Jack was so stinkin' smart, but he was also wise. He was humble, and he was funny. He did not rail about how unfair life was, even when he experienced that first-hand.
It's hard for me to believe the world didn't need to keep around the rare 12 year old boy who knew how to use a semi-colon and thought that it mattered. The boy who made people laugh by creating strange nicknames for them, drawing them into his made-up games and alternate worlds.
I made photocopies of Jack's pages and pages of doodles to give to his sweet classmates. They told me they were afraid they had all been thrown away. I will not forget their excited voices as they instantly recognized drawing after drawing, none of which made any sense to me but put huge smiles on their faces:
"The Beer Mobile!"
"The Snatching Claw!"
"The Secret Chair!"
They talked about the words Jack made up. The imaginary characters. The expressions they still use today. There are so many, they wrote them down for us.
I am grateful that when they remember Jack it is with a smile. I am grateful that in that small private school environment, which sometimes could seem a bit TOO small, he was loved and supported, right up to the end.
But the end? The END? The inconceivable, asinine, violent END?
I am grappling today with how a few stupid seconds were the difference between life and death. Between the future we envisioned for Jack, versus the future we got.
His friends are having a car wash today. They "hang out" at each other's houses. They had a dance. Next week they go to Philly for a field trip. The boys' voices are getting deeper.
What will I do when I see stubble on their chins?
These are the friends I wanted him to grow up with. And though they carry a piece of him in their hearts, they can't control the march of time that separates them from the boy who will always be twelve.