The Boy with the Sun in His Eyes

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He was young, but even in his young years Jacob Evers taught me more about life than any college professor I've known. When we were seven years old I loved to pick the sunflowers from the meadow behind his house. On one occasion I remember Jay looking at the collection of sunflowers in my hands and saying, "I have dreams where I've seen you with a crown of sunflowers. In those dreams you talk to the sun and it listens to you."

Looking back at that conversation now it can either seem like a ridiculous thing that kids say or something you'd read in a fortune cookie, but I know it holds more meaning than that. I know that as a seven year old, he understood life more than most adults can even begin to comprehend.

He not only dreamt that I could talk to the sun, he seemed to truly believe that I could; and he taught me how to listen. When we were ten years old a boy in our class at school would tease me about the way I wore my hair. My long bushy hair could only be tamed by braids and Bryan would pull and tug on them. The first time Jay saw him teasing me, he brought me a handful of sunflowers and without saying a word looped them through my braids giving me my crown of sunflowers, the one from his dreams. He never hated Bryan for the way that he teased me, but instead tried to show him the same amount of care that he always showed me. Little Jacob Evers befriended anyone and everyone. He started playing soccer with Bryan during recess which distracted him from pulling on my braids. Back then Jay didn't talk much, he mostly just listened. He taught me to listen to the birds as they sang. He taught me to listen to the breeze as it drifted through the leaves of our favorite oak tree, and yes, he taught me to listen to the sun as it spoke back to me.

There used to be a swing hanging in our favorite oak tree; when Jay would swing on it you would think he was flying. Sometimes I think he believed he really could fly. I'm not sure I would've been surprised if he did start flying.

When we started high school Jay didn't get the best of grades. He wasn't ever upset about it though. In fact, I can't say if I ever saw him upset throughout our time growing up together. If he ever felt anger, I never saw it. I did see him cry once, but he wasn't sad for himself. When we were twelve years old, Bryan's mom got really sick and Jay stood by his side through it all. It was at her funeral that I saw Jay cry for the first time.

We were seventeen when Jay took me to the Prom. I wore a simple yellow dress and as he came to pick me up he remarked, "I feel as though I am staring into the sun and being blinded by its beauty." Even though he didn't speak too much, he had a certain way with words when he did speak.

I'm in college now, studying for my masters degree in Psychology. I've had a lot of teachers in my life but none have compared to the young boy I met in Taylor, Arizona so many years ago. I only hope that I can be half as helpful to people in my career as Jacob Evers was in his 19 years of life.

It's been six years since we lost Jay. In his last few weeks, even as he laid unconscious in that hospital bed, he was more aware of the world and of life than any of his doctors and nurses, or any of us. We all knew it. For weeks I brought sunflowers to his bedside, until I began bringing them to his grave. Every year since his passing, I have brought him sunflowers on his birthday. A few years back I ran into Bryan at the cemetery. With a peaceful smile on his face he commented, "Kye, your hair is beautiful." There are so many reasons that I have to thank Jay, the most significant one that I can think of is the peace he brought to my life by helping me discover myself. I don't wear my hair in braids anymore, but I do still love sunflowers.

Oftentimes I'll think back to that old oak tree where we spent so much time reaching towards the sky, running through the meadow of sunflowers, and talking to the sun. His flight is no longer limited to the height of our tree swing. I know he's there somewhere, flying with his angel wings, and I know that when I talk to the sun even still, he listens, and he answers, and I can hear him.
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