Jamie Morgan Mychael Bratton-McNeeley
Jamie Morgan came into the world May 24, 1996. He jumped onto life’s stage with a gleeful zest, and kept dancing until April 24, 2002. In Jamie’s short time with us, he brought an incredible light to all around him. Even people passing by would comment on his incredible beauty. Jamie’s beauty, while physical, ran so much deeper.
He told us when he was three the story of his birth. He said he had been with the angels looking down at us in our bed. He told God, “Those are the people I want to live with”. Then, as he put it, he slid down a long tunnel into Elene’s tummy. Even though we didn’t know we needed Jamie at the time, he knew. Before Jamie was born, we began to feel a kind of love we hadn’t experienced ever before. On the day of Jamie’s birth Uncle David wrote a poem for “the Little Buddha”. He was the most angelic little boy. As the days and weeks passed, a kind of love developed between parents and son that was indescribable. Some said he came for Mychael, and others that he was here for Uncle David. We know that he came here to touch all he met.
He is such a bright light. His smile could melt the sun. He was so full of life and love. He is so connected to God. His story of how he talked to God before coming to us is just one example. He knew God was in his heart. And he acknowledged that same God in others. He once told his mom “Did you know that God lives in our hearts?” He had many other words of spiritual wisdom. He and his mom were writing them down. They wanted to write a book “Musings of a Five year old Mystic”.
He loved to pray and we would pray every morning and at meals. He would say, “Thank You God for my mommy, my daddy, my sissy, my auntie, my Demetri, my whole family and my whole ‘wrild’ (world)”. He asked once “Is it ok if I say the same thing every time?” He’d add to his prayer other special people when they were on his mind: his grand parents, his uncle “Daven” and Aunt Karen and Ari, his Godmom or a new friend he had met. For some time after September 11, 2001, he added the “people in the building that fell down” to his prayers. If someone at school was hassling him or he wasn’t getting along with them he would pray for them to be happy. He prayed for world peace and peace in his own heart. He was the most compassionate little boy we have every known. He prayed to have a good day at school and get green or purple (good behavior for the day-which he got most days). We usually ended with the guardian angel prayer (from Rami’s book, written by a 12 year old girl- it was a big influence on Jamie).
Dear Guardian Angel
Thank You for staying close to me and protecting me
Thank You for showing me the ways to be loving.
Thank You for helping me make right decisions.
Thank You for showing me the ways to be happy and to make other people happy.
Thank You for loving me so much.
I Love you too! (He added this part)
We knew he was our angel, and he loved angels. We decorated his room half angels and half Winnie the Pooh. Just this year he felt he had outgrown Winnie, so we made is his Winnie and friends into angels. Jamie loved back rubs, holding hands, sitting in our laps, hugs and he never got embarrassed to kiss us. We shared so much love, you could see it, and you could feel it. He taught us how to open our hearts fully and express love unconditionally. He loved flowers and trees and water and dirt. He was so connected to the experience of this earth. He enjoyed each moment. His mind was so intelligent and quick. He often displayed abstract thinking, putting together concepts that seemed advanced for his years. He told his dad once, as they talked about world events, that he needed to “know what’s going on” when asked, “Why do you listen to the news?”
He was curious (like George- his favorite book), and would always seek out adventure and make fun everywhere he went. The last Saturday we spent with him, we went on a guided hike at Mission Trails. He and his mom wanted to venture ahead and left the group. They found the San Diego River, and Jamie took off his shirt and shoes (he was learning to be a bit more modest so wanted to keep his shorts on). All the other children (boy scouts) weren’t allowed to go into the water, but Jamie entertained them by playing “Swamp Monster” with moss from the pool of water.
Jamie has traveled quite extensively for his age. He went to Hawaii to visit Dan and Maggie at age two months. Soon after that he spent time on Catalina Island, a place he returned to again twice. At the age of 17 months, Jamie embarked on a long journey to Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico, where he lived with his Daddy, Mommy, Sissy, Auntie (Angela) and Demetri until he was almost 2. He has spent time in North Carolina with his Grandparents and in Oregon with his other Grandparents. He’s driven the southern and northern route across the U.S. He’s been to San Francisco, L.A. and Santa Barbara. Jamie loved family. He always wanted to be with anyone who was related and he also made honorary members to many he felt connected with. He would ask “Is _______ part of our family?” We went on many outings with family and friends. He loved the outdoors and was a natural at camping, hiking and stargazing. He’d look at the sky and say, “The stars are so beautiful”. He really appreciated this earth. He was an avid recycler and reluctant but willing composter.
Jamie was also very cultured. He enjoyed the ballet, dancing, theater, music, costumes, museums, water, trees, flowers, animals, KPBS Kids and Sponge Bob Square Pants. He was very funny and had started telling jokes. The last joke he told Mom on Wednesday morning was, “What is the difference between a hippo and an Ant?”
“I don’t know Jamie, what’s the difference?”
“You can’t pick up a hippo”, he said proudly, stumping us again.
Jamie could have had “oatmuhl”, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or “bean-rice-cheese” burritos for every meal. Jamie’s dad is so thankful that Wednesday morning Jamie got up at 4:30 to have oatmeal with him. Jamie often requested to be awakened early. When he came up stairs that morning, they talked about the kind of oatmeal they would have. Sometimes Mychael would just eat standing, since he’d be running out of time to get ready for work. That morning, he sat down with his son. They had oatmeal and toast and talked about the day ahead. They told each other how much they love each other. He reminded him about needing to do well at school so he could go with his auntie after school. He said he would do great (a green card). Afterwards, he got back in bed with mommy, as always. God, how we wish that could have been the day he’d gotten in real trouble at school.
Jamie knew how loveable he was. He never doubted that he was. We told him, as he told us, every day, sometimes several times how much we loved him. I (Dad) often said it was the longest lasting romance I’d ever had. “I’m never going to stop loving you”, he would say. Sometimes in a quiet moment he’d look over and point to himself, draw a heart on his chest and then point to us. Love is Jamie’s anthem. When asked “How come your so sweet?” Jamie’s reply was always the same, “Cause God made me that way”.
Even with his long curls, Jamie was such a boy. He’d always wanted to jump off everything: the bed, the stage in Wrigley Hall at church, the trees in the back yard, or our backs. He always has something in his pocket: a rock, a stick, a toy and, of course, dirt. He loved super-heroes (especially Batman) and swords and play fighting. He wanted so much to protect us all from the “bad guy”. He wore his rain boots all the time; when it rained, when it was 100 degrees outside, with shorts, or sometimes with nothing but a cape. He once, at age 3, walked next door, in the latter attire, asking to play with his friend Toni. He was told to go home and finish dressing before coming out to play.
Jamie was attending the Language Academy, a Spanish immersion program through San Diego City Schools. At his last teacher conference in March, his teacher, Sra. Garrido, stated that his excellent English skills were starting to transfer to Spanish. She was a little concerned in the beginning of the year, and so were we. His dad would ask him daily after school “What did you learn today?” “I don’t know dad, she keeps talking to me in Spanish”, he’d reply. Prior to Kindergarten, Jamie attended Murphy Canyon Pre-School for 2 ½ years. He graduated in June 2001. He continued his relationship with many of his friends there and with the school. He was last there earlier in April over his Spring break. His auntie Angela had been his teacher there for a time in 2001. Jamie attended Sunday School at Christ Church Unity. His teacher was Joanne with mom once a month. He had perfect attendance each month. Jamie loved all his teachers and loved learning about life and God, and (mostly) playing at his schools.
Jamie was a beloved member of the Azalea Park Community of San Diego. He was proud of his city and neighborhood. He was a great community activist. Jamie helped with tree plantings, canyon clean-ups, the annual Pride parade, the monthly association meetings (boring) and neighborhood parties. He was a favorite visitor of the surrounding neighbors, often showing up at their door to play or watch movies. Jamie didn’t mind if they didn’t have any young children. He would make himself at home with grown-ups as long as they had at least one toy in the house and a TV. He wasn’t bashful. He would usually ask for some kind of raw food such as a carrot or bell pepper.
Jamie was with his Auntie Angela the day he died. Angela is improving but has a lot of healing ahead, not only of her injuries but her heart is crushed in her loss. Demetri, Jamie’s cousin by blood but brother by heart is struggling with his sense of loss. Jamie dearly loves Demetri and his Auntie. We all continue to need the healing of your prayers.
Jamie’s friends and family miss him so much. He was loved by so many. We, as the parents, are traditionally thought of at a time like this, but Jamie has so many grieving for him, in such a deep way because of whom he is. We pray for peace for all of us at this tragic time. We have had so many people tell us that they had met him only once, but can remember is bright spirit and energy. We are trying hard to know he is still here with us in spirit, but we are so attached to being with our little boy. We miss taking care of all his needs as parents. We miss watching Sponge Bob with him before reading a book at night. We miss his arms holding us close. We miss the plans we had to visit with family over his summer break from school. We miss all the little ways our life revolved around him each day. And we miss his future growing up with us here on this earth.
Jamie loved being with people. He brought many together including his parents. Our hope, even in our grief is to somehow bring even a fraction of the light of his life, into this world. We are so much in grief, but even in this grief we know that Jamie’s work is not done. We cannot think now on how to continue his vision but we know as we heal, in order to heal, we have to find a way to continue in his shoes. To this effort, we have created the “Jamie’s Joy” Project, which supports many efforts to honor Jamie and continue his work. Friends have already begun (see “In Jamie’s Honor” section). Just days after the accident and one friend walked for him in the “March of Dimes Walk” on April 27, 2002. Jamie and his mom were to walk that day. Another friend bought a homeless man lunch. Many are remembering that each moment is sacred and to honor those you love. If you’d like to be a part of his ongoing life’s work and spirit consider a donation in his name. Send donations to Jamie’s Joy Memorial Fund c/o San Diego Foundation. We plan to use the fund to carry out Jamie’s legacy of spreading pure joy and unconditional love in the world. This world needs more people like Jamie Morgan Mychael Bratton-McNeeley. We know his spirit lives on and we will do all we can to practice and continue his sweet vision of our world.