Sensitive, kind, loving, creative, animal lover
At 4’11” and 100 pounds, Jessica was small in stature but big in personality and presence. Her twin sister, Jennifer, describes her as a unique, eccentric, creative person, “a badass”, who marched to her own drum and did what she wanted.” She had a bold, trend-setting fashion sense and liked to read and express herself through poetry and writing. Jennifer is currently compiling Jessica’s writings into a book. Jessica loved all animals. According to their mom, Jessica and her sister snuck a lot of animals into the house over the years.
Jessica was a very kind person. “If you just met her, you fell in love with her within two minutes,” Jennifer said. She was sensitive and intuitive about people’s feelings and made people feel safe, loved, and accepted. Jessica had a big impact on many people in her brief life.
Family vacations were spent with Jessica, her parents, Jennifer, and their older brother, Justin. Most trips included doing something adventurous like zip-lining or swimming with dolphins. Jessica loved to travel and was saving money to purchase a van to travel around the U.S. After she returned from treatment, she found two jobs and worked seven days a week. She entrusted her mom withholding the money she saved – $800 in just two months. “I was so proud of her,” her mom, Nancy, said.
The sisters spent every birthday together. When they were old enough to drive, they would go to 7-11 at midnight to kick off their birthday and make plans from there. “It was our special day. We would wake up and do whatever we wanted,” Jennifer said.
Jessica had various jobs and was working out what she might do career-wise. “She loved her time being an aide in a special needs classroom. Jessica had the patience of a saint,” her mom said. She needed a creative outlet and wanted to help people, so it made sense that her goal was to become an art teacher for special needs kids.
Jessica had some significant relationships, but her soul mate was Lyla, a best friend to both Jessica and Jennifer. When Jessica’s addiction got more serious, it changed her bubbly personality, and she was often sad or depressed. Jennifer felt worried and powerless to be of help. Jessica passed away from an overdose of pure fentanyl. Two people have been charged in Jessica’s death with first-degree murder by provision of a controlled substance.
Jennifer misses the level of love and connection she had with her sister. “That doesn’t happen with just anyone. I feel lucky for having it for 19 years.” Jennifer said. Nancy misses Jessica’s smile, hugs, crazy clothing choices, and wild ideas. “I do not miss her disease,” she said.
“Since Jessica’s passing, I look back and wonder what I could have done differently,” her mom said. Nancy takes part in press conferences and helps to educate people about the disease of addiction, the Florida Good Samaritan law, and the use of Narcan.
Jessica’s mother, Nancy Ackerman, and twin sister, Jennifer Ackerman, provided the information for this narrative.
December 15, 2000-January 22, 2020
Age 19- Lived with the disease of addiction 4-5 years