I’ve mentioned Retroware TV in the past, and how the site and its contributors played a large role in reinvigorating my love of retro games. It’s a tight-knit community dedicated to creating content by and for those of us who revere the games we grew up with. There is no pretentiousness among this group, just gamers who wish to celebrate, share and enjoy the history of our favorite hobby.
We got some bad news today. Justin Carmical, better known by his YouTube alias, “JewWario,” has passed away. According his wife, Jenny, it happened this past Thursday in their home. To make this tragedy even more heartbreaking, Jenny revealed that Justin took his own life.
I didn’t know Justin. I never got the chance to meet him, and unfortunately, now I never will. I don’t know what kind of life he led, or the nature of the events that led to this, but from everything I’ve ever observed through his videos, his interactions with other people — fans and fellow contributors — on Retroware TV, and the praise given by seemingly everyone who knew or met him, I can only think the best of him.
He posted a video just two days before his passing, and even filmed and appeared in a music video with Jonathan Mann (better known as GameJew) the very day he died. It’s hard to comprehend how someone could be going about their day, doing the things they loved, and then leave us forever by their own accord on that same day.
Earlier this afternoon, when I first heard the news of Justin’s passing, one of the first things I did was pull up his YouTube channel. I randomly clicked on a video, not paying attention to which, just to see and hear him. As it turns out, I’d clicked a video Justin had uploaded on Christmas Day, where he spoke about all the kind Christmas and Chanukah cards he’d received from his fans and friends.
Parts of the video, in retrospect, are rather ominous, given what we now know. Near the beginning, he states, “It’s been a very tough year for me, and there’ve been a lot of things that I wished I’d gotten to do that I never did. And I apologize for putting a lot of things on the back burner. But here’s to hoping 2014 will be a little bit different.”
Trying to speculate on whether these words had any deeper meaning won’t do any good now, but in this context, they’re haunting.
He continues, saying, “It means so much to me that you all are so generous with your time. These gifts and postcards mean the world to me.”
Throughout the video, he shares the kind words people directed towards him in their cards, and graciously shows great appreciation for every bit of it. Justin was the kind of guy who never showed any disdain. He always appeared to be happy, kind and full of positive energy.
He goes on to say, “To everyone who watches my videos, you all mean the world to me. I couldn’t ask for better fans, friends and family. I’m very blessed and very lucky to have people like you.”
He finishes the video by saying, “I just hope I can keep on entertaining all of you. From the bottom of my heart — and I mean this quite literally, and with all honesty — thank you. Thank you very much for five years and for enjoying what I do. And please, let’s try and do another five years.”
Earlier today, when she broke the bad news to everyone through a post on Facebook, his wife said, “He knew I loved him, HE KNEW ALL OF YOU LOVED HIM. You all made him so happy, every time he was recognized from his videos, it made him giddy with joy.”
I’m heartbroken. I’m heartbroken as a fan of the man and his work, but mostly for his wife and family. Few of us have any concept of what must have been going through Justin’s mind, so we cannot judge him. But please, if anyone reading this is ever contemplating making the same decision, please know you can talk to me. And if for some reason I’m not available, or if you’d rather talk to someone else, there are other resources.
At the end of her statement, Jenny said, “I am surrounded by family and friends, and am taking this one moment at a time, remembering to breathe. I want to share with you what the chaplain said to me: ‘It was a momentary mistake. Hold on to the good memories.'”
“Thank you all so much for loving him so much,” she concluded.