Tuesday, February 01, 2011

See You Soon Baby Jack

I have been MIA the last week, not only from my blog but also from my kids, hubby, and usual daily responsibilities. I had the privilege to be able to fly to Florida to be with my brother and his family as they celebrated baby Jack's life and said a "farewell until we meet again" at his graveside.

The memorial service for little Jack was held on Saturday, January 29. The sunny skies in southern Florida could not have been a more perfect shade of blue that day, but inside the house, as we prepared for the service and dressed the little girls for the day, the mood was quiet and somber. The older girls nervously practiced their song for the funeral and recited Psalm 23 over and over. My brother paced the floor, studying some papers and no doubt thinking and feeling a thousand things that I myself would not be able to fathom, having never lost a child to Heaven.

When we entered the church to honor baby Jack's memory with a special service, I was not prepared for the sight of the tiny coffin placed at the front of the auditorium. A flood of emotions welled up inside me, and tears fell for the little life cut so short. My oldest nieces sat with me, sobbing softly when they saw their little brother so calm and peaceful . We took heart as the songs "Held", "In Christ Alone", and "We Will Rise" were sung and as the healing words of Scripture were read. Three of my nieces stood in front and bravely sang "Are We Down-hearted?" and recited Psalm 23. My dad spoke of his own memories of my brother Tom as a little baby and of his deep sorrow at Jack's passing. Tom spoke also - loving and meaningful words that fit the occasion as only Daddy's words could.
"On behalf of myself, my wife, and my family, we’d like to thank all of those who are here today. I know there are some watching over the ‘net, with some perhaps staying up at a very late hour in Korea. I’m also really glad for all those who came in today – some of you live here, others from a vast distance, from the foreign shores of New Jersey.

We’re here today after what seems like an eternity, but really was less than a year. I have six wonderful girls, and I love them all dearly. But no matter what, I can’t deny the joy I had when I found out that I was having a son! I know that many of you joined in the excitement.

Eleven weeks ago, we were surprised by the early arrival of Jack. With most of our kids coming late, this was a big surprise, and we were certainly concerned, especially when the doctors told us that his survival chances were low – only one day after he was born.

But Jack was a fighter – in fact, he was a fighter until the end. Apparently he inherited his father’s stubbornness. He contracted E. Coli twice, and came back each time, but eventually just wasn’t able to make it, and God called him to be with him.

What an amazing time these past two months have been, though! I have gotten probably a thousand emails and cards from people all over the world. Everyone was praying for Baby Jack Vasel! I heard from dozens of countries, and so many folks passed the word.

Did it fail? Were all those prayers in vain? They certainly weren’t! This is a day of sadness, but let me tell you some good things I can share with you. You know I like lists, so here’s one for you.

1.) Jack didn’t die that first day. In fact, over the last couple of months, both my wife and I were able to hold him several times, and our three oldest daughters also got to hold him the night he died. So many folks don’t get to see their babies, we got to share two precious, wonderful months with Jack.

2.) I saw so many people come together to pray for baby Jack. There was unity at our school, unity at the church – I heard from people who I hadn’t heard from in decades! Jack died young, but his effect on the world was greater than many others who have lived long lives.

3.) This is not a day of sadness for Jack! I imagine he’s looking down on us, smiling as he sees us all crying and sorrowful. He’s done with pain! He’s done with sadness! He’s done with crying! He’s done with death. The Bible is clear on this subject. And I weep today, and will likely do so much in the months and years to come. But we don’t’ cry for Jack – his journey is over! We cry for us, because we will miss him – because we will have a hole in our hearts. I won’t get to see him grow up, to see him graduate, to see him get married and have kids of his own. But it doesn’t matter – he’s in a better place – a place that makes this one seem terrible. And no matter what, he’ll always be my son. Ask me how many children I have – I have seven. Six girls, and one boy waiting for me in heaven! I shall see him again.

4.) I hope to see many good things come from this day. If today has made you consider your own life, and your own future, then I’m content with Jack’s current state. If I see one soul won to Jesus Christ, then I’ll still cry – but with joy in my heart. As much as I want to see Jack some day, I also want to see and every one of you. And if today makes you meditate on that, I’m glad.

There is so much thanks to give, but I have a few I want to single out.

- I’m part of many different communities, but the board game community has rallied around Jack like I’ve never seen before – in fact, many of them are watching right now. But the deluge of cards I’ve gotten from this international community has been amazing. Thank you guys!

- A good chunk of my life was spent in South Korea, and I’m so happy to have made such lifelong friends there – especially at International Christian School and Uijongbu Baptist Church. We’re thousands of miles apart, but technology has allowed us to remain close.

- South Dade Baptist Church and Colonial Christian School. We’ve only been here eight months, and already you treat us like close, close, family. Well, maybe you did that after one day! We’re glad to have people to lean on here.

- My friends from college and others – some who have come from a long way, some who I managed to hang out with over the last fifteen years – thanks for your friendship and support.

- Pastor and Mrs. Long

- Parents, brothers and sisters

- My fantastic wife

Fanny Crosby

The strong, triumphant spirit of American hymnwriter Fanny Crosby was an inspiration to everyone who knew her. Even though she was blind from six weeks of age because of improper medical treatment, she never revealed bitterness or depression. At one time a well-intentioned minister remarked to her:

“I think it is a great pity that the Master, when He showered so many gifts upon you, did not give you sight.”

“Do you know,” replied Fanny, “if at birth I had been able to make one petition to my Creator, it would have been that I should be born blind.”

“Why?” asked the surprised clergyman.

“Because when I get to heaven, the first sight that shall ever gladden my eyes will be that of my Savior!”

I shall know Him, I shall know Him, And redeemed by His side I shall stand, I shall know Him, I shall know Him By the print of the nails in His hand.

I agree, I want to see Jesus first some day.

But the next person I want to see will be Jack."

A short time at baby Jack's graveside followed, and then there was celebration and fellowship with friends and family at the reception. I met dozens of Tom's church family members, people who had wrapped their arms around his family and showered them with love, kindness, and support during this difficult time.

The memorial service was an important step in the grieving process for Tom and Laura and all the people affected by the short but meaningful life of Jack. However, the road ahead will not always be easy, especially for Tom and Laura. Now that all the visiting family has gone and returned to their normal lives, they have to do the same, surrounded by memories of a little boy that wasn't meant to be theirs for very long. I am sure that daily there will be moments that happen and words said that bring to mind baby Jack and cause the tears to fall again. Little by little, God will heal their hearts and bring peace, but I know that they still covet your prayers for this time.

I love you, big brother! We are always here for you and are praying for you and your family.


  1. That was a beautiful tribute to sweet little baby Jack. I will pray for the family. For God's peace and comfort. I'm going to go hug my kids now.

  2. So sorry for the loss of Little Jack but, so happy that he is in Heaven. Praying for you all.

  3. Thank you for visiting my blog today. I am so glad that you found it helpful. I applaud you for taking the time and effort to try and help your brother's family. What an amazing blessing you are!!! Please let me know if I can help in any other way.


  4. Hi there. I noticed your comment on Monica's blog and just wanted to stop by. This post honoring baby Jack is so beautiful. I am so sorry you had to say goodbye to your sweet nephew. His father's words were so beautiful and touching...and full of so much faith and truth. I am blessed for having read about sweet Jack and so thankful that I stopped by this evening. Please let me know if there is anything we can do or send to your brother and his wife. You are all in our prayers.

    Kelly Gerken
    Sufficient Grace Ministries


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