What had been an incredible week for me of political drama and media novelty collapsed into indescribable sorrow for my friend Mary Katharine Ham. Late Saturday night, a mutual friend called to tell me that Jake Brewer, MKH’s husband and father of their two children — one of whom is still some weeks away from the delivery room — had been killed biking in a charity event to raise money to fight cancer. Jake, a key man in the White House information technology team, had been pedaling to encourage a friend battling cancer.
Mary Katharine turned to Instagram and Twitter Sunday to share the tiniest particle of her grief with her hundreds of friends and thousands of fans, and I reproduce it here to show more people the depth of her soul and the breadth of their love:
- We lost our Jake yesterday, and I lost part of my heart and the father of my sweet babies. I don’t have to tell most of you how wonderful he was. It was self-evident. His life was his testimony, and it was powerful and tender and fierce, with an ever-present twinkle in the eye. I will miss him forever, even more than I can know right now. No arms can be her father’s, but my daughter is surrounded by her very favorite people and all the hugs she could imagine. This will change us, but with prayer and love and the strength that is their companion, we can hope our heartache is not in vain — that it will change us and the world in beautiful ways, just as he did. If that sounds too optimistic at this time, it’s because it is. But there was no thought too optimistic for Jake, so take it and run with it. I will strive and pray not to feel I was cheated of many years with him, but cherish the gift of the years I had. In a life where nothing is guaranteed, Jake made the absolute, ever-lovin’ most of his time with all of us. This is a family picture we took a couple weeks ago. It was taken because Jake, as always, was ready with a camera and his immense talent. All four members of our little, growing family are in it. I can never be without him because these babies are half him. They are made of some of the strongest, kindest stuff God had to offer this world. Please pray that he can see us and we’ll all make him proud. God, I love him. Psalm 34:18, Philippians 1:3
There is nothing to add to this except prayers for her comfort, the comfort of her children and their four grandparents.
At Mass yesterday, a pastor preparing for a visit to The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle did not dwell on the splendor of the imminent papal visit but on the sorrows of this world and the consolations of God’s love in the midst of those sorrows. I am sure that anyone at the Mass who knew Jake and knows MKH had tears in their eyes at the awful calamity of such a sudden and unfair end to a life this side of heaven.
There aren’t any easy words, and Rabbi Harold Kushner once told me the only advice he had for friends of the grieving was to “Show up and shut up.” I hope the Manhattan-Beltway media world of which Mary Katharine is such an integral part does just that in the months and years ahead, recalling with her and her children memories of Jake and encouraging them in their suddenly much more difficult and lonelier journey.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” It is for those close to anyone like Mary Katharine to keep in mind their duty and their blessing to be agents of that comfort.
An education fund for MKH’s and Jake’s two children has been set up by Mary Katharine’s friends here.
This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.