Friday, September 16, 2011

Listen to your Auntie

Read at Jack's Memorial Service on Monday:

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.

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 –

Be Kind.
Pay Attention.
Never Give Up.
Share Others' Joy.

And every day- tell your loved ones how treasured they are.


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Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine what you are going through, but I do know that you are already honoring Jack. You find my own joy in the joy of others, this other is the experience and memories of Jack. Thank you for the heartfelt sharing. My heart aches for you.

Ana said...

He must have been a joy, a blessing, and a wonderful little boy. You're in our prayers! He will always be looking down on you, smiling :D

Anonymous said...

As it is in situations like this there are no words and little comfort that can be offered. That being said, this tribute was exceedingly touching, and in this tragedy it is beautiful that he was able to touch over 200 people and hopefully more. All I can give you are my prayers and hope that you can get through this difficult time, and the promise that I will try my best to live these words and pass them on to others.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Jack was obviously a very special human being. I am reminded of the Abraham Lincoln quote "in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." Jack filled his years with life and touched many.

Erin Farrell Speer said...

Anna and Family -

This tribute to Jack's life is incredible, and I am so moved by your story. What a beautiful young man, inside and out! I cannot imagine the depth of your pain right now, and the anguish of trying to find your new "normal". All I can say is that I'm praying for you - so hard. Thank you for raising an incredible young man. Am praying for your family - for healing and unexpected sources of joy in the darkest days.

And thank you, Auntie, for the lesson from Jack. I think that the truly important things in life are so much clearer when you're young. What a reminder.

"Be Kind.
Pay Attention.
Never Give Up.
Share Others' Joy.
And every day- tell your loved ones how treasured they are."

Sending hugs, love and prayer from a stranger in Wyoming.

Lori Deschene said...

What a beautiful tribute to Jack. Reading about his authentic joy and seeing that picture touched my heart. I'm sure in his short time he touched many lives. Thank you for sharing these lessons. You and your family are in my thoughts!

Gg said...

I am humbled. Your words ring true to my ears and in my heart. I am so sorry for your loss and I thank you for your strong message about life. I was feeling devastated tonight because tomorrow I have to say good-bye to my 23 year old son as he is moving to the other end of our country. I can't imagine being 35 hours aways form him, but now I feel blessed that at least I still have him in my human life. God bless you and may you find your way back to happiness through your memories of your Jack!!

Heldine said...

That was such a wonderful speech - it made me feel and know Jack's presence despite never having met him. I cannot begin to imagine your loss, but I admire your strength and courage and thank you for sharing your story. You will all be in my thoughts and prayers. God bless.

Anne said...

What a beautiful tribute! Jack sounds like an amazing young man. Thank you for sharing and I hope to be able to live out the type of person Jack was! I am praying for your family!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute! Jack was very special and I will keep you all in my prayers. I will definitely try to live by those six points-if only everyone in the world could hear about Jack and his ethos for life-imagine what could be! Angie xxxx

Tamara said...

Sending healing prayers to you and your family. He is now an Angel, and is watching over all of you, wrapping his loving arms around each of you each and every day.

This I whole heartily believe in as I have also lost love ones, and to this day I can feel the love they have for me moving through me.

Just me said...

Oh wow, what a beautiful tribute to an amazing boy. I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like Jack touched so many lives and this tribute is no doubt inspiring many more people reading this who didn't even know him - myself included. Lots of love x x

Deb Chitwood said...

My heart breaks for you. That's such a beautiful and touching tribute in honor of someone who was obviously very special. Jack was able to be an inspiration to so many simply through the words written about him. Your entire family is in my thoughts and prayers.

Sending lots of love and ((((hugs)))) from Colorado Springs,

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. What beautiful of memories of a wonderful young man.

Lola said...

Your words brought tears to my eyes. Jack is on my mind and I wish everyone who's missing him now the best. I'm proud of you for being so strong. <3

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to such a lovely soul. More people than you know will be keeping your family in their prayers. Please know you are surrounded by love.

Jonathan Ruth said...

God bless you in this hard time. I'm so sorry for what you have to go through, but it sounds like you have a wonderful, loving family that will weather this storm in Jack's honor. That was a beautiful tribute. May God grant you peace and smiles and wonderful memories of Jack that will live on on this earth while he is with the Lord.

- Jonathan

Beki said...

Loss is never an easy thing to deal with, trust me, I know! There are no words that can create that blanket of comfort you are so desperately in need of. Know that there are thousands, if not more, of people who are with you during this time, who are thinking of you and sending you all the support you could possibly need even though you may never meet any of them. Your goals are inspiring and I wish you all the luck in the world in reaching them! I promise to try also, not only for you, or for Jack, but for all people in every walk of life. Thank you for sharing with us. Take care and be strong!

Anonymous said...

I am praying for your beautiful boy at home in heaven, and your family here on earth. I will try and live in the way that Jack demonstrated. You should be a very proud mother. God bless you all and carry you in his arms.
love heidi

Alex said...

What a beautiful and meaningful memorial. If only everyone could have the joy and love Jack had. My heart goes out to you and yours.

H said...

One of the amazing things about a life like your sons, is this touching and significant legacy it leaves. The beauty of death is the life that person had, especially one so good as your son's. I too, have a Jack. This was so deeply touching to me, your family's grief made so tender and sweet because of his example and impact on the lives of those around him makes his memory sweet. I am sure you feel honored to have had the time you did to love and raise him. It sounds like you did a wonderful job. It is my own belief that our spirits go on after this life and that we will have a chance to be reunited with our loved ones. That has brought me much peace in times of loss. I do no know you, but your son's life has already touched mine. I will try to raise my Jack to be much like yours... Love to you! I'll keep your family in my prayers!

An Average Jane said...

What a wonderful tribute. I would have liked to know Jack. Praying that you will feel loved and that you will feel God's presence with you. <3

Dreamer said...

No words can describe the unimaginable pain you and your family are going through. To loose such a treasure and have the strength to write such a beautiful tribute is truely honourable. I wish you all the love in the world and hope you find peace in knowing that Jack lived a full beautiful life and can still feel the radiance of your love.

Wishing you all the best...

Meg Thornberrry said...

Mrs. Donaldson,
My name is Meg Thornberry and I'm writing a memorial for you son in the Madison High School paper. Would it be okay if I pulled some quotes and a picture from your blog?

sheila said...

With a heavy heart I send virtual hugs. Jack sounds like a marvelous young man, I'm sorry you will all be without him, but I am sure he will be there in spirit!

Another Love Bomber.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Wonderful lessons that we all need to put into practice taught by a child.

Libby! said...

I am praying for you and your sweet family! I know God will fill you with tons of hope, peace and comfort again soon.

A "friend" praying for you in MD said...

Just want to let you know that I will be praying for your family. I found your blog today as I went to catch up on another blog about a precious family who lost their amazing child a few years ago (life with Hannah and Lily). I came over and as I read, I realized who your son was. I live in the DC area and don't watch the news usually, but had it on that night for some reason. I remember praying for your family and Jack's friends even then. I will continue to pray for all of you. May God's comfort surround you and overwhelm you in your darkest moments.

Anonymous said...

This is so, so incredibly beautiful. I really loved reading this - I especially loved the line about internalizing others joy - borrowing it and keeping it forever. Profound. I'm thinking of your Jack tonight, and wishing you love.

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