His Birthday Reminds Me of His Favorite Things
What Jacob Loved During His Too-Short Life
Twenty-one years before he succumbed to unbearable pain and took his life, Jacob was an autumn baby. That makes this time of year sadly nostalgic. I recall my mom coming to help with the new baby … She would walk to the bakery around the corner to get pumpkin muffins for her and me. I can still smell their fragrant aroma, freshly baked, and see the leaves turning purple, red, and orange in the backyard that our little Jacob would come to cherish as his private, fenced-in piece of nature.
An “Easy” Baby Who Just Wanted to Be Held
I called him my little pumpkin muffin; later, “Squirrel.”
He was what they call an easy baby: As long as he could cuddle with someone, he was happy. I carried him around in my arms or, if busy with other tasks, in a carrier; but the moment I tried to put him down in his cradle, he would burst into tears.
How Much He Loved This Life
As he grew, Jacob seemed to love everything and everyone around him. He had an uncanny ability to see below the surface of our flaws and failings to the highest self within each of us–in his diverse, dysfunctional family as well as his flailing, flaky high-school and college friends. He saw goodness in everyone and he named it, telling Katya she belonged in art school and encouraging José to stand up to his cheating girlfriend.
One thing that terrifies me, as time passes since Jacob’s death, is that I might begin to forget. So let me list here, for you and for me, some of his favorite things.
- Taking apart electronics to see how they work
- Sitting in the back yard on the swings
- Blending condiments and, later, chemicals, to make explosions
- Hiking in open fields, forests, or mountains (anywhere)
- Talking all night about what matters in life
- A good hot cuppa tea
- Filet mignon
- Peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches
- Goofy elf slippers he wore around Christmas
- Fireworks, especially illegal/big ones
- Mountain biking
- Organic chemistry
- His family–all the disparate/divorced parts of it
- And, so lucky for me, me.
Happy birthday always, Jacob. I love you to the moon and back.
A shout-out to volodymyr-tokar-IsElwGRCqHA-unsplash for the open-source use of our cover image.