July 1983 - 29 April 2002
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this 3rd anniversary of Jeremy's
death and in this year of '05 when he would have
graduated from Union College, we set for him a memorial
of granite... stone born in the dawn of time and thrust
heavenward as mountains in Vermont, mountains that
he so dearly loved and eagerly accepted as challenge.
His friends still visit him. A Vermont stone bench
overlooking his Hudson Valley home brings all together.
years later; still no answers. Yet, one thing
has become crystalline clear: Taking one's life is never
the answer to any problem. It merely shifts the pain to
so many others,
passed undiluted and
unmitigated to each
- pain that can not possibly be any less than that
Jeremy endured in silence. For us, life goes on because
it must - a life obviously so very much changed, yet so
very challenging. The hole that Jeremy left is still
there... and always will be. It does not go away; it does
not get any better. What we seem to learn is how to
avoid falling into that emptiness or at least to try.
than silently enduring depression, Jeremy needed to
talk. Had he embraced therapy, he would be with us today
- learning to manage his depression instead of the
tragic reverse. Now, his family and some close friends
have been in and out of therapy, trying to understand
what cannot be understood, trying to accept the
So now we wish
Jeremy's classmates in the Graduating Class of '05 at
Union College the very, very best - as we would were
Jeremy graduating. We also wish those Graduates of
the Classes of '05 everywhere, who graduated with Jeremy
from The Dwight-Englewood School in the Class of '01,
the very best for a bright future. Jeremy enjoyed
your company and surely would be proud to be among you.
Aprils - Nancy, Ernie & Geoff
29 April 2005
April, 1983-2002: From Mount Snow B-Team...to US Ski Team.
Park City, UT (April 19, 2002). Head US Aerial Coach Matt Christensen
called Jeremy April with the good news that he had been awarded a
position on the US Aerial Team for the 2002-2003 season. This season as a
member of the US Development Team, Jeremy climbed the podium four times: He
took the Bronze Medal in the NorAm at Fortress, Canada; two first places in
the Eastern Inverted Aerial meet at the Lake Placid Olympic Jump Complex;
and a Silver Medal in the Junior Olympics at Sugarloaf Maine.
Currently ranked 7th in US Inverted Aerials, Jeremy's position on the US Aerial
C-Team would have provided starts in World Cup aerial events at venues within the
US as well as all NorAm events in the US and Canada.
Skiing for the Mount Snow Freestyle B and A-Teams,
Jeremy won a
number of Eastern Division Championships in various single and combined
freestyle events. Jeremy climbed the podium at
US Freestyle Championships several times, including Gold
Medal 1999 Upright- Combined, both a Silver Medal 1999 and a Bronze Medal 2000
for Inverted-Combined, and a Bronze Medal
in the last-ever Acro event in the 2000 US Freestyle Championship. Jeremy
also received the Inverted
Aerial Silver Medal in the 2002 Junior Olympics.
Jeremy recovered fully from knee
reconstruction last year. He competed with the Eastern Inverted Aerial Team and, in recognition
of the outstanding coaching and development opportunity at Mount Snow,
listed Mount Snow as his home mountain.
to be a "Combined" freestyle competitor, Jeremy was a
outstanding Acro competitor and extremely pleased with his first place Mogul
finishes in the Eastern
Division. But aerials was his forte. He will be remembered for his signature
style jibbing big air in the Josh Berman film Balance.
always lived in Rockleigh, NJ, and graduated from the Dwight-Englewood
School in Englewood, NJ. In his first year at Union College, where
he was in the Scholars Honor Program, Jeremy majored in math with a minor in classics. He found the
trimester system especially well suited to both training and competition schedules
without academic compromise. He took the winter trimester off completely
to train and compete then added one extra course spring trimester and also
expected to do the same this fall. It seemed to be working well for him. Turning 19 this year, Jeremy would have been eligible to perform triple maneuvers which he
had been practicing last summer at the Lake Placid and Park City jump
I wrote the above for the Mount Snow Ski Club web site
10 days ago,
when Jeremy was appointed to the US Ski Team.
How could I have thought that it would be the
basis of Jeremy's obituary.
took his life on April 29th, 2002, at age 18 years, 8 months and 24 days. He was an
outstanding scholar-athlete who excelled at both, a superb aerials coach,
and a role model for freestyle competitors. At his young age with much to
live for; he apparently made the mistake of not realizing that life itself
can be the ultimate competition - one he no longer
wished to face. Loved
by a few, admired by many, and liked by all...
is missed painfully.
Nancy, Geoffrey, and I thank everyone for their kind
thoughts and warmest sympathies.
Tue, April 30, 2002
of the Flame,
Dwight-Englewood School, Spring 2001
Sound Track for this page is
to Jeremy: On The
Wing (Part I)
Smith, a member of the
Canadian Aerial Team
size, the load time for the MP3 may
not be immediate, but worth the wait]
all… The April's Reply
Date: Tue, 9 May 2002 12:30:18 -0400 (EDT)
How we wish Jeremy did not have to die
young. How we wish we did not have to attend or speak at his memorial
services. How we wish we did not have to write this letter.
That Jeremy was a very special,
multi-dimensional person became apparent to us some years ago. He
established himself solidly in the sport he loved as he competed widely
through North America and Europe. Everyone knew Jeremy was a competitive
skier, but few understood his mastery of the sport to which he had begun
to bring innovation by his application of physics. He was one of the
country's best in inverted aerials. He went off to Union College with a
scholarship, advanced standing and advanced placement, majoring in
Mathematics and Physics with a minor in Classics. Everyone knew he was a
scholar, but few understood the gifts he displayed as a freshman in
junior-level math courses and the insight he brought to his other courses. He more than
excelled academically; he was setting the bar here, too. Everyone knew
Jeremy as a polite, appropriately goofy, warm and caring individual. Few
understood the depth of his compassion for others, his ability to reach
others and effectively help them in times of need. He truly was a "mensch."
As a kid, he had an avid interest in
competitive sports - anything with a ball. Even skiing, he said with that
wry Jeremy-smirk, "required two!" He loved baseball for the
combination of the skill necessary to be good, but also for the canny,
intellectual side of that game. Without fault, he always knew where the
play was. Yet, Jeremy was not a home-run hitter. With a good eye, he could
draw a walk and keep going, turning the base-on-balls into a stolen
second. Before two pitches, he had stolen third. Then hopping about with a
long lead on the third base line, he could distract the pitcher and tempt
a throw to third while he stole home. He'd turn a walk into a "home
run." That was the essence of Jeremy. Whether camping, sailing, or
just hanging out, he would make something good happen one way or another.
Others describe Jeremy as one who
could "do it all." And, he did - almost. So accustomed to
helping others and lightening their burdens, he lost sight of the fact
that, in this game of life, teamwork is equally essential. Unfortunately,
he did not share his problems. He did not feel comfortable talking about
himself. He tragically lost touch with his own reality. He so mistakenly
felt that there was nobody - not his friends, not his coaches, not his
girlfriend, not his family - to bounce his increasingly warped viewpoints off
in that all-important reality check. As the bottomless chasm of sudden
depression yawned, superimposed on apparent chronic depression, his
distorted sense life became too much to bear.
Somehow, Jeremy did not fit the usual
depression model; did not exhibit the usual depression warning signs. Even
posthumously, he passed the "depression check lists" with flying
colors. What teenager doesn't have occasional social problems? Show me a
teenager who isn't occasionally bored? None of the other dozen
"signs" fit at all.
"Why, Jeremy, why?"
echoes without answer. We encourage contributions to the Jeremy April
Fund at the Department of Child Psychiatry of Columbia University with
the hope that new answers will come forth and perhaps prevent even one
other wasted life and aborted promise. There must be hope…
So…we mourn the loss of Jeremy, not
so much as our son, but as a son of a vastly larger community. We gave
Jeremy to the world as he went off to National and International
competitions. We gave Jeremy to you as he went off to College to find his
way into manhood, perhaps greatness in his beloved sport, and likely
success with his developing interest in Medicine.
Over the past week, your emails,
cards, letters, phone calls, and in-person conversations have consoled us,
provided a sense of balance, and guided us through the time-proven ritual
for dealing with Jeremy's loss. It is just amazing to see the number of
lives Jeremy touched in some way. Thanks for being there for us…for
We are so sorry, Jeremy, that you
felt that we were not there for you in your time of intensely desperate
personal need. Jeremy, we miss you and love you…always and forever.
Aprils - Geoffrey, Nancy & Ernie
Tue, May 9, 2002
To Remember Him
By Geoffrey April
October 7, 2003
I still have his letter. I keep it in my
desk under a stack of papers. I first
read it with my mother, sitting on her
bed in the hospital intensive-care unit
where she was recuperating from surgery.
We were alone in the room. The only
sound was the beeping from the machines
to which she was connected. We sat
there, my brother’s suicide note shaking
violently in her hand, trying hard to
make sense of the situation.
In the days
that followed, I took my mother’s place
in the preparations for the funeral. It
became my responsibility to assist my
father in making the decisions
concerning my brother’s coffin, his
burial plot, and how his services would
be run. It was I who chose the
clothes in which he was buried. It was
I who chose the pictures to be
displayed at the wake. It was I
who, upon viewing my brother, gave the
final decision to have an open casket. I
was later told that I was the
stabilizing factor that allowed the
funeral to proceed without flaws. This
was because I was the only one able to
constantly maintain my composure. Yet,
when I watched the coffin as it
disappeared under the earth with flowers
and trinkets taped to the top, I finally
felt the loss that everyone else had
been struggling with all week. The
knowledge that I no longer had a
brother, that my children would have no
Uncle Jeremy, filled me with rage, and I
could only think, “What a waste of a
It has been
more than a year since Jeremy's death,
and I am only now becoming aware of the
true legacy that he left for me. I
realize that I have learned about
integrity through his mistake of not
being true to himself, but instead being
a prisoner to pleasing other people. I
now know that no matter how pressured I
am in life, I will never lose sight of
who I am, for I have seen the
consequences of doing so. I gained
courage and perhaps audacity through his
fearlessness in competing in inverted
aerials for the US Ski Team.
Furthermore, I possess a new sense, a
concern for others, formed from watching
him consistently help his friends in
need, including me. It was through his
faith in me that I decided to attend
Tabor Academy and follow my own path,
not his path or that of my parents.
Now, since his death, I
feel as though his admirable traits have
seeped into me, helping to create a
better person. Although we were never
extraordinarily close and were quite
different, I am so grateful that he was
my brother for the first sixteen years
of my life. I now understand that his
life was not wasted, for without him, I
would not be the young man I am today.
He will remain my greatest inspiration.
Admiration has replaced the rage.
October 7, 2003
(College Admission Essay)
Smith, Tribute to Jeremy:
On the Wing (Part I)