Today is the funeral for Jake Brewer, the 34-year-old White House technology aide who was killed in an accident on Saturday while participating in a bicycle race to benefit cancer research. He was the husband of Mary Katharine Ham, my Townhall Media and Fox News colleague, my co-author, and my dear friend. He was the father of little Georgia, a toddler, and her unborn sibling, due in a matter of weeks. He was a brother, a son, and a friend. He was taken from us suddenly, and far too soon. What a terrible shock. Rather than fumbling for the right words to adequately describe Jake — and inevitably falling short — I thought it would be more appropriate to share, with her permission, Mary Katharine’s tribute to him offered at a private gathering earlier in the week. She isn’t eulogizing her husband at the National Cathedral today, so the clip below conveys her public farewell to the man she loved. As you’ll hear, her remarks were almost preternaturally good-humored, poignant and moving. As I listened to her soliloquy, I sat there in awe, thunderstruck by her grace and strength under such heartbreaking circumstances. She was funny, sharp, and insightful. She understood the moment. She was honest. I’m confident that if he had been sitting there in the front row, Jake’s heart would have overflowed with affection and pride. This was the woman with whom he fell in love and built a life:
A particularly powerful portion of the transcript, courtesy of Jake’s friend, Jose:
When we went to have an ultrasound for this baby, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know the gender, we did not know with Georgia, so I told the ultrasound tech, just put it in an envelope and we’ll decide later, and by the time we got to the end of the ultrasound, the baby was not cooperative and in a bad position, by the time we got to the end of the long ultrasound, she had forgotten what I had told her, and she made sure I was looking away when she wrote on the screen what we’re having. He was still looking, and I was looking at him, and he was like, “Whoa whoa whoa!,” and he has a very good poker face. I was like, “Do you know now?,” and he said, “Yep,” and we being us, I didn’t bug him about it, and he didn’t let anything slip. That was three weeks, a month ago, and what is truly wonderful about that, is that forever more, I will know, and his son or daughter will know, that he met them that day, in that room, in a way that none of us have met this one yet, and he got to know him or her for a month, in his mind, and come up with names, and think about the future. And what this all should be about, is the future. My mission, and you’ll have to really help me with this, is to live unafraid, and to live without sadness bogging me down. I don’t want to hold my children so closely that I’m afraid of one thing that happened on one day. I don’t want to keep them from living the way their father did. And it will be hard. This is gonna be ironic, ’cause saying this is really sad, but it’s gonna be a plea for no sadness. I’m gonna ask all of you who are family, who are our community, and who we love so much, not to look on me, and all of us, and Georgia, and this little on, with sadness. Don’t let us walk into a room and be a sad trombone. We are not that…
…Madison famously wrote a letter to his country before he died called “Advice to My Country,” and the way he prefaced it, is that his advice, because it came at that time, “will be entitled therefore to whatever weight can be derived from good intentions, and from the experience of one, who has served his country in various stations through a period of years, who espoused in his youth and adhered through his life to the cause of its liberty, and who has borne a part in most of the great transactions which will constitute epochs of its destiny.” Jake Brewer has not quote unquote written a letter of advice to his country, but I would suggest to you that his life, and all of us, and all that we will do moving forward, and all that these kids will do moving forward, are entitled to all of the things that Madison’s advice is entitled to. They are worth listening to. He had much advice to give, and we will follow it, and I hope you will join me in praying that he has an awesome seat somewhere watching us, and that he will be very proud of us every day.
Yes, Jake worked at the White House, and Mary Katharine is a prominent conservative commentator, but as she emphasized in her speech, Mr. and Mrs. Brewer represented so much more than a cute, gimmicky right-meets-left story. They both believed that life and love are far bigger than politics; indeed, Jake’s work and passions transcended the small, petty partisan dichotomies that so often define this city. On that note, I’ll leave you with a poetic, telling illustration: On Tuesday evening, searing tributes to Jake’s extraordinary life aired on The O’Reilly Factor and All In With Chris Hayes — on Fox News and MSNBC, respectively — within a few minutes of each other. What a testament to the many lives he touched, and the wide range of people who loved him and those close to him (via David Rutz):
On Sunday, we set up an education fund for Jake and Mary Katharine’s two children. The result has been nothing short of overwhelming. Thank you — all of you — for this heartwarming outpouring of support, generosity, and mercy, which has afforded Jake’s loved ones a glimmer of joy and hope an otherwise heart-wrenching week. We are so grateful to every single person who has reached out, donated, or said a prayer. Mary Katharine and Jake’s extended family continues to urge kind-hearted well-wishers to consider contributing to the Travis Manion Foundation, an organization that cares for our veterans and the families of the fallen — a cause close to their hearts.
Rest in Peace, Jake Brewer.