For the Love of Jacob

By Tracy Perkins

Tell us your story.

Our story begins on July 31, 2001. Our son Jacob was fighting yet another ear infection. His fever had spiked the previous night and I was waiting for the doctor's office to call so I could let them know. Jacob woke up that morning, and he instantly started vomiting. After conversations with his nurse, it was believed that Jacob had the tummy flu in addition to his ear infection. After about 1 hour the throwing up had subsided and Jacob began to doze through out the day. I left Jacob napping on the couch. His sister Abby and I laid down for a rest, Jacob climbed in with us a few minutes later. After a short nap, we all woke up, Abby went to her room to play, I started to get ready to pick dad up from the airport, and Jacob stayed in my bed and went back to sleep. The second time I checked on Jacob within an hour, he had died. Within minutes our house was full of paramedics, firemen and policemen. They had a helicopter waiting to land nearby to fly him to Children's Hospital. Jacob would not make it on the helicopter as they could not keep a heartbeat going. Later that night after my husband returned home, we had to take our daughter to Children's Hospital to be treated for meningitis, just in case this was the cause of Jacob's death. (It would take two months and the Center for Disease Control to find out that Jacob had died from viral encephalitis caused by a stomach flu). When we arrived at the hospital they lead us back, and as we sat in shock while they examined Abby, they sent down a social worker. She talked to us about the counselors they had staffed, and provided us with information on grief. From there we were introduced to Jackie who introduced us to a support group,the Journey Program. In our darkest hours friendships were made through devastating tears and emotional downs I never knew possible. We cried together, got angry together, questioned faith together, and eventually we started to learn to live without our children together.

What does Children's mean to you, your child and your family?

Children's Hospital means so many different things to so many people. For me it means simply HOPE.

Hope that through research we can find cures for childhood illnesses, and that the children who come to the hospital, will return home with their families. Hope that parents will not have to endure the pain caused by the death of a child. Hope that when all else fails and nothing more can be done, that a parent will find a group that they can share their child with. Hope that in sharing their stories they will learn to live without their most precious child.

Hope that one day I will get to hold Jacob in my arms again.

To give back to Children's Hospital and the Hope they brought back to me, in April of 2003 I founded "For the Love of Jacob Guild". The guild allows me to continue to share my Jacob with other's, and though he might not be here on earth with us, he remains part of my families life on a daily basis. Nothing gives me more pride than to hear Jacob's name. I also find great pride that my daughter, although only six, enjoys raising money for Children's Hospital. Knowing that she will grow up knowing and understanding the need to help support such an important cause. She continues to help "For the Love of Jacob Guild" in many creative ways only a six year old can think of.

Through Jacob's love for everyone he met and for our love for him it is our mission as a guild to raise funds for Children's uncompensated and under compensated care, Children's research on infectious disease, and Children's Journey Program.