'Jacob taught us many lessons during his short life, most notably: being kind, giving to others, smiling at everyone and making the most of each day. In his memory, we vow to do the same'.
No-one we've encountered in recent times has encapsulated this quite like Jacob Flesher. For such a small boy, Jacob accomplished great feats. He had courage in an abundance and he oozed connection. Several days ago, Jacob died, his long fight against cancer coming to an inevitable end. There is no question in our minds, here at OM®, that our world is a better place for having had Jacob in it, albeit for such a short time.
In his eight years on Earth, Jacob touched innumerable lives with his generosity, kindness and compassion. In 2011, whilst himself in remission, he made it his mission to collect toys and gifts for the other children in the hospital, delivering more than 150 cherished items to those he deemed to be in greater need than himself.
It sounds extraordinary, but to those who cared for a child renowned for such deeds, it was typical behavior. 'He's just such a giving boy,' said his mom, Elizabeth Flesher, at the time. 'He's so happy, so caring. Even at the hospital, they'll give him gifts and he'll look at them and say, 'I'm going to save this for Becca or Joe, his brother and sister. He's always thinking about other people'.
Jacob battled his cancer for three years and, even during the darkest times, his kindness shone like a beacon. He is no longer with us ('Jacob has gone home', his family announced last week), but the light has not gone out . . .
In recent days, the Fleshers have received messages from thousands of people the Earth over. People who have heard about Jacob. People feeling some connection to him. People keen to follow his example and to reach out to others. It is a lesson to us all, that we all have it in us to make a difference and to change lives for the better.
'Something amazing is happening, Jacob's story is touching the lives of friends, family and complete strangers [from] all over the world,' says Mary Kenyon, Jacob's grandmother. 'One woman, in another state, has started an animal rescue league in his honor. Mothers are hugging their children more frequently, and reaching out to this little family in Iowa. The little boy who rarely spoke, but whose eyes and smile tugged at the heartstrings of complete strangers, is making a difference in the lives of others. [When Jacob died] I immediately knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to use Jacob's death to make this world a better place. I wanted to be kinder, more generous. I wanted to be more like Jacob. I will do things, little random acts of kindness in his honor and I will leave a card, asking the recipient of my kind act to do the same. If one little person can reach so many others, just think what we can all do by reaching out to others in his memory'.
Jacob loved Star Wars, his rescue kitten, Skippy, Lego, drawing and gardening. He liked to cook and he adored his family, friends and, despite all that it threw at him, his life. It was precious. It was fragile. It mattered. Jacob is an example and an inspiration to us all and, here at OM®, we too aspire to be more like him.
'Jacob stood for all that is good,' adds Elizabeth. 'He came into this world and taught me more about life than I could ever have taught him. Jacob changed a little piece of this world for the better'.