December 3, 2015
Last May, Alexandra Jester was the featured speaker at our annual event, the Hospice of Cincinnati and Fernside Summertime Classic. We incorporated her remarks in our annual end-of-year appeal but due to space limitations, were only able to use excerpts. Here we have the opportunity to share her speech in its entirety.
Alexandra is a 17-year-old senior at Ross High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council and is a Ross High School cheerleader. She is interested in pursuing a career in the medical field and enjoys spending time with her friends and cheering on the Cincinnati Reds!
When Alexandra was 15 years old, her eight-year-old brother Matthew, who was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age four, died suddenly. She started attending Fernside’s Sibling Loss night in November 2013 with her parents, Keith and Christa and her brothers Nathan and Ryan who were eight and six years old. Sadly, a few months after the Jesters began coming to Fernside, Keith died unexpectedly in a work-related accident. Alexandra, her mother and brothers currently attend Fernside support groups on our Liberty Township Parent Loss night.
This is her story…
In September 2013, my younger brother Matthew passed away unexpectedly from Type 1 Diabetes. Matthew was a terrific brother. He was very smart and one of the bravest boys I know. The loss of Matthew was horrible for my family. We were struggling terribly. Trying to stay focused and attend school and keep my grades up was very, very challenging. Facing students and teachers was very hard. Hearing whispers in the hall and knowing that even your friends didn’t know what to say to you made me feel different. One night my parents sat the family down and explained that they felt it was important to try a counseling group named Fernside. They believed that Fernside could help us heal and face our difficulties. In the beginning, I had mixed emotions about sitting in a room with others and telling them how I was feeling. We started our group with the high and low moments of the day or week. We shared a happy and not-so-happy moment and from there we learned ways to deal with our sadness...and ways to remember our loved ones.
Many times on the way home from Fernside, we would each talk about our feelings of that evening. It proved to be an excellent bonding for our family. It was a great family moment. It allowed us to openly talk about our emotions with each other and we would have some laughs too!
After attending Fernside for five months, my family endured another horrible tragedy. My dad, Keith, was killed in a work-related accident. After going through one horrible loss, you think that you are immune to another. This wasn’t so...Now we had more pain to endure. My dad was our rock for our family. He was strong and a driving force behind Fernside. He believed Fernside would help his family cope with our grief, heal us and bring us comfort.
We have had a lot of support and prayers from our family, friends, school and community. We feel their love and compassion. However, Fernside gives us something more. I have learned that it is ok to be sad and it is ok to be happy. I believe I have become a stronger person since attending Fernside. I look forward to attending my group each month. I see friendly faces and warm smiles each time I go. Fernside has become our rock.
We all share significant losses and feel significant pain. A pain that we know will always be a part of our lives. Many families never experience this and for families like mine, we feel alienated at times. Fernside gives us a sense of home. It’s comforting knowing that I can look beside me into the eyes of a Fernside friend and know he or she feels the pain and sorrow and loss that I feel. We don’t have to always speak it, but feeling and knowing that we are not alone in our journey is comforting. We are comfortable here. We have become a Fernside Family.
Thank you for being here tonight, supporting our needs. Your generosity changes our lives. My dad repeatedly told us that we were going to make it…and we are...day by day, with the help of Fernside.
(L-R) Krista, Alexandra, Nathan & Ryan Jester