Jesse, One Year Later

Me, Jesse – 2003

I remember that fateful Sunday when Jared called to let me know that Jesse had died. It was exactly one year ago and I was in San Francisco at Hotel Diva when I got the news. Nothing would have prepared me for that day and the year ahead. I had completed a slew of customer visits and somehow muscled through a customer facing event once I heard the news. It was Monica’s birthday and we went for dim sum the day before I learned about Jesse’s death. Bobette had just started with the team. I knew Jared’s call had a purpose — it was 8am on a Sunday (11am ET) and I was out with colleagues the night before. No one ever wants to get that kind of call — learning about someone’s death and that it was suicide.

I remember ticking off everything else that week that had to be done with the intent to return to Toronto for the shiva. Jesse, Jesse, Jesse — it was all I kept thinking, Leslie, his brothers, the boys, Gayle, Tamara. Everyone. Including Tom who I was able to connect with upon hearing the news; he had a closer account of the events as they happened. I remember returning home thinking about getting to the shiva right away and on the 7th day I could not find Jesse’s mother, but did end up meeting his current wife and daughter who looked exactly like him. I met some of his extended family and paid my respects and returned home to be with my mother. The guilt of not being able to see Jesse’s own mother, a woman who had me over at her house as a teenager days in and out took over and would for months. Everytime I went to visit my own mother, I would stop by the family home to see if I could pay my respects in person. On one special day, I visited and there she was on the steps, with the boys. Gayle visited as well and it was like old times.

Death is not a topic that I have always been comfortable talking about, let alone blog about. I do not have any level of comfort with the topic and I can admit that now. Around me, friends and colleagues both suffered the loss of loved ones in 2011 to many causes. We would lose my grandfather to cancer in October 2011; a man who lived a full life and left behind a legacy of love, philanthropy and wealth. His passing was hard and I know I should have, could have done more to spend time with him leading up to his final days. I cannot change that now. I cannot change what did or did not take place once I moved from Richmond Hill with Jesse either. All I can do, and will do is celebrate life.


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