Remembering Jermaine (Lori Simpson)

On Saturday, January 19, 2013, I actually woke up when my alarm went off. This is a rare occurrence, especially on the weekends. I turned the alarm on my phone off, and immediately hit the Facebook app to see what was going on in the world around me. About three posts in, I stopped. I was in complete and utter shock. Ralph Braseth, who served as the director of student media in my time at the University of Mississippi, had posted the tragic news that my friend and cohort in online media had taken his own life.

I wish I could say I remember the exact moment I met Jermaine Jackson, but unfortunately, all I can recall are a series of passing moments. And maybe that’s how I came to know the unstoppable force that was Jermaine. In short, passing moments. As freshmen in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. As students in the ridiculously early Journalism 101 course with the professor who always said “idear” instead of “idea.” As young, wide-eyed journalists trying to break into the fold at the Student Media Center. 

Jermaine was always there for you, no matter what the problem was. He listened while I panicked over Italian homework and laughed when I cursed out the computer for not cooperating with my wishes. He laughed and joked… but was able to be serious when it came down to business.

My fondest memories are of our late night Sonic runs with Brandon and Jamie, dinners at AJAX and Old Venice Pizza. And that time we decided to do a photo shoot for Double Decker with the ladies of the SMC and their pets. After laughing hysterically after my cat, Falcor, escaped, Jermaine was right there with me, hunting down my terrified cat. I don’t think the photos ever made it to the DM Online.

Although, we grew apart after our year as DM Online editors, I always tried to keep up with Jermaine through Facebook. I always knew is larger than life personality and brilliant mind would take him great places, and I loved that he decided to share his gift with others through academic advising on the college circuit. I wish now that I had been better about keeping in touch. 

I hope everyone will take a minute to think about friends we’ve lost touch with and send them a comforting text or Facebook message to check in. I just wish with all my heart I could have done or said something to help Jermaine with whatever he was struggling with.

However, I refuse to remember him for how his life ended. I will remember him as I do from the night he (and the rest of the DM Online crew) came out to visit me at one of my summer horse shows: funny and the life of the party.

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We’ll never forget you, Jermaine.

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