Everyone has someone in their lives that whenever you see them you light up. My sorority sister, Jessica, was that for so many people. This was obvious when we celebrated her life at her homegoing service last weekend.
I first met Jessica my sophomore year of college when she entered as a freshman music major. We were in chamber choir together. I was an alto I and she was a rich alto II. We immediately became fast friends and found we shared a love of the Backsteet Boys. This led to her coming over to the sorority house I lived in many times for impromptu concerts and to study music theory.
She became my best friend in the music department. On our West Coast choir tour I used the long bus ride from Texas to Arizona to tell her how much I wanted her to be my sorority sister and what a good fit she was with us. She pinky promised me on the bus that she would go through formal recruitment in the fall and join Alpha Gam.
She kept her promise and we became sisters. That’s when the fun and shenanigans began. We did step aerobics in the rain. Attempted to skateboard down a hill. Spent two spring breaks in Panama City that resulted in tattoos. Went cruising down the streets of Gainesville bumping Luda. Went to every Jump Little Children concert we could within a 100 mile radius. She spent Thanksgiving with my family and I spent weekends with hers.
After I graduated, I still visited Brenau and Jessica pretty frequently. After she graduated and I got more into my career, the visits became more few and far between. She had a life and I had mine. We would occasionally text and swap I love you’s and virtual hugs, but I didn’t see her again for several years. We finally got to hug necks at a college reunion not too long ago. Seeing each other brought back all the memories and we both got teary at seeing the other person.
After that reunion I think we saw each other two other times. The last time was an Alpha Gam reunion at a sister’s home. We were the last to leave and we stood by my car for several minutes talking about how we needed to not let so much time go by between visits. I kept hugging her and she kept laughing at me because she probably thought I was being weird. I wonder if my spirit knew that would be the last time I would see her alive.
Two weeks ago, I got a text that Jessica had a stroke and was rushed to the hospital. Despite making progress, talking, moving, she passed away 3 days later. I cried and begged God to tell me why this happened. She was young, vibrant and loved by so many. The emotions since have been a roller coaster.
After the service, several of her friends came together for a meal. It was a time of reflection and laughter. Very cathartic. It was unfortunate that it took her death to bring us all together. Some I hadn’t seen since college. Others I’d only known through Jessica’s social media. We vowed to not let this be the only occasion we make time to see one another. I’d like to think this is how Jessica wanted it to be. Her sisters and friends from past and present sharing a meal and laughter together. Accepting one another.
Her nickname in college was Mama. I refused to call her that unless I said it in a certain way that made her stomach turn. Ha! But she was like a mama to us. Loving us. Pinching our cheeks. Giving the absolute best hugs that wrapped you in love and acceptance. I’ll miss that woman.
Love you beautiful, friend!