February 06, 2021

A Reflection from Jamie’s Brothers

On the 11th anniversary of his death, Jamie Bernard’s family gathered to remember him and celebrate his spirit. This year JKBF is fortunate to be able to share these reflections from his triplet brothers, Fred and Bill. Fred’s reflections as a suicide loss survivor offer insight From the Lived Experience.

Thoughts on Jamie

by Fred Bernard

It’s been 11 years since Jamie passed away. Appreciating how I’ve grown and changed over that time, I can now imagine a little better how Jamie might have developed. Through high school and college, his potential was only beginning to be realized, his talents and passions just starting to be fleshed out and brought to the surface. Given how talented and artistically prolific he was before his death, it’s a bit stunning to think that his creative output only represented his capacities at an embryonic stage. Yet Jamie’s ambition and restless curiosity gave no reason to think that those capacities would have stopped growing.

by Bill Bernard

There are any number of trajectories that he could have followed. He seemed to a lot of people – and to himself, in a perhaps self-imposed way – to be fated to be an artist. But within that, he could’ve pursued writing, art, or some combination of both (comic art or animation, for example). He was a kind, sensitive, and astute person, and with those gifts he could have gravitated to the caring professions – by practicing art therapy, perhaps? He accumulated a formidable library in his time, and as he got older the instinct to want to pass down knowledge may have found him becoming an English teacher, a professor of Russian literature, or the like. And those are just the vocational possibilities. I would have loved to have seen how those memorable, defining aspects of his personality – playfulness, kindness, a sardonic humor and honesty, a fierce protectiveness of loved ones – would play themselves out in all the relationships he would have had. With his wife? With his children?

Jamie’s suicide foreclosed on any number of future trajectories and his right to choose between them. I never get very far in imagining Jamie’s future, because doing so involves taking into account so many variables of his personality that I don’t think had a chance to properly emerge, as well as so many life events he never got to experience. And it seems unfair for me to determine for Jamie how he would’ve turned out. It was his life, and given his abilities, he may have shocked all of us with what he would have become at this eleventh anniversary. My imaginings are vague, pale impressions of what could have actually been. I wish Jamie was here, to live out his future in flesh and blood, as only he could.