This morning I found this post and photo on my Facebook feed from Jessie E., (the girl in the lower left of the picture) a long time friend of Jake’s:
Liebe Ed and Terry,
I am currently in the process of writing you both a formal letter where I will share my emotions and other buried memories of your son, but literally as I am writing this letter… I had to stop and describe to you this fabulous nostalgia – what I remember so strongly of Jake’s personality was his ability to explore such vast worldly subjects, and his terrific knowledge and deep understanding of life and to not only question the unknown, but to challenge it as well. His mind was like a labyrinth of insight, and he always had something useful or hilarious to teach me.
I will forever remember him for this unique quality and for his ability and drive to teach others. Thank you Jake, and I miss you dearly.
That is fine, lovely sentiments, but this picture brought overflowing tears:
Between the two of them they perfectly capture the essence of who Jake was. The deep thinker, the explorer, the inspirer, the teacher, the joker. It was the photo that got me, really. These kids were having so much fun. His boundless joy radiates from this photo, his captivating smile shining brightly. Oh Jake. You are exploring the unknown now.
What do you still have to teach us? That we should be grateful for what blessings we have, that we should cherish our loved ones, as we never know when they might no longer be with us? That we should tell our children how much we love them all the time because we won’t always be able to? That the universe is a beautiful, disorderly, unspeakably cruel place, and we should do our utmost to bring as much light and love into it as we can? What’s the lesson here? That I should be grateful for the time I spent with you, however short, and not rant and rail that the time is over? That I should be happy Jake touched so many people so deeply in so short a time, and not grieve that we are now deprived of his humor, grace, and wisdom? That it is enough to “keep your memory alive”, and not want desperately to have you back again?
It isn’t enough. I want so desperately to have him back again, and that is that. This will never change or diminish. It only grows more acute as time goes on.
So sail on, Jakey Jake, wherever you may be. You had such a profound lessons to teach us when you were here, I only hope I can divine what you are trying to teach me now.