Jessica Young, my friend from Mensa

jessicayoung1995I’ve just learned of the death of Jessica Young, on November 23. I knew it was coming for a long time, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. Last February, she emailed to tell me she had inoperable pancreatic cancer (the same thing that killed my grandmother two decades ago), and that she’d just been through a year of chemotherapy and high intensity radiation treatment. So I spent the last year sending her chatty emails every month or so, just to let her know I was thinking of her, and because I really was thinking of her.

jessicaandian2014I first met her at the Mensa Annual Gathering in St. Louis in 1995, where she took me to the Gateway Arch. We ran into each other again a few years later, at the AG in Philadelphia in 2000, which cemented our friendship. After that, we saw each other intermittently, at Annual Gatherings. With the coming of smart phones, we communicated more often, sharing fireworks photos when we weren’t at Independence Day celebrations together. We saw each other only rarely, but every time, it was just picking up where we’d left off the last time, one long friendship.

ianjessica2016Only once did we see each other outside of Mensa: In February 2016, her chorus sang at Carnegie Hall, and she was in New York for nearly a week. I got to see her most of the days she was in town, showing her around my home town, enjoying her concert, seeing a Broadway show, just hanging out, as good friends do.

She hadn’t responded to my most recent emails, and I knew the end was near. But a few days ago—at my sister’s house for Thanksgiving—I wondered that I hadn’t heard anything from her. After getting home tonight, I did a web search for “Jessica Young obituary,” and found it: she really is gone.

Jessica Cerridwyn Young was a member of St. Louis Area Mensa. She is survived many family members and friends, all of whom, I’m sure, saw her far more often than I, and were far closer to her than I, and thus will miss her even more. But she was a very dear Mensa friend to me, and the excitement of next year’s AG will be tempered with the melancholy of knowing she won’t be there.