Saturday, June 15, 2019

10 Years Ago ... as if it were yesterday

 Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Jacob Blackburn Edfeldt's death.  If you follow this blog you know that I tend to write a tribute or remembrance on significant days of his life; his birthday on March 11, his second heart transplant on November 15, his first transplant on December 21, and his death on June 14.  Each entry is a way of  therapy as I remember him, honor him, and keep his memory alive for friends and family and to let others know what they missed in not knowing Karen’s and my son and Ben and Katie’s brother.

I was fully prepared to compose another blog entry as this 10th anniversary approached but when the day came the grief overwhelmed me to the point of having nothing to say. Katie and Andy, with their two precious children, came to help assuage the pain that yesterday brought and they did serve as a partial distraction to the emotional gloom of the day.  But as far as writing something meaningful and heartfelt, I did not have the mental acuity or the emotional energy to put fingers to keyboard.

But throughout the day, different people who knew Jacob  shared their words and memories and they filled my heart (and Karen’s as well) with gratitude and love.  So I am taking these words that mean so much to me and sharing them with all of you as we lost  someone and something special 10 years ago.

  • Jacob Edfeldt was my freshman roommate and quickly became my brother and closest friend. We fought like cats and dogs, but at the end of the day we always found common ground in each other.  He was the first real brother I ever had, and still one of the best I could ever ask for.
  • The key with him is that he never did anything for himself - it was always for the people around him - family, friends or strangers.
  • 10 years ago, we lost one of the most radiant, kind souls to ever walk the Earth.
  • Jacob who forever will be in our hearts as he touched us with his laughter and love.
  • I remember the time when we surreptitiously switched out new mattresses for our old ones in college
  • I remember playing Mario Kart in your dorm and you being incredibly good at it
  • A friend to all showed us what a strong and faithful friend and follower of Christ looks like.
  • In honor of your memory we named our 2nd son Raleigh Jacob. We can't wait to tell him one day about his middle name and the man that inspired it.
  • My time at Shorter College irrevocably changed my life and Jacob was an absolutely huge part of it.
  • Jacob had this beautiful balance of being kind, patient, gracious, and forgiving while never backing down to what he knew be true added to an incredible level of strength and determination in everything he did.
  • You are one of two people who influenced me to become a nurse and you made my time at college so much happier and better.
  • You surprised me constantly; i adored your laughter, your spirit, your kindness and strength, your honesty and truth, the singing!
  • He is an amazing person with a booming voice, great sense of humor, and a kind and loyal heart; he was wise beyond his years and made everyone he met just a little bit better.
  • Words can’t describe how much Jacob Edfeldt meant to me and still makes a huge impact on me through his love of life, humor and grumpiness, and dedication to his people.
  • I miss his huge smile and laugh, deep and gruffly voice, and witty sarcasm.
  • I find myself from time to time talking out loud like you are in the room listening to my problems and trying to help me through the day.
  • I knew you were a special person and I know God placed you in my life for a reason and I thank him for that!
  • I loved every mess we got into and every laugh we shared!
  • The twinkle in his eye, the roaring laughter, the sometimes very dry humor, the sarcasm (love this trait), but the love for others was remarkable. He rarely talked about himself, although he good reason to, but always was concerned about others!
  • Jacob Edfeldt you will always have a special place in my heart. I will always love you and remember you
  • You were always willing to help others and share a God’s love with those you met! Whether it be the ninth ward in New Orleans or at Kidmo on Sunday mornings. You made every moment you were given count.
  • "Because I knew you I have been changed for good."

Monday, March 11, 2019



You were born in unusual circumstances. Instead of being born in a local hospital in Houston, TX, you were born over a thousand miles away in Philadelphia, PA, making you our token “Yankee”.

Instead of being delivered by a doctor who had followed your development throughout the nine months and in whom your mother had built a strong sense of trust, we met your assigned delivery doctor minutes before the procedure that brought you into the world in a strange hospital we had never been in before.

Instead of being swaddled and given to your mother for a ‘golden hour’, after a brief introduction to your parents, you were quickly whisked away to be surrounded by machines and attentive nurses. Your mom and I could only see you and hold you for minutes at a time while medicines ‘fooled’ your body into thinking you were still in a safe, loving womb as you awaited your first open heart surgery five days later.

Instead of going home after a few days after your birth, you endured your first of many open heart surgeries and stayed in a hospital for several weeks to see if you would survive and thrive … which you did!

Instead of a hospital room that resembled a living room with a comfortable hospital bed, your mom was given  a spartan room about the size of a walk-in closet and a bathroom that was down the hall, while you were stationed in a ward wing with five other sick children in a separate hospital.

Instead of a steady stream of friends and family coming through our Houston home to welcome you and coo over you, you were cocooned in isolation, partly out of fear of infection and partly out of fear that anybody who held you would ‘break’ your fragile body.

Instead of a normal childhood immersed in sports and playing outside in the rain and mud, you took countless trips to doctors and hospitals …. Yet you did it with a smile and brought smiles to all who attended to you.

Instead of spending a ton of money to go to the prom in a fancy tux like every other of your high school friends, you spent your junior year struggling to live and then experienced a life giving heart transplant.  And because of that, you got to do something none of your high school friends would ever do – spend a day fixing a meal with Paula Deen!

Instead of a celebratory college graduation with your friends and sharing plans and fears of future careers with each other, your mother and father walked  across the stage to receive your honorary diploma presented by Shorter College posthumously.  Our tears were flowing for a different reason than the scores of parents elsewhere in that gym.

And you were cheated out of a long and happy life …. But you packed a long lifetime of happy into your 21 years of challenges.

Happy woulda been 31st birthday, Jacob!

Love you and miss you ... everyday,

 Mom & Dad

Monday, January 28, 2019


Whenever I am in Marietta on one of my business trips I will take a few minutes to stop at Jacob’s gravesite. A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about another one of my visits there. Here’s a link to it:  

Each time I’m there I will usually see one or two other people standing or sitting by the grave of their loved one.  I can only imagine what is going through their mind but here are some of my thoughts I am confronted with:

  • His smile
  • His laugh
  • His love for life
  • The nights together at home
  • Our visits at Shorter, seeing his immense joy at being there
  • His admiration of his older brother
  • His devotion to his big sister
  • His truly ‘undying’ love for his mother and father
  • His love for God
  • The hilarious funeral service we had for his pet gerbil, Furball (picture the Cosby show & the goldfish funeral)
  • The numerous times I went on field trips and youth camps as a chaperone, so I could keep an eye on him
  • The social bullying he had to endure
  • His circle of friends that accepted him, supported him, and protected him
  • The improbable beginning of life in Philadelphia and the repeated visits there for open heart surgeries
  • The countless cardiologist visits in each city we lived in
  • The bantering he enjoyed with his cath lab nurses at Egleston
  • His ‘shark bite’ scar and his chest zipper
  • Pacemaker checkups via the phone
  • The times I had to give him shots (he claimed I enjoyed giving them to him entirely too much)
  • Those ‘calls’ that were followed by hospitals visits and bad news
  • Those hospital stays and long nights in sleeping rooms
  • The inner circle of friends who would bring ‘appropriate’ food to him that he could eat while in the hospital
  • Those that helped him with homework during his hospital stays
  • Those scenes of watching him rolled into the surgery prep room, wondering if we’d see him alive again
  • The two celebrations of successful heart transplants
  • Wondering what impact did he have on people
  • My wish that his nieces and nephews could have hugged him and played with him, to know him, not just our memories of him
  • Wondering what would he be doing now if he had lived
  • The flood of ‘what could have been’ thoughts
  • The overarching sense of immense and continuing loss
  • The promise of the resurrection and eventual reunion

Then looking at the path I will take back to the car … alone.