This is a message from Anna's Sister, Jack and Margaret's Auntie.
There is much more to say about Jack than I can possibly take the time for today. School friends remember him as smart and kind and funny and the life of the party. I’d like to tell you about the Jack I knew and loved and will celebrate for the rest of my life.
I have always marveled about how smart Jack was – he was an artist, a brilliant reader, a mathematician, and a serious student of the Bible. He was so gifted in so many ways. He loved creating stories and solving mental puzzles. During our last visit he and his mom solved a logic puzzle that the rest of the family had to Google to solve.
And as most of us know, Jack loved his Legos. Jack’s passion for Legos was bigger than life – they were not just a toy to him, but a creative element and a very likely future career. Even when he was very young, he built complicated sets that would challenge adults. My kids and I always thought that Jack would become an engineer or an architect. He was curious, careful, methodical, and tenacious in his studies and his relationships.
He was always conscious of doing the right thing, even when everyone around him didn't see things his way. In that way he could be very serious. But he also had a lightness about him. I understand that he could get silly at school, but the Jack I knew was the kid I would want my kids to hang around to keep them on the straight and narrow.
Things weren’t always easy for Jack, but as he grew into himself, he settled into a place of joy that I pray each one of us will find again someday. He was an authentically joyful person. We know that joy is different from happiness. I am not trying to paint Jack as constantly giddy. I am talking about a deeper joy despite circumstances. What a lesson. Jack found joy in school, his friends, baseball, his church and above all his family.
He so loved his Sister, Margaret. He knew Margaret was special…full of light and life and love. He knew he was blessed to be her brother. Jack never teased Margaret like other brothers do- he never took his little Sister for granted. He was Margaret’s partner, her playmate, her best friend, her protector and her comforter. She was all of these things to him, too. Margaret’s loss is immeasurable.
Jack was also such a gift to his cousins. He and Isaac loved late night talks about anything and everything. He wow-ed his cousin Caroline with his intelligence and humor. Jack was a great listener. He cared about them and who they were and what they loved. He became genuinely excited about their interests. He often put his own ideas and desires on the back burner to allow others center stage. And doing this made him happy, not jealous. This was the source of Jack’s unique joy – it came from his unusual ability to internalize the joy of others and keep it for himself. To let it become a part of him. He did not express envy in the face of others’ success, or boredom when people expressed interests he didn’t share. He was able to take on the joy of others and keep it for himself. Instead of allowing the joys and successes of others to diminish him, he allowed it to fill him up. Jack also was the joy of everyone who loved him.
This tremendous loss is ours, not Jack’s. I am confident that Jack is blessed and whole and perfect and finally getting all of his questions answered at the feet of his Savior. My prayer is that God will somehow redeem OUR loss in this life. I am desperate to find ways for Jack’s legacy to live on in my life. I am determined to find redemption in this heartbreak. …I am aiming high. In Jack’s honor, I want to-
Be kind. Jack was a gentle, loving and kind soul.
Pay attention. To details, to other people’s feelings, to God’s work in my life and in the world.
Think. Quiet time is time well-spent. Jack asked good questions and took this time to think through good answers. He also knew that some questions would not be answered in this life, but that contemplation has value anyway.
Play. Be creative, experiment, think things through from every angle and share my gifts with the world. When I enjoy something, I want to enjoy it BIG. And play together. Throw a ball in the yard, even if the to-do list beckons. Snuggle and chat at bedtime, even if it is late.
Never give up. Focus on my call, my art, my joy, my task and see it through.
Be patient. Good things are worth waiting for.
Internalize the joy of others. I pray that God will help me learn to do what Jack did…. To find my own joy in the joy of others. I want to relish other people’s happiness regardless of my own circumstances, like Jack did. My beloved nephew Jack was unimaginably selfless for a 12 year old. Jack found the secret to lasting joy. Borrow it from others and keep it forever.
In closing, I will tell you one last lesson we can learn from Jack’s life. I believe that Jack’s ability to find joy was a gift given to him by his parents. There is no parent on Earth who loves his or her child more than Tim and Anna love Jack and Margaret. Not a day of Jack’s life passed that they failed to tell him how much they loved him, how proud they were to be his parents. There is no child who felt more secure in his parents love than Jack did. He was taken from us too early, but somehow Anna and Tim filled a lifetime of love into Jack’s twelve years.
So Please- for our Jack –
Never Give Up.
Share Others' Joy.
And every day- tell your loved ones how treasured they are.