Memorial

Memorial

James Stenehjem

James Stenehjem

Born
Died

We miss everything about Jim except his illness (addiction). His warmth, his intellectual conversations, his curiosity, his jokes and witty banter, his amazing inventiveness, his artwork and sports abilities, hikes into the mountains with him, camping and boating, attending church and seeing him open his mind to the philosophy of Jesus, and seeing him as a devoted, tender, protective father.

Tell us about your loved one.

Jim was a beautiful boy and man. He was brilliant, funny, athletic, an amazing inventor and he could figure out anything mechanical. Most of all he was warm and loving. He gave the best bear hugs! He was a devoted father to his son Eli, and was happiest when camping or having other outings with Eli. Jim loved the outdoors and was talented in art and creative writing. He was a both a big brother to his little sister, and a little brother to his older brother. He and his sister were particularly close. He played with her and made her laugh from the moment she was born, and he grew protective of her as young adults. He was also protective of his mother, and loved spending time with her on car and boat trips, hikes, watching movies, and playing with Eli. Jim was a big strong man but his nature was sensitive. After high school, he could not settle down and study in college, so he went to Sun Valley, Idaho and worked in various jobs at the ski resort for four yeas. He became a waiter/bartender, which was not a good choice for him due to his addiction, but at the time neither he nor we recognized the severity of his addiction. He became very popular at each of his waiter/bartender jobs, as he was handsome, personable and capable. he moved several times, trying to escape his addiction. He lived in our home town, as well as Sun Valley, Idaho, Seattle, Portland, California and Wisconsin. He made friends wherever he went, as he was sociable, witty, loved to sing karaoke, and took a genuine interest in other people. Late in his life, he came home and began taking college classes. He did very well academically, but his addiction caused him to miss many classes and not complete some of his assignments. The assignments he did complete were insightful and creative. He volunteered at church and helped serve meals to homeless teenagers. He found the saving power of Jesus Christ in the second-to-last year of his life, and believed with all his heart. He is now with Jesus.

Tell us about James' struggle with addiction

Jim began using drugs at the age of 13, as an "adventure." We sent him to inpatient treatment twice at ages 16 and 17. When he turned 18, he refused to go to any more treatment, as he believed his drinking and drug use was just recreational and thought he could control it. Sports injuries at his job at a ski resort after high school started him on pain pills, and with friends at the ski resort, he used cocaine recreationally. At age 24, Jim became a father and moved nearly 2,000 miles from our family to be near his little boy. He tried to get off the pain pills by taking methadone through a clinic. As he was very lonely in the new place, he increased his doses of methadone and the clinic (to its shame) went along. When he reached a very high dose, and was still drinking, he had a psychic break. We brought him home, and he tried to quit the methadone cold turkey but could not. He continued drinking and moved to California for a fresh start. He went back to pain pills and his addiction grew. In debt to drug dealers, he came back home, but continued buying the pills. He moved to Seattle twice, and to Portland, Oregon, but stayed on the pills, By 2009, back home for another fresh start, he met the girl who became the love of his life. As the pills were too expensive, he switched to heroin because it was cheaper. In 2010, his girlfriend and family convinced him to go back into treatment. He did so, then lived in a sober house in Seattle successfully for 10 months. He seemed to blossom, volunteering, attending AA and NA meetings, and writing thoughtfully about his addiction. In 2011, he and his girlfriend got an apartment and made life plans. That year, a young friend died tragically and Jim relapsed. He tried and tried to stop, but could not, and his girlfriend left. We sent him to treatment twice more, and moved him into our home for nine months. He repeatedly tried to quit but could not. Disheartened and embarrassed at another relapse in 2014, he shot himself

What made James smile?

Jim smiled at his family at all stages of his life, from playing with his little sister and big brother as a child, to his parents all through his life, and most of all at his own son Eli. He also smiled at the mountains and gorgeous outdoor scenes. He was witty and silly and loved cartoons (as a child) and crazy comedies as he got older. He would mimic silly movie lines and everyone around him would be laughing. He smiled when he built or invented something. As a teenager, he took the entire engine of a Volkswagon apart to see how it worked, and then re-assembled it and drove the car! He invented a skateboard with a motor long before anyone else did, and had many ideas that could have become commercial businesses if he had concentrated on them and not been distracted by his addiction. He also loved singing karaoke, and drew creative animals and creatures throughout his life. he smiled when people appreciated his artwork. and his snowboarding abilities.

What do you miss most about James?

We miss everything about Jim except his illness (addiction). His warmth, his intellectual conversations, his curiosity, his jokes and witty banter, his amazing inventiveness, his artwork and sports abilities, hikes into the mountains with him, camping and boating, attending church and seeing him open his mind to the philosophy of Jesus, and seeing him as a devoted, tender, protective father. He had so much to give to all of us if he had lived, especially to his son. He wanted to be a great father but his addiction kept him ill, often broke, and unable to travel very often to see his son. I miss his deep voice calling Mom, seeing him toss his son up over his big shoulders, and I miss him every time I look at the Columbia River where he died. I miss him when a see a smooth, handsome waiter dressed in a vest, I miss the profile of his prominent nose and long chin, I miss seeing him in our yard trimming bushes, washing windows, shoveling bark, fixing anything broken. I miss my son!

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