Loving, kind, helpful, funny, smart
When Jesse was young, he loved being outside, playing basketball, riding four-wheelers, fishing, and spending time with friends. He was also a big Steelers fan. He and his younger brother, Cody, were best friends, and sometimes rivals. Cody and Jesse loved to cook together, something they learned sitting on the counter, watching their dad, who passed away in 2018.
Jesse always worked, mostly as a cook in various restaurants, and had a daily routine with his son, Jeremiah, now nine. His biggest joy was being present at Jeremiah’s birth and even during times of active addiction, he was a great father. Jeremiah never needed or wanted for anything. Jesse was there for him, playing in the yard, being silly by riding a child-sized bike with him, watching television, playing video games, and having father-son chats. Jesse’s mom, Sandy, said, “Jeremiah is so much like Jesse, the way he talks, walks, and even in the foods he eats.” Jeremiah is now being raised by Jesse’s mom and is close to his Uncle Cody. They have recently moved from the home they shared with Jesse to a peaceful place where Jeremiah is happy.
Jesse started his involvement with drugs with occasional Percocet use and eventually moved to heroin. He went from being quiet and shy to angry and withdrawn. At times of clarity, Jesse would apologize and tell Sandy he was tired of using drugs and wanted to stop. There were brief times of abstinence, but he couldn’t maintain them. His mom was always proud of him and never ashamed or embarrassed about his disease. Still, she was afraid Jesse would be judged by others, so she didn’t always share. “People are not always as supportive as they are with other illnesses,” she said.
“I was one of those moms who didn’t think it will happen to her, Sandy said, about Jesse’s death.” Fortunately, she can call her son Cody any time, day or night, if she is having a rough time, and he helps. “I don’t know what I would do if Cody didn’t want to hear about it,” she said. Jeremiah keeps her very busy and is a “big blessing.” Sandy stated, “I want people to know about substance use disorder and Jesse’s life. If it saves one person, I will feel a bit better.”
Jesse’s mother, Sandy Collins, provided the information for this narrative.
October 24,1992-July 29, 2020
Age 27-Lived with the disease of addiction 4 years.