Last weekend I attended the Celebration of Life for former Camp Goodtimes camper Jacob Sears. Jake was just 19 years of age and was a big part of the camp family, having attended for years. It was a wonderful heartfelt tribute to a young life taken far too soon by cancer. The day was filled with things that Jake loved and was passionate about, his family, his friends, and his music. The music was incredibly moving. "Amazing Grace" and "Let it be" were performed by professional musicians who were close friends with Jake, and the guests also sang along with "Firework" by Katy Perry which got progressively louder as the song went along, with Jake’s camp friends, fittingly, even busting out the hand gestures towards the end.
Jakes’ mother Jonae showed unimaginable strength as she dealt with her own grief while at the same time lovingly embracing the sorrow of others. Tragically this was the second child she has lost to cancer with the passing of Jake’s older brother Nick five years ago. Nick also attended Camp Goodtimes where he is still honored at the ‘Memory Circle’ each year.
|Jake's mom Jonae|
|A hug from a close friend, the Dean of students from Jake's school|
|Jonae, sharing a happy memory|
|Nick at camp in June of 2006|
|Rocky and Maggie|
There were so many people in attendance who were hurting and before you knew it, hours had passed, the time lost in the sharing of memories. Maggie said, “We met on Daboata at camp and from the moment he said, ‘Hi!’ we just clicked. He was so special.” There is no doubt that his memory will be cherished and protected and his life will continue to be celebrated because he deeply impacted the lives of everyone he connected with. While listening to the outpouring of emotion it became very clear that Jake was the same loving person to whoever he encountered in life and he loved his family and friends with conviction and without condition.
I personally will miss his enthusiasm and energy at camp and his willingness to try anything. I enjoyed very much hanging out with him and his cabin mates on the beach taking pictures, playing guitar and singing songs as well as our many random duets on the piano.
|Playing piano at camp with Jake in 2009|
|Jake's colorful entrance to the dance in 2011|
I’m just so sad for Jake, his mom, and the rest of his family and friends because he had so much still to give had it not been for cancer taking away that opportunity. I, like so many, are very proud to have known him.
|Jonae with Camp Goodtimes director "Beef"(on the left) and Jake's very close friend and former camp counselor "Bacon"|
|Jonae with Rocky and Maggie|
|Some of Jake's friends from camp (l to r), Maggie, Rocky, Jack, Drew and Sarah|
|Some of Jake's Camp Goodtimes family|
|Maggie, saying goodbye|