This is not how it was supposed to go. The text came through stating I have only 20-25 min. So far, each interview has averaged about an hour. I was hoping the same for this one. But I would take what I could get. Believe me when I say, Jesika filled every second of our time with a lifetime of stories. Stories of luck in the unluckiest of circumstances.
But it is Friday the 13th after all.
“Everything used to come very easy to me.” Growing up in New Brunswick, Jesika was athletic and played a lot of sports. She did well in school without much effort. And she enjoyed a balanced life between her “hippy” mom and her “jock” dad. Jesika didn’t take her life for granted. She worked hard to get to where she would eventually be at the top of a global marketing network.
Not long after her marriage to Andrew, things began to change. It was as if life seemed to throw everything at her…including the kitchen sink! During her pregnancy she discovered an underlying health issue that still affects her quality of life today. Then her husband suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car bomb while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan. Through it all, Jesika’s competitive spirit never gave up.
“Every time a trauma hit us, we knew we could get through it.” This was put to the test when she was given 3 days to find a liver transplant. As nerve racking (or I guess organ racking) as that would be for most people, Jesika found a way to grow and make peace with herself. After another setback, she realized “It was like a metamorphous of myself; new hair, new skin.”
From rebuilding her life to rebuilding her kitchen, life hasn’t been easy like it used to be. But it’s not without its reward. She and her family have traveled and explored the world; wintering in New Zealand and Bali; living in an elephant sanctuary; stretching herself in some of the most beautiful places on earth. They have reinvented themselves and built new business ventures that inspire others to overcome their own traumatic experiences.
Like Jesika explained to me, “I have visualized and manifested myself back to health in many ways.” She and her husband have rebuilt their life and home when the foundation has literally crumble below them, and now “the center of our house (the kitchen) is falling apart.” The metaphor did not escape Jesika who has come to realize “For so long I have felt clogged in the center of my body.” She is beginning to see her life more clearly now; looking at the hole in her counter where her sink used to be.
As she spoke, she never lost the light in her eyes or the smile on her face. I don’t think she was trying to be brave, I think that’s just who she is. She’s balanced even though the track and field might seem uneven. She still loves to dress up in leopard print on Halloween, she still savors life even though she can’t enjoy her vice – ice cream. She still hangs out with her two best friends from high school, the ones who she shared her first “drink” with – a two liter “Rockaberry” Canadian Cooler.
If she could go back in time, it might be to middle school or her last two years of university, and she would tell her younger self “Stop building your resume.” She sacrificed so much of her life to get the “things” she thought she wanted. But now, married to the man of her dreams and mom of two beautiful young kids, she is finally “playing again…walking on water…feeling the lightness…cherishing the moments.”
I cherished my short time with her. I was grateful she extended it a little longer. But she too is grateful to have her life extended too. Because the literal and metaphorical hole in her kitchen isn’t going to fix itself.