Brit + Melissa
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[ Melissa reminisces ]

The first time I laid eyes on Jelo, he was wearing a hot pink bob, a tutu and a black leather harness, spinning records at a Halloween party in San Francisco. I remember thinking wow, that guy is fearless! And he clearly, clearly loves to costume. (Being from Ohio and of limited exposure to the big, wide world, I assumed it was a Halloween thing. Of course, how wrong I was!)

That was the first of many trips to San Francisco that Brit and I would make, and each time my appreciation for Jelo got stronger. I was a new face in the crowd, but he was always so warm and genuinely welcoming. Locked into a conversation with Jelo, it was like you were the only person in the world - his enthusiasm was absolutely contagious.

Brit and I were so excited when he and Tiffy moved to Los Angeles. Now we had a fully functional Tribe south. Our friendships grew deeper, as we spent many random days, nights and late nights together. In the heat of the summer, he and Tiffy would escape their steamy Hollywood apartment to visit us by the beach. One vivid memory was the time Jeff, Brit and I decided to buy large quantities of those sickly sweek pre-mixed drinks from the liquor store (mad dog, sex on the beach, margaritas that make your lips curl), transfer them into big Gatorade containers and drink them on the beach. Of course I quickly passed out, and when I woke up groggy and looking like a lobster, Jeff and Brit were still bright as ever, talking a mile a minute about whatever technology gadget/dilemma/topic was current that day.

Another memory that I'm honored to share is of the day Jeff and Tiff got engaged. Brit and I met them out for dinner at a special restaurant in Los Angeles, and when we got to the bar the champagne was already poured for a toast. They were both beaming from ear to ear. Other friends arrived, a feast of love and laughs and happiness. Tiff couldn't stop looking at her beautiful ring, and they barely made it through dinner before excusing themselves for the rest of the night - they wanted to go home and spend this special, sacred time alone, together. For friends as social as Jeff and Tiff, they always remained beautifully aware of when to retreat into each others arms.

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Now whenever I think of Jeff (which is pretty much daily right now), I think of his smile. When did he not have that grin on his face? OK, maybe when he talked about politics - but other than that? What did that smile mean to you?

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To me, it meant that he was one of those rare people in the world who is always, genuinely smiling from within - and that smile is/was just the outward expression. He lived fearlessly. He never settled for the easy way. He inspired his dearest friends to push their own mental and physical boundaries, because what's the point of life if we don't? He was so intelligent, so kind and so patient. His deep love for and devotion to Tiffany was/is unparalleled. Even in a Tribe where wonderful couples abound, Jeffany were truly the Wonder Twins.

My heart breaks for Jeff's family, for Tiffy, and for all of us to lose such a unique and lovely person at such a high point of life. But whenever I get too sad, I think - WWJD? What Would Jelo Do? Smile that big grin, and tell us that it's all part of a bigger journey.

I never ever ever thought I would find a greeting card that captured anything remotely relevant to Jeff, but surprise, here's the one I've been meaning to send to Tiffy for weeks:

A leaf is released
from the arms of a tree
to glide through the air …
now totally free …
A journey to make -
a good-bye to us all …
a beautiful brilliance
we'll always recall.

Miss you, Jelo. Love to you all. Melissa

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