At 2 p.m. CT on May 27, 2005, our sweet boy took his last breath. We were at home…in his bed…on his Spider-man sheets…with his baby sister by his side. Even though he had been fighting a deadly cancer for 15 months, we weren’t prepared. We still held out hope. We thought he was going to be one of the lucky ones. We were wrong.
Time is a funny thing. Grief is even funnier.
In some ways, it’s like no time has passed. If I close my eyes, I can conjure up his image. And I can replay videos in my head of happy times together. In my mind’s eye, I can see and hear Jake asking for a cheeseburger with just the meat and the cheese from Old McDonald’s. Or I can picture him lining up his super hero figures to play “Good guys vs bad guys.” In his world, the good guys always won. I prefer to remember it that way and I still work hard to stuff the sad times way down deep.
Other days, it feels like he has been gone for so very long. He never got to meet his little brother, Parker, or his baby sister, Riley. He didn’t graduate from Kindergarten or ever ride on a school bus. He never went ice skating or asked a girl to prom. He won’t graduate from high school or go to college. As we reach and pass these milestone moments with our other children, Jake’s absence is deeply felt…making joyous moments always feel “less than” somehow.
While his body left us many years ago, his spirit remains alive and well in our home…and in the work we do with all of you through The Super Jake Foundation.
I wish I could say it was enough. That, as time passes, the hole in our hearts…and in our lives…starts to close. But that would be a lie.
As more time passes, we feel his absence even more if you can imagine. Why isn’t he here to give Parker dating advice or practice soccer drills with Riley. Maybe he would have been the one to teach Taylor to drive.
The wishes and wonders are endless. We wish he was here. We wonder what he’s doing. We wish we could have one more day with him. We wonder if he can see and hear us. And, our biggest wish of all…we wish we could have saved him.
It seems fitting, somehow, that Jake died on Memorial Day weekend. During a time that we honor the brave men and women who fought for us, we remember our biggest hero whose courage and bravery continue to guide how we live our lives. He taught us to love deeply and fully and that every day is a good day to wear a super hero costume.
We love you and miss you all the days of our lives, sweet Jake. On this, and every Memorial Day, we focus on the love we shared and the happy memories we made together.
My name is Megan and I am one of Super Jake’s cousins. I’m 31-years-old and with the passage of time, I am now at around the age my Aunt Ann, Jake’s Mother, was when she gave birth to Jake in 2000. I honestly can’t imagine having a son that would, in three short years, come home from daycare with a stomach ache that would turn out to be Stage 4 Neuroblastoma cancer. It’s a rare and deadly pediatric cancer that would take his life. I would have no choice but to watch my beautiful little boy suffer and die in my arms. The emotional weight of even writing this is causing my hands to shake and my eyes to weld up with tears.
But this is exactly what happened to my Aunt Ann, Uncle Matt, and cousin Taylor, Jake’s baby sister. On this day 17 years ago, my little cousin, “Super Jake” Robert Widman, earned his Angel Wings.
There was nothing any of us could do to save Jake from the cancer. Even though my Aunt Ann, Uncle Matt, and Jake fought hard against all odds. Sadly, 17 years later, many families still face this grime reality for their child. It would seem humanity is more willing to commit 100% to landing on the moon, exploring the edges of our universe, and funding research to learn more about living on Mars. But when it comes to exploring, solving, and funding pediatric cancer, humanity commits just 4%. When will finding the cure for Neuroblastoma and other pediatric cancers get the spotlight they need to turn from research to reality? Our kids deserve more than 4 years.
If you do nothing else today, think about donating to help find the cure for Neuroblastoma. The Super Jake Foundation was created by Jake’s Mom and Dad, to help fund research to find a cure for Neuroblastoma. This incredible foundation is run 100% by volunteers, this means 100% of your donation goes to helping beautiful children just like Jake.
I’m supremely proud to be part of The Super Jake Foundation. I’m incredibly grateful for the moments and memories I had with Jake. He changed me and many others by his presence, his courage, his strength, and his spirit. Oftentimes, I catch myself wondering what an amazing life Jake would have lived, if he’d been given more than 4 years.
Thank you to all our supporters. I know in my heart that Jake is looking down on us today and smiling.
Love always, cousin Megan