No Guarantees: A Post for Jackie

Published February 8, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

My heart is heavy today.  Very late last night, I got a message to tell me that a lovely friend of mine in the US had passed away unexpectedly.  Jackie was only in her early 30’s, and such a sweet, sweet soul.  I was only chatting with her via Facebook a couple of days ago, mere hours before she died.  Her best friend and roommate came home in the evening to find that she had passed away in her bed.  At this point we don’t know what has happened, but I know she wasn’t feeling well when I last talked to her, but she’d chalked it up to the consequences of a good night out the night before.

I think a lot about her right now, in context to the fat activism I do.  Jackie and I often disagreed on a lot of things around body politics.  Or not even that, it’s like she agreed with me in principle, but was unable to believe them of herself.  I used to feel that way too, I would think that Fat Acceptance was a great thing, and all these fat women (and a few men) were doing amazing things, and were fabulous people, but I couldn’t be like that, it didn’t apply to me.  That did change with time.  Jackie and I used to talk about it from time to time, and I was always hoping that she could see the beautiful woman I saw when I looked at her, but I know she always struggled with that.

Jackie and I had so much in common.  We were both Cysters (women with PCOS) and met online many years ago on a PCOS forum.  I was so lucky to meet her in person when I went to the US, and spend time with her and her friends (one of whom I now consider my friend) and get to know her even more.  She was such a generous soul, she made me feel so welcome, and even though we could only spend a few days hanging out together, we talked so much.  She made me laugh, and she made me think, and she made me cry.  She had the cutest Louisiana accent (though lived in San Francisco) and was one of the most stylish women I ever met.  That girl could rock a frock and a red lipstick like no other.

We have both had difficult times in our past, and both dealt with the issues of our weight, self loathing and food issues.  Our paths diverged somewhat when I found Fat Acceptance, but we still had so much in common.

Jackie did everything that a woman is “supposed” to do about her weight.  She dieted, she exercised, she struggled.  She couldn’t see that she was so beautiful, both inside and out, and she struggled with her self esteem.  I wanted so much for her to see just how wonderful a person she was.  I understand it though, I struggle with my own even now, and I’m well immersed in the soothing balm of the Fatosphere.  Eventually Jackie had weight loss surgery and lost a lot of weight.  She was still beautiful, with or without the weight, she was still intelligent and funny and kind and just a lovely person through and through.  She was one of the most glamorous women I have ever met, always immaculate and fabulous.

And she still struggled with her self esteem.  Which has always broken my heart.

As I sit here remembering her, and all of the effort and yes, hell she went through to conform to society’s ideal of femininity and beauty and “health”, it hits me all over again that she’s gone.  That even after doing what our culture tells us women need to do to be “desirable” and “healthy”, we have lost her at such a young age.  I totally understand why so many women choose this path, because it is sold to us as the only way that we’ll be of any value, and that by getting rid of fat we’re taking preventative measures for our health.  I understand that wholly, that pressure is phenomenally strong, and those of us who fight it have to fight day and night, as hard as we can to resist getting caught up in it.  We are wading against a tide that takes every bit of our strength to resist.

But I can’t help but feel cheated for losing such a beautiful friend despite her trying so hard to do what society tells us is the right thing to do.  I am angry that not even when you do what mainstream culture tells you to do, there’s no fucking guarantee that it’s going to give you a long life or even make you happy.  All I wish right now, knowing that we can never have Jackie back, is that she knows how loved she is.  That she knows how terribly she will be missed.  And that she knows right now that she has been beautiful and valuable and precious all along.

23 comments on “No Guarantees: A Post for Jackie

  • I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my best friend to WLS 13 years ago, and I still miss her. I wish that size acceptance was something for which we didn’t have to fight, that it was just a given, so that no one would ever have to suffer the self-doubt and loathing that fat people feel on a daily basis, that none of us would ever feel the need to change our bodies in such a drastic way as to risk dying just in order to be thin. Maybe one day that wish will come to fruition.

    • Thank you vesta44.

      I just want to be clear though that it is not known what caused Jackie’s death, and I don’t want people to think that I am suggesting it was her WLS. I may have been, it may have been something else.

      What I really want to get at is that despite her having WLS that she was told would improve her health, we have still lost her at a very young age. Regardless of what the cause of her death was, it is making me so angry that we have lost her despite her doing everything she was led to believe would be good for her.

  • Really sorry honey. What a sad loss 😦 Thank you for giving us some insight into you lovely friend’s personality; hope writing this was soothing for you. Big hugs.

  • My deepest condolences. I don’t know the value of a true female friend. I know I am missing out, but I haven’t met her yet. I have a true male soul mate, and to lose him would mean losing everything I hold dear and precious in this crazy fat life. ❤

  • Jackie must have been a wonderful person – this is the third post I’ve encountered about her passing, in completely different spheres. My sympathies to all who knew her, though it sounds that you were lucky to know her.

  • I’ve been reading this blog for a little while, but I’m de-lurking to pass on my condolences. It’s always hard to lose a friend, no matter what the circumstances.

    That’s it, cos if I write more I’ll get platitude-y. Sorry for your loss.

  • *hugs* I can feel the love and admiration you had for her in your words. All of my best and happiest thoughts go out to you Kath. You are loved and you are fabulous and I hope the pain subsides for you soon.

  • I am so sorry to hear about the death of your friend at such a young age. Whatever the reason for her death, it’s a terrible tragedy to lose such a vibrant soul prematurely.

  • aww sweets *hugs* I, too am sorry for your loss.

    “Death is not putting out the light. It is extinguishing the lamp cause the Dawn has come”

  • I am sorry for your loss. I’ve never met your friend, and I’m sure she was a wonderful person, and now I am sad I will never get to meet her. I know it is a pale shadow to what you must be feeling. There are so many things that can take us so suddenly from this world, and it can seem like there is never enough time. I wish you the strength to heal through this trying time.

  • My condolences. It is horrible to lose someone in the prime of life like that–thank you for sharing a little of her with us, though. I like to think memories is one of the ways we live on.

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