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Anne Lincoln Smith
was the most complex person I have ever known.
She had a
multitude of issues.
She had kidney
problems and unstable blood chemistry.
from debilitating Insomnia, from Anxiety Attacks, from Depression
and from unstoppable voices in her head full of hate.
She had terrible
difficulty with trust.
She had a
desperate need to feel in control of her life.
all this, and through all the problems these issues created for
her and for those who loved her, something shone through.
a most remarkable human being.
shone in Jessica, shone brightly
person Jessica was an absolute delight.
When we got
together it didn't matter what we were doing, we could be fixing
a vacuum cleaner, walking by the harbour, watching DVDs, taking
a ride on the Manly ferry, dining at a hatted restaurant, striding
along a bushwalk, catching a movie, eating gelato on the pier
or unblocking a drain.
It just didn't
was we were getting up to, a whole day could pass in what seemed
Jess was smart,
she was observant, she was witty, she had a wonderfully wicked
sense of humour. We would find ourselves laughing at the oddest
talk a brick into trying the tango.
make the silliest ideas seem perfectly reasonable.
I always told
her she would be fabulous at selling expensive cars to old blokes
for huge commissions.
could light up a room.
at her where ever we went.
loose yourself in her wonderful pale
was a fashionista.
had an intense love affair with beautiful
was elegant; she had a true sense of style; she had impeccable
taste and a real flair for decoration. What
ever she wore; worked.
have made a terrific fashion buyer, fashion writer or interior
Jess was a
great conversationalist, well travelled and well read.
Her face lit
with joy was a sight to behold.
She had both
beauty and brains. She could have succeeded at so many things.
the times we went out during the 6 years I knew her, none
were bad and the great majority were
there were heavy conversations as we talked about difficult things,
sometimes Jess would start out flat and take time to relax and
unwind, but they were joyful days.
an escape for Jess, an opportunity to be free for a time.
darkness lived in her too
struggled when apart.
insomnia would knock her flat for days at a time.
depression sucked the energy from her, making it hard to do even
simple things or stick to any sort of plan.
pounded on her, leaving her exhausted and confused.
in her head told her she was unloved and unlovable; that she should
kill herself; that we would all be better off if she were dead.
she did whatever she thought she needed to do to survive.
a lot, sometimes just for the day, sometimes for months at a time.
She was seriously
ill and knew it, but she did not trust anyone to help her, particularly
I will never
know with certainty why, but she would always talk about her early
experiences in hospitals, of being "committed", of being
imprisoned for being sick.
She was terrified
of it happening again, terrified of trusting people, terrified
of that trust being betrayed.
She was absolutely
determined she would be the one who decided what was done to her,
that she would not surrender control.
She just “knew”
that if she told a doctor about the voices then they would lock
her up - so she could not tell them what was going on.
who cared about her wanted to help. Her father, her mother and
her sisters, Emma and Holly, they all
rose at her funeral and spoke of how each of them wanted to help,
but could not do it for her.
to do it for herself, in a way that worked for her.
after Jess got out of
Intensive Care in Jan 2008 we were driving down Condamine
Steet in Manly Vale on our way to dinner in the city.
of the blue she asked me what I though would happen to her. Taken
by surprise I blurted out what
I really thought, that she would die is she did not change.
was a pretty quiet dinner. She ran away again soon after, for
months and months this time, and I found out later she did some
dreadful things to herself and her loved ones. Yet when Jess finally
did come back it was different, she started to talk about how
she wanted to live.
her, there was a certain comfort in the familiar, even the horrible
familiar, but Jess did not want to die.
talked to me about her struggle,
talked to me how much she wanted to live, talked to me about how
she would not have made it to 18 if she did not have this will
to live, this will to fight against the voices in her head.
a way through. She wanted to be better.
It was just
so hard and so frustrating. It was hard and
frustrating for the people who loved her, but it was worse for
Jessica herself. It was worse for her as she had to live with
it inside her head, live with the things that made it so difficult
to succeed, live with the uncertainty of
what would happen to her, live with the fact that no-one
- not even the doctors - seeming to know what to do.
She did her
We did our
step by step, Jessica was finding a way that worked for her.
She was finding
that while she had to do it her way, she did not have to do it
She was finding
that sometimes when your down, the best treatment is a friend.
She was finding
it was possible to trust without being rejected, talked down to,
or having your trust betrayed.
In the "5
steps forward, 2 to 12 steps back" dance that was Jessica's
life she managed many "5 steps forward and just 2 steps back"
in that last year.
Then we ran
out of time.
you meet a person with whom you just click. It doesn’t matter
what your differences are, somehow you go together. It was that
way with Jessica and I.
But back in 2003/4 we had both being
going through our own separate hells and we had made a big difference
in each other’s lives. Having someone from the outside to
go out with, to watch a movie with, to have dinner or lunch with,
to talk to, to walk with - it was so hugely important to both
She told me often she would have died back then without my support.
I don’t know how I would have survived without her's.
that time, no matter how hard Jessica problems affected her or
me, I could never walk away.
was worth it.
the first five years Jessica’s issues drove her to disappear
from my life many times, but she always showed up again,
and I was always there when she reached out for support.
five years from when we first met and after one of the strangest
courtships on record, Jessica and I entered into a serious relationship.
We had started down that path a few times before but her insecurities
had always got the better of her and she had fled.
time she did not flee. She stayed.
was easily the
best year of my life. There was real joy in the simplest, most
also finally started to really trust me.
She started to talk honestly about what was happening in
her mind, talk about the stuff she had hidden under
so much pretence, behind so many masks. She finally let me meet
openly the monster that lived with her inside her head.
took time for her to start to really talk, it took longer for
me to learn how to really listen, but by the time she was 26 we
were seriously looking for doctors she could trust, doctors who
saw a person rather than a diagnosis, an individual rather than
a classification. Doctors she could talk to, build a relationship
with, work with.
were also working on building up her self confidence, her belief
in herself and in what she could do. In her ability to take charge
of her life. In her ability to deal with doctors as equals rather
than hide her reality for fear they would lecture rather than learn,
for fear that they would treat her like a child instead of provide
the help she needed.
We had a GP she had some confidence in, we were
looking for a shrink she could talk seriously with.
She had trusted me, she had shared with me and she
had not been rejected. Instead she was loved, accepted and respected
- and she knew it, valued it, returned it.
It shook her confidence in what was impossible.
We had a long long way to go, and a very uncertain
future, but we going together.
It felt good, very good. After
so many years, we were making real progress. I started to relax.
suddenly, out of the blue, Jessica Lincoln
is dead ...
beautiful, wonderful, troubled girl is dead.
She died in the early hours of the 22nd of September 2009, just
2 months after her 26th birthday.
suffered from terrible Insomnia. Some days before she had messaged
me at midnight "I can't sleep", then again at 2am "Still
awake. Miss you. X". Maybe again she could not sleep and
just took one sleeping pill too many that night? I don't know.
All I know is she went to sleep and never woke up.
was found by her parents on the 23rd, as a huge red dust storm
blanketed Sydney. She was in bed, with a cup of Milo by her side
and a DVD playing endlessly. There were no sign of distress -
she was just dead.
was in Chicago when I got the news.
I raced across the world to get home for her funeral I was torn
between grief and disbelief. As I pressed my face to the plane's
window to hide my tears I wondered if this was all an elaborate
joke, her wicked sense of humour at play. Was this her way of
finding out, once and for all, who really would come to her funeral?
first, 45 minutes early, I walking in and her coffin was on display.
It was no joke. She was dead. It was as if my middle had suddenly
filled with cement.
girl, my love, my life - gone.
those dream, all those hopes, all that effort, all that caring,
all that commitment - just gone.
who had survived so much I called her "the cat with 27 lives"
had died. Died suddenly, unexpectedly and without fuss.
wanted to open the casket, to touch her cheek, to hug and kiss
I just sat with my hand on her coffin and wept for my gorgous
girl before anyone else arrived.
died having found what she thought was impossible ... acceptance.
died knowing she was loved.
had nothing left unsaid, no arguments unresolved, nothing left
told me many times that she would not have survived to 21 without
me, so I can know I got her 5 years she would not have otherwise
supposed to make it easier, isn't it?
is gone, that is all that matters.
wonderful Jess is gone. Jessica Anne Lincoln Smith is
will not get her next 50 years. She will never again get to enjoy
a day, defeat a problem, taste a triumph or feel loved.
is just gone and not
all the wealth, all the intelligence, all the commitment, all
the passion in the world can bring her back or even give her one
are about 130,000 twenty six year old girls in Australia at any
point in time. Just 45 or so of them don't get to turn 27. My
Jess was one who didn't.
you love someone you care about them more than you care about
loved Jess more than words can say.
have spoken about her, I have writen about her. I have said how
much she enriched me, what a difference she made to my life, what
rewarding times we had, how good it was to have her, what a delight
she could be. It’s all true - every word of it.
inside I just missed her so terribly, terribly much.
Everyone’s life is a mix of pleasure and pain.
Jessica’s life contained more pain than most.
In 2007 she sent me a letter which read in part "I’ve
got disaster written on my forehead"
and she was right about that, many times.
But woven in between the times of hurt, there were
real times of joy as well.
there was time to love, time to be loved, time to talk, time to
experience, time to adventure, time to triumph, time to laugh.
Woven in-between there was a life lived.
weeks before she died Jess sent me a SMS. It starts “I
think u dont realise the joy you give me ...”
No, beautiful girl, maybe I didn’t.
But I do know the joy you gave me.
I grieve for you. I weep
for you. But I also remember you.
I remember so many wonderful experiences we shared, often very ordinary
things, but special because of
I remember sitting through the night in
Martin Place with you to get
tickets so you could take your parents to the Sydney Festival. It
was such an wonderfully silly thing to do.
remember you enjoying your meal so much you licked your plate at
Crown Plaza, Terrigal
remember standing at the Opera House, looking over Sydney harbour,
struggling not to laugh out loud as you told me about wanting to
backpack round the world, but were not able to cope with leaving
your 100 or so pairs of shoes behind.
remember you saying to me "I love these shoes"
in a voice that made me jealous.
remember you ringing me, words tumbling out all jumbled up, to tell
me about swimming out to play with a pod of dolphins as they passed
your parent's place.
remember the pure joy on your face as you tucked into a Creme Brule
at Cafe Opera, luxurated in a Haam Sui Gaau at Zilver, inhaled your
favourite combination short soup at Manly Phoenix or chased the
last of the hommus at Nada's .
remember you screaming with excitement as we spun upside down on
a roller coaster, then getting off, taking my arm, and saying -
in a voice bubbling with laughter - "I want to do this
remember you saying, on quite a few different occasions, "THAT,
THAT was the best day of my life"
excitement making you clumsy as we sat deep under the Sydney Aquarium
and you tried on your new diamond bracelet and studs.
remember taking you to see the Pasha Bulker, 76,000 tons of ship
sitting on the beach at Newcastle, and you finding a
in the crowd you loved, then telling me about your family's two
elderly dogs, Poppy and Blossom, all the way home.
remember a day when I slipped out from work to meet you for a morning
coffee and got back at 4pm after yum cha, a movie, dumplings and
a new opal necklace, you bouncing with excitement as we said good
bye at Dr DeSaxe's door.
remember one magical evening, high above Sydney, at a wonderful
restaurant called "41".
remember picking you up all sad and withdrawn, then seeing you slowly
relax and come fully alive as our day out progressed.
remember you calling me out of the
blue from Intensive Care, frightened, asking if I could come. I
remember sitting with you through
the day while you were drowsy, often
barely conscious. I remember you
reaching out as you dozed to
push your hand under mine till
I would stroke it gently. I remember being
reduced to tears by the message of thanks you sent me later that
remember dropping you home one evening and you sitting there for
a moment before turning to me and saying "Richard John
Simpson, you always know how to make me feel better about myself",
then bursting from your seat and fleeing on your stiletto's before
I could reply.
remember so many dinners, lunches and brunches, so many movies,
plays and bushwalks.
remember silliness, I remember fun, I remember joy.
remember you, Jessica Anne Lincoln Smith.
were by no means a perfect person, but you were a magnificant one.
your friend was both the greatest challange and the greatest joy
of my life thus far.
I can really say is "Thank you"
you Jess for sharing your life with me.
you for the joy you gave me.
you for the trust you showed me.
touched me heart as no one ever has before.
will not "fade away like a wet footprint on a hot rock".
journey has ended, mine goes on, but some part of me will always
I am a better person
for having known you.
in the Sydney Morning Herald.
of her by Christina Adler,
her yoga teacher.
to Jess by her sister, the Australian Winter Olympic Athlete Emma
Lincoln Smith, before she raced in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics
Skeleton event (as reported in the Daily Telegraph).
about her sister's sport.