August 11, 1984 – March 11, 2017

Yesterday I wrote the hardest 135 words of my life – my best friend’s obituary. Today isn’t any easier.

It all began in the front row in Ms. Young’s fourth grade class. She was a tiny blonde, too talkative, free spirit sitting right next to the goodie-goodie-cried-when-she-forgot-her-homework me. We somehow got along really well after a few wet willy fights, helping each other with journal entries, and playing M.A.S.H. — some paper game where you figure out your whole life; she wanted a house, four kids and to be a stay at home mom, I wanted a shack, four marriages and Vegas.

As time passed, we still had our fourth grade friendship, this time with legal ID’s. Jessica, with her bright eyes and smile, and still very loud mouth that would get us in trouble, could walk into any room and command it. We spent the next three years goading my brother Chase who wanted to duct tape our mouths shut during hour-long car rides or anytime we were next to a pool table.

Man, we had fun. Jumping in the marina at Hog Heaven at midnight, because some tourist didn’t think we would. (We won a $100 bet.) Then we’d dance all night soaking wet. Or, our season tickets to University of Miami games and “slipping” down 13 rows of stairs for front row seats.

Some nights we would just stay in, drink wine, laugh. Once, and the details are a little blurry, we somehow ended up at a wild dance party at her parents’ house with all of the neighbors. Jessica was very close to her mother and family and adored them so much.

After I got pregnant, our wild nights turned into icing cupcakes and her Swiffering my messy house. “Pumpkin,” what my daughters call her, was there for every major event in my kids’ lives from day one.

Cinco De Mayo will never be the same. She and I always spent it with Coronas, and sand, and friends, and adventures. A May 5 wedding date was a no-brainer when Travis and I got engaged. Jess helped me pick out my wedding dress (with a bathroom incident my mom will never forget), and fixed all the other bridesmaids’ hair before she worried about herself. She stood right next to me on the beach (after talking me down from the slice of pizza that almost made me a run-away bride) and held my eight-month-old daughter during the ceremony.

Nights out were now dinners at my house playing “Left Right Center,” girls night sleepovers with the kids, pool dates, and lunches whenever we had a minute to catch up.

It feels like yesterday, but three weeks ago Travis and I dropped by her perfectly decorated home. My daughters were playing with Mia, her dog, and the two cats in the yard. We just sat on her porch talking about life, like we always did. She was so easy to talk to. And, everything seemed fine.

Looking back through the past six months of our texts, we should have seen each other a lot more than one lunch date, and a chance meeting. Those 30 text messages basically look like, “Hey, whatcha doing this weekend?” followed by “… at such-and-such, what about this day?” and “Hey, I know you’re super busy, but pool day soon,” followed by “Yes!” … and never a follow-through.

I just wish, more than ever, that we had more time to make more unforgettable memories.

Jessica Lynn Irwin was born on August 11, 1984 at Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon and died on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at her home on Conch Key. She was a lifelong resident of Marathon and a graduate of Marathon High School in 2002.

She is survived by her parents Bruce and Letty Irwin, sister Chelsey, brother Ryan (Nicole) and nephew Wyatt, and her extended Irwin and Cassidy family.

Her family welcomes anyone who wishes to attend the celebration of her life on Saturday, March 18 at 4 p.m. at Kirk of the Keys in Marathon. She loved spending time with her family and close friends, and being on the water. She will be remembered fondly by all who loved her for her bright smile, her small stature, and her huge heart.

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