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March 28, 2017

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March 28, 2017

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January 02, 2015
Jesse and I went to middle school together at Friends Seminary. I just learned of his passing earlier today when Facebook reminded me of his upcoming birthday. I thought, all these years later, I'd send him a "happy birthday!" message and then paused to glance at his page. It's sad and shocking to deduce that he's gone. I remember Jesse from many years ago as a somewhat subdued, yet gentle and friendly schoolmate who was into bands like Nirvana and Hole and who hung out with his guy friends. (We were at the age when boys and girls were interested in, but a bit terrified of each other.) What a loss. Sending my heartfelt condolences to his family.
March 18, 2013
Jesse's College Essay Personal Statement, Class of 2000

Not only are we surrounded by wonderful things in this world,but we have the most incredible array of emotions and thoughts to accompany us on our journey. Both of these things people sadly tend to forget, and often I feel it is because of this that people fall into holes which they can't get out of, holes where they feel it's a struggle to complete each day, holes where they can't keep it in an outward, comfortable place in their mind that we're living life on a big spinning ball surrounded with stars and planets and space that might even go on forever.
I live to made new realizations about life and what it contains. And I'm realizing that the awe of life is, for me, the most important thing there is to pay attention to. It's the first link in an ongoing chain that leads to the enjoyment of everyday existence, the ultimate well-being. To realize that life is an unceasingly amazing experience is the key to doing everything with enthusiasm. And enthusiasm comes from the core of the self, as the yearnings for a new experience come from the bottom of the heart.
We need to be aware of our motives to live. I think a lot about people who spend the day working at some kind of horrible monotonous job waiting for minutes to pass. And then I think about all the times I've sat in school under the fabricated florescent lights, a teacher who doesn't care droning out information to thirty four students who couldn't care less about what he has to say.To work....what is it for? To endure day after day of something you would have to be paid to spend your life doing?
Happiness, in the end. That seems one typical answer. But while people work now for happiness later, now is forgotten and happiness seems to fade further and further into the distant future.
I ask again: what is it for? To be able to enjoy life. But what a roundabout way, to put off enjoyment and suffer wasted days of indifference, waiting for peace to arrive only as life's last corners are turned...
Instincts of the heart, inner enthusiasms, the realization that life is so much more than we can ever take time to realize; these are the things I pay attention to as I try to glide through life as swiftly as I can, rather than trudge through its imperfections.
March 18, 2013
It probably comes as no surprise to you when I say that Jesse was one of my favorite, if not my favorite child, at the West Village Nursery School.
Jesse warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face when he entered the class. With his big round, wide eyes and serious expression Jesse would take his time to observe the 'lay of the land' before choosing a work area, often painting. Jesse was a child of depth, substance, kindness, curiosity and a little mystery which leads me to believe that he may have lived a long life in a short time.
My heart is with you. I cannot imagine your pain, loss and grief.
Mary Bassett, West Village Nursery School teacher
March 16, 2013
I know it's only the 14th, but it was this Thursday one year ago, the night of the AustinRox party, that I got the text from Charlie asking me to call.

This morning Dave Grohl gave a keynote address. During his narrative of the story of his life, he talked about how he "lost his voice" when Kurt Cobain took his life. Then he told the story of creating the Foo Fighters out of those ashes. I felt so close to Jesse today. Some people take 90 years to live their earthly life, some 70, some 50, some 30 - Jesse, some 27 - Kurt Cobain. But it is a life lived. We each have our own unique voice.

I will celebrate Jesse when i go to AustinRox tonight. Thinking of you all today and tomorrow and forever. Anne
March 15, 2013
Through the incredibly moving words of his family and friends we remember Jesse and continue to mourn his loss.
March 13, 2013
As the light of day lengthens, signally another earthly shift, it too becomes the symbol and the reminder of Jesse's passing. I remember with a heavy heart and memory of disbelief, but I also recall that day infused with love and warmth and crocuses popping through the earth. Every single time I walk through the door of 18F, there is a moment of pause and a recognition of remembering Jesse coming out of his room with a sweet engaging greeting. His physical presence has retreated, but he remains an ever-present loving member of one of the strongest, loving, genuine families I have ever known. Jesse is missed every time I walk through that door, each time I am honored to sit down for a home-cooked family meal over looking that corner of his city, when I'm walking on what must have been his well worn path on the sidewalk on 7th avenue. I think of Jesse and miss him often. He was so much more than he could ever imagine.
March 12, 2013
Jesse's Memorial
(Ellen Taylor May 12, 20120)

Those of us who loved Jesse ache with his passing. Bill and I were Jesse's friends, but he was part of our family too. Dinners and parties over the years marking milestones brought us close and were the things that sustain us all and bring us closer together. Jesse was still in utero at our first dinner but even then he was eager to join us at the table, as Sheila went into labor during My Dinner with Andre. Food and conversation….from the beginning it was clear he was a Browning.
Jesse took care of Bill when Bill was at death's door, doing things for Bill which I won't mention but for which he certainly had no training but only his native skill and excess of good will. In addition to his nursing duties, he set up and fixed computers, put together oxygen tanks, worked with Bill on research for a memoir, and was on call for whatever was needed, however much it was out of his comfort zone. Uncompromising, meticulous, ultimately reclusive, he came at all hours, was always on time and dependable,, able to step up for us in ways that he couldn't for himself.
When Bill asked him to buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate his good work, Jesse didn't get it, couldn't believe it was for him, or see what he had done that was so important. But believe me, it was!

Through the lens of his depression, he literally couldn't see straight.
What we saw as love and connection, Jesse saw as dependence.
What we saw as exquisite sensitivity, he saw as inadequacy.
What we saw as his talents and intelligence, he saw as useless dead-end dabbling.
What we saw as a young man with his life ahead of him, Jesse saw as having missed his chance.

Jesse Browning died on March 15, 2012 but, as it's been said, no one that you love dies once or ever stops not being alive, and nothing you do can change what's happened or bring back what's gone.

Sheila and Charlie, and Megan
When a child is born, parents' hearts are no longer their own
We love our children in ways that overflow the bounds of sanity
A family grows like the roots of a tree entwined.. not easily separated..
Tho we talk of death and remembrance today, this day is also about how we go on.. ..
Tho a part of each of you dies with Jesse,
Live on for him
Love each other fully and deeply..
Invest in life again..
Invest in life without fear.
March 10, 2013
Jesse's Memorial
(Elena Secondo 5/12/12)

I've been thinking a lot about this. (Maybe too much?) About what I might like to say, about what there IS to say. About what people might want to hear, also about what people might hate to hear… Thinking and un-thinking; ah, those famous stupid circles… And all that I'm left with in my simply complicated mind are the memories. So many memories that it seems vague to call them memories at all. All that I'm left with is life.
Life we shared, lo, for so many years.
By Starlight you kissed me, I said you were my best friend. We talked for too many hours, one time my dad even tore the phone right out of the wall. 45683968. On the terrace in Genova, you said we'd talk like the Beats, stream of consciousness, the never-ending roll of paper, the never-ending night, the never-ending life we shared.
And now nothing. Stupid silence. All these thoughts, all these memories. Just you and me, and you've taken yours off to the moon with you. That same moon that I looked at in Pugliola and you looked at in Thoreau. So comforting. The wind will blow or it won't, the stars come out or they don't, the world goes round or we get thrown into the stars.
So, sure, there's the laughter, the songs, the trips, the tears, and always the laughter again.
There's the Pumpkins and all the little notes in the Lupo Alberto diario. The Mine Tree and the Lake of Weirds. The little Buddy and the girl from the Greyhound. Marc still holding that nasty cigarette butt, and having a close encounter, face to face with a plant. Benhameen still the illy-na-na appreciated, just now less frightened, Megan's elephant no longer staring him down.
When Josh was Jash, with his twisted up backpack strap, and then Jungle Josh amidst Country Mouse, that girl with quite a sprawl, and all those other concocted characters you always seemed to bring to life. To Megan you would say “Ait Nai” and Dunni was just a silly snail o'er yonder, arid and squirming saltily. There was the time your pants were on fire, the song about nanotechnocology, and all the songs, always the songs, perpetually the one with Yeyo's name, waiting for him to roll through on his horse and chariot-- literally!

The house in Rome where all I had to do was whistle from below, and you'd always open the door for me. The crepes that tasted metallic, or kinda orange-like, perhaps.. That demonic bear you brought off the streets, only for it to subtly haunt our home, until Zack finally drop-kicked it, and shut it's orange face up, right before twisting off into his smelly wind again. The bleary-eyed milkshakes in the night-time, the blondies straight out of the scalding pan, the ice cream and maple syrup soups, the diagnosis of the cheese, and the selective hearing diagnosis too. And then the house on Amity, and the little tiny passport photo on the sunken pillow.
The blaring music. It hurts and says: “They say we're too young, I think we're too old. Ugly as sin, pale and thin. They've been wrong before.” The silence.
So now what? I have my sorries. I have my whys. I have my thank yous. I have my life. I have my memories. I have my whatevers. I have my circles too, you know. I have emptiness and fullness. Smiles and tears. Contradictions. Pain and beauty. The sun and the moon. I have the moon. And I know you're looking at it too.
March 10, 2013
(Ben Umanov 5/12/12)
My friend Jesse Browning.

Jesse and I knew each other for his entire life. We met literally in utero – our mothers were in Lamaze class together. We grew up one block away from each other. We went to pre-school together. Though we went to different elementary schools, we continued to stay close through our childhoods. Weekends meant sleepovers, and sleepovers meant an opportunity to play Nintendo endlessly, with interruption only to eat and sleep. Heaven.

We'd meet up after school on Friday afternoons and beg our parents to take us to Blockbuster video, where we'd pour over the new arrivals in the Nintendo game section to select our source of entertainment for the long nights ahead. We'd stay up as late as we possibly could, trying to contain our excitement so we didn't wake up Sheila and Charlie, who at that time slept on a pull-out Murphy bed in the living room. Megan's arrival and Jesse's newly shared bedroom didn't put a damper on our good times.

Those memories are ones I'll cherish forever. In recent years, I knew that if I ever brought up something that happened on one of those nights – or any other time – no matter how seemingly insignificant, Jesse would remember it. His memory was absolutely incredible. Sometimes he'd bring up specific things or events from early childhood that I had no memory of whatsoever, and he'd recount them to me in detail. I'll miss a lot of things about Jesse – his warmth, his kindness, his smile, his presence, his hilariously predictable opposition to anyone in a position of power and “the man” – but most of all, I'm going to miss sharing the memories and looking back and laughing about them. Everything from the important stuff, the learning and growing experiences that we shared, to the minutiae, the in-between moments, the seemingly insignificant. Jesse and I spent so much time together between the ages of 0 and 12 that there were countless such moments. There were only two people in the entire world who had this specific set of memories, me and him. Now there's only me.

Jesse and I gradually drifted apart starting around the time we were in middle school, for no other reason than we were simply exploring and expanding our own worlds, although we stayed in touch, would talk occasionally, and get together with our families a couple of times a year.

I feel incredibly grateful that I was able to rekindle my close friendship with Jesse in recent years. We'd both returned to New York from college around the same time, and found ourselves in similar situations: suddenly thrust into the adult world, trying to secure our place in it, and single and ready to mingle. It seemed all too natural to be hanging out all the time again, and we fell into an easy groove despite the nearly 10-year lapse in having been really, truly close. When I look back on that period I have incredible memories as well; if not every weekend, we hung out at least every other weekend, talked about life, love, Jesse's opposition to “the man,” and got into innumerable shenanigans together. In a way, it was just like the old days, except that instead of the imaginary Nintendo worlds inside the TV screen, the entire city of New York was our playground. I'll miss sharing so many of those one-on-one memories, too. During that period I introduced Jesse to Eduardo, Stephanie, Emily Bauman and my soon-to-be-wife Emily Mitchell-Marell, who would all become Jesse's great friends as well, and I feel fortunate that we'll still all have each other around to share memories of Jesse during that time period. It was truly one of the most fun and care-free times of my life.

In a way, Jesse's death still hasn't really hit home with me. The last couple of years, we fell into an every two or three months pattern, where if it started to feel like it had been a while since we'd hung out, one or the other of us would get in touch and try to make something happen. So while I know for a fact that Jesse is gone, it's somewhat hard for me to grasp since we'd often go long periods without contact. I keep expecting to get a text one of these days from Jesse asking me if I want to meet up for burgers and beers after work. I know it's not coming. But because I hadn't been seeing or speaking with Jesse very often over the past couple of years anyway, it's really hard to conceptualize and digest his death.

I really miss him.
March 09, 2013
May 12, 2012 Memorial

There are no words nor time enough to describe the emotional landscape we have been traveling these past 8 weeks.

There are TOO many words, and not time enough to share our 30-year journey with Jesse in our lives. And NO words for the journey ahead of us.

In Jesse's too short life, all of the love that he has brought into our lives is here today, in this meeting house. It lives in all of us and in all of the beauty of life surrounding us.
Jesse will live on in all of the people who's lives he touched. We carry him in our hearts.

I want to read a poem that expresses my feelings in words that I could not write myself.

(See: The Dream Keeper by Langston Hughes)

I wish that I had had a blue cloud-cloth to protect my beautiful boy from the too-rough fingers of the world. I see Jesse now, wrapped in that blue cloud cloth…
And I know that now he is free to dream his dreams.

Your loving mom.

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