Big-hearted, creative, complex, funny, animal lover
Jessica was a loving person who was extremely dedicated to her family and friends. She left a lasting impression on everyone she loved and truly wanted the world to be a place of love and acceptance. Of all the people she loved, she had the most special bond with her brother James. They were known as “two peas in a pod” throughout their childhood, a closeness that never wavered throughout their lives. Jessica also loved her younger sister Samantha, whom she became closer to as they grew up.
Jessica also grew up with her half-brother Andrew, and her sister, Victoria, who lived in Ireland. All five siblings looked forward to spending summers and Christmases together in Ireland and the United States making treasured family memories. They especially loved Christmases when everyone would gather at their grandparent’s house on Christmas night and her Grandad and Nana would dress up as Santa and his helper to hand out gifts to all the grandchildren. Thirty or forty family members gathered singing Christmas songs while unwrapping their gifts.
Although Jessica loved people, she always felt as if she fit in more with animals. As a teenager, she became an accomplished, award-winning equestrian, and her friends lovingly called her “the horse whisperer.” She loved taking care of her horses, Monte and Royale, and taking her friends riding with her. Of all the animals she loved, Jessica specifically loved dogs. Her childhood dog, Champ, was one of her best friends growing up. Later in life, she worked at doggy daycares and became a licensed dog groomer. Her dog Vader was her pride and joy and went everywhere with her.
Her mother laughingly recalls, “When Jessica was around six or seven, she wanted to be a dog. She went around on all fours and would ask for her food in a bowl on the floor so she could dine with the dogs. She would take the dog’s leash and ask anyone to walk her around the garden as if she was the dog!”
Before her passing, Jessica was living on her own in Southern California and was going to college to further her education. She had dreams of getting married in St. Coleman’s Cathedral in Ireland, where most of her family had been married, to carry on the tradition. She also envisioned lots of children and animals in her future.
Her mother says what she misses the most are their conversations and Jessica’s voice, warmth, sense of humor, smiles, and, of course, her presence. She says that the hardest part of living with someone in active addiction was the constant worry and feeling of helplessness. Learning how to set boundaries and follow through on them, as well as constantly navigating through enabling versus loving, was extremely difficult to do.
After Jessica’s passing, her family found a treasure trove of photographs that Jessica had taken. Wanting to share her talent and photography with the world, they held a fundraiser selling her photos. The project was called SAJE (Something About Jessica Elizabeth) and the goal was to raise awareness of the disease of addiction while also donating to a charity close to Jessica’s heart.
Jessica’s mother, Bernadette Brierley, provided the information for this narrative.
March 9, 1994–November 29, 2020
Age 26-Lived with the disease of addiction for eight years.