Tradewinds: This is a great representation of our son.
I’m Ed Noonan. On behalf of Jeanie, Bill and Jeff Cockayne I would like to thank all of you for being here today for Jamie’s memorial gathering. The outpouring of love and support from the entire community is a great source of solace for the Cockaynes, and a wonderful reminder of how many lives Jamie touched.
This has been such a difficult time. We are all faced with this senseless loss that is beyond our comprehension. I am sure that we have used all the same words to pointlessly try and describe our feelings; we feel numb and empty, and in our grief we continually find ourselves trying to understand a reason for what has happened. But in the end we find no answers through logic as there are some things that it seems we are not meant to understand. So better today to simply celebrate Jamie’s life. And as most of you know, Jamie seemed to pack a lot of living into every day.
I met Jamie when the Cockaynes moved to New Hope. I knew him as a neighbor and a family friend, and there are many of you here today who knew him much better than I did. My first introduction to Jamie was through the sound of his skateboard on the ramp in his driveway for hours at a time. Jamie was actually a little bit shy that first summer, and seemed kind of vulnerable. I remember my wife and I talking about how hard it was for a teenager to make friends when they moved to a new place. But as it turns out we didn’t know Jamie at all. Within a week of school starting it seemed like he knew everyone in New Hope. Jamie had a magnetic personality, a charisma that drew people to him.
A life is shaped by the people around us, and Jamie’s life was mostly shaped by the people here today. To spend a minute with Jamie was to see that he was like his mom in his joy for life and sense of adventure. When he smiled, Jamie was a mirror of his dad’s warmth and openness. And like all little brothers everywhere, Jamie was doomed to a life of both trying to outdo Jeff, and to emulating him in a thousand ways. Jamie was also shaped by the friends that were his world.
One of his friends described him as larger than life, and I think that’s kind of true. Jamie wasn’t going to go through life without being noticed. He was a gifted natural athlete and played both lacrosse and basketball in high school. Lacrosse was probably the perfect sport for Jamie — the fast pace, the rough contact, the sense of abandon — you can’t play lacrosse if you worry about injury. Jamie seemed to be fearless whether it was on the lacrosse field, or rock climbing, or on his skateboard or his snowboard.
We all spend our lives in the process of becoming something, and for some the path is a straight line from the day we arrive. After high school, it took Jamie some time to find the path he wanted to follow. That is a difficult thing, and it can be discouraging to feel directionless. But little by little, and with help from the people who loved him, I think Jamie figured out the things about life that he enjoyed, and the things that he wanted to do. Jamie was never going to spend his life working in a cubicle or even within four walls. He loved to be outdoors, and to be with people, he loved the sun and the wind on the water.
The idea of sailing and teaching people how to sail seems like a perfect fit for Jamie. I always had the feeling that when Jamie found the right thing for him, he would excel at it. And having found his path, he was well on his way. He went and got the education and certification that he needed and a job at an exclusive resort.
But, none of us find our way in life without a lot of help from the people who love us, and Jamie was on his way because his family never stopped trying to help him find his path, and were always there waiting to help lift him up when he was ready to rise.
Tara said something that struck me as both beautiful and deeply loving — she said that she was proud of Jamie because he was so proud of himself over the grades he was getting in his seamanship program and Coast Guard Exams. What an incredible gift, to have someone in the world be proud of you for your own sense of self worth. There was something in Jamie that seemed to have everyone who knew him rooting for him.
In the end I think that what we are and what we leave behind are the memories that people have of us. And after a time, the profound sadness we feel will lift enough for us to be left with our better memories of Jamie. What we will remember in the words of his family and friends is a fearless, high spirited, larger than life, charismatic, mythical, vulnerable, mischievous, wild, compassionate person who dreamed out loud and at high volume; or we will remember Jamie on his skateboard, or on his snow board on the side of a mountain, or twirling his lacrosse stick in his hand, or hanging on a rock, or out on the water with the breeze in his hair, but always surrounded by people — smiling, laughing and enjoying life.
That is actually a tremendous amount of love and friendship and living for someone so young, and I think that is what Jamie’s life is about.