This is by far the most difficult post I have written. I want to thank all of you for your prayers and today I want to share with you all very briefly the events of last Saturday, but more importantly and more in depth the beautiful life and testimony of the sweetest little boy, Blake Brower Hubbard.
For those of you that know our family, you know that the vast majority of our family is VERY private, so I want to assure you I would never share any of this without their approval. They want for Blake and his life to be able to touch as many people as possible and therefore have opened up their hearts and want to share his testimony with all of you and this entire post has been approved by them and has their blessing.
Last weekend was the most difficult weekend our family has ever experienced. On Friday we found out the sobering news that a grandparent had cancer. Little did we know that the next day that news would seem minor. On Saturday our world was completely turned upside down and life as we knew it completely changed. That afternoon, my sweet little cousin Blake was playing at a friend's house. He and two of his friends made some paper airplanes and then went out into the woods to find a place to launch them. They found an electrical tower and decided to climb it so they could see how far they could throw their planes. Tragically, as Blake was nearing the top, the electrical current was so strong that it took his life. One moment he was playing and laughing with his friends and then next he was in the arms of our Savior. As horribly tragic as this event was, Blake's last moments were spent doing what he loved best. Playing out in the woods with his friends; sweet innocent boyhood fun. Paper airplanes will forever hold a precious spot in our entire family's hearts.
This is one of the planes a neighbor found from that day and brought to my aunt and uncle.
I was watching the William and Mary game on television when my dad called me to tell me what had happened. I wish I could say that I was strong because I was alone with the Lillie and Lola, but I was so overcome I fell on the ground and sobbed hysterically. I couldn't believe that is could possibly be true. I had thought I know what a "broken heart" was, but I soon learned that I had never known what that truly felt like. It literally was as if someone was ripping my heart from my chest. As many of you know from reading this blog we have an extremely close family. When I was in college I actually lived with my Aunt Patty, Uncle Jeff and their three kids, Robert, Lauren and Blake so they were like a second family to me. Precious little Blake was like my baby brother. I knew what I was feeling was only the tiniest fraction of what my aunt and uncle and two cousins were feeling and my heart was completely broken for them! The grief was paralyzing. The second Jon got home from his game and could watch the girls I hopped in the car and drove as fast as I could to be with them. I cannot describe the shock, pain and heartache of that first night and the following day.
By Monday morning though, it was a completely different scene. The strength and grace that my aunt, uncle and cousins displayed as they have gone through this is something I can't even begin to put into words. It is a testament though, of their faith in Jesus and the promise that they will see their precious son and brother again and will be spending all of eternity with him. I have never been so proud of them or the rest of my family. Along with my parents and siblings, every one of my aunts, uncles, cousins and their children traveled to North Carolina. Including my cousin, Cathy and her husband who have five children all age five and under. And Cathy had just given birth SIX days before when they traveled from New Hampshire to North Carolina. Yes, you read that right! Now, I want to say that our family is far from perfect. Like all families we have our issues, but we are really close and our love for Blake was so evident last week as we all came together. It was also absolutely incredible to see their community come together and the Body of Christ envelope the Hubbards with love and support. Not only did I feel pride, I felt such an overwhelming feeling of love for our whole family, I also felt so proud to be a Christian as the love that the Hubbard's church and school family truly displayed the love of Christ. We have a LARGE extended family and I cannot tell you how many of Patty and Jeff's friends opened up their homes to all of us and made us feel like family. More rooms were offered than were even needed which is hard to believe.
And this was just a couple of weeks ago.
Blake and Patty
Blake, Jeff and Lauren
I wish I were a better writer and could convey to you Blake's spirit and his personality. He was the sweetest little thing. As my aunt said, he was "a seven year old trapped in fourteen year old's body". He was smart, funny and full of life. Like his parents, and his brother and sister, he was incredibly athletic and was a talented tennis player. He was so sweet and innocent, and always had an impish little grin on his face. Chip Denton, who spoke at his service described him perfectly:
"When we say that Blake was innocent, we are only half right. He presented as a shy boy. He was still skittish a bit about girls. His dad showed me a picture on his phone, one he took just a few weeks ago: What you see is his smile. Sweet is a weak word for it, but I cannot find another. It was the kind of smile that has roots somewhere deep in the soul and is just on the verge of blooming all over the face. Especially in the eyes. He was quiet, but it was a rascally quiet. How we will miss you, Blake, our quiet rascal. Ask any of his teachers. It was never anything serious, never anything malicious or mean, but somewhere beneath that smile was simmering a plot of some sort. Usually it was the sort of thing a teacher has to pinch herself hard so as not to laugh about, while she goes about correcting him. That apple didn’t fall far from the tree, did it?
He was a small one, and he loved small places. One of his teachers found him eating lunch behind two tables underneath the stairwell. If he couldn’t find a nook or a cranny to fold himself into, he made one.
And he took his time. He was a slow one—I don’t mean, intellectually slow. No, he was plenty bright. He was just plain slow. Jeff and Patty said the other day, in one of those rare respites that the grieving get from their hard, agonizing labor of sorrow—they laughed that finally Blake was in a place where no one would have to tell him to hurry up. He was the original Unhurried Child. Mrs. Whisenhunt remembers that last year, in eighth grade, Blake would still be eating his lunch well past lunch, past recess, and into fifth period class.
"Blake," she said one day ,"You have all this time to eat lunch! Why does it take you so long to finish eating. "It's CPM's," he said. "Chews Per Mouthful. I need more chews per mouthful than the average person."
He loved his friends and his friends loved him. Listen to this, written on the butcher paper in the Upper School: “Blake, You were a great friend at all times. You always put me and everybody else in a good mood. I am super glad we got to spend so much time together last week. Love you, buddy.” He was planning to spend Saturday night with a friend sleeping over, and they were setting their alarms for 3 am, to get up and watch the Australian Open. And when he died, two of his friends were with him. Awful for them—and we must pray for these friends—but thank God that when our Blake died, he was not alone. One minute he was with his friend, the next second he saw a bright light and was with Jesus.
Here are some photos of our little athlete Blake
He was such a loving boy. One woman at his funeral spoke of her memories of him snuggling up to his mom and sister, Lauren, for years as he sat in the bleachers watching his older brother Robert play baseball. That was such a perfect description of him. One of my favorite memories of him was how he used to snuggle up with his mom and tell her how he loved her "all the way to God and back". In fact, I loved it so much that I shared it with Jon when we were dating and he had that inscribed inside my wedding band. It has always been special to me but now even more so.
Here I am showing Blake the inside of my ring at our wedding reception.
Blake's funeral last Tuesday was a sight to behold. It was held in the gymnasium at his school, Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill and people were lining the walls and spilling out into the hall. His love for Jesus was so wonderfully displayed in everyone that spoke about him. And that is what I really want to share with you all as you read this. The testimony of his precious life and faith in Jesus. Again, I am not a writer so I am just going to quote directly from Chip Denton again and his words from Blake's service:
"Yesterday morning at 7 am, Jeff Hubbard knocked on my front door. I was shocked. The last time I had seen Jeff, I wasn’t sure he could walk across the room without collapsing. I think it was the first time he had been out of his sad, sad house since he returned in shock and grief on Saturday night. His brother Dale had driven him over because Jeff had something he wanted to say. And when Jeff has something to say, he figures out a way to say it. Right then and there.
“We are dying inside and we don’t know how we can go on, but we are going to be OK,” he said. “We have hope, and that hope is that Blake is with Jesus now. Please tell people that. Please tell them that Blake believed the good news about Jesus. The most important thing—his faith—is not something we have to worry about.” Patty, you showed me Blake’s Bible yesterday, the one where he had written “On February 2, 2006, I asked Jesus into my heart.” Jeff, you have always joked about being the last person who should have worked in a school, you who didn’t exactly take to school. Brother, you schooled me good yesterday: If anyone is in Christ, he is new creation. Alive. Present tense. With the Lord. Home. Safe. Waiting on us poor sinners whose labors are not yet done. Blessed forever. Indestructible. Blake Hubbard is so alive right now that if he grabbed a high voltage wire it wouldn’t even tickle him.
Jeff and Patty, we love you and we are praying for you and we are going to be with you. Grief is a long, steep climb. Jeff, when you came to see me yesterday, you showed me that you and Patty are people who grieve in hope. Alleluia! But it is still grief, and we will not deface the beauty of his life among us by throwing platitudes at you. The truth, however, is not a platitude, and set down this in your hearts forever: That the steady love of God in Christ, for you, is as sure today when Blake is gone as it was last week when he was here. May God grant you the grace to grieve right through this and never lose sight of this good news. We love you.
Blake had so many friends. Some of you friends are followers of Jesus, and some of you aren’t. His love for you all was the same. But his parents told me that he asked them, many times, how he could find ways to talk to you who don’t believe about Jesus. I think he felt like he didn’t do that very well.
This is from the front page of Blake's Bible that was on the top of his stack of books on his nightstand.
And when his parents flipped the page they saw that he had rededicated his life three months to the day before he went home to be with Jesus!
In the days since his passing I know so many lives have been touched by sweet Blake and his love for Jesus. Because this blog is such a public forum there is just one that I am going to share with you because I have permission from my dear cousin Lauren.
This is a direct quote from Maggie's facebook page from this Saturday night (Maggie is Robert's girlfriend):
And now I have lots and lots of pictures to share because he was just the cutest thing EVER!
And are you ready for some ADORABLE baby pictures of him?
Have you ever seen a more darling baby?
Oh how I want to kiss those perfect little cheeks!
Good-Bye Sweet Blake! We cannot wait to spend eternity with you!
I ask you to PLEASE continue to keep Patty, Jeff, Lauren and Robert in your prayers.