I’ve been in the funeral business for almost twenty years. I see death every day. I see grieving families on a daily basis. I work numerous funerals in a week. I see friends and families grieving all around me and I have no choice but to separate myself. However, my encounter with Jake was quite different.
The majority of people I assist are elderly. They have lived long lives and I enjoy hearing about their story of life. However, Jake had no story.. but yet he did. A person doesn’t have to be famous or be a celebrity to change the world. Jake changed the world in many ways including mine and wife Meredith’s lives.
My wife Meredith has told me numerous times about the day she will never forget, the day she got the call that Lisa had lost Jake. Meredith called me crying hysterically. I could barely make out what she was saying but I reassured her that I would take very good care of Jake and his parents. On April 1st, I received a call from Jake’s dad that he was ready for me to come and take Jake into my care. I’ve have hard days being a funeral director but taking Jake from his mommy and daddy was by far hardest day in my career.
I will never forget walking into the hospital room. The sadness was overwhelming. The heartache and grief would make any man question God but at the same time, there was love. Love for Jake; love streaming from his mommy and daddy; love from everyone who was blessed to meet Jake that day. Jake was small. Small as a baby should be. He cleary favored his father (as a little boy should) but yet I could see features of both Bret and Lisa in their little boy. I felt blessed and honored that I got to meet him. I felt privileged and humbled as a director that Bret and Lisa would trust me with their son. Taking him out of his mother’s arms and away from his father’s protection was a nightmare and something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I’ve been sad many times in my career but not like this.
The tears and sadness of his mommy and daddy when I left the room with their son is a feeling I will never forget. I just kept thinking, Meredith and I should be bringing balloons and food to the new ecstatic parents,not me taking their son. Taking Jake away from his loving parents in that sense is unnatural. It is honestly unfathomable. But it was real. The moment I walked out of their room, I knew Bret and Lisa were alone. Alone in their sadness, alone with no precious baby boy. It was just a sadness that words cant express. Jake, he was such pure love, innocence and the closest to heaven a man can be without actually going.
The day we lost Jake is the same day my son, Dexter, turned a month old. I think of what could have been. Jake and Dexter could have been best friends. They could have played together, rode bikes together and played baseball together. Jake’s life was cut short too soon. I know that Dexter has a friend watching over him; protecting him and guiding him every day. That day I learned so much about myself and what love is. Jake showed me to love the ones close to me because tomorrow isn’t promised. He reminded me that in my toughest days as a director that I can still make a difference in a family’s life. Most importantly, he showed me that I should love and cherish Dexter every day of his life. I have no special words or saying to spare Lisa and Bret any heartache. All I can do is treat Lisa and Bret like the great parents they are. They are always in my prayers and in my thoughts.
The world doesn’t stop for people’s grief and the grief of Lisa and Bret for the loss of Jake should not be rushed by anyone. Life is difficult at times but it’s the life we have. Stop for a moment and love the people in your life. And when you think of Jake, smile, knowing this life as short as it was, changed the world especially the life of one old undertaker.