Note: This is my post from Facebook last night. I plan to post some additional thoughts later, but this should suffice for now. As I said in my Facebook post, usually I would ask him to edit this for me. He would laugh at my word choices and rag me about the use of Oxford commas. Something tells me he’s reading this and taking notes as we speak. -BHW
In Memoriam J.T.J.
Jermaine and I first met as next door neighbors at Kincannon Hall. For the first few months we were at Ole Miss, he was gone so much that I always thought the room was empty. Our paths never crossed even once. However, one day as I was running for the Associated Student Body Senate, I saw where Jermaine wrote an endorsement on his famous door white board. “Vote Brandon Walters, ASB Senator for Kincannon. He gets it!” it said. I was surprised; as I said, I had yet to meet the guy. A few days later I met the famously-mysterious Jermaine Jackson through a mutual friend. It was from that day that we became fast friends. I may have lost that election, but I will never forget that initial act of kindness.
Jermaine lived by a code that was eerily similar to that of my own grandfather. First, don’t just work hard, work harder than everyone around you. Secondly, read everything you can get your hands on and educate yourself. Finally, never, ever be idle. After our freshman year, he was one of my roommates. He was always up later than me at night and up before me in the morning. While I would be in the kitchen fumbling with the coffee maker, he would be cheerfully trying to talk about news of the day. It annoyed me at the time, but I would give anything for one more of those talks. It could be about politics, which we both loved. It could even be entertainment news, which I loathed. Anything.
When I would get down about something I thought was significant in life, he would tell me, “God is not through with your situation yet, and you shouldn’t be either.” He was right. God is not through with my situation, nor is He through with yours. He’s not even through with Jermaine’s situation yet. Look at the number of people he influenced. They number not in the hundreds, but in the thousands. He was loved by so many and his legacy will rest in those of us who had the honor to know him until our own final days.
I believe there are thoughts Jermaine had but would never have said. For those who knew Jermaine, I know that might be hard to believe that this was the case. But, I hope you will allow my indulgence. Love is always greater than hate. Forgiveness is always greater than long held grudges. Optimism is always greater than failure. Risk is always greater than comfort. Loyalty is always greater than deception.
He was not just a friend; he was my brother. We will remember him in death as we did in life. In my heart and in my soul, he will always be the nice guy who was just as quick with a joke and a smile as he was a listening ear and sound advice. Without his life, I know not where I would be today. Requiescat in pace, old friend.