, his friends, and his passion for acting. To have Jared as a close friend was a gift. He always showed up (in fact, that’s him in the picture of this post, in back of me and Drew); he never forgot a birthday (and didn’t need Facebook to remind him); he would get up at the crack of dawn to drive me to the airport; he was one of the funniest people I’ve ever known, and he always sent postcards from his many travels (that’s my collection from him in the picture above).
He had a physical presence that could be intimidating at times — an upper body like a Spanish bull and a big, booming foghorn voice. But underneath, he had the soul of a teddybear, one of the kindest hearts, and a surprising fragility that all helped give him the impressive emotional range he employed as a busy working actor.
He was on his way to shoot a commercial a few hours from home when he lost control of his car on a patch of ice. He hung on for two weeks, and we thought he was going to make it. He was off the ventilator, out of the coma, eating and talking. But it was not meant to be, and when the hospital staff failed to stop the bleeding of a previously undetected ulcer Tuesday morning, he died on his way to the OR for emergency surgery.
He’s off on another adventure now, I tell myself — causing a ruckus for sure, and finding all the best places to go and things to do before the rest of us get there. Send a postcard if you can, Jared. I’m going to miss you so much.
JD February 23, 2019, 9:38 am
Wendy I am so sorry for your loss. I know at one point things were looking up and this is the worst outcome. Sending you hugs and support during this time.
Kate February 23, 2019, 10:02 am
I’m so very sorry for his loss to so many who loved him, and I hope you will meet up with him on the other side.
ktfran February 23, 2019, 10:28 am
What a lovely tribute. I’m so, so sorry for your loss and I’m sending you and your family warm thoughts.
jilliebean February 23, 2019, 10:32 am
Wendy I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. Reading your beautiful tribute, clearly the world has lost one of the good ones. Sending strength to all who mourn him.
Juliecatharine February 23, 2019, 10:41 am
I’m so sorry. He sounds like a special person who will be well remembered. Wishing you and those who lost him peace and comfort.
joanna February 23, 2019, 10:54 am
My thoughts are with you at this tragic time. He looked like a wonderful friend and an asset to all whose lives he touched. Remember him fondly.
anonymousse February 23, 2019, 11:10 am
I’m so sorry to read this, Wendy. It’s clear he was an incredible friend and he will be missed greatly.
Take care ❤️
Galia February 23, 2019, 11:42 am
I’m so sorry for your loss Wendy. I also lost a dear friend in a sudden and tragic way a little over a year ago and it is very very hard and sad.
Am sending you many good energies and thoughts
Kali February 23, 2019, 12:05 pm
May his memory be a blessing.
Anonymous February 23, 2019, 12:07 pm
Oh no, Wendy! This must have been your funny friend who did (among many things!) comedyimprov that we discussed several times over the years both here and in NYC!! If I am recalling details correctly he was even making money at improv which is BEYOND impressive.
So sorry to hear this! What a terrible tragedy!
Dear Wendy February 23, 2019, 1:44 pm
Different guy – you’re thinking of another close friend of mine, Matty. And, yes, both made/make livings through their performing. I’ve been lucky to have some amazingly talented and hilarious friends.
Bittergaymarkright February 23, 2019, 6:36 pm
Ah, not sure why this posted anonymously. Goof on my end surely. So sorry to hear about this Wendy. I can imagine it came as a real shock. Especially as you had posted such promising recovery news about him not so long ago, too. 🙁
keyblade February 23, 2019, 12:46 pm
I’m sorry for your loss. Your touching tribute paints the picture of a person who lived his life well and who was a blessing for all that knew him. May his friends and family find comfort in the legacy he left behind. What a beautiful person.
SisiSodaPop February 23, 2019, 12:52 pm
I’m so sorry that you (and everyone who knew this awesome guy) are experiencing such a tremendous loss. Your respect and admiration shine through in these beautiful words you’ve written for him. I wish there were words that could dull the pain you’re feeling right now; I pray that time may eventually dull it. I truly hope that you can find comfort and peace within the memories that you shared with him.
FireStar February 23, 2019, 12:58 pm
I’m so sorry for your loss. Your friend sounded lovely and that he packed a lot of living into his far too short years. Hugs.
Dear Wendy February 23, 2019, 1:15 pm
Thanks so much, guys. Jared was like a brother to me and this loss, especially close to losing my beloved grandmother and my Simone, is hitting hard. Fortunately, I have many, many good memories to comfort me.
JD February 23, 2019, 9:14 pm
Too much loss Wendy. I am sorry.
MissD February 23, 2019, 1:42 pm
I’m so sorry for your loss, Wendy. Sending you kind thoughts.
Miss MJ February 23, 2019, 3:11 pm
I’m so sorry, Wendy.
Ange February 23, 2019, 5:17 pm
I’m so sorry Wendy, he sounded like a great guy. Thoughts are with you ❤️
esra February 24, 2019, 4:31 am
Very sorry, Wendy!
LisforLeslie February 24, 2019, 10:53 am
Wow, he sounds like a really good guy taken way too early. I’m sorry.
theotherbarb February 24, 2019, 8:52 pm
What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend. I am so, so sad for your loss. You have had so much sorrow during the last year, my heart goes out to you.
BlackBear February 24, 2019, 10:34 pm
So sorry for your loss.
Hannanas February 25, 2019, 4:30 am
I’m so sorry Wendy, he sounds like an amazing person. Take care, sending lots of virtual hugs.
Sara February 25, 2019, 5:26 am
Wendy lots of hugs. Thanks for sharing the story of Jared’s and yours beautiful friendship.
Vathena February 25, 2019, 9:40 am
Wendy, I’m so sorry for your loss. You write so beautifully of your friendship and it’s clear what a wonderful presence he had in your life and many others. A friendship like that is such a blessing. Sending hugs and hopes that your memories of Jared will bring you some comfort.
courtney89 February 25, 2019, 10:27 am
So sorry for your loss Wendy and for everyone who knew and loved your friend, who sounds like a wonderful man who will be greatly greatly missed.
Rangerchic February 25, 2019, 11:58 am
I am sorry to hear he didn’t make it. So sorry for your (and to everyone who loved him) loss.
Boobs Magee February 25, 2019, 12:54 pm
Your beautiful tribute brought me to tears. I’m so very sorry, Wendy.
Just Max February 25, 2019, 1:56 pm
I’m so sorry for your loss, Wendy.
Sue Jones February 25, 2019, 2:17 pm
I am so sorry for your loss. True friends like that are so rare!
Lucidity February 25, 2019, 2:25 pm
I’m sorry for your loss, Wendy. Jared sounds like he was an awesome person.
MP February 25, 2019, 4:49 pm
I’m so sorry Wendy… I have no words. 🙁
Sarita February 25, 2019, 8:31 pm
He sounds like an incredible person. I’m so sorry for your and the world’s loss.
K February 26, 2019, 10:40 am
Wendy, I’m so very sorry for your loss. It sounds like he was truly wonderful.
Jill February 26, 2019, 11:13 am
I am sorry for your loss Wendy. He sounds like an incredible person who will live on in the memories of you and everyone who knew him. – Jill
JD March 1, 2019, 7:28 am
Thinking of you this morning Wendy and hope you are holding up.