Wednesday, January 8, 2014


The thermometer presented a
sub-zero number as I shrugged
into my thick wool sweater 
and settled into the corner of
our squishy couch, the gentle
flicker of the fire and Gracie
tucked up next to me the only
company on this frigid morning.

Everyone except my son was
back to normal routines.  He
was still snoozing, the second
of two school cancellation days
his last gift of the
Christmas season.

Leggy poinsettias and paperwhites
scattered around the house were
the only traces of another holiday
now behind us, with the exception
of a few cookies and the card basket.

Cradling the basket of Christmas
and New Years cards, I began to
sift through the happy greetings
and dear faces, lingering
on each as I had not been able to
do with a house full of guests and 
the accompanying busyness.

I studied one in particular, which
defined the Christmas of 2013 for
me and my family in a way that
we could never have predicted.

It was postmarked December 15th
and signed by a close friend--one of
seven women who form a small circle
we've dubbed The Yoga Girls, dating 
back to a time when we met for yoga
practice at one of our homes each
week, a habit long since abandoned
in favor of periodic lunches or coffee.

To All Things A Season was the
 theme of this card, and the
prophetic nature of those words
still takes my breath away.

You see, late in the afternoon on
the same cold day this card was
written and dropped in the mail,
a knock on my sweet friend's 
door would change her family's
life forever.

Authorities on the doorstep
delivered the news that her son
Jake, a freshman in college, 
had passed away that morning.

Although a few weeks have
passed since this tragic event,
my eyes still brim with tears
just typing these words.

To to all things a season,
but oh how my heart aches that
it should be true for one so young,
or for the family that loved him
so very much.

Holding the cheerful card in
my hands and gently stroking
the smiling faces shown in
winter, spring, summer and
autumn of 2013, I remembered
the kind young man whose life
was celebrated in multiple
ways that first terrible week 
after he died.

The stories of quiet good deeds
that he did for others overflowed
as people young and old shared
them in person, on-line and at
his funeral.

Jake's smile could light
up a room, and there were
countless tales of how he
he touched hearts with
both compassion and fun 
in his short life.

Two that spring to mind were
his enthusiasm for pushing the
wheelchair of a disabled friend
around courts and bases as well
as the gift of his time and hard
work on four mission trips
to serve those less fortunate.

But there were many, many more.

The church overflowed with
over 2,000 people at his service.

Like a pebble skipped on the
lake that Jake adored, his life


that will continue

As I looked again at the Christmas
card, brimming with the last seasons
of his precious life, I began to
consider the year ahead 
and how I want to fill it.

Instead of making the usual
resolutions to change something
about myself, I resolved to extend
kindness wherever possible and
find lasting ways to create ripples
that will affect other lives in
meaningful ways.

Thank you, Jake.

I will do my best.

Remember, there's no such thing
as a small act of kindness.  Every act
creates a ripple with no logical end.
~Scott Adams  


PS:  I hope all of you had a
blessed Christmas and will
be inspired to make your own
special ripples in 2014.

{All photos my own, except the one of Jake,
which I was lovingly given permission to use
by his mom, my dear friend Kristi.}


Joanna said...

That post took my breath away. Young Jake didn't wait to show his potential - he was living and breathing it, leading others by his example.

His loss is so very tragic. One can only imagine the future he had ahead of him. His legacy is immense; that so many should have been touched by him in such a positive way - that HAS to leave a mark on the world.

My heart aches for dear Kristi; she can be so proud of having raised this wonderful young man.

Like you, I too will try and extend kindness wherever possible; creating my own ripples, to continue on from those made by Jake.


Dianna said...

Dear Suzanne,
I am so sorry to learn of yet another loss that you are walking through. It is always a tragedy when one so young is taken unexpectedly.

I admire you for the way you are allowing Jake's shortened life impact your day at a time. What a wondrous journey awaits you as you take your first step!


"Create Beauty" said...

My heart goes out to his family. Their sons life WILL surely create ripples that will effect eternity.

Your words are beautifully written
and inspiring. God Bless You.

~ Violet

michele said...

oh suzanne, you are such a gift to so many. you have honored this young man with such grace, and this post feels annointed. i can think of no better word to describe. you may remember i have a jake who is a freshman in college. i'm going to squeeze him harder today because of your sensitivity. my heart goes out to kristi and the family. oh that God will cover them with His healing touch and that they will experience the fullness of His mercies in these tough days.


Anonymous said...

So beautiful, Suzanne. So bittersweet. My heart hurts for the family--and for all those Jake touched. Prayers continue, too.

Many people choose a word for their year to kind of keep a focus or create a mission. I believe you have done so for me. Ripples. Ripples it is.

Thank you, my friend. Peace to and Jake's family, too.


I, too, want to love well ... we never know where those ripples will lead.

I am glad that Kristi has you in her life during this loss. Praying for you both.


ps. Glad your back. :)

Down Raspberry Lane said...

I live in the Twin Cities area too, and so of course I read of this in the newspaper. I have thought about his family, and their heartache, so thank you for sharing this. You must be such a comfort to his mother. And it is a great tribute to him that so many attended his funeral. I pray for the healing of his family and friends.

carissa @ lowercase letters said...

your words are just so poignant. i really believe i could read them all day long. we walked through the death of our good friend's son this summer. so much pain, yet such joy over a life lived well. this is a beautiful tribute as is your resolution. xo.

kerrie of sea cottage said...

What a beautiful young man. What a great loss for all. My heart aches for his mother, his family. It is so very difficult to lose a child at any age. But I am thankful "there is a balm in Gilead..." God is near the brokenhearted.

Just a little something from Judy said...

Words escape me. Your words touched my heart in such a special, heartfelt way this morning. I hurt so deeply for Jake's parents and family during this painful part of their life journey. You challenged me, inspired me, and renewed my direction for 2014. Gifted writers can do that for others. Thank you! "Kindness truly does give birth to kindness".


So very sad to hear news of the passing of this child....with his whole life ahead of him.....hopes and dreams. Especially durning the holidays a time for celebration. I heard the pain in your words and like Michele makes you want to hug your loved ones a little harder and longer. Peace Suzanne.

Emily said...

"Ripples" - how lovely a sentiment - a word I will hold dear as I move through my days without Jake but touched by your poignant observation and truth that this is what he would have wanted. Little did I know "To All Things A Season" would be such a prophetic reflection. Thank you for your beautiful tribute Suzanne, you have a gift with words, love, & in friendship.. I love you. To those who have written and posted their well wishes, thoughts or prayers - I am filled up with appreciation, tears, and inspiration to 'Light My World' another day - "Go Light Your world as well with the Kindness your own Ripples create..."
XO Kristi

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Mary Timmers said...

Oh Suzanne, how terrible! So young with so much life ahead. And why do we always assume that anyone has "so much life ahead"?We all need to live this very day to the fullest.

You've had a lot of loss this year. I'll pray for peace and relief for you, my friend.


The enchanted home said...

Suzanne, my breath is taken away. How utterly heartbreaking, I simply cannot imagine and really cannot imagine suriving such a tragedy. I want to reach out and wrap my arms around those parents, there are simply no words.
What a poignant and beautiful tribute to an obviously incredible and handsome young man whose life was cut short far too soon. I often wonder why these things happen...there is nothing natural in a young persons life being cut short. Your words and beautiful writing style grabbed me and took hold and has me thinking of how lucky we all are to have our kids here with us, alive and well. A reminder to count our blessings and I love your resolution, and the "ripples" sentiment. Wishing you a peaceful and happy 2014 and may Jake's family find peace as well as they adjust to a new normal. Thank you for this tribute which really touched me.

Sandy at You May Be Wandering said...

Oh Suzanne, this post broke my heart. I cannot even imagine how difficult it must be for Jake's family to lose such a wonderful son. Your tribute to Jake and your sentiment of "ripples" was so beautifully written. Bless you and Jake's family in the coming year. xoxo

Charm Bracelet Diva {at Home} said...

The word tragic doesn't seem to cover it. Any young life taken away too soon is always inexplicable. I'm very sorry about what happened and will pray for his family and all who are grieving his loss. And your ripples have already started, my dear: you touched me in a good and healing way today. Thank you.

Low Tide High Style said...

No words, just tears. Wishing you and your family all the best in 2014!

xo Kat

Tricia said...

Oh goodness, I'm all teary-eyed after reading this. I feel at such a loss for words. It's so hard to understand why the life of such a special soul comes to a close so young. It breaks my heart to think of what his family is going through. My hope is that God holds them close and somehow brings them a measure of peace. xo

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Oh Suzanne, this is a lovely tribute to Jake. He sounds like a very special young man...I know he will be very missed by all who knew him. Your thoughts of ripples and spreading kindness have touched and inspired all who have read your post today, including me...XOXO, my friend.

lisaroyhandbags said...

What a beautiful tribute to a special young man - a true inspiration to us all. My heart goes out to his family - such a tragedy during a time they should be celebrating as a family. Ripple is the perfect word for me to embrace this year too. I hope 2014 brings you more joy after such a heartbreaking year you've had. xoxo

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Hi Suzanne, I haven't been here in a while. How ironic that I come on the very day that I've sent my freshman son back to college in Colorado. How heartbreaking for Jake's family. So sad when someone is taken so young. As usual, your post is perfect, poignant,and ties together beautifully! A lovely tribute. My goal for the year is the same as yours. Practice random acts of kindness. Blessings to you and yours for a happy, healthy 2014. Tammy

Lisa @ Shine Your Light said...

Oh Suzanne. My heart hurts. I'm so very sorry for the loss of this fine young man. I will keep your friend and her family in my prayers and am sending lots of love to you.

Alison Agnew said...

such a shattering thing
to come to terms with
the sudden loss of a child

and yes
a timely reminder
that our lives are not our own
but are entwined with those we love
and even those casual encounters

thank you for being willing to share your heartbreak.


Alison Agnew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda said...

Wow. Love will save the day.

Leslie said...

Beautifully written and my heart aches for the family and friends of this wonderful young man .. what a loss.

The holidays are always emotionally charged and this year has been tough with the loss of my father in October (not sure if you saw that post..)

Life goes on and we need to look forward and compartmentalize all the sad things and focus on all that is good.

Have a nice weekend and I hope 2014 is off to a great start for you and your family!


Julia said...

Las fotografías son geniales. Ha estado un regalo el visitar tu bloc, te invito visitar el mio y compartamos nuestros blogs y si te gusta espero que te hagas seguidor.

Love Being A Nonny said...

To your dear friend, Kristi, My mommy heart breaks for you. I pray for your new normal. May God give you strength to put one foot in front of the other until you see your precious son again one day..

Deborah said...

Suzanne what a beautiful and inspiring post.
Thank you for sharing your heart here, as always.
Jake was a gift from God and how sweet you are to honour him in this way.
It sounds like he was a blessing to all he met...what a legacy he left.
Praying God's dear comfort upon you and his family and friends.
Warm hugs,

All my heart,
Deborah xoxo

Tiffini said...

oh many stories abound .. so much sadness..somedays i just mourn because there is nothing i can want to call down miracles on behalf of those you love and we do pray for that but you remind me that we can DO something..we can live each day giving ourselves. practicing love. doing love
it is something..i wish i could say just the right words to you. i am sad for you. please know that. sending you a hug and prayers for His peace to wrap their arms around this sweet boys family in ways they KNOW and your heart as well....xo

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Good morning dearest Suzanne,

I don't know what to say other than we all make ripples as we enter this life; I wrote a poem last summer on this very effect.

I really don't know what to say other than I pray that you and your family will always be an example of this kindness that the world needs to see more of...and Jake has made a big WAVE in the lives of every single person from his family members to his friends, and to any stranger I'm sure he treated with honor. Thank you for coming by to visit, and maybe we can visit soon? HUGS, Anita

Joyti said...

Oh, your poor friend. I can't imagine (well, I can just a little bit - my aunt and uncle were killed by a drunk driver a few months ago, while they were out walking their dog). The moments Jake here, a gift, hopefully his family takes comfort in the good memories they've made.

I hope your 2014 is bright and full of love.

Bonnie said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friend's son's tragic death. I wish I could say something comforting. Your post was a beautiful tribute to this young man. May his family receive God's comfort.

Suzanne, You have lost a close friend and now another friend has a tremendous lose. I have huge chill bumps and a lump in my throat. Your reflections and resolutions have inspired me. May I create some ripples that will affect other lives in meaningful ways too.