jess-a2th year


April 16 marks the 12th anniversary of the death of my beautiful daughter Vanessa, due to complications of leukemia. She was eighteen and wanted to become a gourmet vegetarian chef and to join the Peace Corps.

I have had a difficult time – more than most people know. I also lost my remarkable son on December 2, 2011, to lung cancer.

As a response to these events, I have had supposed friends tell me that I “must have been a bad person in a previous life” because I lost two children, and others choose not to continue a friendship with me because I didn’t “make” my son follow the diet their guru follows (my son was 37, an adult and old enough to make his own decisions about how he wanted to live and die – he was pondering his own death by the time he was three, so how’s that for “enlightened?” And he told me personally that he thought that particular dietary plan was not something he wanted to do, having read the supposed “guru’s” book). Get real, folks, life is all about death, no matter what you eat! There is NO OTHER OUTCOME! While I was growing up, there was a saying – “only the good die young.” Something to think about…all those who are still dealing with their illusionary options!

I can only say it was an honor to be the mother of these two remarkable human beings…people who made a difference in the lives of others, who treated others with respect and who managed amazing grace and dignity in the face of death (unlike some people who think they deserve the sun, moon and stars, and treat others like garbage simply because they have an “illness” which HASN’T killed them!)

Today has been a particularly horrible day. I am tired. I am disheartened and discouraged. I cannot believe that people can treat one another with such disrespect as I and others have been exposed to over the last few months. It appalls me to have to climb on the “warhorse” yet again – haven’t we managed to learn some civility by the time we attain my age???

Perhaps the world will look more promising tomorrow.

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  • Andrew Caner Sending love and support to you Jess. You are a good and true soul.
    11 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Jessica North O’Connell Thanks, Andrew. Gets me into trouble sometimes though…
  • Kaleema Asya Khan Great love to you Jess. xoxo
  • Jessica North O’Connell And to you, dear sister Kaleema!
  • Amber Harvey Grace costs nothing! True. I’m sad you were treated that way by anyone.
    11 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Jessica Marshall I am so sorry you have been abused by wicked words from stupid fools. Your courage, grace, and gratitude are a source of inspiration for me. Anyone can have those attributes when everything is going well, but you and your children maintain them in the face of the excruciating adversity. You are a true hero of mine. One of the very few.
    10 hours ago · Like · 3
  • Geneva Hagen Your kids were beautiful. I’m sorry people have been treating you badly today. They’re just primates doing their petty territorial and dominance displays.
    10 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Veronica Gelineau-Finch Love you Jess always thinking of you and yours hugs to you and the family..
  • Kathie Stubbs-Benson I feel so sad that this has happened to a most wonderful amazing person. we send our love and support in this difficult time my beautiful niece xxxx
  • Carol Sokoloff love, hugs, friendship… sorry you have been subjected to such nonsense… no one ‘deserves’ such sorrow… and few could bear it with your wisdom, grace and dignity… sending love and light your way… remembering beautiful Vanessa…
    10 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Becky Canterbury Stay strong in the knowledge that you were and are a wonderful mother. You gave them roots and wings. Their love for you is eternal. Bless you,dear Jessica.
  • Joy Warn You are a warrior and dear friend. You have had some very heart wrenching battles and faced your pain and sorrow with great dignity. You planted those same seeds of dignity in your children. It hurts to know you have been wounded by uncaring comments. You are right “Grace costs us nothing”. To you dear Jess I am sending hugs and much love. XO
    10 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Karin Stolle-Lloyd Jessica my heart aches for you! How cruel and unnecessary to say something like that to such a wonderful soul…who mothered and supported two other wonderful souls! Don’t be discouraged and have the strength to walk your path and speak your truth. You are not alone.
    10 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Karlin Creed Love and hugs to you and your beautiful family. I wish there were words I could say to bring you peace, but your words are the ones charged with the transformative power of honesty. I’m listening.
    10 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1
  • Daisy Hieland People who stand by you through trials are worth their weight in gold. Let the others slip through your fingers like sand. The joy you have had knowing your children is worth all the pain of their departure. Those who fear death attack you out of their own fears. Do not let their troubles dampen your soul.
    10 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3
  • Sacagawea Croxen-Mckenzie You are truly blessed to have shared the lives of your beautiful children. You son’s smile I will remember always, and his presence touched my life. Thank you for raising and shaping such beautiful people (all of your children -each one unique and a bl…See More
  • Ken Seidman Thank you for your courage and honesty, Jessica. I did not realize the attacks you had to endure on top of your overwhelming personal grief. Your testimony needs to be heard and heeded! Infinite blessings to you and your loved ones always!
    10 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Christina Budeweit You weren’t bad, you were and ARE badass, my Jess… Wouldn’t have you any other way.
    10 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Kim Lyon Your children are and were so beautiful because you raised them, they came from you. In spite of incredible outside pressures, you have maintained your beautiful spirit through much more than anyone should have to endure, and so did they. You are Grace and live in Grace. Love you always, love your family and what you bring to the world.
    10 hours ago · Like · 4
  • Sue McKay Sending hugs, Jessica…That is more than any mother should have to bear and no, I do not believe you were ever a ‘bad’ person!
  • Kerry Slavens Jessica, I truly cannot imagine your pain, but I am so moved by your great heart and I wish you peace and healing.
  • Jacquie Thiessen Large ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ to you
  • Diana Friesen Nobody really knows the path that anyone takes, and the reasons why. Perhaps these two wonderful beings chose to experience this incarnation with you because you have the strength and beauty to walk it with them while they where with us? Sending you energy with love for whatever you need it most. Hugs!!!
  • Echan Deravy Dear Jessica, don’t let the beggars get you down. And that was spelled wrongly..
  • Suke Su sending you love and light namaste
  • Carol McGrath Dear Jessica, today would have been my brother’s 78th birthday. He died very recently and I miss him terribly. Unlike your beautiful children he had a long and full life and died peacefully. Life is beautiful and sad and poignant and right now I’d li…See More
    5 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Susan Brooks Frank I am hoping today is better for you. I am hoping that something simple and beautiful will cross your path today to offer you solace and comfort. Please keep speaking your truth, Dear Lady, for your words and experiences have much to teach and I listen to every one.
    4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Pamela V Jones As if the pain of your losses were not enough. What fuckers. You are loved, you are loved, you are Loved.
    4 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Carole Anne Couchman I only can imagine how your heart aches for your beautiful children. Our children should outlive us but Jessica you are such a wonderful mother that you were put on this earth to prepare these beautiful souls for a higher journey.
    I love you so much and it is an honour to be your friend.
  • Kasandra Meierhofer Sending love and light your way, Jessica. I cannot even begin to imagine the reasoning behind others’ cold-heartedness and blatant lack of respect, nor can I even begin to imagine the toll these losses have taken. You are a beautiful, strong person and…See More
  • Marcia Stewart Sending you a hug bigger than all tomorrow. You are an amazing womyn dear Jessica. Your strength and wisdom and love for others inspires me. I say consider the source, acknowledge their fear and know that they secretly wish to be you in all your beauty. Love you dear heart.
  • Sue McCaskill Oh, Jess, there are those of us who love you and support you, no matter what! You are a strong lady and whatever the world throws at you, you handle with amazing dignity. Love you and it’s an honour to be considered your friend. Goddess Bless
  • Pam Desjardine It’s hard to imagine it’s been 12 years already! Jessica North O’Connell, you have my love and hugs!
  • Bonnie Jk Elendiuk Jessica those are not people you need in your life. Why would they still be carrying on like this after all the time that has passed. They must not have much of a life to need to be feeding off of you. Banish them from your thoughts and heart for they do you no good.
  • Kara Pothecary You and your children are beautiful. Doing your part to help the planet and everyone on it by just being you.
  • Robert Allnutt They still live in your heart, I hope that the happy memories are a comfort.
  • Dan Favarger adding my 2 cents worth to the longest thread I’ve ever seen in facebook….which speaks volumes of good stuff about you….but not everyone has the ability to see your pain over their opinion. They are the losers.
  • Sharon Dudka Man’s inhumanity to man has baffled me for centuries and breaks my heart. I have never known you Jessica North O’Connell to walk with anything but dignity and grace so it saddens me that others in their officiousness would treat you and the memory of …See More
  • Stephanie Cerins Sending you love and hugs! I agree with Sharon Dudka! You Rock!  We are all gonna die what ever we eat or do not eat. I just live with a smile for your heart! xoxoxoxoxo
  • Linda McDaniels we are spirits having a human experience and part of that experience is to experience death and for you the loss of 2 of your children is part of it…a path of great difficulty, it saddens me to hear of the ignorance of people who would dare to judge …See More
  • Janice OBriain I’m wearing purple for Vanessa today. It’s such a beautiful day here – it’s easy to think of her. Much love.
  • Beverley Hawkins My thoughts and prayers are with you Jessica. Your children are wonderful gifts to you and even if they are not physically here with you any more, they are with you in your heart. Their participation in your life has been instrumental in helping you shift and grow.
  • Sue McCaskill I was just thinking, the song that reminds me of you the most is “I am Woman, hear me roar.” It goes along with my image of you as Mama Bear, watching over your children and just daring anyone to mess with them. Those who denigrate you and the memories of Vanessa and Zach don’t deserve the time of day, and remember, what goes around, comes around.
  • Dave Godfrey our love to you Jessica; like the ducks and geese say, enjoy the rain while it’s here and let those who dare to denigrate you and your goodness stew in their own sorrows.
  • Amy Walter My tears and hugs and love goes out for you…It is true that a lot of people are very cruel…I have been struggling with this frustration as well but it’s not everyone and maybe not even the most people…Seeing people around me sharing the same frus…See More
  • Jessica North O’Connell Thank you, Amy, for being a true inspiration.
  • Jessica North O’Connell Thank you all for your kind words and support. Blessings to you all, and enjoy this marvelous day!
  • Barbara Lambert Love you Jess.
  • Tira Brandon-Evans You are a remarkable woman. Very few people have the grace and courage to share their pain. One hundred thousand blessings to you today and every day.
    And Jessica again:
    What I have learned from these experiences: some people are so afraid of death that they think they can avoid it (by eating a certain way, following a particular “guru,” etc.- they are still missing “the point”); some people really do not have an understanding of Karma (simply cause and effect, not “punishment” – we do that to ourselves, often); some people are simply vampires and get a “charge” from the grief of others (pointed out by a woman who had also lost a child and noticed how many people were getting their “fix” from being around her in her grief – and not to help either). 

    I do believe that we choose our parents for the opportunity to learn and grow as souls, and that we as parents also grow from our interactions with our children. Both Vanessa and Zachariah were exceptional human beings in the impact they had on the lives of others; both had great “depth of soul.” They were also both examples of “amazing grace” – and what I have learned from watching their consideration, kindness and appreciation of those who offered them service during their illnesses is that there is “no excuse for abuse” toward one’s caregivers. I have seen people use their illnesses as an excuse to perpetrate all kinds of violence toward others, and I no longer can make excuses for that. 

    When I look back at the lives of Vanessa and Zachariah, I see signs that they both knew they would not live to be old people. I think one “reason” they chose me is because they knew I would support them in their choices rather than try to make them be who and what they weren’t. It is our physical selves that miss and grieve the physical selves of those who pass on – on the level of Spirit, we are all One, despite our apparent individual appearances. It is as though each miniscule part of the Divine seeks to be fully Self-aware, and isn’t that the greatest Mystery, as it is an endless process, taking myriad ways and styles of exploration and expression…Namaste.

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