I am currently sitting here, in my Captain America T-Shirt and a Cubs hat, thinking about the incredible life that my younger brother Jack lived in his short 18 years.
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I’ve lost my baby brother, my greatest pal and my biggest inspiration. And sometimes it hits me like the strongest tidal wave but other times I just figure he’s upstairs taking a nap or at Portillo’s with his friends. In a lot of ways that’s one of the hardest things, the way I can convince myself that everything is normal, that he’s still here, that there will be a time, very soon, that he’ll come home and we’ll watch Hot Fuzz or we’ll go get ice cream and drive around listening to music. The constant hole I feel in my chest reminds me otherwise.
There’s something else though, that I’m having an extremely hard time with, and that is what I want to say to all of you.
I’ve been getting what seems like thousands of messages from so many wonderful people, and I truly appreciate every single one of them. And every one tells me how sorry they are for my loss and how amazing Jack was. And with every message I receive, I want to extend the same condolences to everyone who has extended theirs, because if there is anything I have learned in my 18 years with Jack Kunkle it is that he touched the lives of every single person he met, and that my family and I are not the only ones suffering from the loss of the phenomenal kid.
So as you have all graciously extended your condolences, I will do the same.
I am so truly sorry that we must all live in a world without Jack Kunkle. Jack, as many of you know was a man of strength, integrity and most importantly good humor. He was the one who taught my family how to handle the cards we had been dealt and to constantly seek the humor in it all. And while I surely will never as funny as Jack, I know for a fact that his sense of humor is what has gotten me through the last 7 years of our battles with cancer and what will continue to help me get through the rest of my life without him by my side. To see how you all have been touched by my amazing brother has been such a blessing because it gives me confidence to say that Jack Kunkle is not really gone. In physical being yes, but in spirit, not in the slightest. He is alive and well, living through all of us and the legacy he created in his short, but productive 18 years on this earth. Since a young age, I’ve always looked up to Jack and his ability to be so much more that what had happened to him. He handled the cards he was dealt with a deep faith and strength, that I can only hope I can find now that I can’t just walk down the hall into his bedroom to see. As my older sister Leigh said in her blog post about life without Jack, I feel it so important to never be without him, always wear you blue baseball cap, and always always treat others how Jack Kunkle would treat them. His kindness and respect for every one is not something that should stop with him but should be carried on by all of us. Because let’s face it, Life without Jack is going to be hard, so the least you can do is help one another through this impossible time. Help each other to never be without him. Help each other to live by the values that Jack displayed every single day of his all-too-short life, because if everyone loves the way Jack Kunkle did, his legacy will live on for many more years to come.
On September 18th, the world suffered a loss unlike any other and I can hardly even express to you how sorry I am. But I am so grateful that Jack passed surrounded by thousands of prayers and love. All of us are so lucky to be able to grieve over this loss because that means we were lucky enough to know the incredible man that is Jack Kunkle. Whether you knew him as a friend, son, classmate, nephew, fellow thespian, brother, Mr. LT, a cousin, neighbor, Kairosian, or just knew someone who knew him, I want to extend my deepest condolences to you, just as you are keeping my family in your prayers, I am keeping you in my prayers because even though I know Jack is having a blast hanging out with Jesus, we’re all going to need a little help as we continue our lives without the unforgettable, John “Jack” Harry Kunkle.