Jacquelyn Lee Bristow
Jacquelyn Lee Bristow was born on March 17, 1988, accompanied by her identical twin sister Emily. Jackie was born in West Covina, California to her proud and loving parents, Joan and Grant. She and Emily, with their two older brothers made a wonderful, blessed family of 6.
Jackie was baptized and received her first Holy Communion at St. Christopher’s Church in West Covina. She attended Kindergarten through fifth grade at St. Christopher’s School. While in first grade, Jackie began piano lessons.
In her sixth grade year, the family began attending Holy Name of Mary Church in San Dimas. Jackie and Emily transferred to the school. Jackie was incredibly intelligent and friendly. Jackie won the Outstanding Student award in eighth grade, played on the basketball team, and was on the Academic Decathlon team.
Jackie entered St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora as a freshman. She did well. She studied hard and got excellent grades. She was a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Competition. In her sophomore year, she joined the St. Lucy’s Cross Country team. Jackie was a team favorite. In her last year she won the “Most Inspirational” award, for her humor, perseverance, and leadership.
Jackie continued piano lessons until she was 16. For a year, she played piano at Holy Name of Mary Church, filling in when a pianist was needed. Throughout high school and college, she continued to sing in the Sunday night youth choir at Holy Name of Mary, in San Dimas.
While in High School, Jackie and her sister Emily started Venture Crew 443. Venturing is a branch of Boy Scouts that provides co-ed opportunities for high adventure activities like backpacking. Jackie loved the out of doors and was an avid hiker. She tackled several week-long backpacking treks through the California Sierras and Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. As an administrator, Jackie was an exceptional president for the Crew.
Jackie graduated St. Lucy’s with honors and attended the University of California, Riverside on a Regent’s scholarship. In High School, Jackie had developed her artistic talent, taking several art classes and exhibiting her work at art shows. She was also an aspiring poet. At UC Riverside she pursued art, but had to withdraw from the University during her second quarter because of eating disorder complications.
Jackie worked at Party City in San Dimas during the Halloween season of 2007 and then got her “dream” job at Starbucks in La Verne. Jackie loved working at Starbucks. She loved serving her customers even if it meant starting before the sun rose!
Jackie died on January 1, 2008. Her sister, Emily was with her. She died suddenly of cardiac arrest because of an electrolyte imbalance due to continual binging and purging.
This was Jackie’s story. But Jackie was so much more than a list of her accomplishments. Jackie was the light of our world. Her perky attitude could lift lowest spirit. Her love for everyone was a joy to experience. If you knew Jackie, you will remember her for the rest of your life.
But Jackie had problems underneath that happy exterior. We may never know the pain and torture she put herself through. She had a very low self-esteem. She was afraid of letting people down, of not living up to her own expectations, of getting fat. She was full of emotions but couldn’t find a way to get them out.
Jackie began binging and purging around 17 years old. When her parents finally realized she needed help, they got her treatment through therapists and psychiatrists. But there are few therapists and fewer psychiatrists that know how to treat eating disorders. Jackie continued to spiral down, out of control. When she went away to college, she had a seizure. The doctors in the emergency room said it was a deficiency in potassium; a consequence of binging and purging.
Jackie was admitted to an out-patient, intensive therapy program for eating disorders. She did better, but still struggled. The insurance company was continually saying she was “cured” and discontinued funding her treatment. Eventually, in July, Jackie was discharged. Unfortunately, she was discharged with no referring psychiatrist or therapist. She bounced around, looking for a good fit, until she just stopped trying to find one. Perhaps this was part of the disorder.
Jacquelyn Lee Bristow died on January 1, 2008.
Jackie’s life was a blessing to all of us who knew her.