For Jamie      

    Ever since I can remember, Jamie made me feel like a comedian.  She’d laugh enthusiastically over my poorest attempts at humor.  Being the ham that I am, my jokes; the good, the bad, and the unbearable, would grow more frequent with every laugh, and Jamie would never grow tired of them.  While the people surrounding us were ready to smack me over the head, pull out the duck tape, and silence my “stand-up” career, she was begging for the third encore. 

            I think this is what I will miss the most about Jamie: her happiness, her optimism, and that magical grin that stretched from ear-to-ear.  I don’t know if I can recall a time that she wasn’t smiling.  And her smile was contagious.  Jamie never left me with a frown on my face.  Jamie never left me feeling ashamed, angry, worried or embarrassed.  She left me feeling proud, she left me feeling confident, she left me feeling like maybe this world isn’t such a horrible place, after-all.  The last time I saw her, 9 or 10 months ago, Jamie did the impossible; she left me feeling skinny.

            After finding out that my doctor wasn’t kidding when she said that one of the worst side effects to the new seizure medication I was taking was the 8 or 900 pounds that I was about to gain, I shied away from the spotlight that I had, only a few months before, basked in.  I don’t think there was a single person that didn’t, at one time or another, throw out some “Fat Alex” type joke.  At the very least, I’d get the dreaded, “you’ve put on some weight” comment.  As if I wouldn’t have noticed if it wasn’t pointed out. 

Two years of “weighty” remarks took a lot out of me, and meeting up with people that I hadn’t seen in 40 or 50 pounds became a very awkward, stressful experience.  When Shawn asked me to go bowling one day, and told me his sister would be playing with us, it was no exception.  Jamie hadn’t seen me since I gained weight.  As I walked to our lane, I took a deep breath, sucked in my gut, and prepared myself for the inevitable “building a shed for your tool?” type observation.  It didn’t come. 

Not only was Jamie kind enough not to let me know that she noticed, she was phenomenal enough to build back, in a little over an hour, a lot of the self-confidence it had taken two years, and too many Twinkies, to destroy.  I wasn’t “Fat Alex” to Jamie, I was simply Alex, and my lame jokes were still just as funny to her.  Jamie’s laughter had me on a roll, and, for the first time in a couple of years, it wasn’t bought at the bakery. 

That was the last time I ever saw Jamie, but I’m still standing in the spotlight that she shined back upon me.  I’ll always hear her laughing at the jokes that I make when the people around me pull out the duck tape.  I’ll always see that radiant smile, when I need to feel inspired.  And, when I’m feeling down, I’ll always remember something she said to her father, when not bowling her best in Las Vegas, “I have to keep smiling, or else I’ll cry.”  Maybe then this world won’t seem like such a horrible place, after-all.

-Alex Sandell


Jamie Lynn Tischer
November 12th, 1981 - July 17th, 2000

Email (Shawn would like to read any emails I receive about his sister, so if you wouldn't mind my forwarding your letter to him, please let me know.  Thanks.)

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