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People go through a lot in this thing we call life; a lot being the clear understatement in my opening. Jessica Taylor is a young woman on the rise from struggles and trials we face in life, and her story is particularly hard to swallow so as a result most of the detail she shared with me will be tactfully reported to whoever may read this story of a young woman who persevered through drug addiction, abandonment, and desperately tried to raise her daughter with the unconditional love of a mother. “I left home when I was twelve and lived on the streets of Hollywood.” She began. When her parents split and remarried neither in laws wanted Jessica around in their home so she was forced to find other ways to live which were, at first, apartments provided by her parents. Her parents failed to provide a home for her and since living with them wasn’t an option Jessica found her own ways to get by when she met a group of young kids around her age who were squatters. From Hollywood she and her only friends hitch hiked to the streets of San Francisco and lived there for a total of six years where burglary was a daily routine and soon drugs. Jessica started using by means of needles at an unthinkable age of fourteen.
Jessica became pregnant at the age of nineteen, and this was the beginning of a new and healthy era for her life. She left San Francisco back to where she grew up and got clean and got an education. With an associate’s degree in massage therapy Jessica had stable employment to begin raising her beloved daughter Lillee. For a while things were going great for the new family, nine years of sobriety, living with her mother, and maintaining a strong relationship with her growing daughter. “After my brother died,” she says, “I lost it. Getting pregnant saved me, but it didn’t fix me.” We all wish the story could’ve been happy to the end, but two months later Jessica relapsed and with her daughter moved back to San Francisco leaving everything behind. The dissension into the darkness was accelerated when she found an old boyfriend. Enduring two long years of physical abuse and trauma some of which Lillee witnessed, a domestic violence charge caused her daughter to be taken away from her. Things went from bad to worse.
“Ever since I lost her,” she says, “it’s so stressful to talk about how I became after that.” I told Jessica she didn’t have to explain everything just the moments leading up to finally getting into the Village of Hope, but she proceeded with her story. “Lillee lived in foster care before my mom took her.” Jessica was back to the streets with the same troubled boyfriend by her side. Living in cheap apartments making ends meet by a life of crime, Jessica still called her daughter each day, and talked to her mother for the first time in over years. The death of Jessica’s brother weighed heavily on her mother as well, and she wanted Jessica to come back home. Getting home was something Jessica truly wanted but in the midst of addiction and a twisted relationship she was spinning. Her mother had conceived an addiction of her own since the death of a son and she had been drinking hard since, “Grandma’s in the hospital.” Lillee told her over the phone. “I’ll be home,” she answered. Stuck in a spiral Jessica was trapped in a nightmare and her mother died before being able to leave. The same boyfriend who was now involved in activities he tried so well to hide from Jessica banned her from the apartment complex and eventually he called the cops on her. Arrested for burglary on top of a pending warrant for crimes in another city law enforcement brought Jessica back to Orange County.
Back at home and yet she was still homeless. Since her mother died custody of Lillee went to Jessica’s younger siblings who did not allow her to see the daughter she loved. Jessica did not know what to do; all she wanted was to care for her daughter and back under the influence of meth her actions were distorted. Jessica went back to San Francisco on a quest to retrieve the dog her daughter loved and she found herself stuck in the web of crime and drugs once again. “I lost my kid and this is the end of my life,” she said remembering that disheartened time in her life, “I’m going to die of sorrow. I thought I was cursed.” Every time she tried getting home a hurdle would arise that she tripped on, even to the point of stealing a car to get home and someone else coming along to steal it from her. Jessica remained faithful by calling her daughter every day in the evening. “My daughter is telling me I need to come home because the world is going to end on December 21.” She told me. I’m sure we all remember the prophetic Mayans. Nevertheless, Lillee genuinely believed the world was going to end and wanted her mom to be there for the final moments. Again Jessica was unable to find a way out of the madness, but to her fortune the world managed to keep on spinning and her daughter pushed the date up to Christmas which was another day she would miss spending together. “I remember calling my daughter from a rooftop in the middle of the rain and she asked me if I was going to die?” She says, “I told her what I had to, no I’m not gonna die.” The reality of her thoughts was the exact opposite Jessica did think she was going to die. Not more than a few days later a homeless old woman attacked Jessica shouting at her “You’re already dead! This is hell you are never going to leave, you mother was a demon and you are too!” Jessica got away, but the words of that woman sunk in deep. She called her daughter that same night, “Lillee I am dead, I’m never coming home.”
Following on the very first day of the New Year Jessica did find a way home, through Craig’s list in fact. Under ride sharing a man was driving from San Fran to Orange County and she finally broke the curse. It was in August that Jessica was admitted into the Mission and it has been life changing. “I never expected to be a Christian,” she says, “my heart wasn’t ever open to God. I feel like I’m supposed to be here.” Her entire concept of morality has shifted; she explained committing a crime only led her to fear consequences where as of now she doesn’t want to have the guilt bearing down on her. God is working in Jessica’s life and being in a loving community is bringing her to a peaceful place, “One time I came in and everyone gave me hugs, I don’t think they even knew I was gone that day, to them I was just coming into work.” Jessica believes God separated her from Lillee because He didn’t want her to put anything in front of Him. A wise revelation from a someone who’s walk has only just begun. Jessica is looking to get her daughter back in December and Lillee often comes and visits. When I see them together I see more than a loving mother and her daughter, but someone who climbed a mountain just to be together. They’re building trust once again and most importantly a loving relationship.