My Story

Jessica with sister’s and brother

I put it all on hold just to make another person’s life whole as much as it could. When my sister was born, my family was limited to outside help with her extensive medical needs. Because I was older than my brother, and sisters I was the one spending my teenage years even until my early twenties being my parents’ right-hand man. To the world, I had given up everything, but in my world, everything was great and wonderful. I gained so much from those 16.5 years of dedication, self-sacrifice, love, being steadfast and faithful.

My life was good and I knew from day one from October of 2000 that life like this was not a permanent thing and so our family made the very best of it. I knew first hand what selfless love was like when you gave it to someone who needed you the most. Most people didn’t know about how much my sister relied heavily on others just to function with the basics of life such as moving around, eating or communicating. My sister was as smart as they come, though she just happened to be stuck in a body that wouldn’t function like yours and mine. In this time though, I learned how to live in the moment even more and appreciate and value all the blessings and things I had. I also knew that in God’s time, all things would work out as they needed to. I never once was angry, mad, befuddled or impatient! I just believed. I believed in the powers that be, that an opportunity was just around the corner. In the time I took care of my sister, God blessed my family as well as myself! I saw the blessing come in different ways from various gifts, great doctors when I was sick, jobs that allowed myself financial freedom so that I could be here. These blessings continued to our parents as well, so they could care for myself and siblings in all ways. God’s presence was always around as he protected me and guided me when I needed it. So as everything in life, it’s just temporary; the situation with my sister was temporary. From me giving up dances in high school to bad relationships or even bad careers, was nothing! I knew all things would all work out the way He wanted at the right time.

Nicknamed “Smilo”


I recall the time after my sisters passing, I was trying to find my new normal, my new routine of life. Slowly but surely, I did find the path even though there are times I get emotional as I was so deeply rooted in a life of loving and caring for my sister. From the pain, I experienced and turned them into words as I was motivated to share those 16.5 years of my life caring and loving my sister into a memoir released last summer. My motivation? I want to give hope, encouragement, and guidance to others facing something similar as I did. Like I said earlier, God’s timing is key and as I hit the submit button on my computer for the book, I kid you not, I get a call for a work opportunity! The same way God was taking care of my sister, he also continues to take care of me with my favorite guardian angel every step of the way. Just believe and know that staying strong in your faith will give you the best rewards in the end.

My Advice

Stay focused on what's important. I believe in the end, that LOVE and FAITH are the two things that will be there for you at the end of the day. Trust me! It's a beautiful thing when you realize these two virtues and everything else almost seems laughable.


Jessica, WOW! That is not an easy thing you did, especially as you were giving up so many things during your teenage years to be helping your sister and family. Even though you may have lost out on some memories that most young people have, I know they don't compare to the memories that you gained with your loved ones and especially your sister! As I get older, I realize how much family means. In fact, when I was around your age, I really didn't appreciate the times with my family as much. This story is a reminder for many things and appreciating not only health but also the relationships we have with our family. Thanks so much for sharing Jessica and I hope to be able to share your memoir with others someday on this platform. And lastly, you knew you had a sister with more needs than the average family member. Instead of thinking about yourself and going about your business as a young girl, you made the decision to help her as well as your family and that's what Check"ing" Your Game is all about...…….and, you seem to go through life with a smile! I guess that's why you're called SMILO! Thanks again! Gary Rogers

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Bernadette Damron says:

I am so proud of you and love you so much for all you did for your sister my heart is bursting and my tears are falling. God will Bless you over and over. Our Sweet Angel in Heaven ( Victoria ) will be with you always. Love Nana Bernadette XO

Denise Obermeyer says:

Jessica, we met several months ago, and I was so surprised on how honest, sweet, dedicated, kind, and your loving heart of “will” to do things…that made me think: WOW? How did I find a friend like her ? ***Not until, you told me your story did I know of the things you gave up and sacrificed to help your family grow. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for you at times, but always know that what you did for your family and sister has changed your heart in many ways. You are a natural giver, a moral supporter, a team builder, and a loving care taker. All of these qualities represent the image of you. Your beauty is beyond appearances. You laughter is beyond measurement. And your willing to help and see people happy are beyond the gift of giving. I’m more than positive, if your sister could see you now, she would say: “That Jess is one of a kind, she’s the BEST SISTER anyone could ask for !!!” 🙂
I love you Jessica with all of my heart.