This is Jake's Story...

Jake is a 20-year-old twin who has been diagnosed with stage 4 Rhabdomyosarcoma, a very rare form of cancer. Going through a vigorous daily radiation treatment and weekly Chemo treatments make him extremely tired, weak and sometimes nauseous.

Jake is otherwise a normal teenage kid. He likes playing computer games, paintball, swimming and golfing. He loves hanging out with his four brothers, 4 wheeling, camping, and ruining his mom's laundry baskets while making home videos. He hopes to someday become a computer programmer.

This blog was started to keep his family and friends updated on his status.

Addendum: Jake became cured of cancer, free of pain and everything this world brings on September 29, 2010. He continues his journey in Heaven. He is doing awesome! Hope you're doing the same!

His family thanks you for your generosity in donations, love and service. God has shown us many tender mercies!
Thanks for being one of them!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A month ago today...

A month ago today, about the same hour as I am typing this blog update, I was sitting in Jake's room listening to his labored breathing.  His nurse was there...she had told me a couple hours prior that Jake would not be here much longer.  I asked her if I should call Dave...he would be home in a couple hours anyway...she said I should call.  Dave left his work immediately and was there with Jake as he passed from this life to the next. 

I told Jake it was ok to go...he would be pain free.  What would feel worse for me...having Jake in excruciating pain, or not seeing Jake for a long, long time.  The house and yard were full of spirits waiting for Jake.  I couldn't walk to the kitchen without walking through spirits.  The feeling was amazing, calm and so much love!  As his breathing stopped, I held him tight...finally I could hold him and hug him without causing him pain and discomfort.  His neck was so warm, it was hard to believe that his spirit had left.  Yet my head on his chest, no beating heart, no labored breathing, no wincing in pain...I could still feel him there.  So I told him it was an honor to be his mother...and I heard his voice say...It was an honor to be your son!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


You never know how your life will affect another persons.  It may be something you say to them, or it could be just the way you live, what you believe or in Jake's case, the way you pass on to your new life.  This is the touching story of someone who let goodness back in their life:

Hi Rose!
You and I don't know each other but...
I would like to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I can only imagine. Best wishes for you and your family.

The reason I am writing you is to tell you how much Jake and Mike have impacted my life. I never met Jake, but through him my life has been changed.

For a long time I was really struggling with a lot of things. Lots of self pity, Lots of why me, and lots and lots of sin. I would describe myself as hard hearted, to say the least. I didn't want anything to do with church, the atonement, the Savior, eternal family, none of it. When I think back to who I was and how I felt just a few weeks ago I cringe. I never want to be that person again.

This is the part that you get involved. You and sweet Michael. I knew a little about the situation, and really felt sympathy for your family. Which was strange because I hadn't felt anything but selfish and greedy feelings for countless months. It was nice to worry about someone other than me.

One night I was whining to Mike about trivial things in my life. He was very sweet about it but basically told me to stop whining and realize the beauty in life. We talked about him and his faith. A lot about life, God, death, family. Things of that nature.

Through Mikes faith when Jake left, I really started to remember what it was like to have faith in something. He would tell me that everything was going to be okay, because he knew that this separation was temporary. That he had an eternal family and would one day be with him again.

That night, I sat and I cried for hours. It was the first time I had felt emotion like that in a long time, and it felt good. Something about this situation softened my soul to the point that I could feel again, something positive. Just a little at first, but growing steadily. It was enough of a shock to me that I wanted nothing to do with the person that I was. I wanted to be different, and better.

I went back to church again because of it. I haven't missed a week since. I have started repenting because of your boys. All of this is with the most honest and pure intentions I have ever felt, because I want an eternal family too. I want to have the faith that goodbye is not goodbye, but a see you later.
Rose, I really can't begin to explain how different things have been. I don't know how you feel, but I do know, that if nothing else, I want to raise my children like you have raised yours. To rely on faith, and the Atonement, the plan of salvation, and most importantly to trust God. I don't think you will ever know how many people have been effected by the good example your boys have set. I am forever thankful. I was telling my Bishop in one of our weekly meetings of Jake and what really was my wake up call, and how I really wish that it had been different for your family. I didn't understand why, and he told me ever so sweetly, that heaven needed a hero.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jake’s Cancer Journey…Part 3

Well, that didn’t work out the way I intended!  I can't say it didn't work out the way I had hoped...because I hoped for what was best for Jake and that is what I got. 
I wondered why God just didn’t tell me that all the treatments weren’t going to cure his cancer…that ultimately; physical death was the final cure for his pain, tumors and to become cancer free.  I’ve come to understand that the whole journey is a process.  If those parts could have been left out, they would have.  Each experience has a purpose.  Some are to help others through their journey…not necessarily to make it easier for them, but for them to experience everything God has planned for them to experience…for their learning and growth…to complete their earthly experience.  Ours is not to ask why, for it is not God’s purpose for us to understand all things in this life.  But ours is to live our lives just as God intended, touching other’s in ways that will impact them for good. 

We always hope that we are doing it right.  We hope that we are there to impact the right people at the right time.  It doesn’t always mean that we live the lives we have dreamed for ourselves.  In fact, more likely, it means we live the lives we never dreamed for ourselves.

I think the media tries to dictate who we should be and how we should feel when certain things happen in your life.  …so I expected a lot of grief and tears, emptiness and sorrow, tremendous loss, disappointment and days of depression.  But that’s not how I feel at all!  I’m disappointed I don’t get to see or hug Jake, or talk to him like we used to.  There’s no teasing or laughing at each other’s jokes.  He doesn’t stand in the dark and try to scare me at the bottom of the stairs, or sneak up on me while I’m in the laundry room.  While looking at him in his casket, I was hoping that he would open his eyes or grab my hand and scare the crap out of me…then hug me and tell me that everything was ok now.  I would have punched him for scaring me, (an uncontrolled reflex!) then hugged him for a very long time. 

What I feel is peace.  Every parent wants their kids to move on when they are adults and that’s what Jake did…just not in the way I was expecting.  I’m sure he’s going to school, taking classes, meeting lots of pretty girls, dating and having the time of his life.  He too is sad that we have lost the communication system we had going here, but our love still binds our hearts together…I feel him close all the time…so I’m not missing him like I thought I would.  Perhaps if he left completely and quickly, I would feel the emptiness and tremendous loss…but what I feel is that he continues on…living his life where I can not see or share. 

I also feel a great relief of stress and worry and time and heartache.  My heart no longer breaks… because the pain is gone from Jake, and therefore it is gone from mom.  It surprises me, a little, how connected to his pain I was…because of the immense peace I felt when it was over.

Most of my grief and crying was done in anticipation, before he passed.  And there was much of it.  Now…we are adjusting…we are fine.

Grateful, I am, knowing where he is.  I don’t feel comfortable or truthful saying that I have lost my son.  He is not lost to me or to God.  He is right where he is suppose to be, doing what he’s suppose to do…finally!

I’m happy for him, as I would be for a son who got accepted into a prominent institution of higher learning and had to go away for more schooling…and oh, the things he will learn!  Fabulous travel experiences, incredible teachers, awesome friends, dating experiences, love…endless possibilities!  They will love him there as we loved him here!  He will make them laugh with his Jake-isms and he will love his life!

Jake, I hope you find your niche in the place where you now reside.  I hope whoever your companions are there can help you see your awesomeness…in a way you were never able to see it here.  Your sacrifice and love here was nothing less than amazing.  May you recognize all of the gifts God has bestowed upon you and use them wisely.  May you find the love of your life in your travels…you know, the girl that makes you smile when you talk about her, the one who you can’t wait to see and share with, the one who loves to hold your hand and make you laugh!  The one who makes you want to live better!  The one you will hold in your heart forever!  The one you can’t wait for me to meet!

May the time between our hugs be long enough, but seem short.  You are in my heart…always! 

Love you bud!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Per your request...

Below is a copy of the talk I gave at Jake's funeral...

Jacob Charles Holladay
Jacob Charles Holladay was born at 12:34 p.m. on that beautiful day of April 19, 1991.  Jake made that journey into this world with his brother and best friend, John Matthew.  They were 5 lbs 4 oz when they were born…tiny, adorable little guys.
They loved their walkers!  They were sitting up and scooting around in them at four months.  With two of them, it was like bumper cars in our West Valley home.  I had to put Jake in blue or the darker color to tell him apart from John…or Matt as we called him then.  Jake had the purple binky holder and Matt had the red one.  Who do you love, Jake?  Mamamamama.
Our favorite neighbors lived across the street.   Kara and Rachael would often come steal Jake and Matt from our house.  Sunday dinners were a tradition at the Lubbers house.  We told the boys that cauliflower with cheese on it was candy so they would eat it.  Mike would tell them not to tap on the glass of the fish tank…so of course that would be the first thing they would do.  Trudy would make these fabulous brownies for Sunday dinner, then she would wrap the leftovers in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer.  If the boys ever went missing…I had a pretty good idea where to find them…The boys would help each other push a chair over to the fridge so they could raid the brownie stash.
One hot summer day, Mike found them streaking in his back yard, through the sprinklers.  Another time, they thought it would be a good idea to throw bricks at a neighbor’s car window!  Thank goodness for homeowner’s insurance and understanding neighbors!
Jake was always willing to help Matt out when he could.  At age 4, Matt got something in his eye when we were building our home in Lehi.  I took them to the Moran Eye Center to have it checked.  During an eye exam, the doctor was showing Matt pictures, instead of letters, because he couldn’t read yet.  The first picture was kind of abstract…Matt was staring at it, trying to figure out what it was and Jake leaned over and whispered…”It’s a cake!”
The boys shared everything…from food, to clothes, to friends.  They shared a special brother bond…especially this past year.  Any time there was a chance to see each other when John lived in St. George was met with much anticipation.  Both John and Zack would spend time talking with Jake about anything besides cancer…just what Jake needed.  They were always willing to take Jake to any of his appointments or even stay the night with him in the hospital.  They gladly carried him in his wheelchair to the beach to see the ocean.  The helped him walk from place to place…always with a shoulder to lean on.  Our last family camp out, they all stayed in the tent with Jake and took care of him…allowing the brother bonding to seal itself forever.
Although Mike and Spencer were not as close in age and thus, not as close, he loved them and always prayed for them…especially if they were not in the family prayer circle on Tuesday nights.
Tuesday nights…Jake’s prayer day.  Seven family members, seven days to take turn praying.  Jake’s day was Tuesday.  I will miss that.  The sweet prayers and the hugs.

The boys came to dread the words “Father Son Bonding Time”…because that meant they had to do some hard chore with dad!  Dave followed the example of his own dad and loved teaching the boys all the mechanical and electrical things they would need to know as men.  He also loved to play with the boys as much as mom would allow!  He loved gaming with them, taking them shooting, camping…especially the “boys only” trips!  I was reminded recently of one time the boys came home and the wind had blown Jake’s tent, my sleeping bag and Jake’s Game Boy into the fire pit.  They were on a hike at the time and when they came back…there was not much left.  Jake didn’t much care that my sleeping bag was burned up…but he was pretty bummed about losing his Game Boy!
And then there is Austin…his brother from another mother.  Austin has been his friend since they met at 4 years old.  When discussing where Jake wanted his belongings to go, the first person Jake was concerned about was Austin.  Jake spent many nights sleeping at Austin’s house…on his floor or on his bed.  Many a time Austin has come and played his guitar for Jake.  He paid the extra $100 for Jake to have the bike he wanted for his last birthday...then he bought himself a bike so he could go with Jake on his bike rides.  Austin could love Jake no more than if he were his own brother…and so he was.  His family took his lead and also loved Jake as one of their own.  (Of course, it was a package deal…Jake and John).  Karen did all she could to help Jake get better…because she loves my son as much as I love hers.
Kyle…his other brother from another mother…is serving an honorable mission in Oklahoma.  He knows that as much as we would love him to be here…Jake knows that he loves him.  Jake would pray for him every Tuesday, as we all do every night.  We are sad that the timing is such that Kyle couldn’t be here with us…but we feel his love…miles away.
We are grateful for all the “pretty girls” in his life.  Those who came and spent time with him, even if they did make him watch chick flicks!  There are those who held his hand and helped steady him as he walked.  Those who made him laugh.  Some gave him kisses and hugs.  There are those he befriended from the internet…from one coast to the other.  He loved talking to the girls!  Most wanted the honor of meeting him and getting a “Jake” hug.  It was so sweet of Kayli to take him on his only date!   …one he has never forgotten.  She may not have been his true love, but she was a true friend!
Broken things…I recall coming home from Girl’s Camp one year and my sister had stayed with the kids.  She was holding Jake, who had just run into the metal part of the door and split his head open just below his eyebrow.  I tried to start the van to take him to the Urgent Care, but it wouldn’t start…so Angie came to my rescue and she hauled two of her youngest with Jake and I to the doctors to get him stitched up.  Jake was fine…but the doctor made me leave because I was the one crying. 
Another time when Uncle Mark was visiting us with his family, Jake and John were running to the bathtub and Jake slid…only to be stopped by the cool white ceramic toilet bowl on his chin…more stitches…..Oh, correction from John…He didn’t slide…he was pushed!
I wonder if Jake volunteered to take the most pain in the family…a year of chemo, radiation and those ugly, nasty tumors.
I’ve shared this with some of you, but for those who haven’t heard…God sometimes shares with me slivers of time…glimpses of life before I was born here.  One such glimpse was when I was asked if I would accept the job of helping Jake through this part of his journey.  I was warned that it would be very hard, but God promised me he would be with me every step of the way.  I kept my promise to help Jake through this…and God kept His promise…every second of it!  He poured out so many blessings upon me and my family…I gave up trying to keep track of them all…many more blessings than tumors.  Many of those blessings came from the hands and the generosity of you…here.  Some came from the hearts of those who didn’t even know us, but knew of us…How tender of the boys of one of my racquetball buddies who sold flowers at Mother’s Day and donated the money to Jake!  I don’t think any of those sweet boys ever met Jake…yet still they gave.
I’ve gotten many remarks:  Not fair, didn’t get to live his full life, horrible year for you…
All partially true statements.  Not fair?  Nowhere in my book of life did it say that Life was going to be fair.  We do get our fair share of challenges…and would we want to trade with anyone else…absolutely not!
Didn’t get to live his full life?  Absolutely, he did!  He did not live the life you or I or even he dreamed for himself…but he did live the life he was meant to live…for the time he was meant to live it.  Many times…these past few weeks, God would tell me…”Don’t worry about it!  I’ve got it handled!   Everything is right on schedule!  Everything is going according as planned!”
In the very beginning God told me that I had said I wanted what was best for Jake…no matter the outcome.  Indeed I did want that!  The faith I had to have to trust…that this was the best for Jake!  He also said I would like the outcome...Jake passing was not the part I like…but that was not the end, not the outcome God was referring to.
At times I felt this was my Abraham experience…how far did I have to go?  How much was God going to require of me?  Would I have to truly lay Jake on the alter?  Would He actually take him back?  Could I do all that I had promised I would do?
Horrible year…some parts, yes, but also a year of unforgettable love and service…to Jake and to our family.  Not an unkind word from brothers…just loving kindness and service, unconditional love…15 months of it.  I learned to find Joy in places I never looked before!  Prayers from around the world focused on our little family!  The strength I felt has been nothing less than amazing!  So much strength that many times, it was my time to reach out and strengthen others. 
President Reins (religious leader) called us in to talk about how we were doing with Jake’s failing health…I thought he was going to tell us we have used up our allotted acts of kindness…because there were so many!  They didn’t decrease, they increased!  I feel like we hit the Lottery of Love and Compassion!  It was like God was saying…you thought that was awesome…just wait till you see what’s next!
The last week or so of Jake’s life was so heart breaking for me.  I was doing what I promised…taking care of him, yet every touched caused him immense pain!  Some may ask,  Were we not good enough to have our prayers answered?  Did we not have enough faith to heal the sick?  Have all our prayers gone unanswered?  Why would God let this happen to such a young man?  I believe with all my heart, that I could have walked in Jake’s room one morning and all of the tumors could have disappeared and Jake would have been good as new…IF that was the best thing for Jake.  I believe that you are GOOD enough, had enough faith, and each prayer was heard and answered with the very thing Jake needed.  My prayer was not to heal Jake, but mine was that whatever was best for Jake would happen…and that I could live with it.  Cured of cancer?  Yes he was!  Pain taken away!  Absolutely!  Miss him?  More than words and tears can express.
He won!  Jake played the game of Life and he beat us all!  You’re still here…BE AWESOME!
Though the heavens wept this morning…they were not weeping for sadness, they were weeping for Joy…because Jake was theirs again!
Thank goodness for our free agency…because we have choices!  We can choose to only see the bad or the hard stuff and live in sorrow, grief, anger and pain…or we can choose to acknowledge the hard stuff and remember the love, the kindness, the abundance of tender mercies and live in peace and happiness, hope and faith.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I'm Free

I'm Free
Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free
I'm following the path God laid for me,
I took His hand when I heard Him call
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way
I found that peace at the close of the day
If my parting has left a void
Then fill it with a remembered joy
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Oh yes, these things I too, will miss!
Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much...
Good friends, good times a loved one's touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief.
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief
Lift up your hearts and peace to thee
God wanted me now, He set me free.

Given to us on a plaque by the Lubber's Family

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I can't believe it's been a week!

I can't believe it's been a week already! Jake has been with me since his spirit left his body...until 2:30 this morning! I woke up...and he had gone. I seem to hear his guide say..."It's time to leave her, Jake! She's going to be ok now...just let go of her heart. I promise it won't break if you let go." ...and then he let heart kept beating...still in one piece. He left to go do whatever he is suppose to do now.
I recall when Jake was 6 and I was going into labor with Spencer. He hated seeing me in pain. He held my was all I could do not to crush is little hand each time a contraction came. He watched my face and listened for my breathing to increase...then he would grab my hand.
I left the house for the first time Monday. The viewing was amazing! So many hugs! My friends did an awesome job setting up pictures, had music
Beautiful flowers!
Beautiful casket spray designed and created by my SisNlaw, Janet
White Cali Lilies for peace
While roses for heaven
6 red roses for the ones he left behind
1 red rose in the middle...because Jake is still part of us
made with love, sweat and tears!
The funeral started with the fire alarm going off for some time...before we could start. We found that amusing! Zack read the obituary, then he and John told of the Jake-isms we remembered. The one I forgot to include is how he would sit downstairs, in the dark and wait to scare me. The bigger the scream, the bigger the accomplishment! I think they would rate them...a good scream was about a 6 and a scream and a punch was a 9! He would often bleat my name like a sheep...Maaaam, Maaaam! I can't beleive he got John to do the "Jake" dance! Jake couldn't lift his feet too well from some of the chemo he he made up his own little dance. All the boys would stand in a line and do funny!
I somehow found the strength to talk at his funeral. I will post that talk later, for those who weren't able to hear it.
The brothers, uncles, friends and best friend's dads carried him to the hurst and to his final resting place at the Lehi our newly acquired deeded property.
Even in this saddest day of our lives...lots of love in the Holladay Family!
Greatful for my awesome guys!
My RS Peeps

A few (not all) of the awesome friends who put everything together!

Our friend, Rich, who played some amazing guitar while we ate our fabulous luncheon!
Lucky Charms was Jake's gaming name and gummy sharks were his favorite treat.  I don't know how they got these, but someone printed out the Lucky Charms label and found all these small boxes of cereal and put them on every table!  My friends are the coolest!
So many hugs!  So many friends, neighbors and family here for our support! many beautiful flowers!  We have them in every room...even the bathroom!
We thank everyone for the love and kindness and your support during this sad time for us.  Even my racquetball buddies came and my Biggest Loser Team and trainer!  Friends and neighbors came from near and far to show their love and support for Jake and our family...not to mention the valet guy from Primary Childrens, some of the nurses, the sweet lady who ran the parent support group, all of Dave's work buddies/bosses, old friends from old neighborhoods and college, old friends from high school...I bet if I asked all of my best friends to raise their hands...half the audience would have.  You guys are amazing!