In Loving Memory JESSICA BACCUS

By Valenzano, Joseph M., Jr. | The Exceptional Parent, November 1999 | Go to article overview

In Loving Memory JESSICA BACCUS


Valenzano, Joseph M., Jr., The Exceptional Parent


On Friday, September 10, I learned that Jessica Baccus, age 24, had quite unexpectedly passed away in her sleep. Jessica was the daughter of Tricia and Calvin Luker, and Craig Baccus. She and her parents, together with her two sisters, Larissa and Melissa, and her brother Will, received the EXCEPTIONAL PARENT Family of the Year Award in 1997 in Washington, D.C. Jessica's story has been chronicled in the pages of EXCEPTIONAL PARENT and in several other leading national publications. I wish you could have known her.

Jessica was beautiful inside and out. Despite days when she experienced between eight to nine grand mal seizures, she had a vivid imagination, powerful emotions, and an extraordinary passion for life. She exemplified each day the lesson of courage over timidity. Her life and her ordeals, and how she dealt with them, teach all of us the value of sharing experiences with others. Jessica's life was living proof of the value of parental love and advocacy and how mutual trust, support, and working together can help overcome life's greatest challenges.

It is in times like this that we tend to dwell on death. This is understandable and part of human nature. The finality of it all engulfs us and tries to hold us captive. Sorrow and grief is all around us and it is easy to fall into the depths of despair. What does one say to the family at a time like this? We have all heard the cliches: "Time heals all wounds"; "In time, the grief will pass." And while the words are coming from people who care, it seems to me that there must be something more we can do. There must be something we can do to give meaning to her life.

There is an ancient Indian saying that goes like this:

   "When you were born, you cried and the world around you rejoiced. Live your
   life such that when it is time for you to leave, the world cries and you
   rejoice!"

Jessica most certainly did that. She left behind a legacy of love for all of us to share. I flew to Michigan on September 13th to attend Jessica's funeral. It was a beautiful, loving ceremony and as I listened to the moving tributes from friends and relatives, my thoughts went to the grace and dignity of this young woman. …

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