Monday, January 19, 2009

Boyz in the Hood

I know we don't live in the hood (like in Satellite Beach for example --- sorry Dave Tom) but there's a line in the movie I've always loved and repeated from Ice Cube that people just don't know, don't show, and don't care what's going on in the hood. In my hood the overwhelming love and support has just been astonishing and I can't thank everyone enough. I've been getting 10 to 20 letters a day with some of the most heartfelt love from people I would not have ever expected.

Alyson wrote one of the sweetest diatribes about my family that blew me away, my cousin Jessica who've I've grown up always admiring (by the way I still have squatter's rights on your house since we tried to build a fort on the property 30 years ago so Kurt and I would not have leave you guys during visits), two different friends' mom's including a poem that really helped me and a dog groomer to come to our house, and Hope's mom after Nathan's basketball game on Saturday gave me a saying that nailed Hope and how I've been feeling like nothing else. I know I'm forgetting so many others off the top of my head, but thank you one and all for the love and support.

Many of you have asked me about Sybil, the singer at Hope's celebration that did Amazing Grace and a few other songs. She's local with gigs every week and I have seen her personally dozens of times. Her website is Please go check her out, restaurants/bars are hurting right now and there's nothing more healing than music for the soul. My two cousins that played guitar and sang are 2/3rds of a band in South Berwick, Maine so if you're ever up that way let me know and I'll hook you up with them. There last gig was in front of 120 women so don't feel too bad from them up north braving the frigid cold.

I mentioned the Boyz in the hood because my boys are about the only thing getting me through each day. We can all learn so much from them as they live in the moment like no one else. We have had sad moments together like when I showed them Hope's box of ashes and read them letters Hope wrote to each of them. I found a father's day card I had forgotten about that has Hope's voice recorded saying she loved me and I was a great Dad that she had to have done right before her last tongue surgery because she never spoke like herself again. Rochelle told me she calls Hope's cellular phone (I don't even know where it is by the way along with her wedding rings, one of which is a family heir loom) just to hear her voice. Ann-Marie posted some pics on her facebook of us wrestling in the grass in her front yard from Saturday. Unfortunately on top of everything else Reese has over a 102 temperature tonight so I'm giving him some extra loving. Thank goodness for my training from Hope, Tylenol, Motrin, Tylenol, Motrin, repeat lather and rinse.

That's the other thing helping me get through every day, is so many wonderful friends. When I'm watching MMA, out to dinner, or just grabbing a beer unless we're talking about Hope it's an incredible distraction. When I'm not distracted it's still so hard because everything here reminds me of her and it's all the little things that really get to me. I still kind of feel dumb and numb a lot, although I recognize it's less now then it was immediately following the celebration. I love sports but just cannot even sit and watch the NFL playoffs. I've never been much of a sleeper and I'm getting more sleep now then anytime in my life but I still always feel tired. I'm really looking forward to getting back to work full-time, so far only two half-days hitting a few meetings/conference calls. I really can't thank team civil enough for taking care of things basically for 3 out of the last 7 months as I've missed so much work.

Being alone at night when the kids are in bed hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be. There's so many things I want to get done but everything takes 10 times longer than they used to. I have been doing everything since June as far as the house, kids, work, etc. so that part has not been too difficult. Although until now I always had the fallback of Hope being better real soon and taking things over again. I keep everything in the house like Hope is alive, and I can't figure out why I'm still doing that. I still use the far towel rack, far sink, keep her shampoo, razor and toothbrush out, keep the remote in the bedroom on her side of the bed, still light the candles like she always did, but I'm sure that will all evolve with time.

I've always strong-willed myself through every situation in my life but this is the first time I just can't do that. I think I'm learning way more about myself than I ever wanted but hopefully in the end I'll be stronger for it and most importantly a better Dad. Nathan always says I know how you feel Daddy when he sees me crying, but does not get upset. Reese always follows Nathan's lead on how he reacts. The other night I was upset and Nathan said I know what will make you feel better and he gave me the pink boa from Hope's closet that she won for being the top fundraiser at the Relay for Life. By the way Rochelle is keeping the Hope for the Ta-Tas name alive in Hope's memory so I'll send out more information about that down the road to hit you up for walking and fundraising. Everyone has been touched by cancer and research is the only way our children's children won't have to experience what so many of us have had to endure.

Nathan is so sweet, he told me last night that he knows it's harder on him then Reese because Reese just doesn't understand all of this. Then he sat there for a moment and said, Dad I think it's hardest on you though. He's only 7 and one of the most thoughtful human beings I've ever met (not just kids, I really mean all human beings). We talk to Mommy every night before bed and sometimes during the day depending on what we're doing. I'm so grateful to all of our friends and family, grateful for all that we have but especially the Boyz in the hood that Hope gave to me. I can't wait to feel like me again, but I know I'm already making progress.


Daddy-O said...

Glad to hear that nighttime isn't the worst part of your day. I was worried it would be and that is why I have always called so late, hoping to give you a distraction. The picture and poem you read from my mom sure did ring true for me too. I hope that it helps to bring you some peace of mind, although I don't remember the whole thing there were several parts that really hit home for me.

Oh and just to keep you up on sports and the NFL play-offs, the Steelers and the Cards won Sunday. Yes, you read that right, the Arizona Cardinals are going to Super Bowl XLIII (am I allowed to use that since it's trademarked, hope the NFL doesn't take down your blog now). The Celtics are no longer on their 19 game win streak, but they lead their division at 33-9 and have a 12.5 game lead over Philly. The FSU men's BB at 15-3 are just five spots out of the top 25 (BTW Florida is 16-2 and #24) and tied with Clemson for third place in the ACC (they are actually one game up on UNC!).

Always thinking of you and the boyz! Talk with you soon, bro.


Anna Knowles said...

Hey Jake,

It seriously is so weird to write you, since I haven't spoken to you since the 9th grade and a few visits after that. This may sound inconsequentual but you are an amazing writer. It's nice to read your blogs because what you say comes from the heart and you have a big heart. It's also nice to hear where you're at and see, even to a small degree feel, what you're going through. I'm so glad you have so many friends and family around you to lift you up, especially when you need it the most.

I wish I had gotten to know Hope, it seems like we must have just crossed paths, me leaving and her coming. All of you love her sooo much.

I'm grateful I got to be friends with you and all the others in Merritt Island. Moving was a big sacrifice for me. I gained the most remarkable family by leaving and moving to live with my dad and mom (step-mom) in Chicago (the best decision I ever made besides marrying my husband), but I left behind the best classmates/friends I've ever had. From then on they just weren't as good. Whenever I think of you guys they are fond memories. Corny maybe, but true. I really wish I could have had you guys for my high school friends in Chicago as well, but you can't have everything.

I'm very grateful for your friendship and all the others. You were one of those boys, the boy next door type, that everyone loves because you have a sweet and fun personality. You even let Rochelle and I mark you with pens and do a number of other things in class without squabbling too much. And you didn't get mad when we T.P'd your house, although Rochelle's mom made us promise we would clean it up the next day and we did. You must have thought we were a bunch of morons and you looked at us like we were too. :) You're lots of fun and a good sport.

Keep trucking along. I know many, many, many people care about you, think about you, and pray for you. I truly believe that when people do this for us, we can feel their support wherever we are.

My friend's son died a few months ago and I've never seen heartache like it in my life. She said she was sooo grateful for all thoughts people had and the prayers people said for her and her family. She said she could literally feel the support from the time she woke up until she went to bed, helping her get through the day. She was worried that in a few weeks people would pray less and she would feel less support and it would get harder. I had no idea that when I prayed for my friends and family it had that kind of impact in a litteral sense. I think that's pretty cool.

Even if it's just the tiniest bit, I hope my thoughts and prayers will touch your family and friends that have lost Hope. (And I will continue to do so even after your blog says you're doing better- to help you with those sucky days that sneek up on you.) I'm sure all your friends and family are already doing this for you. I just wanted to share an invaluable lesson I learned from a beloved friend who wanted me to know it was important she wasn't forgotten. And I know with the kind of support you have around you . . . you won't be forgotten.

Take Care and know that even a friend from the 9th grade is thinking about you guys and wishing you well.
:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
Anna Tiberius Knowles

Anonymous said...

Hi Jake,

Nathan sure does have such a strong sense of everything. Hope certainly gave you 2 of the most precious gifts!
Loving all of you from under the 2 feet of snow up here in Maine,

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are making progress and recognizing it! The last 7 months all of your focus, energy, time and emotion has been on getting Hope well. Now you are having to redirect all of that into the process of continuing without her. It is overwhelming and exhausting on many levels.

The Three Wise Men are learning how to put a new life together and there really isn't a map or guidebook on "How To". It takes time and, some days it takes more effort than others.
Just remember that its okay to have a great day at work (or school) and come home and have a bowl of Captain Crunch for dinner because you just don't have it in you to cook a meal. The boys won't care and you can have extra veggies another day.

Whatever you are doing to get through it is working, so keep at it. You are surrounded by friends and family that love and support you. Rely on that whenever you need to, and even when you don't. Nathan was right when he said "Everything is going to be okay". A moment at a time!

Anonymous said...


Your fort is ready and there is plenty of room for you guys. Come up any time. We even have an ironing board in the laundry closet - but if you want we can move it to the garage.

I wish Maeve could have met Hope. She will hear about her and what an amazing woman she was and how she inspired us all. Hope always used to say that my baby would come when she was ready. She is almost ready and will look so cute in the little onesies from Hope.

Hang in there. We all love you!


Anonymous said...

Jake, keep your head up.
You have two incrdeible boys that will be great men because of what you and Hope have created as a foundation. We miss you guys here in the cold arctic. We think about you guys every day. We miss you and the boys.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for continuing to blog. I love that I can check on you without being too intrusive. It's so hard to know how to give you space and how to show you I think of you and the boys many times a day. (I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way.) I'm glad you are finding each day a little easier and gaining strength from Nathan and Reese. They are truly amazing gifts.

Trish Scholer LeBouef said...


Trusting and praying that tomorrow will be better than today. Thinking of you, the boys, and your family / friends.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jake,
It's nice to read your blog. I know some things may seem strange to you right now. In the future, things will be different. It's been over three years since my brother passed, and I still can't delete his email from my address book. I also called his cell phone just to hear his voice. Cherish every memory and do what brings comfort to you and your boys. All the best to you and your sons.

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Jake glad you and the boys are learning to get through each day one day at a time. Time will heal but will never forget.

Nathan has your big heart but a lot of his MOM ways and feelings. He is going to an awsome man one day.

As for the rings and rest of the things that you can not find. They will apear just at the right monment. Hope will allow you to find them when you are ready. Yes, she still has some say in our lives no matter what we do.