As I searched my shelves for a book to take to bed with me on Monday evening, hoping to take my mind off of you for a short while, my eyes were drawn for the first time in a long time to Moby Dick. This was the first book you chose 2 years ago for us to read at our recently founded Rebel Bookclub, which we aptly named after rebelliously stealing one another from someone else’s shit bookclub.

Being the fresh found friends that we were, still in that phase of overt politeness and chivalry, we didn’t have the heart to tell you, dear Jeremy, that this literary epic was an 800 page door stopper and impossible for the mere mortal to get through in a fortnight. Nonetheless, we gave it our best shot because that’s just the half-glass-full kind of group we were.

FullSizeRender-57When we met to discuss Melville on May 11th 2015, 2 years ago almost to the day, Sarah and I said in a breath of defeat how we’d only managed to read up to Chapter 12. What a chore of a book this was we agreed, as we sighed at how we hadn’t even made a small dent in this epic. You, young Jeremy, couldn’t believe it though, as you’d somehow managed to finish it in just 2 weeks leaving us to eat the dust from your astounding reading speed.

In all of your humble excitement, you took your copy of Moby Dick from your bag and presented us with your edition. Amongst the wine and the humdrum of the restaurant, we all fell about laughing like super dorks as you carefully placed on the table a 250 page abridged edition.

How we laughed heart-fully for a beautiful while and Moby Dick became the longest running joke. Every month we laughed heartily because of that time that you, wonderful Jeremy, chose Moby Dick. Every single time someone mentioned it, for whatever reason it was brought up again, you would bow your head and look down at the table, shake your head modestly, and laugh with that beautiful unforgettable smile and say “I didn’t know it was so big!”

imageWhen this photo was taken back in February 2017, we all subconsciously felt that this Rebel Bookclub of ours was, after it’s hearty 2 years in operation, nearing an end. We couldn’t say why we felt like this, and it’s a little hard to explain at this time now too. Little did we know, as I walked side by side with him to the train station after this bookclub, that in just 2 months time he’d be dead; a brain tumour that he would have had to check in at the doctors for no reason and ask for a very obscure and particular scan, for no reason, to have found out he even had.

So I took this photo just incase it really was our last time together for no reason other than a feeling, and who knew that the feeling we all had would result in something so soul destroying for everyone who knew you. It was like a premonition to capture lasting evidence of the only bookclub I will ever care about and be able to wholly be a part of.

So since then, and editing this blog post a year after I first found out about you, as I once more needed an exit for the emotions that I have slowly simmering away inside of me, I want you to know that I tried to recapture the essence of our bookclub, but I after a year of trying it has gone and it’s quite simply because the impact you’ve left behind is irreplaceable.

Many people who have lost someone so perfect could only dream of a place to surround themselves with fascinating, like minded, creative, and curious lovers of literature, which is exactly what we had found in our group. Your vivid imagination, curious character, and simply wonderful sense of humour brought something special to our group, and, of course, you were the only male perspective we had – no matter how hard we tried to find another man to side with you!

Everywhere the book club went, from The Portland in Kingsland to Mezze in Auckland where we discussed A Room With a View, to The Garden Shed in Mt. Eden where we discussed Stasiland to Neighbourhood bar where we discussed Mr Mercedes. We’ve got two years worth of different bars and restaurants in and around Auckland that will be a joyous memory of you, Jeremy. I’m going to stop trying to revive it now, though, as it’s finally over. It feels pretty good to have tried and to close that chapter, admittedly.

FullSizeRender-58You introduced me to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and you and I were so enthused by it’s literal literary magic that for a while after we could talk of nothing more. Over 07:00 coffee in Scarecrow we lit up with excitement at the revolutionary contents of this masterpiece. I later found The Little Book of Hygge, a book on Danish Happiness with concepts of space and light entwined, which I knew would be a perfect book for you. So, you were going to buy a copy and meet me in the next few weeks to talk about it over another 07:00 coffee. But then when I wondered if you’d bought it and I brought out my phone to ask you, I found out you were dead.

When you never came for coffee, after another one of our loose arrangements, I just thought you were undoubtedly busy on another one of your adventures. An adventure that was spurred on by your infectious vivacity for living, and I imagined that as always our paths would cross at the right time just as they always did.

But this time our paths didn’t cross because you weren’t busy, Jeremy, you were gone.

It’s Thursday now, and I’ve sat here in Scarecrow double-taking every 30 something’s silhouette, and for a few moments I think it’s you, but I quickly remind myself that you’re gone and even then, for a split second, it feels like there is a chance you might walk in soon, smile, order coffee, sit down, and we’ll talk about the books you’ve been reading, are hoping to read, and all the articles, podcasts and essays we’ve read or listened to recently. Then with your contagious curiosity you’d go away and find out more on all the things that captured your intrigue.

Even now, on this Friday in 2018 as I read over these year old words from a world that has now been fragmented entirely in my imagination, I don’t listen to many podcasts or get inspired by many articles because they’re simply not like the ones you found. The one’s you found were me, and you and me liked them, but there’s just no one out there like you who understands me quite like you did.

Even then after imagining every morning over and over and over again that it was you walking through those doors, I have to take a few moments to tell myself that it will never be you walking through because you’re dead. You will never capture so perfectly as you did the world’s most astounding architecture (being the most talented photographer that you were), you’ll never be having dinner with your family again, or settling down with the love of your life who you just found, and how it hurts.

The day I found out you were gone I found out that she was watching sunsets on your boat without you; revisiting every place that brought such happiness and where her head would once rest perfectly on your chest as it nestled under your chin and the bristles of your whiskers would wisp the strays hairs on her head. She shines light on you drinking coffee, or checking emails as you hold hands; just the simplest of things that until death creeps over us and is inches from taking life away we take what we have for granted. She’s keeping the spirit of you alive in those powerful photos she captured of you laughing, kissing, and cuddling; simply being together. You found your soulmate in her, undeniably so.

You were such a unique friend, and an enormous ball of kindness, full of subtle enthusiasm and wonder, which made this world a very colourful place to be. I’m not sure I ever looked at you and didn’t see a smile on your face or subsequently have a smile on mine, thinking about it. When you spoke, something transformative and insightful would just roll off of your tongue, a whole new world of perspective for us to hear; and how I regret not hanging off of your every word now.

To make up for missing your memorial, I hope you somehow, somewhere, know how much of a friend you were, and I will endeavour to carry the great memories I have of you in every novel we ever read, and every novel I know you wanted to read.

I’ve cried all evening, on this Friday in 2018, and it’s now midnight. It’s now a year since you died and I’ve stopped crying because I feel a sense of tranquility as you’ve reentered my imagination in this way. I’ve watched this video too many times and searched through every photo of you and Sacha together and cried more tears than I think I have ever cried in my life.

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9 thoughts on “A Tribute to My Friend, Jeremy Toth

  1. Hi Chloe, I’m Jeremy’s sister-in-law, Sarah. I sat here reading this tribute with tears streaming down my face. I used to often ask if he was still part of his book club! Will have a look if he ended up buying the book you recommended. I haven’t read Moby Dick, but the version he has had such a beautiful cover and I think I’ll give it a crack! Jeremy’s loss is a loss to anyone who knew him, what a man he was! Lots of love and hugs, Sarah x

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    1. Hi Sarah, it’s lovely to meet you albeit virtually. I’m so sorry for your loss I can only imagine how hard it’s been for you and your family the last few weeks. I would love to know if he ever bought that book! I think it would be a lovely thing to do to read Moby Dick. He said it was one he’d always wanted to read, I might even reattempt it my self! He was such a beautiful man inside and out. I’ve been thinking of Jeremys family all week and Sacha and I’ve been sending you love the entire time and will continue to do so. It’s such a huge loss. Thank you so much for getting in touch 😘 xx

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      1. Hi again 🙂 it’s definitely been a tough few weeks, but we’ve all being sticking together and supporting one another through this.. all we can do I guess! Such a tragic shock that it almost doesn’t feel real. He will be missed a hell of a lot for sure x

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      2. It’s lovely you’ve all been supporting each other through it. One of my friends said that in her Maori culture telling stories is a great way of coping with the loss of someone special (which I’m sure you know!). So if you ever want to just talk about him and share stories (although I only have 2 or 3 stories in comparison to the 100s you’ll have) I would love that. I’m sending you and his brother lots of love tonight ❤ xx

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