Submitted by Jessie’s mom, Kelly Almasy
Who Jessie was
Jessie was very determined — she was walking at just 7 months. She was generous, kind and funny. She had a smile and a laugh that could light up a room, and people gravitated toward her. She was artistic and creative, and loved to be spontaneous — Jessie was always up for an adventure. She could never pass a dog on the street and not stop to pet it. She was a certified dog groomer; she had just finished her apprenticeship the day she died.
Jessie struggled with substance use from an early age
Jessie started to use drugs as a junior in high school, but she admitted to using alcohol as early as 12 years old. She had her first Percocet at a party her junior year and said she routinely used it on weekends for a while before it became a problem. She went to treatment for the first time at the age of 19, and she died of a xylazine and fentanyl overdose at the age of 32.
She tried very hard to beat her addiction. She went away to treatment several times — she was involved in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and had several sponsors. After her last treatment, she came right out, got a sponsor and worked the 12 steps. She was still active in AA and spoke to her sponsor the night she died. We still don’t understand why this happened, and probably never will.
How our relationship changed
Jessie and I were extremely close. We had normal mother-daughter ups and downs during her adolescence, but things got really bad after she became addicted to opiates. We argued a lot, and I tried every way possible to try to control her behavior — of course, unsuccessfully. We both hurt each other very much with things we did and said. I am grateful that eventually I became involved in Al-Anon and AA. I was able to learn to love and accept Jessie in her addiction — things got better.
After she sought out treatment, we were able to rebuild our relationship and make amends with each other. I am so grateful that happened.
Being a mom is the job she loved most
She loved her family and her son, Joseph, with her whole heart and always tried her hardest to be a good mom. When she went away for long-term treatment for the final time, she was on “blackout” for 30 days and could not see or talk to her son. So she made a journal for him and wrote him a letter every day — she filled it with drawings, stickers and Bible verses so that he would know later that she was thinking of him the whole time.
Joseph and Jessie loved to take photos together on Snapchat with all the silly filters. They would sit on the couch for hours laughing.
This is what she would want to be remembered for. And she would want to be remembered for her smile and laugh. Every happy memory I have of her involves those two things. Those are the qualities that defined who she was.
The last time I was with my daughter, Joseph and she and I were playing a pretend game of rugby on a beautiful summer afternoon six days before she died. She was in recovery, sober and happy. I will never forget that day as long as I live.
How substance-use disorder affected our family
I want people to know that Jessie was a kind, sweet soul who was tortured by substance-use disorder. That she was sick and would never have hurt a single person were it not for her disease. I want people to know that the hole in our family is no different than the hole left by someone who dies of cancer or from a car accident. It doesn’t hurt less because she was a drug addict.
If I could say one thing to her now, it would be
I love you, Jessie, and I’m sorry for any way I ever hurt you. My life will never be the same without you.
You are 2 years old and running around my parents backyard so excited about a citronella candle singing “Happy Birthday in a Bucket” over and over again
I have many memories of Jessica. I can’t pick out any favorites because she always always laughing or making us laugh. One that’s stands out is how when she was baby and she would see Brooke, smile a huge adorable crooked smile and say “Brookie!!” With that little screechy voice and then proceed she would to climb up Brooke’s body like a spider.??? Loving you and missing you always.
Jessica was a good mom and a beautiful person. She was so talented. I loved seeing all her crafts that she would do..I think I was her best customer, I bought them all and proudly display them in my home. She loved her Family and always talked about how proud she was of them.I miss her smiling face, and her laugh.
My Jessie….of all of the memories we shared together….the ones that stick out the most were the times we would laugh so hard at each other we would both be running for the bathroom! I always remember how full of energy Jessie was when she was little. I would walk though the door and she would scream “Brookie” and come running to me and climb right up me….from my feet, right into my arms. She was such a little monkey! She was my little side kick. Even as we got older, we still spent a lot of time together and I will forever cherish those times, especially the times we spent together with our children. I’m incredibly grateful for the very last time I got to see her and we told each other that we loved each other and she gave me a great big hug….she was the best hugger! That memory will never be forgotten for all the days that I live. I love and miss you Jessie! ?
Honestly, every moment we spent together is what I will never forget. But, if I had to pick one, It might sound crazy, but the very first time I saw Jess is the memory I will cherish the most. I had a summer job at Clementon Lake Park and we both worked there but she worked in the park and I was a life guard… It was if time stood still when I looked into those beautiful blue eyes of hers for the first time. I didn’t even have the courage to say hello! But as time went by, sure enough, we found each other again later in life and we spent three months of our lives truly happy! She was perfectly imperfect and there’s so much I miss about her… Omg Her laugh! So infectious! One night I was home and we were texting back and forth. She told me to listen to an Ed Sheeren song ‘Perfect’. So, I did and I told her how beautiful that song was, she actually thought I was ‘being a guy’ and was making fun. But I truly did like it and now every time that song comes on it brings back all those truly special memories we’ve shared together.
Our family knew Jessie best when she was a tween. Our families were involved in football together. I always admired how she could make my daughter feel special even though she was much younger than Jessie. Somehow she made my sons feel comfortable even though they were a little younger than she was. I am sure they saw her as pretty girl and were nervous to talk to her, but she was always able to relate to them. She was friendly and respectful to adults too. Her smile was contagious and I smile now thinking of her.
I remember hoping that my daughter would be as confident and graceful as Jessie when she reached junior high. I believe Jessie set a great example for her.
Jessie came from a solid family with loving, supportive parents and a close, loving brother and sister. If this could happen to Jessie and her family, I realize it could happen to mine or yours. Jessie will never be forgotten.