Jesse Santiago Hartley

Born on February 2, 2004 • Died on February 10, 2004

February 14, 2004

VAL: It’s hard to know what to say about Jesse. He was with us such a short time that I hadn’t even gotten used to the idea of his being around before he was taken away from us.

What I can say is that in the brief time that he was here he brought us immense happiness and completely transformed our lives. Jesse was a beautiful gift. He was a kind and loving soul who touched all those who met him.

I knew from the beginning that he was a strong baby. He survived a miscarriage scare in the second month, and he seemed to be much wiser than mommy about the whole pregnancy thing. He guided me on what to eat and how much and told me when it was time to rest.

I also knew that he was stubborn. Towards the end of the pregnancy when he was big enough to have his kicks felt, he made his presence known. If I turned over in the middle of the night and he didn’t like the new position, he would kick and punch until mommy turned back over onto the side that was more comfortable for him.

I think these qualities served him well and brought him back to us for a few special days.

For me, the song “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” from the musical Annie became permanently stuck in my head from the day Jesse was born—he was our ray of sunshine in a time of darkness—even while in the hospital.

George learned that it was possible to experience real joy again so soon after tragedy. I wish that you all could have seen the two of them together. It was a wonder to see such love pass between them. As I’ve told a number of you, Jesse immediately knew George’s voice and would become attentive when ever George spoke. He especially liked to hear George read and sing. Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash was a special favorite.

GEORGE: Valerie was so cute with him, a natural mother. Before he was born she would always talk to him, saying “Good job, Little One!” because he had managed to stay inside her for another day. As soon as he popped out, not even two weeks ago, Valerie was transformed, so calm, at peace, so beautiful holding her new Little One.

VAL: Then the moment of yet another tragedy struck—Jesse’s heart and lungs stopped working. Despite all of George’s efforts and the work of the rescue squad, Jesse remained down for about an hour. But then, with the heroic efforts of the emergency team at O’Bleness and Jesse’s fighting spirit, his heart started to beat again on its own and we were able to have him with us for a few more days—to hold him, kiss him, just look at him in love and awe. That extra time with him was one of his best gifts to us and we will always treasure those days.

But soon we had to let him go.

In spite of this horrible, unbelievable tragedy, Jesse’s life and death have touched us to the core. His presence with us was a miracle. We will never forget him and we will always love him.


Jesse's First Day More PhotosMemorial Service