Jessica Shelby Filson

Jessica Shelby Filson

Artistic, Loyal, Free Spirit, Kind

Jessica and her mother, Cheri, had a special, indestructible connection. There was a high degree of trust, friendship, and unconditional love between them. Jessica was 18 months old when her mother met Steve. It took some time for Jessica to warm up to him, but then it developed into a nurturing father-daughter relationship that lasted throughout Jessica’s life. His loving nickname for her was “Squirt.” Jessica was a typical child. She took singing lessons and loved to draw. Her favorite movie was Lion King. Steve has fond memories of singing “Can you Feel the Love Tonight” with Jessica.

Jessica and two of her early childhood friends, Geoff and Ceslie, also had a tight bond. Still part of the family today, they agree that the mold was broken after Jessica was created. She was a free spirit, living in the present but often reflective of her past.

At about 13, Jessica’s difficulties began with defiance and a couple of admissions to Loma Linda Behavioral Medicine Center where she was treated for depression. “We confronted a lot of issues,” Steve said. There may have been some abandonment and grief issues over her birth father, who was incarcerated until Jessica was in her mid-twenties. He also had a substance use disorder. Steve explained, “I think she thought he chose drugs over her.” There was a stark contrast between her biological father and Steve, a San Bernardino homicide and narcotics police officer. “Being blood-related meant nothing to me, I loved her more than anything in this world,” Steve said. “I feel I should have been there for her more, been more empathetic and compassionate about her feelings, not a gruff old cop,” he added.

Jessica was a stunning woman, though she didn’t see that in herself. She was kind with a strong moral compass. She always wanted to do what was right. “Jessica was a very loving and compassionate person, empathetic of others, loyal to her friends, and an animal lover,” Steve said. Every animal the family had was rescued by Jessica. Three cats, Doom, Bacon, and Bogey, still live with her parents.

As an adult, Jessica’s artistic talent was channeled into a cosmetology career. She expressed herself through her hair, clothes, and body art. She went through a Gothic period with everything black, then times as a blonde. Her body became her canvas, an expression of who she was and what she was going through or thinking. On her 18th birthday, she got her first tattoo, a diamond on her neck. Eventually, she got a face tattoo that said “Shameless.” “She didn’t care what people thought about her, she wasn’t ashamed, so it spoke to who she was,” Steve said.

Drugs became a coping mechanism for the things Jessica couldn’t resolve. She tried but couldn’t overcome the hold they had on her. At 27, she gave birth to her daughter, Elara, whose name comes from the eighth moon of Jupiter. The epidural she received caused chronic back pain, and she was prescribed Norco, a pain reliever that includes opioids, which she took in addition to the recreational drugs she had previously used. She loved her daughter and was a wonderful mom, but because she and her boyfriend, Nick, struggled with sobriety, she needed help with Elara, who often stayed with Jessica’s parents. Since Jessica’s death, “Mimi and PopPop” are raising Elara. Steve stated, “Jessica left us a gift. That little girl is the foundation of our lives now. It is what is sustaining us.”

Jessica’s father, Steve Filson, provided the information for this narrative.

March 12, 1990-January 22, 2020

Age 29-Lived with the disease of addiction for four years.

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