By Stephen Werner
I’m writing this because people need to know how serious this issue is.
Jamie was one of the most pure hearted people I have ever known. When I was 9 or 10 years old, he told me that if I ever even thought about smoking cigarettes he would beat the crap out of me. He was always thinking about others. That’s all he ever did. I think he believed that if he focused on other people, and other people’s problems, then his own issues would just take care of themselves.
If the world was made up of people who cared about others half as much as Jamie did, then it would be such a more welcoming and overall easier place to live. Here’s a great example: the day before Jamie died, my dad and I went on a tour of the National Cathedral given by my grandmother, who works as a docent there. Afterwards, we went to the little cafe next door for some lunch. I must have eaten the wrong thing, because my stomach was killing me for the rest of the day. At about 5 pm, I was basically in bed for the night when Jamie ran down to my room to give me a package that had shown up at the door. He asked what was wrong, I told him, and then he told me to wait right there. A few minutes later he came back with a glass of water, a packet of Alka Seltzer, and a bottle of Pepto Bismol. He set it all up for me and all but spoon fed me the Pepto. That’s what kind of person he was. He was always looking out for other people, always trying to be helpful in whichever way possible. It baffles me to think about what he must have been going through at that point, and he went out of his way to help me because I had a little stomach ache.
I wasn’t planning on eating dinner with Jamie and my parents that night, but Jamie’s efforts pulled me out of bed and I joined them. Thank god I did, because that was the last meal I ever got to eat with him. He did the cooking. Lamb chops with his special blue cheese butter, and damn they were amazing as per usual with his cooking. Additionally, we called my sister during the meal. That was our last conversation as a complete family. That’s not something that I ever thought I would have to say. I never thought anything like this would, or even, could happen to me and my family. No one ever does… After dinner, I was about to go back to bed when Jamie told me about his plans to make buffalo chicken wraps with blue cheese sauce for lunch the next day. He was always looking ahead and making big plans to have good times with his loved ones. That was the last time I hugged him good night.
He died of an overdose of fentanyl the next morning around 8:30 am. My mother found him passed out in his bathroom with the shower running, his face turning blue. She yelled to my dad for help, and then they called 911. I was still feeling sick, so I was in bed when all of this was happening. When I realized something was up, the paramedics were already in our house. About a half hour before I got up, I felt a sharp pain in my chest, right on my heart. I believe that was the moment when Jamie’s heart stopped beating. As I said during my eulogy one week later, “When he died, a big part of me died with him. But there’s a large part of Jamie that is alive and well within me.”
Thank you Stephen for your heartfelt memory of your last moments with your brother. You and your family have been through so much over this last year. Through your pain and sorrow you are helping others with this terrible epidemic. Our heart goes out to you and we look forward to you doing great things in the future. Your life is ahead of you and Jamie would love to see you live your life to the fullest. Love you.
Stephen this is such a beautiful tribute to your brother. You were so right to write about Jamie’s amazing heart and compassion for others. I love the thought that YOU, Stephen, were the recipient of that the day before he died. Jamie did not hold back love for others and it’s a great challenge to us al— to love with our whole heart. We know the pain of losing your big bro is immense. As friends we see so much of Jamie’s goodness and kindness in you Stephen. I know he loved you so much. We miss him too. Hartman hugs to all the Werners
Thank you for sharing these poignant memories. The strength you and your family have shown throughout the past year is truly awe-inspiring, and the ways you have all shared your loving memories honors Jamie’s life in such an impactful way. Thinking of you all —
Stephen, i just saw this note. You and your family are amazing in your caring and openness and willingness to help others. I am still heartbroken for your loss of Jamie. He and his kindness and generosity still live on in you. I am honored to know you. Vicki
Stephen, I’ve missed a lot since you and your brother and sister were toddlers and would call out to me as “Uncle Clip!”. But your loving words give me insight into the beautiful adult Jamie became. Thank you.