On October 7th, 2005 my dear son Jesse died playing the “Choking Game”. Jesse was just 13 at the time of his death and in hindsight; I should have known something was wrong. He had asked his father eighteen months earlier “how do you make someone pass out”. Jesse’s dad warned him of the dangers and to never ever attempt such a thing.. A few months later I remember Jesse having marks on his neck. When questioned as to how they got there, Jesse would make excuses about tree branches etc. I knew he was not telling the truth but even when pressured he would come clean.

        During the last 3 and a half years of Jesse’s life, we lived on a small island in the Netherlands Antilles. Jesse became an expert deep sea fisherman and an open water diver. He loved life under the ocean and spent every minute he could in this beautiful underworld. Jesse was a Junior Ranger on our little island and enjoyed assisting his boss with teaching the little ones to snorkel. When Jesse had extra time he loved to roam the bushes and after a year or two, he had lovingly saved nine puppies, two sheep, baby chicks, and had me in distress with 11 kittens. Jesse nurtured and fed these little abandoned babies with a dropper and I remember how brokenhearted he would be when he would come home with a muddy tear streaked face and recount the story of the many animals he could not save. Jesse was a good hearted, gentle boy who loved his life and his family. He was there when his little brother was born and even at 8 he cried at the love he felt for this new addition. Jesse was always with his little brother, and many times I would find little Jeremiah sound asleep in Jesse’s bed and Jesse’s big brother arms around him. Jesse and his dad Jerry shared a mutual unbreakable bond of love and companionship that only death could break. In August of 2005 we decided to return home to Frankville, Nova Scotia and plant deep roots. Jesse was absolutely thrilled to be returning to his friends, family and school. He packed his room in one day and would ask me each day “Mom. On a scale of one to ten.” How happy are you to be going home”? I would say ten Jess, it’s a ten. Then he would make me ask him and his reply would always be.” It’s eleven Mom”…So we packed up our wonderful memories and our few belongings and arrived home on September 20th, 2005. Jesse would only have 17 days to enjoy what he had wished for most. To be home…

        About two weeks before Jesse’s death, his behavior changed drastically. Jesse never took medications and had only had the flu a few times in his life. Even when he would have the flu he would not take any medication. The last week of Jesse’s life he asked for Tylenol many times stating he had really bad headaches. Jesse’s eyes were very red and watery and when questioned he said “A branch hit me in the eyes when I was in the woods today. He was hoarse and coughed a lot. He wanted to be alone a lot in his room and his mood swings were extreme. I missed every one….. That is I missed every single warning sign. I researched many different drugs thinking Jesse had to be on something, and called friends and local hospitals asking for advice.  After exhausting all of these steps, I truly thought Jesse was simply growing and the fact that he was 13 made it so simple to chalk it all up to adolescence. I was so worried about him and I remember two days before he died I was standing outside crying in Jerry’s arms saying “Something really bad is going to happen..”We are going to lose him”. Jerry comforted me saying June he is just going through normal teenage things and he will be alright.


        On Friday night I came home from finishing the first week of my new job. Jesse asked his father if we could go to the local town to buy camping supplies for a Cadet bush trip coming up the following weekend. So we went as a family to shop.Jesse picked out a sleeping bag,grill and flashlights and gum. We came home and had a huge supper and then Jesse sat with us eating snacks until around 9pm. He went to his room and within minutes I heard a strange thumping sound. I hollered up for him to stop and then decided to go check on him.He had jumped onto the bottom bunk and was perched up on one arm. I noticed this was odd as the top bunk was his. I asked him what he was doing and he answered “Nothing”. Once again my instinct was nudging me but I ignored it and turned out the light and said .”Go to sleep Jess”. He answered with his usual “Yeah” and I walked away never imagining it would be the last time I see the love of my life alive again….. About 10 minutes later a terrible nausea came over me combined with tremendous inner panic. I couldn’t imagine what I was so scared about and so once again I brushed it off and continued to think of Jesse and worry about what a hard time he had been having. It was a fatal error, and I know now that the feeling that came over me was my sweet blond haired boy leaving this earth, and his family forever. Jerry carried our youngest sleeping son up the stairs and then I heard a sound come from Jerry that still makes me shake and tremble. It’s the sound of a father who has lost something so dear to his heart that language becomes obsolete. I made the stairs 4 at a time as Jerry was laying our boy on the floor. I began working on him with the skills I had learned as a former 1st responder and 1st aid instructor, but with more. I worked on him with every fiber of my being, praying that my screams, begging him to come back to me combined with forcing his huge gentle heart to beat again and breathing my life into him would be enough. “Don’t go Jesse, Don’t leave me, I love you and I’m sorry”…..These words will haunt me for the rest of my life. I let Jesse down and he died because I did not know the warning signs. We had always been able to talk and he had always found a way to get through to us, but this sneaking devil had him and wouldn’t let go. Jesse was addicted to this game and the high it gave him. As the days,weeks and months passed my grief became unbearable. I have heard of people who say that they have lost everything, when there house burns down, or they lose there job and have flippantly made these same remarks after a setback of some kind. I can say with absolute certainty, that losing everything is when the very fabric of your life is torn away and never to be replaced. Watching Jeremiah cry for a boy who had been everything to him caused my mind to shut down. Seeing Jerry die a little each day from a pain only a parent who has lost a child can know began to take a toll on my ability to function. My heart was torn between the son who was alive and needed me and the one who was somewhere unknown and maybe alone and scared.I relived that night over and over like a nightmare a child has after watching a scary movie. I blamed myself for his death. Why hadn’t I gone up again? Why hadn’t I followed my gut feeling? Why did I not sit down on the bed and talk with him, like I have done his whole life. Why, why, why. The days following his death were unbearable. Making funeral arrangements for my beautiful first born son caused my stomach to heave and wretch. When asked to pick out a casket, I felt the room swirl and blur. How could I be doing this. It can’t be real ,even as I was completing each one of these hideous tasks, my mind kept playing tricks on me.The first time I had to see him the terror was unspeakable. This could not be real. My brain just could not grasp this. Jerry, I cried, “You can’t let them put my boy in the cold ground”. On the morning of his funeral, I woke up very early and felt weaker than ever. I hadn’t been able to eat for days after the trama of working on my son and not being able to save him. I didn’t think I could do it . I still remember the horror of standing at the steps of the church as they wheeled Jesse’s casket in to the vestibule. My Dad and brother were holding me up as I clung to poor Jerry. As we were ushered in I felt my brain cracking in two. I know I made a cry from somewhere inside, as the full impact crushed me to the ground. Father Barry spoke to us as though we were the only people in the church that day. Somehow, we made it through the service, and as they carried my son to the graveyard, Jerry and I somehow were able to stand and walk behind. As we neared the spot where Jesse would be laid, my wonderful sister in-law Jackie whispered to me,” Look June at all the people walking with you”. I turned and saw an ocean of people stretching from the church to more than a quarter mile across to the graveyard. I realized how many people were standing behind me and I gathered my strength and straightened my shoulders to finish the last task set before me. But, rest was not on my side yet. As they laid Jesse in this cold wet hole, I felt my mind shut down. I stood there only because it was what I was supposed to do. Many days of aimless wandering followed after this worst day ever. Sleepless nights and my own grief led me to think very seriously that I could not live on without Jesse. On one of these very bad days I knew I needed help. I reached out to a very kind and wise priest at our parish and from that very first meeting with him something changed. He said only a few simple things to me about where Jesse is.  First he said,”Don’t you believe he is in communion with you every single moment”.. This took a few days to wrap my head around. Then he said that God had wrapped his loving arms around Jesse and had taken my darling to heaven..He continued to tell me that as much as I loved my son, God loved him a million times more and would never leave him. From somewhere deep in my heart the will to live came. I grabbed onto my faith simply because it was all there was left to do, except to stay in the cold, lonely, hopeless state I was currently in. I have never been a shaded area woman so if I was going to live, it would have to be done well and with purpose. I began to take my prayers very seriously and don’t pretend for a second to know even how to pray, but my broken heart led me along and I simply did the best I could to ask for help from God and Jesse. I practiced the things the kindly priest told me and each day felt more sure that there was a heaven and I was going to get there and see my wonderful son again. On Good Friday I was having a particularly bad day and Jerry’s suffering was at an intensity I could not carry. I crawled onto the couch that evening, dragging Jesse’s favorite comforter with me that still held his smell and cried for my son and my dear soul mate Jerry. I prayed the rosary for Jerry and begged someone to help him. I was exhausted and so worried for my family and so lost without Jesse. I fell asleep praying and awoke near morning.   I realized I had dreamed of Jesse and sat bolt upright. I had wished for a dream of Jesse since the day he died but had accepted that it might never happen. I ran for a piece of paper, fearing if I didn’t put it on paper right away, it would vanish in the next second. In my dream, Jesse had taken me to a beach, not like any one I had ever been to. The sand was almost snow white, but more luminescent. In the dream it was very clear that this was Jesse’s beach, like it was his perfect heaven. It was just us but I could feel others. I held Jesse on the beach and he spoke not a word. He had grown and his body was warm and golden. His hair had grown and it smelled clean but not like perfume. Everything about him was radiant. Each time I was about to ask a question, he would look into my eyes and at once my question became insignificant. We walked on the beach after a while and he let me hold his hand. He still spoke not a word. He would look at me with deep looks of something I could not explain. I knew that he was dead and I knew he had come to me. After a while I knew it was time for him to go and I didn’t even try to follow him. He began to move away from me on the beach. I called out to him and said,”Jesse, I love you. He answered me with “Mom. “I Love you So Much”. He told me this each time I repeated it to him. Then he stopped moving away from me just long enough to say something very important to me. Its on the tip of my mind, but I can’t retrieve it. I can feel how important it was and I know it was the answer I had been waiting for. I believe with all my heart that what he said was the secret to life. I live in that dream every day and hang onto it and the promise it holds. As time moved on, Jerry and I began hearing of more deaths caused from this vile secret game. At first, I would feel terror that another parent would have to go through this. Then I found myself whispering, but what can I do Jess. I am only one person and I am too weak and no one will listen. Still we heard of more deaths and I began to feel frustrated because nothing was being done. The media was not picking this up, Health care professionals were not talking, and parents were scared. It had come to close to home for so many parents. Many realized it could just as easily have been there own as my son. Still I struggled with what I could possibly do and tried to ignore the force that was pushing me to act. Keeping Jesse’s memory alive and wanting to somehow start a scholarship fund in his memory were also very important to us ,but the nagging of so many dying ,nearly one a week was becoming a scream in my head. One morning, I received an e-mail from a woman who had lost her son the same year asking me if I would be able to speak with a woman who had just lost her son. I immediately said yes, not knowing if I could help this woman who was suffering with her loss, when I was also so new to my own grief. I didn’t hear back for an hour or so and for some reason, I felt I should try to find her myself. I did a quick internet search, knowing only her geographical location and that she had lost her son. I found her in about five minutes and even though I was scared, I picked up the phone and dialed her number. A sweet, small little voice picked up and I introduced myself to her. I listened quietly while she recounted the last 54 days {Counting days in the beginning seems to be what most do}and I cried silently for this stranger who had come into my life, simply because we had something in common. We had both lost our sons! I relived Jesse’s death over and over as she told her story and my heart broke for her and her pain and for myself. I had been really racking my brain, looking for ways to try and get the message out to parents and children about this game. On this morning, it was no different just more insistent. So, as this dear lady kept talking, she mentioned her daughter ordering memory bracelets and BOOM!!!!!


        I finished my conversation with her and sat down feeling for the first time that I knew what to do and blown away by the chain of events that had brought me to this moment. Once gain, I knew God had been gently nudging me and that the whispers I kept hearing were from Jesse.

The first thing I did was sit down and write this poor mother a letter from my heart telling her my experience and offering what comfort I could. We have talked every day since then, and she will forever be linked to this story, for she was unknowingly the messenger.. I called Jerry right away and told him what had happened and the idea I had .I asked my best friend Pam to give me her opinion since we were linked at the belly button for years. Pam had been there the night Jesse had died and had never left my side since. Pam thought it was a good idea. So, the next step seemed to be to find a company who made bracelets. Was there even such a place? I knew Lance Armstrong had done it ,but I was just a grieving country mother with barely and idea knitting itself into my brain. Once again the laptop Jerry had bought me for Mothers day came to my aid and I began searching for bracelet companies. I discovered they were called silicone bracelets and then picked one that caught my eye. To my surprise I was even able to design it myself. It was easy to pick the color. Red had been Jesse’s favorite and it was mine, but it was also a color that would catch someone’s eye. The hard part came next. What would it say? I sat there feeling fear and discouragement set in and nearly closed the window and walked away again. The whisper came and I knew I had almost pushed away my instinct again.I sat there in silence and alone and said ok God “ What should it say”. Tears streamed down my face as the words came to me in my heart. I could barely see through the blinding river of water as I typed the words”FOR THE LOVE OF JESSE DAVIAU STOP THE CHOKING GAME”. I sat there after writing these words feeling the full meaning of what it was I was supposed to be doing and that my son had been whispering to me. I had been put on a path and this time I had followed my instinct and listened. I made a promise to Jesse that day. I would spread his message to every corner of the world I could. I would warn parents ,but more importantly I would find a way to get the kids involved . Somehow, these little red bracelets with a message of love would be the instrument.


        Over the next few days as I finalized an order of 2000 red bracelets, I had more than a few spells of doubt but I kept pushing on. I finally ordered the bracelets after calling Jesse’s principal asking him what he thought.After some very encouraging words from him I went ahead and ordered. I then set out using what tools I had to spread Jesse’s message. I sent e-mails out to Jesse’s contacts and mine. Jesse had made friends form so many corners of the world from our travels such as Holland, Netherlands Antilles, and Texas just to name a few that e-mails started flying back His friends wanted to support him by wearing a red bracelet. The bracelets arrived on a Thursday night and I remember Jerry sitting on the floor opening the box and crying. I looked into the box at 2000 red silicone bracelets bearing the heartfelt plea and immediately put one on my wrist. Jerry and Jeremiah ,my six year old each put on their’s. On Monday morning I was a nervous wreck as I drove with my special package to Jesse’s highschool. I was greeted by three close friends of Jesse’s and we began to set up a table to sell the bracelets. As an announcement was made of their arrival ,students swarmed the table and I broke down in tears with these 3 beautiful girls who were helping me begin what would be come the single biggest mission I had ever attempted .In fifteen minutes nearly 200 had sold and I thought wow. I never imagined even one had sold. Little did I know that with a higher power at the wheel something big was about to happen. The next day , Jesse’s principal called and asked me just how involved I wanted to be in this campaign. I sat down and said “Why”. CBC news is coming to the school tomorrow morning if you will come ,to interview you and the students. I was stunned to say the least. I agreed to be there and felt immediate fear. I thought what if I say something wrong or freeze and can’t get my message across. The next morning the phone was ringing off the hook.I informed our local radio station and they immediately did  a telephone interview asking me a series of questions. There I stood, doing the first interview of this campaign stark naked in the bathroom  after trying to complete a bath. I was to be at the school in an hour and had just finished talking to a newspaper in Halifax  who also was rushing to Jesse’s school to interview Jerry and I . It was a flurry of activity as my employee and best friend arrived to relieve me . I guess I should mention that after Jesse died we never went back to our home in Fankville. The house became a nightmare for me and so we stayed with my Mom and Dad until one day we came upon this little house just outside of Antigonish. It was nestled in a little valley of sorts with a winding little brook in the back yard and  a huge 30  foot indoor inground pool. To know Jesse would make it all so clear to you. This would have been Jesse’s dream home. This house was not even on the market and through a series of phonecalls we fell upon it. A kindly lady who owned the house after her parents had died agreed to show us the house. Jesse had been gone only a couple of months and my heart was not into anything. I walked into the house and beganto cry . I said Jerry, I want this house. To make a long story short without any barriors ,we became the owners of this house within a month , the fastest deal our lawyer had ever seen. Our Mortgage was approved on December 9th,Jesse’s birthday…We moved in on Jan 18 of 2006 and with the help of family and of course Pam we had it in ship shape in a matter of days. To explain Pam being my employee I will have to go back a bit farther. I have worked with seniors on and off my whole life and had always wanted to run my own home for seniors. I had never had the guts to even try. After Jesse died I had no fear and I was determined to be there for Jeremiah every single day of the rest of my life. I felt calm about the prospect of doing it and I am glad I did. Once again, I was left with the naming of this new business of mine. I was still caring for two lovely ladies in there home and so I would walk to work to calm myself each morning. On my way I would pray a little, cry a little and talk to Jesse a lot. I mulled over names knowing only it would be named after Jesse. It took a few weeks of arguing with myself but I kept going back to the same thing. Finally, one day as I was walking the whisper came again and I felt the tears sting my face as I said it aloud. Jesse’s Way would be the name. So, we moved into our home on Jan 18th and at the end of the month I placed a simple add in the paper announcing that “Jesse’s Way” had openings. In one day, not only had I filled my rooms, but I had a waiting list of three.  So, that is why Pam had to relieve me.


         So , as I said we had interviews with CBC ,and the Chronicle Herald and had done my naked debut with CJFX radio. The interviews were emotional but effective. When I returned home I had an e-mail from the Casket asking also for an interview. He came right over and told my story from beginning to end again and that night ,Jerry Pam and I sat down with a glass of wine to calm our nerves and waited for the six o’clock news to come on. Jerry and I were so afraid to see it for fear our grief and desperation to get our message across would be a failure.  CBC had done a fantastic job and our message rang out loud and clear.We cried for Jesse but both felt that we had done our part. The next morning the Chronicle Herald placed another great add in there paper and once again I thought. Ok Jess, I did the best I could. The phone rang early that morning and  to my surprise, it was Global television also wanting to interview us. Jerry was at work but I said yes right away. A beautiful lady arrived with a very kind camera man and we went at it again. That night , the most beautiful story of our boy aired and the message rang loud and clear again. It went national on both CBC and Global and so many heard our cry . In seven days every single bracelet had sold.


        So, That is when I realized the possibility of how far I could spread Jesse’s message. Our local phone company donated a URL to create a website named.

www fortheloveofjesse.ca

My uncle, a wonderful man who has always been very kind to me agreed to help me learn the ropes of running a website. This beautiful tribute to Jesse would not be possible without the real Webmaster at the helm, Dr. Alexander MacEachern . I am more than grateful and more than proud to have had one of the best and my hero help me build these pages. It had to be perfect; and it had to reflect dear Jesse and his message.


        This story is ongoing and hopefully not done yet. I will update this story as it unfolds and I want to thank all who may have taken the time to read this story. I know it was a long one.


God Bless

June Daviau

Jesse’s Mom