May 28th, 11 – Jake 49 Eulogy

Jake Eulogy

Given by Jonathan

This is without doubt the most difficult and heart-rending thing I have ever had to do. After almost two years of sharing Jacob’s pain and hopes and fears; of fervent but consistently unanswered prayer, we now as a family have to strive to make some sense of the awful truth that talented, gentle, courageous and lovely Jake has left us.  It will probably take the rest of our lives, but this is where we are at the moment….solace coming from Facebook, food and mute sculpture.

Facebook is not the place that old fogies like Cherry and I would naturally turn for support, it’s too open, too risky, too transparent, too focussed on the lightweight…but this new means of communication has provided unexpected depth and an important measure of comfort.  Since Naomi’s announcement on the day he died, we have read well over 150 postings from Jacob’s wall.  Many from people we have never met or heard of, from across the world all overwhelming in their tributes. We thank them deeply for these. Certain words keep coming up in these messages: smile, kindness, humility, humour, gentle, talented, love, caring, inspiration, but Jake was no plaster saint. Other words: innuendo, disgraceful, fun-loving, videos and pictures of him the worse for drink, weirdly dancing – sometimes to no music at all – gladden our hearts that despite two years with parents in tow he had times of normal young adulthood  – enjoying himself to excess.  The messages from Jake’s age-mates show a boy admired equally for his musical talent, and his human confidence, humour, positivity and joie de vivre.

People closer to our age send condolence cards, emails, poems and letters. We thank them for over 300 in the last two weeks.  Again there is a consistency in their messages – Jake shared not only his talents but also time and emotion with all of them. A boy and man ‘easy in his skin’ as one friend put it , Jacob showed the same wrapped attention and lack of self to all, troubling to complement or encourage, share insights and jokes with old and young, family and friends.

Jake loved food, recent letters told of illicit brownie and cheesecake eating, whole Chinese ducks, ridiculously expensive meals and Champaign on train journeys, so it was not surprising that food became a big feature in gestures of support.  Along with priceless written gifts, have come cakes, meals, more cakes, flowers and more cakes, we thank you so much for them …Whilst we have little need for extra calories, these sweet messages and generous gifts testify to the enriching, transformative and sweetening character of the relationships Jake formed with you. We knew Jacob was special, but these verbal and culinary outpourings have simply overwhelmed us.

Jake set great store by family.  He often said each of us gave him something quite different and precious. He certainly had the warmest and most diverse range of relationships with us and demonstrated this strongly in his last months. He was joyfully and fully himself with us in so many different ways, he gave so much of himself, that we each feel a different-shaped but massive hole in our lives.

Not fifty yards from here his family and friends shared one of his last concerts sitting beneath an extraordinary work of art by sculptor Anthony Gormley. It has only been here a few months and Jake, Cherry and I went to visit it shortly after its installation.  Like all great art, it is profound in its message and readable from many different points of view. Suspended above the spot where St Thomas Becket’s body once lay, it shows a simple prone human form constructed from a web of rusty, ancient nails. This silent, empty shape has become a powerful metaphor for what Jacob will always mean to us.  Gormley called this sculpture ‘Transport’ expressing the transitory nature of human life. But to be transported is also to be uplifted – the interlinked nails are like the web of values that tie together the life well-lived, the rest, the gaps between the nails – is just breath. Jacob’s sensitive and emotionally mature music-making rested upon profoundly felt values: for family, friendship, communication, caring, kindness, humility and love.  The evidence suggests these ideals ran through everything he did, but were most powerfully expressed in his music-making with others. The filigree of nails represents all bodies – temporary homes for great and lasting values – but they remind us that sadly, desperately sadly Jake, so brimming with potential, was only briefly a conduit for his cherished values.

We are lucky though, Jacob can continue to transport us – we can still call Jake our friend, and can experience his music with him, and capture, repeatedly, but just for a moment, the essence of those values, the very essence of Jacob – friends, family and music all rooted in the most human of values.

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