Tuesday, March 4, 2014


this past saturday was Jarronn's 34th birthday.

while i believe there's a divine order to everything, when the birthdays roll around, it's hard not to wonder what he might have been like at this age. in fact, the wondering about the "what ifs" is probably one of the most debilitating things we can do when we're grieving. it's all very natural. but unfortunately, it also tends to be a ride on a road that leads to nowhere.

Jarronn had a special enthusiasm for life, and he wanted to experience all it had to offer. he loved to travel and he'd even create detailed spreadsheets with an itinerary of activities when we were planning to visit a new place.

after he passed away, i immediately thought of the many places he'd never see. the trips we wouldn't get to take. chicago. the grand canyon. the annual cruise planned by a friend. egypt. brazil. it all seemed so sad. it all seemed to remind me of what i saw as time cut way too short. and with each birthday that came after he passed, it seemed to be a reminder of what wasn't done. and what wouldn't be.

i remember being on a boat tour of the sydney harbor in 2012. the weather was beautiful. the sights were unforgettable. and as i took it all in, i started to cry thinking about how Jarronn never got to see any of it. and there were other moments like that, in different places. for so long, the new experiences that were helping me heal also had the sting of reminding me what Jarronn wouldn't get to do.

but then, eight months later in that same year, and more than three years after he had passed, something interesting happened.

i was on a different boat.

this time in the cayman islands. the weather was beautiful. the sights were unforgettable. and as i took it all in, i had this moment of renewed perspective.

it might sound kind of strange, but i recognized that as i continued to live and travel to new places, Jarronn would be there too. not in the physical. not even as some spooky ghost. but his memory, his love, his legacy goes where i go. i didn't have to feel sadness over him not seeing a beautiful place, because i carry him with me, based on the love and bond we shared.

and in a big way, that was  f r e e i n g.

because it opened up space for me to let in more gratitude and more hope.

cayman islands, august 2012

happy 34th birthday to my late husband, Jarronn Jackson. knowing you the way I did was one of my greatest joys, and carrying on your legacy is one of my greatest honors. (March 1, 2014) 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

life, love, loss...love

a couple weeks ago, Jordan and i got an email from a producer who works at channel 11, one of the local news stations in new york. she informed us that they wanted to feature the love story of a nyc couple for valentine's day, and they were hoping to interview us for the segment.

we were pretty excited and honored, so we quickly agreed. a few days later, a tv crew and long-time ny tv personality, mr. g, were in our living room asking us questions about our lives -- and all of the tragedy, suffering, surprise, and joy that has made up the last five years.

during one part of the interview, we walked down 8th ave in harlem, talking to mr. g as we were filmed. it was pretty hilarious to see people stealthily snap photos of us with their camera phones. my guess is that they were thinking, "i have no idea who these people are, but i'm gonna take their pic in case they happen to be somebody." ha!

while we were really excited for the piece to air, it's pretty nerve-wracking to sit for a two-hour interview and know it will be condensed into a four-minute segment. thankfully, we had a lot of faith in the crew and their skills.

on friday, february 14, we made our way to queens so we could watch the segment live with Jordan's 86-year-old grandmother. it was amazing to see her reaction and to receive her encouragement after it aired. Jordan was smiling from ear to ear. i shed a few tears (what else is new?). and we were both really happy to see how the segment included beautiful photos of Jarronn and Danielle.

you can watch the segment by clicking the link below.

It's A G Thing: Life, Love, Loss...Love: Follow the Journey of Jessica and Jordan. This is a story about a newlywed couple who found each other, only after both losing their significant others in the most tragic way.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

four years later

my husband, Jordan, said he learned in therapy that our subconscious frequently manifests itself in our dreams. things that we're feeling or attempting to process but don't consciously recognize. things we might even be suppressing. and so it's good to give those feelings and thoughts space. to acknowledge them. to communicate about them. to explore them.

this week, Jarronn was in my dream. twice.

both dreams were about him dying. but in both dreams, the details of his death were altered. the motorcycle accident was still part of the story. but he suffered additional traumatic experiences that weren't part of the actual timeline. both dreams were so real, that i woke up struggling with what was truth, what was reality. 

i'd be lying if i told you i knew what either dream meant. and to be honest, in some ways, both dreams incorporated elements from the movies and books i had recently watched/read -- which isn't very deep. but the idea that my subconscious could be processing the four-year anniversary of Jarronn's death kind of caught me off guard. whether i know it or not, my mind still remembers the shock, the disbelief, the hurt, and the loss. 

at the same time, perhaps the thing i'm processing most consciously today is the uniqueness of my relationship to Jarronn. as his wife, i feel an immense responsibility to honor his life and preserve his legacy. so many people knew and loved him, but as his wife, i also got to know how he felt about and related to his parents, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and co-workers. i've often felt a need to relate to all of those people since he's been gone. 

and yet, my position as his wife seems to somehow have less permanence and more complications than other roles. i've had to give more thought to the way i honor Jarronn's life, which is something others hardly have to do. because while we've all had to move on with life, my moving on was always understood to potentially mean becoming someone else's wife. no one else thought about becoming someone else's friend or brother or parent or co-worker. i've been confronted with how i will honor Jarronn even as life takes me different places. how i'll communicate his importance to me, even as i celebrate and honor my amazing second marriage. how i'll help people understand that what was doesn't get washed away by what is. and that even the greatest new love doesn't make you forget what was lost -- and perhaps my dreams prove that best. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

sympathy cards

today i went through the cards i was given after Jarronn passed.

i've made mention before that i was overwhelmed by the support of others as i grieved and went on living. but reading through every card, i'm amazed all over again.

there were lots of people who didn't know what to say. and they didn't know what they could do. there were lots of repeat cards. and lots of repeat phrases. i was reminded of how many people were shocked, and saddened, and suffered along with me.

but more than anything, reading those cards reminded me of how i was blessed to have the prayers of so many people. and i believe those prayers and thoughts made the greatest impact in helping me experience rays of hope and moments of peace.

i still feel so compelled to let people know how much it all meant.


from Jarronn's co-workers.
from his co-ed flag football team members.
from sorority sisters and fraternity brothers.
from the relatives of our neighbors.
from the friends of my relatives.
from the doctor's office staff Jarronn used to call on.
  (amazing that they missed a sales person)
from presidents and vice presidents of johnson & johnson.
from middle school friends.
from the girls who lived on my floor freshman year.
from engineering students Jarronn mentored.
from the parents of my high school friends.
from our wedding photographer.
from church friends.
from widows.
from people who never met him.
from people who never met me.

hundreds of people who prayed for me and thought of me. an amazing blessing.

words from a card:

sometimes there are no perfect words --
only perfect silences.

where we can rest in God's presence

and know that He hears our hearts.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


it’s been a very long time since i’ve posted, and i have a lot to share and reflect on. i still have questions i want to answer too.

one of the questions i received from my formspring was related to limited blogging:

Your posts are less frequent than in years past – why is that? Is your blogging evolving like you are?

when i first started this blog, it was mainly for the purpose of keeping people updated. in the days and weeks after Jarronn died, i was bombarded with phone calls, text messages, house visits, and emails from people wanting to know if i was ok. the support was overwhelming in good and bad ways. through others’ show of concern, i got a clear picture of God’s love and care for me, even as i suffered greatly. at the same time, the increased attention served as a reminder of all i was going through. there’d be no reason for so many calls, and texts, and visits, and messages if Jarronn was still alive and my life had not been shattered. (weird how it works that way.)

so i figured the blog would be helpful for those times when i didn’t have the energy or time to answer the phone or respond to a message. if someone wanted to know how i was doing, they could always come here and find out.

it’s always been my desire to keep this blog updated regularly. it quickly became more than just a way to keep people informed about my status. it became therapeutic, because of its ability to help me process a million swirling thoughts. it also helped me record things and feelings that i would have likely forgotten by now.

looking back, i can see how my frequent posts in 2009 and 2010 were absolutely based on necessity. i needed an outlet. and though i had lots going on (work, grad school, etc), my need to post made doing so a higher priority on my daily list of to-do’s.

over time, my need for this blog to be my outlet has decreased, and with it, so has the frequency of the posts. i often miss posting. i often feel disappointed that i missed opportunities to document certain parts of my process. i often beat myself up for letting the blog sit dormant for so long. but i suppose, it’s all for good reason.

my grief (for some time now) no longer overwhelms me to the point where blogging is my top priority. my relationships, my business, and planning my next adventure have taken its place. my hope is that even as my need to update people and heal myself through writing has changed that i’ll continue to record the journey of “jessica living” here.

so yes. as i have evolved, so has this blog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

pick up lines

last month i posted about it being ok to ask me stuff. stuff related to Jarronn, his death, and my life after his death. i set up the formspring box below, and i'm glad to report that i've gotten some pretty interesting anonymous questions. some of the questions were expected, others were surprising. either way, i'll answer all of the questions here, across various posts.

there just so happened to be two questions related to the topic of pick up lines. yes, pick up lines. and given the repeated appearance of this topic, i figured this would be a good place to start.

so here were the questions:

question #1: Have you ever used your widow status in a "pick-up" line or attempt to gain some advantage with men folk?

question #2: If a man began his approach with "say girl" would your response be positive or negative?

clearly the second submission was crafted to make me laugh. and did. it. ever! while i'm sure "say girl" has seen some traction somewhere before, i'll just say this: i strongly advise any man reading this to opt for a less generic and more polished line when approaching the opposite sex. godspeed.

now back to the first question. not knowing the tone or identity of the person who submitted this question makes it a bit hard to interpret. i'm not sure if it was written seriously, as a joke, or perhaps a mix of the two. in any case, the question is worthy of a response and is quite amusing on two fronts.

first, the notion that i have an arsenal of pick up lines at my disposal and would work one into the repertoire to get in good with a guy tickles me so. let me just say, i'm far from being that skilled.

second, the idea that telling a guy i'm a widow would make me more attractive has largely been far from my experience. far more typical has been that while conversing with a guy, i somehow manage to mention that i'm widowed (maybe because he asks if i've been married or why my middle name is 'moreland' on facebook). dropping this bomb is typically followed by a look that seems to communicate the guy is mentally calculating how many paces it would take to make it to the closest exit ("i think if i hit a good stride, i could be out of here in 8 steps or less.") if that wasn't the case, there was typically some other equally awkward interaction that took place.

in many ways, i can't blame people. i'm sure the idea of dating a widowed person seems messy. there could be emotional baggage to deal with. a fear of being compared to someone else. questions of that person's capacity to love again. navigating the vulnerability that comes with relationships can be tough enough without adding an extra level of insecurity. and in some cases, i'm sure guys who've met me have wanted to make sure they didn't offend me in any way, which i can also appreciate.

so for the ladies out there who may, in fact, have some good game and have considered whether or not widowhood might help them step things up to the next level -- i can say with almost perfect certainty that any of your other tactics will work far better than the widow card. :-)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

you can ask

in all the moments since Jarronn died, the most common question i've probably been asked is, "how are you doing?"

my answer to that question has often depended on the day, the nature of my relationship with the person asking, and the amount of time i thought the person asking had to listen.

but i also get questions about how to support friends who are grieving, what my life looks like as a widow, relationship stuff, and how i view my loss. 

a couple of conversations with different people, along with emails/messages sent my way, make me realize that people often want to ask me questions, but aren't always quite sure what's appropriate. there's not a lot that's off limits in my mind -- i might not be the most forthcoming person when it comes to sharing personal information or thoughts, but when asked about my life, i think i tend to be pretty open. especially if i feel it might help someone or cause someone to not feel so alone in whatever it is they're experiencing.

anyway, this is all a long set-up to let you all know i placed a formspring box on my blog. if you look on the right column, and scroll down, it's beneath the list of "popular posts." the idea is that anyone is welcome to ask me random, anonymous questions, and i will do my best to answer those questions here.

like the box says, "ask me anything."