Fixing, repairing, and making everything perfect is my craft. However, it’s a bizarre feeling to accomplish it while feeling broken inside and knowing I can never repair the massive crater in my heart or the damage caused by the loss of my best friend. I’m not going to lie: this year was challenging. It was the first year Jake & Son operated without its founder and without my counterpart. The tremendous weight of trying to uphold the enormous reputation my father created can never be described in a way that anyone could ever understand. When I lost my father, I lost my guiding light, my confidant, my teacher, and one of the best parts of my day and life. He was the captain of this mighty ship, and I didn’t think I could (or would) steer it without him. I still doubt myself, even though this year has proven that you can still stand even with the mighty weight of the world on your shoulders. Putting one foot in front of the other is harder, though, especially while trying to climb. I don’t believe I’ll ever get used to the piercing quiet that now exists or the emptiness all around since my world collapsed into a fragment of what it used to be. I often remain still and hope I hear him, but each day that passes is one more day I am forced to admit that he’s gone. Walking the same steps of the ladders he once climbed and holding the same tools he once held keeps me in a perpetual loop of feelings. I often wonder when I will wake up from this terrible dream, but the pains, aches, and sadness remind me daily that this is reality.

I’m honored to be able to continue Jake & Son and proud to uphold his standards, his reputation, and his ethics. I’m coping by trying to fill some of the roles he played. I know I can’t fill all of them—he was just too special of a person, but I’ll keep trying. This will always be his company. I’m just representing what was the best part of it. I know my father would smile, hug me, and tell me he was proud. I did meet some incredible people this year, and I am grateful for the kindness shown to me. He would have enjoyed meeting you and you meeting him. Knowing him, I would bet he was there next to me for each and every one of those moments.

I hope everyone has a merry Christmas. Cherish those around you because one day your world may be rocked so hard that it alters all you do, say, and think. Count your blessings; one day they will run out. I’ll continue to put my big-boy pants on and continue Jake & Son again in 2024. See you all then.