For those too far away to have been with us yesterday, I thought that I would share what I wrote about Jesse for the service. I also want to thank everyone who was following Jesse's journey for the overwhelming show of support, words of encouragement, prayers, offers of practical help and more. There is much beauty in the world, even in the worst of times.
A few nights ago, I was driving alone at night thinking about Jesse and I saw a shooting star. That seemed appropriate, because a shooting star is so beautiful and vibrant and active, and then it's gone too soon. But then you smile. Even though it was fleeting, seeing it somehow made you better.
Usually, when someone stands up to speak under these circumstances, it's to pay tribute to someone they've known for years. Jesse was only with us for 13 days, and I only knew him in glimpses through a window and the stories JoAnn and Julie shared. But, like many of you, I loved him with my whole heart during those 13 days.
It's surprising how much you can learn about a person under those limited circumstances. The first time I saw him, I expected him to be tiny and fragile. He was tiny. But, Jesse had a powerful spirit from the beginning. Though he weighed less than two pounds, there was strength in the way he waved his tiny hands and kicked his little feet. At 12 1/2 inches tall, he thought he was ready to take charge. He made a valiant effort to remove his equipment, push away the pads over his eyes with the tiniest hand I’d ever seen, and even kick the occasional nurse if he didn’t like what she was doing.
He knew his moms, and responded to their presence, their voices, and their touches. And, in his short life, he brought out aspects of them I'd never seen before. They loved him, and he loved them, and for 13 days that circle of love was all that existed for the three of them.
13 days, it turns out, is enough to change the people around you, enough to start ripples that will keep moving outward forever.
Of course, we would all have preferred to keep him with us longer, to watch him grow and see where that fighting spirit would have taken him. But, if heaven is the perfection of love and community, then Jesse couldn't have had a better bridge. The outpouring of love, support, and prayers sent his way was vast and unceasing, steady and certain in a way that comes to pass all too infrequently in this world. He couldn't be better prepared for the next, where we'll see him again one day, his powerful spirit free of the struggles he faced in that tiny body, but just as loved.