Carol Sheehan faithfully wears a handmade necklace in the shape of a heart made from fired clay. Bold red and accented with bright blue dots and shapes, it is slightly irregular with the impressions of the loving fingers that crafted it. Carol joyfully states, “I wear it all the time, I’ve even worn it with a formal gown!”.
Carol is the owner of the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester (and Milford). The necklace was made by her late son. Born Jesse Lawrence Isabelle on January 28, 1992 to Carol (Lawrence) Sheehan and his father Kevin Isabelle, doctors said that he would be lucky to live a year, perhaps, after suffering from irreversible brain damage. Jesse was born with Alagille syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder affecting the liver and other organs including the heart, eyes, spine, and kidneys.
In his brief 14 years of life, Jesse endured excruciating pain on a daily basis and had 32 major surgeries. The disease ravaged Jess’s hearing, requiring him to wear aid. At ten years old, his eyesight was so impaired he was declared legally blind. However, with Carol’s loving care and dedication Jesse celebrated life, amazing all that knew him with his zest, enthusiasm, and ability to love others unconditionally. “He never, ever complained” Carol declared.
At three years old Jesse was mastering 100 piece jigsaw puzzles. Later in life he could be seen at the Red Arrow Diner challenging patrons to a game of tic-tac-toe. Jesse’s stepfather, Dennis “Pops” Sheehan, said “Jesse was avid bowler, swimmer and the loudest singer in church.” Aside from his family, baseball was the love of his life. His room was always decorated with Red Sox memorabilia. He insisted on only wearing Red Sox clothes, even his socks!
In February, the family moved back to Manchester from Warner. During that winter, Jesse suffered a grand mal seizure on the back roads of town prompting a reevaluation of his situation. Carol wanted him to be in a place that offered full medical facilities. The Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass. offered such care. The school helped introduce Jesse to other children suffering from similar medical problems, opening a whole new world for him. “He just started changing,” his mom said, “he was a different kid.” While at the Perkins School Jesse won a competition for designing a Christmas card. The card was distributed worldwide.
In 2003, through the High Hopes Foundation, Jesse was granted his Experience to meet the Red Sox team. “He wanted to be a baseball player,” said Sheehan. On June 21, 2006 Jesse was scheduled to throw the first pitch at the Red Sox game. It was not to be. His brother, Tyler did it in his honor.
On June 9, 2006 Jesse succumbed to the disease, but as written by Daniel, Jesse’s best friend from the Perkins School in October 2006, “The length of time Jesse spent here has little to do with the impact he made on our lives.”
A creative writing project Jesse wrote the day before he died:
What I want to do on my summer vacation is to watch baseball games.
I would play baseball with my stepdad too.
I will sleep over my sister’s house.
We will play games and watch TV.
I will go swimming in the lake this summer.
I can’t wait for summer
*article written by Paul Ryba in 2007