Memorial Day 2009: Boston BBQ

Name: Neil Sullivan

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Relationship to Jessica: Friend

I met Jess through my girlfriend, Lauren Albert, in 2009.

Lauren & Jessica, Memorial Day 2009

© jessicafashano.com

I met Jess through my girlfriend, Lauren Albert, who was Jess’ college roommate, during a visit to New York City in the spring of 2009. We stayed with Jess at her apartment and it was clear to me right away why Lauren considered Jess one of her best friends; Jess was energetic, fun, and positive. She instantly made me feel welcome, as though I had known her for years.

One memory that stands out for me is when Jess visited us in Boston on Memorial Day, not long after our trip to New York. Lauren and I met Jess at the bus station early on a Saturday morning, and the girls quickly took off for some shopping on Newbury Street. I was hosting a barbeque at my apartment later that weekend, which the girls promised they would attend.

When they arrived at the barbeque, the group was comprised entirely of my family and friends. Unfazed, Jess quickly immersed herself in the group and was an immediate hit with everyone. Her trademark laugh could be heard for the rest of the night. She particularly enjoyed teasing my two brothers for their “Boston accents.”

I think of Jess frequently, and even though she is no longer with us I will always remember that Memorial Day visit in 2009, and how happy she was and how happy she made everyone else.

Soul Sister

Name: Ashley Pitman

Location: New York, New York

Relationship to Jessica: Roommate; Soul-Sister

I first met Jessica at Georgetown – Senior Year.

© jessicafashano.com

I met Jessica several times at Georgetown and after graduation. I had no idea during all our fleeting encounters that she would very quickly become one of my closest and most trusted friends – a true soul-sister. I’ll never forget the day I told David Velasquez I was thinking about moving into the free room in Jess’s apartment and his face lit up. He said “Jessica Fashano is the nicest person EVER. You HAVE to live with her.” He was right! From the minute I moved in the friendship accelerated at a speed that I think surprised us both. The stream-of-consciousness emails and texts were non-stop. Even though she was always so busy at work, she seemed to know my schedule better than I did and she was the only person who asked me how my day was every single day.

Needless to say, living with Jessica for three years was one of the highlights of my life. The memories are countless, and even considering an amazing weekend in Madrid, my favorite moments were just chilling in her room, testing make-up shades, talking about food & travel, and sharing stories…only pausing to make dinner reservations when we’d finally decided on which of the dozens of restaurants on our “list” we were in the mood for. Rusty Knot for po boys and a pretzel dog was always the default back up.

Today is Ash Wednesday, which reminds me that Jess would always give up cheese for Lent. This made choosing restaurants during Lent really difficult as to avoid temptation. I’m sorry we won’t have to face that struggle this year.

I was lucky enough to have called Jess one of my best friends. I love and miss her every day and can only find peace knowing she is at peace.

Jessica’s Patented 110%

Name: Christopher Powell

Location: New York, New York

Relationship to Jessica: Friend

Jessica and I have been friends since college at Georgetown.

Jess & Chris in Boston, Summer 2007


© jessicafashano.com

Every time I think of Jess, the first thing that comes to mind is that big bright smile.

You could literally turn towards Jessica, see her smiling, smile back, THEN she would turn it up a notch and just light up the room. You not only had to smile just then you’d have to laugh… it would be the only way possible to match the joy emanating from her face.

Her smile always made seeing her after a while a special event.

I miss your smile babe.

My memory revolves around this point. I remember having a conversation with Jess while I was in law school. She was telling me that she was going to be in a Citigroup Recruitment video. She eventually sent me a link (made me beg to see it)! I was very proud of her. But I loved the video’s intro. It started with her smiling and then you could tell the cameraman told her they were recording because her smile (which anyone who didn’t know her would have thought was at 100%) suddenly shot into Jessica’s patented 110%. She was beautiful and eloquent and proud. But that clip couldn’t convey how compassionate she was as well.

Jessica's Patented 110% Smile from the Recruitment Video

© jessicafashano.com

Roommate and Forever Friend

Name: Jenny Kraemer

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Relationship to Jessica: Forever Friend and Roommate

I met Jessica 10 years ago at Georgetown University.

Jessica & Jenny in Chicago, Summer 2009

© jessicafashano.com

Jessica & Jenny Candid

© jessicafashano.com

Jessica. We remember her laugh, her huge heart and the love she had for everyone she met. Just thinking about her crazy, infectious laugh makes me smile. All of her hard work trying to help others in need, contributing to charities, raising money and her generosity. She was an amazing friend. She could make me laugh when I was sad. She always cheered me up when she knew I had a bad day – sometimes that meant just sitting with me in silence after a crappy day. But she kept me company. That’s the trademark of Jess – like so many other people have pointed out…She always wanted to make people happy and make people feel better.

I remember when I heard the news – I simply could not believe it. Jess was too young. But Jess lived her life wonderfully. She had done so many things on earth and I’m sure she’s doing even more in heaven. I will forever be grateful to have known her. I will forever be grateful for spending 10 years of my life with a friend like her. I will forever be grateful for the memories I have shared with her. Jessica will forever live in my heart.

I’m adamant about one thing: Don’t ever forget Jessica. She never wanted this, never wanted people to cry or be unhappy. She wanted to make everyone happy. We should all be thankful that we were given the chance to have known a woman like Jess. What an inspiration she was and still is! What an amazing woman.

The pictures I have included are from when Jess came to visit me in Chicago. I remember that day like it was yesterday. We were soooo tired but we dragged ourselves out of bed to walk around the city, get breakfast and make the most of the time together because the trip was short. All the pictures we took of us that morning weren’t to our liking. She didn’t like how she looked and I didn’t like how I looked. Having just rolled out of bed and rushing to get out of the apartment, we didn’t feel “camera ready” and she made me delete almost all of them on my camera. But now looking back at the pictures…they are probably two of the best pictures of us. So real and in the moment. With me planting a kiss on her cheek and her arm wrapped around me – that is how I will remember Jessica. I’ll forever cherish these pictures.

Jessica will forever be missed but I know in the right time, I will meet her again. We will all meet her again and she’ll make us laugh in tears again.

This is a goodbye – but only for now. Love forever and ever.

Girls Trip to Greece

Name: Lauren Albert

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Relationship to Jessica: Georgetown and post-college roommate

I’ve known Jess for 9 years. We met on our first day of college – she lived across the hall from me, and we were pretty much attached at the hip for the rest of college! We then moved to NYC together after college, and lived together until I moved to Boston in October of 2006.

Jess & Lauren in Mykonos, August 2009


© jessicafashano.com

Jess and I had been dreaming of going to Greece together for at least five years, and were finally able to make it happen with a few of our other girlfriends in August 2009.  I was extremely excited to spend ten straight days with Jess, since we hadn’t had more than long weekends together since I moved to Boston.  We were so truly happy on this trip and it was just like when we were roommates – getting ready together to go out on the town each night and staying up late chatting about nothing and everything in our room each night.

The above picture was taken on our first day in Mykonos, a very windy day! (I’m sure Jess was wondering if her hair looks ok!) My luggage was lost for the first couple days, so like the selfless friend Jess was when any of her friends was in need of help, Jess let me borrow her clothes and anything else I needed, so I’m wearing her dress here. Later in the trip she also helped hold my hair back when I got sea-sick on a 6-hour ferry, and I will always remember what a great friend she was for doing that!  Of course she made a joke out of the situation, and had me laughing through it!

Jess was in love with life on this trip and I will always remember how happy and lively she was.  After we stayed up late dancing and celebrating Greek-style each night, Jess would pop out of bed early the next morning before anyone else, and we’d find her rejuvenated and relaxed out by the pool reading a book, or on our deck planning our exciting agenda for the day, while guarding our breakfast from the crazy wild Greek kittens begging for food!  She motivated us all to get up and get the most out of each day.

Jess’ fun, energetic and adventurous nature let loose on this trip and resulted in many hilarious memories, yet she was still the organized one with the great restaurant, beach and sight-seeing ideas, and was also still the motherly one that took care of each of us in different ways throughout the 10 days (and made sure we made our flights and reservations on time!) – basically she was everything to all of us. 

After we got back from Greece, Jess would send us quotes, trip recaps, songs and photos for the next several months while still on the high from our trip.  Once we all had our photos uploaded into our separate albums, Jess had wanted us to compile them into one “master” album.  Unfortunately, we never got around to doing this while Jess was still here with us, so I made the slideshow below for Jess.  Sorry this took so long, Jess, but I hope you like it – you are the shining star, just as you were on our trip!

© jessicafashano.com

Jess showed her true colors on this trip, and my wish is for all of us to carry her spirit on – she was always considerate with her heart, generous with her love and always made a point to have fun and find humor in everything.  I love and miss you terribly, Jessbabes.

Tres Dedos

Name: Sandra Mergeanian

Location: New York, New York

Relationship to Jessica: Friend

I met Jess the first day we arrived in Sevilla, Spain for our study abroad experience in January 2004. We clicked instantaneously and have been very close friends ever since.

Jessica & Sandra, New Year's Eve 2007

© jessicafashano.com

Tres Dedos...Jessica, Sandra, & Monica

© jessicafashano.com

Dear Fashano,

Just as I sang you “The Sandwich Song” on the banks of the Guadalquivir River in Sevilla, Spain, on your 21st birthday (only a month after meeting you), I sing (more like belt) an excerpt of this most goofy song to you again, to bring a huge smile to your face, that is, on your 28th birthday:

“Sandwiches are beautiful, Sandwiches are fine. I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time;
I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch; If I had a hundred sandwiches, I’d eat them all at once…”

Although the most defining experience we shared was study abroad (those six months in España were probably some of the happiest in our lives), I chose a picture from NYE 2007 to share with everyone because it points out that our friendship transcended Spain. I actually knew from Day 1 that I met a “life friend.”

The two of us went to Tavern on the Green. Logistically, the night was a complete bust. We waited in line for over an hour in the cold to get in; the countdown didn’t even take place at midnight; and the place was extremely overcrowded. We didn’t let any of this get in our way of having the time of our lives. We met people from all over the world, ate and drank plenty, and danced the night away into the wee hours.

Jess, you were such a quality human being, a true confidante and ever loyal, considerate and generous friend. I am struggling with this most tremendous loss. Know that I love you and miss you so much.

Tres Dedos.

Sandrita

Dance Partner, Travel Buddy & Fellow Foodie

Name: Rochelle Ballard

Location: New York, New York

Relationship to Jessica: Friend, dance partner, travel buddy and fellow foodie 🙂

We met at Georgetown, but our friendship blossomed after moving to New York. Almost 5 years of brunch dates, dinner dates, dancing the night away, concerts, Valentine’s/Birthday celebrations, Hamptons summers, Halloween costume swaps, and a vacation to Greece that I will never forget. My most vivid memories with Jess involve fun, laughter and living life to the fullest.

Jess, your passing has truly left an irreplaceable void. This will be the first of many memories I hope to share with your family and friends in honor of the vibrant life you lived.

Ro & Jess in Greece

© jessicafashano.com

This picture, taken on our trip to Greece in July 2009, reminds me of the warm, kind and loving angel you were while here on Earth and the angel you continue to be….

I have faith that the peaceful tranquility that radiated from you in this picture, is now yours forever. Though you are gone, the spirit of our friendship will always be with me.

Happy Birthday, Jess. Another Valentine’s Day made special because of you 🙂

Love Always,
Ro

A Heart for Others

Name: Michelle Javian

Location: New York, NY

Relationship to Jessica: Roommate for life, dear friend

I met Jessica during our 1st week at Georgetown University in Southside Cafeteria 10 years ago.

Jessica & Michelle, Hamptons, July 2007

American Heart Association 5K Wall Street Walk/Run, May 2009


© jessicafashano.com

As I’ve thought about Jessica (also known as “Jess” or “Fash”) over the past several weeks, two recent experiences have come to mind, which capture how much I learned from her about loving and giving. In early December, we collaborated on a fundraiser for Harboring Hearts Housing, the charity I co-founded after my dad passed away from heart disease. Jess was always looking for ways to support worthy causes, and when she said she could help out with this event, I was thrilled and honored to have her co-chair the event. This event was particularly meaningful for us because it was a shopping night at Jessie James Boutique, a shop we’d discovered together 5 years ago and visited ever since. Thanks to Jess’s planning, everyone had a wonderful time, and we raised $1,200 for Harboring Hearts. But I was especially touched by how Jess went above and beyond to make sure that the evening was special. She got cupcakes donated for the event, she made gift bags for the participants, and she even paid for heart-shaped soaps out of her own money. Jess had a lot going on at the time—she was applying to grad schools, she was preparing to leave her job, and she was dealing with all of the emotional ups and downs that come with the holidays. But she still took the time to give of herself to help friends and support a worthy cause.

The second experience was at Jess’s funeral. Like so many others, I was full of grief and confusion at having lost such a dear, wonderful friend. Jess and I had been roommates for three years at Georgetown, and we’d remained very close when we both moved to New York after graduation. After 10 years of being friends, it seemed impossible that she was gone. Among the others attending the wake and the funeral, I saw a former roommate of ours from Georgetown. We had not parted on the best of terms. But she was there at Jess’s wake, and when I saw her, all of those hard feelings melted away. I gave her a hug, and we were able to mourn together for the loss of a friend we’d both loved. This made me realize how much Jess had always taught me about loving, forgiving, and bringing people together. She was a connector. Whether it was connecting me with her group of friends in New York or bringing two estranged roommates together again after several years, Jess had a talent for making personal connections. In fact, she may have been so good at loving and giving that she never learned enough how to receive and replenish herself when she was feeling empty.

I miss you, Fash!

There are so many things that I miss about Fash. I’ll miss her hugs and smile, so full of warmth and love and support, even when she didn’t have words. I’ll miss how she was always there for me—even leaving work to bring me soup if I was feeling sick. I’ll miss her reminders that I should keep my receipts and her recommendations of Spanish authors to read. I’ll miss her commitment to social enterprise, and I’ll never forget how either she or her family members would attend every Harboring Hearts event that I put on. I’ll miss how she always had a funny story to tell. I’ll miss the on-going list of activities that we planned to do together, whether it was something small like getting corn muffins together in the Hampton’s or sitting by my fireplace and playing Apples to Apples, or something big like traveling to Greece. I’ll miss how much she wanted everyone to be happy.

Jessica, I love you and I miss you so much, and I’ll never stop learning from your example.