Tuesday, April 3, 2012

For Jackie.

I received some terrible news last week. One of my dear friends passed away.  She was my roommate in College. She was a partner in crime.  She was truly one of the best people I have ever known. I am truly devastated.

Jackie Jessen-Hamblin and I met in September 1995.  We were living in Greaves Hall Apartment style dorms at Utah State University.  We didnt know each other, she was one of the random roommates assigned to a dorm with 5 of us who knew each other from the previous year. She was a freshman(to our sophomore/jr). Her twin sister Jen was assigned to a dorm upstairs from us.
Jackie could have been nervous and anti social, but that wasnt her style. She came in confident and fun. She had a BEAUTIFUL singing voice. She and her twin Sister could sing together and it was like they were one person. The pitch, vibrato everything was the same. They could harmonize together so well. They were amazing together.
Jackie was assigned to share a room with one of our roommates, Natalie.  I was sharing a room with  Diane.  After a few months, Diane and I realized that living together was fine, but if we wanted to remain friends we should probably not share a room. Jackie wasn't especially happy rooming with natalie, (a very stressed out Pre-med student.)  We all decided it would be in our best interests to switch, and Jackie and I ended up sharing a room. Diane and Natalie did much better together and Jackie and I hit it off like crazy.

FUNNY!! She was so funny. We would laugh so hard together. I would write funny little poems for her, and her boyfriend(at the time) while he was serving a 2 year mission for the Mormon church. She always told me she hated the song Puff the Magic Dragon because it made her sad. ME TOO! So late at night when we would both be in bed, I would whisper across to her.
"Jackie?  Are you awake"
"(jackie mumbling something incoherently, presumably calling me a 4 letter word)
"Jackie?  "
(singing softly like Sheldon singing Soft Kitty) "Puffffffff the magic Dragon"
Then me ducking frantically as she threw a pillow at my head.

At one point we had a roommate issue of someone coming in and helping themselves to food that was not their own. (not pointing fingers, but you know who you were). One particular target was fresh breads, usually banana bread. (we always had intentions of eating healthy, as demonstrated by the plethora of rotting bananas in our apartment). One day I came home and the apartment smelled SOOOOO good. Someone had made banana bread. It smelled like banana bread, but there was no banana bread to be found.  All the roommates came home and everyone oohed and aahed about how good it smelled. The offending swiper no swiping roommate was trying to figure out who made it. Jackie said she needed to see me in our room, she wanted to talk to me privately.  I followed her in, wondering what the problem was.  she reached under her bed and pulled out a plate of banana bread and a tub of butter. I started laughing. She said "shhhh, they will all know its in here. Now shut up and eat!".  So we sat in our dorm room eating banana bread together. One of the roommates came and knocked on the door, and she tried to talk with bread in her mouth to answer. It was like trying to whistle with crackers.  I was laughing so hard I was crying.
One time I was sitting on the couch. She comes over with a highlighter and started to draw on my face with it. I said "What are you doing??". and She very matter of factly said "Playing connect the dots with all your freckles!".
I had a sweatshirt from the gap. It was one of those sweatshirts that was a shorter torso (for layering) but had really long sleeves. One time I was getting the sweatshirt on and before I could get my arms through the sleeves, she grabbed them and tied them behind my back like a straight jacket.
We used to call each other "Ya Sh**".(yeah we were classy).  Well i had set up her email account to where she could assign names to her email contacts and all she had to do was put their first name in the address line and it would send it to the right person.  Well after setting it up you are supposed to log out to save the settings. She didnt log out. So she put my name in the address line and the message was "Hey ya Sh**. Whats up. Meet me in our room for banana bread?"  Well there happened to be a teacher at USU whose email address was Sarah. (Students had emails that all started with SL for student login. Faculty, staff and admin all had email addresses that were their names.).  So this TEACHER with no sense of humor got the message meant for me, calling her a 4 letter word. She emailed back and told her that was unacceptable and she would report her if she continued to harass her in such a manner. Poor Jackie.  she finally learned to laugh about it down the road. We, however, didnt really learn a lesson and continued to call each other the 4 letter word. (OK Looking back, not my proudest moment, but it was a term of endearment)

After I got married and moved away, we continued to keep in touch.  after the birth and death of my daughter Jillian she was someone I could talk to and laugh with. She helped me through a lot of depression.

She met her husband at USU in 1998. They were married in 1999. I wanted to be there, but we had just moved to North Carolina and wasnt able to get out.
She and I continued to stay in contact, emailing and calling back and forth.
one time I called, and it had been awhile since we had talked.
"Jackie? This is sarah"
"So whats going on?"
"Oh you know, just putting my shoes on."
She was always quick with something funny to say.

I was one of the first people she called after the death of her daughter Brooklyn. Brooklyn was stillborn at 9 months. She called me right after it happened. I answered the phone and immediately she says "We lost her".
She had I had a good cry on the phone together. She knew I would understand what she was going through.
I hurt for her.

A few years later, a few weeks after the birth of her 3rd child,  I took the boys out to Utah to visit family. We got together for lunch and took the kids to build a bear. We laughed and chatted and had a great time. It was like we had picked up where we had left off.

We continued to stay in touch over the years.
Over the past 17 years of our friendship she battled 3 bouts of an aggressive cancer with Radiation and Chemo and Surgery. Her second bout was made more difficult by a stroke that left her without her speech. She had to learn to talk all over again. It took her a lot longer to type and think about what she wanted to say than before, but I understood.
This third round was just too much. I knew she was sick, but never realized just how sick she was. A few weeks ago I emailed her and said "Hey will will be out in utah next year for a family reunion, would love to see you". She replied that she was going through chemo and radiation and would need to have surgery afterwards"  . That was just a few weeks before she passed away. I wished her a happy birthday on her facebook wall. Then I saw a post from her twin sister that they were at the hospital waiting to See Jackie and that she was really struggling.  A few days later the message came that Jackie had passed away.  She was 35 years old.
She leaves behind a sweet husband, a 10 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. Her daughter Brooklyn would be 8.
I am just so sad for them, but I know that she and her husband and family will be together again in the next life. I know that THEIR faith will help sustain them in the hard times ahead. I know that Jackie was a great wife, mother and friend. She lived a great life and I cant wait to see my sweet friend again someday after I have lived my time here on earth.

her family has set up a fund for The Hamblins. This will help with her medical expenses, final burial expenses and help with costs for the kids.
100% will go to her husband and kids.

Jackie, if you have internet up in heaven, you know I love you and will always miss you.  You were one of my favorite people ever and I am simply devastated by your passing. The world seems a little less bright with you gone. Always remember that Puff the Magic Dragon loves you.
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