Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Heaven's Gift

Heavan received the greatest late New Year's gift this morning. Hope passed away peacefully with myself and Sister Joan, a nun that has been visiting us over the last few weeks. I wasn't planning on even going by this morning but for some reason I felt compelled after dropping Reese off at school. Hope's mom was already there having spent the night and Rochelle just happened to stop by, our long time friend and midnight nurse advocate I've mentioned previously. They were in the hallway when Sister Joan was telling Hope to go to God and a bunch of scripture stuff that I was only half paying attention to (come on now and admit all you dutiful church goers you do the same thing sometimes).

Hope had not opened up her eyes in days (basically she had not moved in days at all), but then suddenly opened them like she had just discovered my third nipple (a weak Friends reference) and stared into my eyes. She knew I was there by my voice and holding her hand for a long while. In the briefest of moments, she let me know she was at peace, happy to be moving on, that she loved me, and that we would always be connected. Her eyes were as beautiful as the first time I met her in 9th grade in the Jefferson Junior High cafeteria (of course on that day I was holding Heather May Combs hand --- anyone have her number?), and then she closed them and stopped breathing.

With her apnea I wasn't sure if she really stopped because it takes her a long time to get going again, but she didn't start back up this time. I called out to her mom and Rochelle, and then one of the nurses came in and confirmed she had begun her journey to heaven to become an angel. I was never sure if I definitely wanted to be there at the end, but now I am grateful to Hope that she waited and I have renewed faith in God, more than ever in Hope, and even the nun that just happened (or was it fate Ann-Marie?) to come by while I was there and talked her through going to God. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a bit pissed at the big guy but the 3 Wisemen in Florida (there are 3 more in Knoxville, TN) will be just fine.

As I've said so many times, we are still some of the luckiest people in the world with all the love and support we've had from friends and family. I have already picked up both kids from school and told them individually about Mommy's new job, angel and protector for the 3 Wise boys. Their extremely different reactions were absolutely fascinating to me as each knew this was coming through our many conversations and crying sessions in the past. Last Friday I told them they would not see Mommy again after our last hospital visit.

So now what??? I know the next week will be overwhelming like the holidays were with loved ones all around. We will plant a tree in the backyard with a bench and a butterfly garden I think, and spread some of her ashes. She and I always felt like our house was a dream come true, we were thankful for everyday we spent here together in her best and worst days, and for her to be here "in the flesh" was something she and I always wanted. I'll keep the rest of her ashes in the house so that when the boys don't need their old man anymore (and I Hope to be an old man) we can spread our ashes together.

I found a couple of days ago my Father's Day gift hidden in one of the drawers of our desk (I was looking for tape). Her surgery to remove half of her tongue was 2 days before Father's Day so we spent it in ICU (by the way I'll always remember and thank Uncle Bruce for calling me Father's Day morning as I didn't even realize it was to wish me a happy one) and Hope always said we would celebrate when she was feeling up to it. Unfortunately she never felt good enough again, but that wasn't because of lack of effort on her part. The necklace is two intersecting infinity symbols like you see in celtic jewelry that I think she meant to symbolize endless love. No matter what happens in the future we will always be together and a family.

She did promise to haunt me and in fact our sink, toilet, and bath pipes are gurgling unexplicably right now. I just Drano'd them but will probably have to call a plumber friend (Erin if you're reading this please let Mark know I'll be calling). Maybe Hope will stop messing with me and I won't have to call. Maybe it's just her way to tell me I'm full of sh*t with these blogs. She would always call me out when it was needed. We are still working on finalizing details and I will update later, but at this time I think we will have a celebration of Hope's life on Sunday at 2 PM (if there's an NFL playoff game on at the same time I'll DVR it and everyone can watch it at our house after the celebration) at the same church we were married in to come full circle, the Cocoa Beach Community Church. If you want to come and need to travel far I wanted to give as much notice as possible. I think we'll invite guests back to our house afterwards.

The plumbing (or Hope) is still gurgling at me so I'll need Mark or just enjoy Hope haunting me already (she never was one for wasting time). Thanks and love to all of your for helping us get through this, I have a newly restored faith, and Heaven has the greatest gift I can imagine that we mortals were lucky enough to enjoy for 36 years. I had over 21 years, Nathan 7, and Reese 4. It's not enough but we cherished the moments like it was 1999 (I'm not only a closet Neil Diamond fan as I admitted in earlier blogs but also Prince, but only Purple Rain). We love you Hope, and thanks.
- Just Jake.

P.S. If you're Facebooker, and it appears most of the planet is, I've been very creepily pretending to be Hope for some time now so feel free to send messages to Hope and the Wise boys through Facebook.


Anonymous said...

We are so sorry for the loss of such a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister & friend! I know that Heaven truely received a gift when Hope entered heaven's gates today. I know her loss will be difficult for you all but please remember that she loved you and those boys very much! I too woke up thinking of Hope today and started remembering our days together at Mercedes Homes. She used to always tell me she couldn't wait until you guys had children and that she knew you would be an awesome father! Jake, you really gave her everthing that she wanted out of life-a loving family!
Lon, Brandon & I will be leaving for vacation tonight and we will not be able to be there to celebrate her life on Sunday but our thoughts will be with you all!


Anonymous said...


We are so very sorry for your loss and will keep you and your family in our prayers.

Please let us know if we can do anything for you or the boys.

Bill and Laura Dansbury

Eric Marcoullier said...

Jake -- my thoughts are with you and the kids today.

Anonymous said...

Jake, when the sun wasn't shining today, and the wind and cooler weather came, I knew in my heart that Hope left this earth. The past few weeks have been sunny, but today I looked up after the rain and the sky that first looked sad, suddenly looked graceful, ... it was probably Hope's presence when the sun was poking through again. Our love and thoughts are with you, Nathan, and Reece today and always! Nicelback has a song I love and listening to it lately reminds me of all of you, "you are not alone", and you will never be! With our love, Joanne, Jim, Steven, and Lauren Price

Anonymous said...

We love you! Hope will always be with the three Wise Men. She will always be an inspiration to us.
Love Light and Peace
rach brad liv and ethan

JPL said...


Even though I haven't seen you and Hope since 11th grade, I have been following Hope's journey for the past few months via the blog. My heart is just breaking for you and your boys. I wish you strength and peace.

All the best,
Jennifer Pierce

Stacy said...

Praying for you and the boys, Jake. I'm so encouraged by your renewed faith and will pray for it to continue as I know the coming days, weeks, and months will probably be even harder than today has been.

I'm so thankful for the internet and have been very blessed by Hope's online friendship. Thank you for sharing so much with us.

Love, (((hugs))) and prayers,
Stacy in AL (co-bridesmaid at Jen's wedding)

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you and keeping you and the boys in our prayers. We so admire your strength and human-ness through all of this. Your writings in the blog have been absolutely beautiful. If there is anything we can do, please do not hestiate to call us.

Jimmy and Jacie

Esther said...

Jake, you are such an amazing person and we are so lucky to have you in our family. John and I love you all very much. You know we are always just a phone call away.

There will never be anyone like Hope and she leaves a big mark on my heart. I'm selfishly heartbroken that I'll never be able to talk to her again. She always gave me the best advice and was a tremendous inspiration. But at the same time I'm happy her body won't be suffering anymore and we'll be able to have her spirit with us forever.

Sending all our love to you, the boys, Nancy and Dennis.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted you to know we are thinking about you and the boys. I know there are no words that will make this any easier, so I'm not going to even try. I just want you to know that we are thinking about you all and wishing you well!
Sending our love from Knoxville,

Anonymous said...

I know that there is nothing I could say to make you feel any better, but still I would like to share my thoughts. As you know, Jess's father has been in the ICU now for almost 4 weeks. Tuesday he had to undergo a third surgery in hopes of reversing his declining health. Around midnight his body started giving up as it decided that 3 surgeries was one surgery to many for his 82 year old body. We were called to ICU to be with him as his blood pressure had been under 70 for over 10 minutes. My heart sank, more so for Jess than anything else. We arrived thinking the worst and Jess was devastated. I know many would say he 82 and has lived a long life, but for Jess, she has only known him 29 years and isn't ready for her father to leave. Amazingly, he made a full recovery by Wednesday morning. Not only did his blood pressure and heart rate stablize, but he also regained kidney function which was all but failed a day prior. Little did I know that at the same time Jess's dad was recovering a wonderful wife and mother was leaving this world. I found out Wednesday afternoon when I called work to check in. My heart wept for you and your boys, and even now I tear up, but I truly believe that in some way Hope gave one last gift to us all and had a hand in Jess's fathers recovery. Something in the universe changed yesterday morning and I feel that we have all been blessed by Hope. I truly believe that Hope is all around us and that you and the boys will never be without her. Jess and I are at your mercy and will be there for you with anything you may need. Just let us know if you need help with that butterfly garden! We send you our thoughts, prayers, and love...

Domingo and Jess

Anonymous said...

Jake and the Wisemen,
We are so sorry to hear that such a wonderful life has passed from this world. Hope was and continues to be an inspiration for us all . The way you write and encapsulate her life and your life with her and your ability and willingness to share is a gift to all of us. You make us feel as if we are all a part of it. Thank you so much for that. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you start your new journey with her over your shoulder (or as you say, haunting you through the plumbing).
Karen and Bro Ford and Aine, Liam and Gracie

Anonymous said...

Jake and the boys

We never met. I knew Hope from Mercedes Home years ago. She was a great person to know and work with. I know now that she will bring smiling face in Heaven. I pray that God will watch over you and the boys. Hope is home now.
God Bless
Tom Bartholic
Stephen Minister

robinbrittagain said...

I had the privilege of meeting Hope on a couple of occasions through Ann-Marie. She was a beautiful young woman. I have been following her story through Ann-Marie and the blog. I think we all struggle with the idea of why the innocent have to suffer and perhaps the answer will be revealed to us one day. I have no doubt that Hope is walking with God right now, looking down lovingly on all of those whom she loved so much in this life; looking forward to the day when you will all be joined together again.

Hope has been on my mind constantly since her birthday. Her gift to me, through her suffering, is that I prayed more often than I had in a long while. I began to thank God more often for my blessings and complained less about the trivial problems of each day. I am sure that she touched many others in this way.

Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss.


Tina said...


Of course I've been aware of the most recent struggles that you and those closest to you have endured. I am amazed at the strength and grace at which you have handled such a difficult time and can not imagine the amount of effort it has taken for you to be strong for Nathan and Reece. Hope was a beautiful person and she will be remembered as a brave and tender soul. She is an inspiration to all women.

You and your family are in my thoughts.

Love, Tina

Anonymous said...

Jake, thanks for helping me and others cope with this unfortunate situation by always adding your positive narrative twist.
I am happy to have known Hope and to have shared wonderful times with her. She has always been an angel.


Anna said...

I miss her. I want to thank her for watching over her brother's Florida Gators. I think she loved him enough to make that possible.

I'm really glad I didn't ask you about that necklace yesterday...I'm not sure I could have handled the answer.

Trish Scholer LeBouef said...


My heart goes out to you and boys. Hope has always been a uplifting example to me. I have continued to remember her during difficult times in my life. Her journey has given me encouragement at difficult times in my life. I have often told myself, anything is possible if I don't give up. No matter the pain, no matter the sorrow.

For the past two years I have walked in our Susan G Komen Walk for the Cure in Hope's honor. This year me and my family will do the same; remembering what an amazing woman she was and will always be.

Jake, no words are enough for the sorrow you must feel. Please know that there are so many that cared for her deeply. I am praying that comfort will come soon to you, the boys, and your extended family.

Love from Louisiana -
Trish Scholer LeBouef
MIHS Class of 91

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for the openess of your blogs. I don't know if you remember me, Tonia Morgan c/o '92. Anyway, I became a Christian after high school but for some reason I always remembered Hope and the gentle kind spirit that she displayed. I heard about Hope's battle with cancer and have been following her blog since then. I want to say thank you for the awesome example that you and Hope set for an amazing marriage. You and Hope have helped me to truly be thankful to God for each day that I get to share with my husband and kids. I hug them a little tigher and hold them a little closer.

I cannot imagine the pain that you are going through. My prayers are with you and your boys in this time of hurt and sorrow.

Thanks again for sharing the gift of Hope with us!

Tonia Morgan Smith