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.