Jayme was an inspiration, a unique and creative spirit full of intelligence, talent, and compassion. And until she passed away in 2002, I considered her a friend.
My name is Jamie Feinberg. I’m a writer, coach, and arts professional. I grew up in New Hampshire, where I went to school with Jayme for several years. I always respected Jayme, and I enjoyed her company a lot.
When she passed away, I was devastated, and certainly shocked too. Of everyone I knew, it was so clear that Jayme was already changing the world for the better. What a loss, to have her gone at seventeen.
Losing a friend unexpectedly taught me a lot. The reality is that as much as we can know, intellectually, the fragility of life, it usually isn’t until we experience it firsthand that we really come to understand it. For me, losing Jayme was the first time someone I had known well, who was close to my own age, passed away. I couldn’t help but think “why her?” or “why not me”? Our birthdays were only months apart.
We’d been in classes together, hiked together, seen theater together…I had even celebrated her Bat Mitzvah.
In the months following her death, I did three things:
- I gave a speech to my classmates (we called it a Senior Speech) inspired by her and her death
- I gave the money I raised from my independent senior project, a production of Starting Here, Starting Now, to an as-yet-unnamed cause being organized in her name
- I joined the advisory board of Jayme’s Fund, the new non-profit set up to do the work we believed she would have done, if she was still alive
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I thought about what I should or shouldn’t do in light of what Jayme would have done, or in light of what I’d want to have accomplished if I died tomorrow.
When I lost several other friends in the coming years, the message continued to reverberate.
Act bravely. Choose wisely. Enjoy life. Do the best you can do today – and most importantly, do something.
I spent nearly ten years working with Jayme’s Fund, and I’m quite sure the experience helped inspire me to study arts management and community economic development. I continued to stage concerts and musicals, passing the profits on to Jayme’s Fund, all of which surely gave me the confidence to start my own theater company in 2010.
When my husband admitted he’d always had a dream of being a touring musician, I got to work again, not wanting to let him miss the opportunity to go for his dream and share his gifts with the world. We purchased a used RV and traveled the country for five years, and during that time, we created several businesses to support our travels.
Nowadays, I write behind the scenes for blogs and organizations like this one. In addition to writing this blog, I’ll be putting my social media marketing skills to use, writing as the “voice” of Jayme’s Fund in future blogs. I also help women who feel like life is happening to them, or passing them by, to figure out what they truly want – whether that’s time to pursue an old dream, a new career or hobby, or to travel – and then make it a reality.
I’ve been given the opportunity to be here, to share my gifts, most especially my gift of helping people to achieve as much and more than they ever imagined possible for themselves. I love bringing out the best in others and helping them find opportunities to shine.
I’m glad you’re here, and I’m thankful you’re reading this. I know you’ve got our own gifts too. I hope you’ll take inventory, today, and periodically, asking yourself “what is mine to do?” and “where can I best be of service?” and “if today is my last day, how should I spend my time?”.
Jayme did so much, for so many, in a short seventeen-year span. From making and donating bears to educating and advocating, to creating beautiful art, her work had a ripple effect in her communities.
Thanks to people like you, her work is amplified further, continuing in ways far beyond what she was able to accomplish in her own lifetime. As a friend of Jayme, thank you for your past and for your continued support of Jayme’s Fund and of all who stand for human rights and the rights of children. We need you out there, more than ever.
Take care and take a step.
From the left is Jamie, another local friend named Maureen is in the middle, and Jayme is on the right, pose in front of the chimney, ready for a dance.