In Memory Of Jesse

My name is Gianna and I am 15 years old. I am an alumnae of the Kids Escaping Drugs Renaissance Campus and today I am proud to be celebrating 10 months of sobriety! I would like to honor this milestone by paying tribute to my dad Jesse, who I lost to the disease of addition 16 months ago. My dad was very handsome and had beautiful green eyes. He was skinny with a laid-back style, and I always teased him about his big, bald head.

He struggled with substance use most of his life and that led to long stretches away from our family but when we were together, we always had fun. My favorite thing about my dad was he was so funny. He was always sarcastic, and I inherited his sense of humor. He was very understanding and always willing to talk if you needed to.

He loved to cook, and my favorite dish was his Spanish sausage and rice. I cherish my memories with my dad and some of my favorite include getting ice cream, he'd get chocolate and I'd get strawberry, and skipping rocks at the creek. He was determined that I mastered the art of rock skipping and we couldn't leave the creek until I had accomplished this feat. My dad loved his family. He never had much in the way of material possessions, but he was very generous. Even when he had nothing, he would give you his last dime if you needed it.

He loved four wheeling and riding his dirt bike. We would ride at grandparent's house, and he made sure I always had a four-wheeler. The last Fourth of July we spent together was amazing. It had been five years since he had been free to see the fireworks and he was so excited. We had the best time! He loved the rapper Eminem who is also in recovery and his favorite song was River featuring Ed Sheeran. I listen to it often and think of him fondly.

Both my dad and I are very close to my grandmother. She was always there to love and support him in good times and in bad and has been a great source of support for me as well. My grandmother and I believe that when you see a cardinal it is our loved ones checking in on us. She has two cardinals in her yard, a chubby one that she says is my grandfather and a skinny one that she says is my dad.

I think about my dad a lot, but he is with me every day, close to my heart in the tear drop necklace that I wear that represents my sadness that he is gone.

If I had one more day, I would go back to the New York State Fair with him, ride the Zipper, get ice cream and tell him I love him. I would let him know that nothing was his fault and he was the best dad that he could be!

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