Two years ago today was one of the most important days of my Christian life.
It was a Monday. I got up and got ready for work and woke my brother Jacob up at 6:50 to take care of baby Bo like always. He didn’t live with us, but stayed in our spare room during the week so that he could be our “manny” or man nanny. He grumbled a little and Patrick said something about how awful Mondays are. Jake says “Hey Bogus” and goes into the bathroom which is directly off the bedroom.
One-year-old Bo and his best friend Jake
That is where it stopped being like a regular Monday.
I sat Bo up on the counter with a slice of peanut butter toast and got lunch together. I even remember which plate his toast was on. Patrick offered to wait for Jake so I could go to work. (He knows I hate to be late and we were driving separately anyway.) I go out to the car and try to back down the driveway which I have done a million times before but I keep riding up on the hill, so I throw my hands up and go back inside to ask Patrick for help. While he is out moving the car, my heart drops a little and I start to worry. Jake doesn’t take that long in the mornings…
I walk into his room and ask the closed bathroom door “Are you alright? Jake? For real…are you okay?” No answer. Patrick came back in and I pretend I am not flipping out and ask him to check on Jake. He knocked on the bathroom door and tried to open it. He had to force it open because Jake was leaning against the door, completely unresponsive.
Patrick yells for me to call 911 and starts CPR. I remember having to yell at the 911 operator because she was asking me stupid questions just to keep me on the line. “Do you need me on the line? Because you’re not really helping me anymore and I need to call my family!!!” I call my dad and don’t get an answer. My mom doesn’t answer her cell either. I run down the driveway to move the car so the ambulance can get up to the door. Finally I get a hold of my dad.
The rest is a blur of calling all my siblings and answering the EMTs questions. I accidentally say Jake is 24 when he’s really 25. The EMTs can’t get a heart rhythm and they scratch the wall with the gurney. We load Bo into the van and follow the ambulance to the hospital where my Aunt Mecky meets us and takes us to some secret waiting room for people with serious cases or something. The bereavement room. My mom is already with Jake. My dad shows up soon after us and my brother Jack joins us in the secret room. Too soon my aunt is back and she takes my hand and whispers like she can’t bear to be heard, “He didn’t make it.”
Me and my little brother Jake cuddling on the couch.
My whole life changed that day. I can still hear my brother Joe screaming on the phone when I tell him Jake died. No…it was more like wailing. The way I imagine they wail and mourn in the Old Testament, ripping their clothes and throwing ashes on their heads. He was in the car with is fiancé and Jake was his best man. I remember saying something stupid to Jes about her trying to get off of work. Duh. Of course she would take off work and come to the hospital. No one had been able to get a hold of my brother Jimbo yet. Jen was in the hospital fighting off pneumonia and Chris was driving to Hopkins to tell her in person.
That morning was a mess, but in that morning I saw more clearly than ever that God is in charge.
If Jake had died ten minutes later, one-year-old Bo would have been by himself all day until I got home from work around 4. If he had died ten minutes earlier, he wouldn’t have seen Bo one last time and I wouldn’t have seen him. If I had backed down the driveway like I always do, I would have been on the way to work when Patrick found Jake. Since Jake died at our house and not at home, he was taken straight to the hospital where my mom was working. And my aunt was even at work at the hospital that morning too, so she could be there for my mom and for me.
If God had not crept into my heart that morning, I would have been impatient and angry that Jake was taking so long in the bathroom. I mean, that’s my natural frame of mind…my typical response to life. Anger. Impatience. Selfishness. But that morning, I wasn’t angry at all. Not one tiny bit. God even controlled my heart so that I wouldn’t live in regret for my attitude that morning.
God orchestrated every detail that morning. Right down to my heart. Right down to my sinful, angry, selfish heart.
I mean, it was Jake’s heart that gave out. He had his first heart attack at 16 and his last nine years later. Nine years we didn’t know we were going to get. Nine years God blessed us with.
This photo was taken after Jake’s first heart attack at my high school graduation dinner
Don’t misunderstand me. That day was awful and every day since has felt incomplete because Jake isn’t here to share it with us, but I trust that God has got it all under control because HE managed to control even my temper that morning. It certainly wasn’t me. I have been fighting that thing for almost three decades now.
Even though I miss Jake more now than ever before, I get to see bits and pieces of him in my Bo and in my siblings. I can watch a movie and feel like he’s sitting right next to me because I have watched that movie with him so often. I can eat certain foods and feel close to him because the smell reminds me of him and I can see him standing by the stove with his pony tail down his back.
And I am certain that this peace I feel about losing Luna is totally God’s doing. But I blame Jake too.