Brette's Eulogy for Jackson
Friends and family,
Thank you all for coming today. I know this has been a tough past 11 days for all of us as we come to terms with a tragedy that feels so unbelievably unfair. No one ever expects to find themselves in a place like this, on a day like today, to mark the end of a life that had hardly even started. But here we all are, saying farewell to sweet Jackson Antonio Clark, long before his time should have been up. As you can see by the full room today, Jackson was loved so deeply by so many, and the pain of his loss is being shared far and wide.
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Brette, and both Natalia and Bryan are some of my dearest friends from college. Over the years, the Garcias and the Clarks have become somewhat of an extended family to me as I watched their children meet, fall in love, move to new cities, get married, and start their own family.
In September of 2015, Jackson Antonio Clark was born and instantly made the world a brighter place. Natalia and Bryan stepped into parenthood with the usual grace, excitement, and curiosity that defines them individually and as a couple. Maritza, Manuel, Cary and Kevin graduated from proud parents to even more proud grandparents, and Adriana, Manuel, Chris, James and Jordan felt a previously inexperienced love when they saw their nephew for the first time. Oh, and Stella was also so happy to become a big sister. His arrival brought them all an intense and immeasurable joy that grew without limit over the last two years. And the feeling was beyond mutual - Natalia and Bryan were Jackson’s world and the axis around which it revolved.
Earlier this week, I reached out to you all to gather impressions, memories and thoughts to capture who Jackson was and what he meant to those who loved him. With each additional reply, it became more and more clear that this sweet boy had completely stolen the hearts of all who knew him. Amidst the pain, sadness, and confusion, there was joy in sharing moments, big and small, that displayed his personality, his antics, and his way of experiencing and interacting with the world.
Jackson was, first and foremost, a perfect blend of his parents. From the start, he had Natalia’s kindness, Bryan’s goofy side, and a tender heart that is a reflection of them both. As he grew, we saw that he also inherited their intelligence, energy, and confidence at a very young age.
His kindness showed within moments of first meeting him, and adults and children alike were drawn to his genuine smiles, hugs, and carefree way of living each moment. Those of you with kids around the same age recalled how quickly your own latched onto Jackson, many noted how happy Jackson was to meet them and how readily he let them hold and be around him, and others remember watching his face literally light up each time a new guest would arrive at his house. For me, my first and last memories of Jackson we're reminiscent of his kindness. I can remember the way he looked deep into my soul when I first met him as a newborn, and how, once I had earned his trust, his skeptical, furrowed brows gave way to the sweetest smile I had ever seen. That same smile lingers with me from the last time I saw Jackson. He was reaching up to me asking to be held one more time before leaving, and I’ll never forget how sincere that hug was and how good it felt.
Jackson was also a goofball through and through. His zest for life and laughter was contagious and could be seen not only in-person but also through the countless photos and videos shared by his parents. One of his favorite pastimes was dancing in the kitchen to Spanish music with his Tita and begging her to do it ‘again’, ‘again’. He loved surprise visits from his uncles and going on outdoor adventures that mom didn’t always approve of, and he could make anyone chuckle with his ‘Stella face’ - an attempt to impersonate the goofy look of their family dog. His affinity for non-traditional toys like spoons, and later brooms, made everyone laugh and earned him the nickname “Spoon Boy” at daycare. Jackson embraced being silly in a pure and unforgettable way, and his giggles will be a part of us forever.
Over the past year, we saw Jackson blossom from baby to little boy with heightened interest in the world around him and a strong sense of accomplishment in everything he did. Whether it was taking his first steps, learning to swim at the same pool daddy did 30 years ago, going potty on his own in both acceptable and unacceptable places, or riding out on his new bike at his 2nd birthday, he was fiercely independent and so so proud. After each new milestone, his smile got bigger and brighter and showed all who loved him that he was ready to take on the world.
At a time like this, there are so many different feelings – despair, anger, sorrow, confusion – and so many questions. Why did it happen? Why Jackson? While far too short, we can take some comfort in knowing Jackson lived a full and happy life while he was with us. He was surrounded by the world’s best parents, doting grandparents, loving aunts and uncles, and friends who felt like he was one of their own. None of us will ever feel like we had enough time with Jackson and the pain of losing him will never leave us, but, in the words of his parents, “none of this pain takes away from the two wonderful years we all shared with him. He lives on in our memories, in our hearts, and in our dreams.” We love you Jackson.