‘Long live Jessamy!’
Friends, family pack Rupert hall to say emotional goodbye to ‘Wakefield kid’
Jessamy Hogan-Lucuik was a Wakefield kid until she wasn’t.
Like so many other young villagers, she spent her time cooling off in the Gatineau River, jumping off the iconic covered bridge, playing soccer in Masham, and skiing at Vorlage after school.
She was 19 years old when she admitted to her mother that she was a heroin addict.
Hogan-Lucuik died at her home in Kingston on Sept. 24, 2020, from an accidental fentanyl overdose. She was just 27 years old.
“It was just so tragic for her,” said her mother Carrie Hogan.
It’s been exactly one year since that dark September morning, and her pain is still palpable. You can hear it in her voice and feel it in her words. “She just deserved so much better. No one deserves that.”
Hogan-Lucuik, or Jessamy as most knew her, suffered from borderline personality disorder — an illness that developed in her mid-teens and spiraled into something that would eventually come to control her every day. She spent years self-medicating with street drugs and quickly became addicted to opioids. She was later diagnosed with an opioid-use disorder and was being treated with methadone for her addiction. She had what is called, “concurrent disorders,” when someone with a mental illness also suffers from an addiction.
“If you are an addict, but without the mental illness, it’s a little easier to kick it,” said Hogan. “You don’t have the tools when you are mentally ill as well.”
After years of struggling to get help within Quebec’s healthcare system, Hogan packed up her Wakefield life in 2020 and moved Jessamy, along with her then 13-year-old daughter Ruby, to Kingston where they could get the treatment she needed. They had a support system in place with Hogan’s family living nearby. Jessamy’s methadone clinic was within walking distance and everyone was on board with her treatment plan.
“I could tell she was struggling,” said Hogan, adding that she believes the move to Kingston was hard on Jessamy. “Change is hard for people with mental illness. I feel she would have done well once we settled.”
They had been living in Kingston for just 20 days when Jessamy went out to her methadone clinic. She came back with a hit of heroin that was loaded with a lethal dose of fentanyl. She didn’t have a chance.
“I couldn’t find her naloxone kit. I couldn’t find it,” said Hogan, her voice breaking as she recounted the horror of that fateful morning. Naloxone is a drug that reverses an overdose. “It was nowhere and I couldn’t find her knapsack. So I just started CPR and called 911.”
It was too late. By the time paramedics arrived, Jessamy’s heart had stopped.
“I knew because the ambulance slowly pulled away,” added Hogan. “They didn’t rush to the hospital and I just knew.” She said she can’t explain the devastation that she and her family felt in the days, weeks, and months that came next. She said she will never be able to fully express the void that Jessamy’s death has left in her world.
“They let me sit with her after she passed away,” she added. “I just spoke to her and told her how sorry I was that we let her down.”
Hogan had truly come to accept and understand her daughter’s illness and everything that came with it: the many nights spent driving along King Edward Avenue in Ottawa looking for her daughter; and the hours of courses she took and literature she read on borderline personality disorder and addiction to try to understand what her first-born child was dealing with on a daily basis.
She said she’s still haunted by the loneliness she felt sitting in parking lots of safe injection sites at 2 a.m. to make sure Jessamy was safe while using.
“It was the worst experience of my life,” said Hogan. “I had so many emotions: I doubted myself, I second guessed myself, and it’s lonely. It’s a really lonely journey.”
No matter how deep Jessamy’s addiction went, how frustrating navigating Quebec’s healthcare system became, or how intense her illness got, Hogan never gave up on her daughter. Not many did either.
Her sister Ruby and brother Mackenzie said they admired her deeply, and her father, Brant Lucuik, had created a safe space in Wakefield where Jessamy could just be herself on both her best and worst days.
During the last six years of her life, Jessamy would often make her way back to her Wakefield home for some supportive time with her dad.
“She was my best friend,” Lucuik told The Low Down during Jessamy’s celebration of life at the Rupert Community Centre on Sept. 26. “We had an interesting dynamic. I was proud of her on a lot of fronts. She had a wicked sense of humour.”
The picture that emerged Sunday during her celebration wasn’t a kid full of troubles, but instead a “classic Wakefield kid” who had a talent for poetry, an infectious sense of humour, and a love of colourful language. She was a passionate musician who loved Sonic Youth, the Pixies, and Patti Smith. She was a crusader for social justice. She loved playing cards. She loved author Chuck Palahniuk. But she loved her family more than anything.
“She brought a lot of sun into my life; she was a fabulous person,” said her uncle, Joel Lucuik. “There was only one Jess.”
The hundred or so friends and family that showed up to the Rupert Community Centre to share stories, memories, and tears made it clear that Jessamy was, above all, a good friend, a loyal daughter, a loving big sister, and an ‘extraordinary kid’ who touched the lives of so many.
Many spoke of how ‘emotionally intelligent’ she was and how empathetic she was towards others. From the time she gave her boots away to a stranger on the street, to the day she helped her cousins remember the alphabet by burping all the way from A to Z, Jessamy was full of life, and she lived every day as if it were her last.
“Long live Jessamy!” yelled her brother Mackenzie into the microphone Sunday afternoon.
Jessamy received an emotional and loving sendoff during the celebration, as scores of friends and family collectively crooned the Waterboys’ fitting 80s tune “The Whole of the Moon” — one of her favourite songs.
Long live Jessamy.