"At the temple, there is a poem called 'Loss' carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it."
--Memoirs of a Geisha

In my first year of teaching, there was an eighth grader in our marching band (middle schoolers could march with the HS group). He played the French Horn and was one of eleven children in his family. Eleven. In one family.

I couldn't fathom having THAT many children in a home and we got to talking one day. He was explaining the logistics of having that many kids in a relatively modest home. With mom staying home to take care of the kids. And all of them in Catholic schools. When I asked how they did it, his response was simple.

"God will provide."

The family had great faith in their God. True faith that if He brought them to it, He would bring them through it. Over the years, I had the good fortune to teach five of those eleven children and get to know and work with two of the most dedicated parents I'd ever met. The family's faith in God permeated everything they did. Everything.

They need to rely on that faith now more than ever.

Last Friday, that French Horn player, now aged 30, had a massive heart attack, from which he never recovered. Monday morning, he passed away. Thirty years old. He was in graduate school, studying secondary education and Latin.

Although I hadn't had contact with his family in nearly 12 years, a piece of me is gone.

He was the type of kid who was really smart and very funny, with a wise-beyond-his-years, dry sense of humor. Good musician because he played with his heart. Loved drama and band. And his sisters, although you'd never get him to admit it in public.

One spring, as we were preparing for graduation, and playing "Pomp and Circumstance" for the forty-seventh time, I had a brainstorm. I ran a contest for the most creative lyrics to P&C. He won. I've done 19 Commencement Ceremonies since I've been working at Diva U. and I think of him every time.

When asked about the eleven children in his family, he told us that they wanted to have twelve. "You know, like the twelve apostles?"

He was drum major his senior year. Took his leadership role just seriously enough, but had fun too. And just when things were going well, he'd do something to frustrate the bejeezus out of the teachers. Just to keep us on our toes.

An all-around good kid.

I learned so much more from my students than they ever learned from me. I do trust that God knew what He was doing when He took Jacob. But that does not mean that I do not keenly feel the loss. I pray that his family's incredible faith will carry them through this incredible loss.

Rest in peace, dear boy. Rest in peace.

Pie Jesu, q
ui tollis peccata mundi,
Dona eis requiem.
Agnus Dei,
Dona eis requiem.


Anonymous said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. It's so hard to believe he is gone. As I was packing last night to move this weekend, I popped in a play from high school for a few laughs. There he was in all his Jacob glory, playing the role of Potipher... wearing his little top hat and swirling his cane, all in one of our infamously cheap costumes made out of a sheet. I was cracking up... only to find out today that he is gone.

Man. Life is so short.

Jenners said...

This was such a moving tribute to a fine young man and his family. How incredibly sad for his loss -- I can't believe a heart attack at 30. I can't imagine anyone saw that coming. I pray for his family -- they will need their faith now more than ever. And I'm sorry for your loss too -- the world is a little less brighter because of the loss of the boy you described.

Jenny from Chicago said...

I'm so sorry ElleBee. It's a weird loss when it's not someone you see every day anymore. It's a loss just to realize they aren't in the world anymore. Everything seems less alright. I'm sending prayers right back at you.

C. Beth said...

Oh, goodness. It sounds like his 30 years were full and meaningful--to him and those around him. I am so sorry for you, his family, and his friends.

I think maybe his parents would like to read this blog post.

Denise said...

There are no words but these: This young man forever blessed your life and the lives of many others. Because of that he will live on. He sounds like a wonderful person to have known.

Sandra said...

A touching post. But, he's never totally gone from this world as long as memories like yours live on.