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Being there no matter what
Jess proves that a "baby bear" can be just as ferocious as her mama!
I’ve known Jess since a few days after she popped out of her mother’s womb. The daughter of one of my oldest and dearest friends (and accidental mentor) Bonnie, Jess has grown into one of the most caring daughters I’ve ever known. We’ve all heard references to the ferocity of “Mama Bears.” Jess shares that intensity as a “Baby Bear.”
Although she has dual master’s degrees in public health and women’s studies and had her own career in community non-profit work, Jess is happiest when she’s at home. Except for her time away at school in Florida, Jess has never lived anywhere else—not for want of opportunity, but because she prefers to soak up every chance to be with her mom.
Almost fifteen years ago, Jess’s mom was diagnosed with a chronic health condition. In the early days of her illness, her mom wanted Jess to build her own life, “I wish she would move out and have a life of her own,” her mother would say to me.
But Jess would have none of it.
“My mom is everything to me,” Jess told me one day as we stood outside their little ranch house on the lake I call Lake Nirvana. “I’m not willing to give up a single minute with her, especially when she’s still feeling good.”
“I understand, Jess, but you deserve to have a life too,” I countered.
“This is my life,” Jess said, “and I love it.” And that was all she’d say about it.
Jess epitomizes love in everything she does, whether it’s creating a garden of colorful flowers that she and her mom can enjoy from the expansive living room windows or making a video of a cute bunny playing in the yard that she can show her mom after she comes inside, Jess makes it her mission to bring beauty and joy into their household.
In addition, she makes sure that her mom’s every need is met from prescriptions and doctor’s appointments to meals and laundry. Jess keeps the house going, just like her mother did for her all those years earlier.
Watching Jess throughout her life, even while worrying that she wasn’t living for herself, I’ve come to understand that Jess is exactly where she should be, doing exactly what she wants to be doing. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jess has taught me much about loyalty, especially to family. I admire the clarity of her conviction, and I appreciate the depth of her love for someone who has meant so much to me in my life.
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