Loving, carefree, fun, athletic, smart
Described by his mother, Brandy, as an easy, fun, and energetic kid and her “little sidekick,” Jason was creative and enthusiastic about life. He ran track and played football and basketball, but his favorite sport was baseball. Jason’s dad, Greg, was his baseball coach. Jason’s sister, Mea, joked that she grew up at Belpassi baseball field.
Jason was always sweet and thoughtful. During the interview for this narrative, Brandy pulled out her journal, which contained some pressed leaves and a rose that Jason gave her when he was five. She read from the journal, “These leaves and rose are given to me by Jason. He says they look like hearts, and he thought of me.”
Jason and his siblings Andrew and Mea were close. Andrew was 11 years older and allowed his little brother to tag along with him until he joined the military at 19. Mea looked up to Jason. In pictures, Jason always had his arm around her, or they were hugging. Jason was also inseparable from his cousin Maddie who was close in age.
The family had an annual camping trip. Jason was known for awakening his parents at 5:00 a.m. to sit and enjoy a sunrise – something they grumbled a bit about, and now cherish. Hawaii was another favorite vacation destination, with fond memories. After Jason’s death, the family went to Hawaii and drove the Road to Hana. It was there that some of Jason’s ashes were scattered on a well-hidden black sand beach found by Mea. When the videotape was sent to Andrew and his wife, Kelsey, they recognized it as a beach where they had been with Jason three years earlier.
At 16, Jason got scuba certified and dove with his dad and Andrew in Hawaii and Mexico. He was also a part of his high school ministry that went to Mexico each year to build houses for local citizens. He came home from those trips inspired and grateful, with stories about how he was affected by his interactions with those who received the homes.
At 14, Jason was using marijuana, which decreased his motivation and changed his behavior. In his senior year, Jason was introduced to what turned out to be counterfeit Xanax. Like most people, he wasn’t aware that prescription drugs were being counterfeited and contained Fentanyl. Jason was in danger of not graduating, but he buckled down and passed his courses and in 2019 he went to college in Long Beach. By March of 2020, the campus closed due to COVID. Isolation impacted Jason’s mental health and his addiction to pills increased. His sister said, “It took him off his feet. He didn’t want to be that person.”
Brandy misses Jason’s enveloping hugs and having nightly Sleepy Time tea together, and thinks about him every day. “He was the kid next door, a beautiful soul. I want to honor the person he was, and INTO LIGHT Project is a form of advocacy. Being represented in such a beautiful way allows a light to shine on the positive attributes of those lost to this disease.”
Brandy has joined Stanislaus County Opioid Coalition which has organized a 5K named “Not My Child” to bring awareness to Fentanyl poisoning, overdose, and reduction of stigma. She also hands out Narcan. Many people say they don’t need it because their children know not to use drugs. She answers “Do they? My child knew too.”
Jason’s mother, Brandy Abney, provided the information for this narrative.
June 8, 2000-April 20, 2021
Age 20-Lived with the disease of addiction for two years.