LOUISVILLE, Ky. — St. Albert the Great holds a special place in the heart of the Stover family. Jacob “Jake” Stover went to grade school there, they celebrated his life in a mass there on Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon they gathered there a different kind of memorial.
“As much as I'm trying not to cry, this is not a sad occasion”, insisted mother, Melissa Stover. “We're here to celebrate Jake."
Embraced by family, friends and strangers who risked their lives to find their Jake, the Stovers asked people to share memories of their boy.
For weeks, many of us only spoke of the search, the mystery. Where was the young man who disappeared during a fishing trip on his kayak in the Ohio?
This moment was different as it was filled with stories of the brilliant son who made his own shoe decorating company, tales of mischief trying to cook burgers with his buddies and a fearless heart.
And in the heart of an 11 year old girl are held memories of a great big brother.
“He was a great person to everybody even if he yelled at me sometimes”, laughed Jake’s sister, Ava. “He was a great person and he cared about everybody.”
There was laughter and tears, images that captured the spirit those in this gymnasium sorely miss but reminders, too, of the hope that can be found in loss. The sense of community that rallies in awful times.
Melissa explained, “It just reminds you, in kind of this crazy time we live in, that it's a good place. There's good people and we want to help each other. It makes you feel very good.”
Jake's Mom and Dad also used this moment to share advice to parents and kids.
”For the kids”, said father, Shawn Stover, “you’re not invincible. Know your parents have your best interest at heart. And parents, hug your kids. Tell them that you love them. It's going to embarrass them someday but that's ok. They'll understand some day.”
"One more", was the motto the family says Jake lived by. His parents encouraged those gathered at the memorial to live life that way as they continue to try to wrap their minds around this ordeal.