Letters from Jessica

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

 The cell phone vibrated, jolting my mind from its current preoccupation. We were in the car, riding the ferry over to Seattle, another doctor visit for my daughter.

I looked down at the display. 'Unknown' stared back at me. I really didn't feel like talking to anyone at the moment, especially to an 'unknown.' I waited briefly for the vibration to subside, and the quick chirping tone confirmed a message was left.

I punched the button for 'voice mail' and traveled back 3 years.

John and Jessica were a young couple very much in love. He was Navy and had recently been transferred to a boat at Bangor Subase. They wanted to make the Kitsap Peninsula home. That's where I came in. I had the good fortune of of being on floor the day they walked into our office.

I liked them immediately. Jessica was bright, full of laughter and life. John played the serious one. They had some specific needs for a home. Jess had Cystic Fibrosis and required close proximity to doctors, hospitals, and regular physical therapy. We found a great house together and we had a blast doing it!

Jessica continued to stay in touch with me. Her letters and notes offering glimpses into their lives together. They also described the challenges and battles of her degenerative illness.

"Rich, this is John." The familiar voice was shaky, wavering. "Jessica died last night."

The air was sucked out of my lungs, like being punched in the stomach. No matter how much you know something is eventually coming, it never makes the reality any easier.

I drove to their house later that night. The house we had all bought together. I sat with John and listened to him tenderly relive Jessica's final moments. And I cried.

Early this morning, as I prepared for a regional training event, I found the last letter from Jessica. It was a Christmas card.

She wrote: "I was in the hospital for about a month, but I'm back home now. They put a tube into my stomach, but I'm still losing weight. I'm 82 pounds now, but I'm working on it! I need to get to 115 to be considered for a lung transplant. I can't really leave the house, but maybe you and your family can come over for dinner sometime, once the hectic holiday season is over? Have a great New Year!   - Jessica -

I wish so desperately now that I had taken the time to stop by, to see her, to be there for her and John. But I allowed other things in life to get in the way.

I'll be there for John. But somehow, my concern seems ingenuous, cheap. It's a tough, painful lesson to learn.

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Rich Jacobson is a District Director for Fathom Realty and a licensed REALTOR®; an avid Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.


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Alexander Harb
Knights Investing - Mesquite, TX
Dallas, Texas Real Estate Investing


Don't beat yerself up, man...... Stay a buddy AND help John thorugh this...who CARES if you don't get a paycheck from it.....

Paychecks are paid in different ways in this life, Rich..... friendship itself is a paycheck a LOT of people do not think too highly of...and they should!!

=-D =-D

Feb 22, 2007 08:08 AM #24
Linda Davis
RE/MAX Home Team - Gales Ferry, CT

I'm sorry for your loss Rich.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  But you gave me a nudge - I can do better.

Feb 22, 2007 10:21 AM #25
Maggie Dokic | Miami, FL | 305.81.HOUSE (46873)
eXp Realty LLC - Miami, FL
GREEN, CDPE, SFR, Pinecrest | Palmetto Bay |
Rich, I'm sorry for your loss.  Thanks for the gentle reminder.  It reminded me of that song by Mike and the Mechanics that always makes me cry.  You were obviously very dear to them.  I pray you will find comfort in that knowledge.
Feb 22, 2007 10:35 AM #26
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection
Rich, sorry for your lost.  It is only natural that we form real relationships with our clients; and when something like this happens it really hurts.
Feb 22, 2007 10:40 AM #27
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services
So sorry to hear about your loss.  It is true that we become very close to many of our clients.  We share their dreams, the birth of their children - the loss of a parent and unfortunately, the loss of a past client.  I actually had a client pass away during the searh for a home -- it is like all things in life -- when we get close to clients we experience both the highs and the lows -  I am sure that you will offer a great deal of comfort.
Feb 22, 2007 11:53 AM #28
Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate
Majestic Properties - Miami Beach, FL
I am so sorry to hear about Jessica Rich, although I never met her, got a little glimpse of her life through your eyes, thank you for sharing and please tell John that he will be in our prayers.
Feb 22, 2007 12:01 PM #29
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Rich, no matter how you feel, it is evident that you were an important person in their lives even if you did not keep as close a contact or responded differently.  John would not have made you one of those phone calls in his time of loss if you were not someone that he wanted to share this time with and have close to him.  I am sure that he did not find anything ingenuous, or cheap in the time that you spent with him.  You my friend did the right thing and I am sure that the tears that the two of you cried together will be something that he will always value.

Feb 22, 2007 12:45 PM #30
Desiree Daniels
RE/MAX Tri County - Robbinsville, NJ


Great post and thanks for sharing.  It is just another reminder especially for someone like myself who is a professional procrastinator not to put off things..  better time management... life is sweet and life is short...   take nothing for granted

Desiree  www.TriCountyHomes4Sale.com


Feb 22, 2007 01:39 PM #31
Bonnie Erickson
Tangletown Realty - Saint Paul, MN
Heavy, heavy post, Rich.  Jessica would not want you feeling bad.  It was apparent from her last letter to you that she lived life to its fullest as long as she was able.  She would want you to do the same.  The real measure of your words of regret will be in how you follow up with John.  Everyone gathers around at the funeral time, but who will be there in 3 months when others have forgotten and he's really alone?  Put him on your calendar and check in regularly.  He will need your support more later than right now when others are gathered around him.
Feb 26, 2007 12:51 PM #32
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!


This is a powerful post written with profound depth and honesty. We wanted you to know that we have included this entry in Our Suggested Reading Guide for the Fraiche Aire RendeVous in Black & White.  Thank you.

Mar 01, 2007 12:09 PM #33
Beth Larsen
RE/MAX Sedona - Sedona, AZ
Sedona Arizona

Ah, Rich. Thanks for sharing. I recently had a similar situation. Clients I like very much who relocated here less than 2 years ago. He fell ill just before Christmas, a short terrible illness then passed away in February just 8 days before his birthday. His wife wrote group e-mail updates almost daily, as a kind of therapy - very eloquent. I kept meaning to to see him, didn't want to interrupt family visits, too many distractions that no longer seem important, etc. I've been filled with disappointment and regret.

He wasn't as young as Jessica, but it still seems cruel.

It helps a bit to know that others have made this same mistake, I guess we're only human. It's a real lesson in priorities and missed opportunities, but we can use this as a turning point to move forward from, and perhaps still make a contribution in caring for those they've left behind.

Jessica sounds like a lovely person, and she will clearly be missed.

Mar 02, 2007 02:14 AM #34


I am sorry for the recent loss of your client and friend.  It was wonderful that you were there for the husband, a listening ear is so special.  This is a part of our career that is difficult and yet also the part that makes it worthwhile.  People...caring, sharing and living life together!  Blessings to you and all those that really, truly care more about the human aspect than the dollar! 

Mar 03, 2007 04:33 PM #35
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
I loved that story!  Very heartfelt and sure hits home. (my dad died from lung cancer 3 yrs. ago....I just quit smoking Jan. 13).  Client's do make an impression on our lives...
May 08, 2007 08:33 AM #36
Ginger Wilcox
Sindeo - San Francisco, CA
We spend so much time with our clients that they do often become friends.  This post is very touching and reminds me that we never know what tomorrow may bring- cherish today and those who brighten our lives.
May 08, 2007 10:45 AM #37
Cat Zwicker, CRS
Desert Sky Real Estate, LLC - Redmond, OR
Down to Earth Service; Out of this World Results!

Okay I vote re-blog this! What a message on tomorrow's never come. I've started last week to try to only worry about what I can handle in a day as yesterday's are gone and tomorrow's path may change before I get there. GBU!

Nov 22, 2008 09:54 AM #38
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

Oh my.  This made me cry.  Our clients do become family, don't they?  We all know life is short.  We have constant reminders in our lives surrounding us at all times. Why oh why do we keep this knowledge in the back of our minds?  I've been putting off SO many things when it comes to my friends.  Tomorrow, I"m calling each and everyone to let them know how much they mean to me.

I too, hit the ignore button far too often. I get so "sucked" into life, when what really is important to me are my relationships.  Perfect reminder for all of us, especially during the Holiday season.

Nov 22, 2008 10:43 AM #39
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Sometimes there's just not as much time as we think there will be.  I fight the battle of enough time for everything and try to remember that my family and friends need and deserve priority.

Nov 22, 2008 04:47 PM #40
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX

Rich, this is so well written and very moving and also tells me so much about you as a person. You really are remarkable and it's an honor to know you!

Nov 23, 2008 12:54 AM #41
Hollis Henry
WinStar Realty - Idaho Falls, ID

Wow, Rich.  The tears are flowing.  Thank you for sharing this.

Nov 24, 2008 01:13 AM #42
Vickie McCartney
Maverick Realty - Owensboro, KY
Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY

Rich~ I have lost a few of my clients too.  It is very sad.  They do become our friends and it is tough to deal with the loss even if you know it is coming.  There really is no way to prepare for it.  The best thing is like you said, Taking the time out and NOT allowing "Life to get in the way" and  to visit and spend time with our friends and family is so important.  It is a lesson that life really is too short and we never get "time" back.........It kind of reminds me of the book "Tuesdays with Morrie"............. Vickie McCartney

Nov 24, 2008 03:26 AM #43
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