I had trained Jamie's mother Wendy when she first came to Ottawa Airport and worked with her for many years after. I knew her husband Al and had met various members of her family over the years. Though not close - retirement and distance means you lose contacts with so many people - we were friends on Facebook and I was shocked when she posted a brief message there on Saturday. Further details became available as the weekend progressed and the tragic circumstances surrounding Jamie's death filled me with great sadness. He had problems and struggled with depression but his family had made sure that he was being given help and when he came out they gave him all the support that a loving family could. Unfortunately that could not shield him from the bullying, name calling and harassment that he endured because he was a figure skater when he was younger or that was to be the result of his coming out at high school.
On his blog Jamie had recorded his anguish, frustration and perhaps most heart-breakingly his dreams. And more recently he had spoken from that dark and lonely place that often leads to an act that cuts short a promising life and the heart out of a family.
Last evening as we sat waiting in the chapel to join the condolence line we watched a slideshow of a blond boy, more often than not smiling at the camera, in photos that captured those moments of any child's life - Christmas, vacation, covered with measles, receiving skating medals, in school plays - growing up surrounded by family and friends. That same family, all wearing rainbow ribbons, greet those friends and so many others, surrounded by mementos of Jamie's passions and accomplishments. Though they were meant to celebrate his life they were also a reminder of much that has been lost with his death.
Ironically Jamie's funeral was held today - Spirit Day - a day set aside to show support for LGBT teenagers who have been the victims of bullying. Yesterday to remind us of the day and its meaning my friend Cecilia wrote this "status" on Facebook:
Al, Wendy and the family have expressed the hope that talking about Jamie's death may do some good and make people aware of effects of teenage depression, bullying and homophobia . "He had dreams and we want to help those dreams come true. So if by sharing our pain that'll happen, then it's good," Al said in an interview. "Our boy won't be gone in vain."