Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In Memoriam: Jessica Kochis-Fedeli

I lost a dear friend over the weekend. Jessica had been battling cancer for years, but despite the horrible toll the disease took on her, she always sent it back into remission. She was a warrior whose optimistic spirit was infectious.

Straight out of college, Jessica traveled to exotic parts of the world to fight for social justice and worked with troubled teens before eventually taking a job teaching.

Sometime around 1998-9 Jessica moved to New York City, a place I'm sure she would acknowledge as her spiritual home. She loved living in NYC and though she wanted to travel, she knew she would always return to New York, where she eventually met her future husband, Shawn Fedeli.

Jessica and Shawn were dating when she discovered the first signs of cancer. Together they faced the tragic loss of her leg, but were relieved to hear that the cancer was gone. It returned six months later, but again Jessica sent it into remission.

I last saw Jessica about 18 months ago. I was visiting NYC and took the subway to Brooklyn where I met Jessica and Shawn for dinner. She was healthy, happily married, and thrilled with her job teaching government and sociology at St. Saviour High School. I never would have guessed her life could take such a tragic turn.

I would like to write more about Jessica, but for now this is all I can muster.

Goodbye, Jessica. I'll forever miss you.

ADDENDUM:

December, 2009

A sleepless night haunted by ghosts. My friend's mom recently succumbed to Parkinson's. I find myself reflecting on the ghosts of my past. Eventually, I gave up on sleep, pulled myself out of bed and began to drift through the ethos of the internet. I find myself looking up Jessica. I'm haunted by Jessica's demise for the simplest reason of all: she was so young. I stumbled upon the following website (below). It is a beautiful tribute to Jessica.

http://jessicas-story.com/


7 comments:

Damara L said...

Hi there,

I, too, was heartbroken to hear of Jessica's passing. I met her in Immokalee, FL many years ago while she was volunteering with a low-income summer camp. She was wonderful -- all smiles, spirited, fun and full of compassion and wisdom.

I visited her once in NYC, but then lost touch over the years...

Do you know the circumstances surrounding her death? Was it sudden?

My prayers go out to her, her husband and her many friends and loved ones.

Much love,

Damara

Stormcrow said...
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Stormcrow said...
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Katie said...

I had known Jessica for a good portion of my life as she was one of my older sister's closest friends (my sister was Matron of Honor in Jess' wedding) from the time she began attending St. William School in Euclid, OH. From there she became a part of my family when my parents became her "guardians" when she was in the play Tetelestai with us. She was such a wonderful and loving person who will be missed by many.

Katie said...

I had known Jessica for a good portion of my life as she was one of my older sister's closest friends (my sister was Matron of Honor in Jess' wedding) from the time she began attending St. William School in Euclid, OH. From there she became a part of my family when my parents became her "guardians" when she was in the play Tetelestai with us. She was such a wonderful and loving person who will be missed by many.

Aunt Barb said...

Jessica was our niece and the daughter we never had. Her loss has been heartbreaking and difficult for me and everyone who loved her, especially her mom and Sean. She lost her leg in 2003 and fought the battle with Cancer since then. No one ever heard her complain about loosing her leg, about being sick, about the pain, nothing. She and Sean moved into a new condo in April and her mom and I were there to help. She was so happy to have her own home even though it was only for six weeks. She always reached out to help others I know that would be her legacy to everyone she cared for and loved.
She is an inspiration to us all...

Unknown said...

Jessica was my baby cousin. She cALLED me juju when she was little because she couldn't say Julie. She was adorable and I loved her so much. She embodied a great faith in God. When she was on hogh school I gave her a medallion of Jesus face. I knew she would wear it with pride. Jessica was her Mom's joy and our families youngest child. She was smart and beautiful and had a loving heart. She enjoyed helping people. That was her life's calling. She was loved by so many. When she moved to NYC I was happy for her but a little jealous. She was doing what I always dreamt of. When 911 happened...I worried about her...when she got cancer, I blames the air she breathed during the fallout of 911, as the reason she became sick. She struggled for 5 years battling that beast...cancer. I hate you cancer...you took my sweet jesse from me.