In Touch with an Angel: Jacoub's Camp

J Camp balloons

Taking Flight...

This is the story of how imagination weaved strands of love, hope and magic into shaping Jacoub's Camp and how a 300 Blue Balloon release with heartfelt messages came to be.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. 

Knowledge is limited. 

Imagination encircles the world." 

-  A L B E R T  E I N S T E I N

Flight Status Information  

The boarding call was heard only by a handful of those hoping to board Flight GPIL-68. Months later, after unfortunate delays and cancellations, a new flight itinerary had been mapped out, routed to a new destination. On the date of departure, the boarding call was sent out to the 179 passengers booked on this flight . . .


The Forecast

Every weather report predicted overcast skies with afternoon periods of heavy rains. Many were starting to worry about whether or not we would be able to release 300 balloons. Scheduling was fluidly being changed. Some travellers were held back, unable to join us, due to the heavy rains.

Behind the scenes, "We've got it all covered!" was the sentiment I echoed.

My prediction recorded a year prior sensed differently. Intuitive knowledge of this day presented clear passage in wide open spaces; airiness; floating; taking flight. This feeling gave shape and transformed into Jacoub's Camp; something I sensed from Jacoub's drawings, time and time again.

Discussing with Bloomy I learned she too had dreams and visions of floating. Surrounded by big fluffy clouds, she floated with Jacoub who consoled his mother, as he did not wish for her to be sad. He would teach them all how to fly.

Therefore, I paid little attention to the forecast of rain.

Life happens, despite your best laid out plans. When the day arrives, it's best to go with the flow.

The Rain

Saturday arrives and sunny skies wake us. Perfect for setting up before the guests would begin to arrive. By noon, clouds appear in the distance, followed by raindrops, dripping along the edges of our Big White Tent.

The rain -- the free fall of water from above -- is everywhere. Every form of water surrounds us; the clouds, the mist; the teardrops. They mirror the sentiments of clients, friends, family who have come together to release hope for a better future.

Water takes the shape of all things but never possesses a specific shape by itself. In doing so, it symbolizes the dissolution of form into a mass of possibilities.

This was the perfect backdrop for the Inaugural Jacoub's Camp.

Shades of Blue

"Ferocious rain," Charles noted when describing Jacoub's Camp.

Reflecting on these rains, water seemed symbolic of healing; punctuated by thunder that emphasized it was an opportunity to heal; restore; renew.

I was drawn to the magnetic rains falling over the fields of Herongate Barn, sensing we could almost touch Jacoub, in this time and space between heaven and earth. I had grabbed a blue umbrella, and had headed towards the opening in the tent.

There stood Bernie and Charles, father and son, watching as sheets of water were quickly absorbed by open fields. True to their nature, they appeared to stand guard, protective of their guests' safety. No one would get past at this time to play out in stormy fields of thunder.

Except for the little band of three who had snuck out to play in the rain. They were dragged back to safety under the Big White Tent - completely drenched. Entirely elated were Joshua and his friends. They were also Jacoub's friends. Pure was their display of wholesome smiles; the grinning from ear to ear. I thought, 'what child doesn't love playing in the rain?'

Bloomy later confirmed what I sensed in that moment. When she asked her son, Joshua, what he thought of Jacoub's Camp, he replied;

"Mom, it was the best! I was playing with Jacoub".

In reflection, ferocious rains become symbolic of fierce love. They speak to the unbreakable bond that exists between twins who will be forever connected, no matter how far apart.


In Search of Rainbows

The sun shines again. The century old barn is majestic standing strong against stormy grey clouds. I know Jacoub has painted a rainbow somewhere in these skies. It's safe to leave the tent. I call out to my daughter and together we go in search of rainbows...

Bloomy told me that on the first birthday Joshua celebrated without his twin brother, Jacoub gifted Joshua with a rainbow.

Jacoub's Junior Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Bonisteel, always felt a special connection to Jacoub. While she was driving home with her daughters after experiencing Jacoub's Camp, they recognized Jacoub's hand in the beautiful rainbow he had drawn over the highway for them.

Jacoub's Drawings

They say you can see the soul of an artist through their drawings.

In first year university, my Mondays consisted of a six hour long drawing class. Drawing was the equivalent of submerging deep into one's well of life, dipping below the conscious layers and a drawing forth. It was during interpretation and critique of our drawings with the entire class that we came to understand how the heart knows before the mind sees; how the intangible from the soul via one's hand becomes tangible on paper.

I came to know of Jacoub through the many drawings his mom Bloomy had sent to me over the past year. There was one drawing that was so unexpected from a 7 year old, so raw, it made me cry. This drawing exhibited a soulful, courageous and loving 7 year old boy.

In later conversations with Bloomy, we spoke about Jacoub's drawings. She confirmed what my heart had come to understand; the translation from a single drawing -- Jacoub knew.  He had said goodbye to his twin brother Joshua three weeks before the accident.

From that moment, to me Jacoub became a symbol of courage; sacrifice; love.


Letting Go

I wrote two words on my balloon: Love. Peace.

My balloon was let go on behalf of many. Some people I have come to know through the firm's associations; those who have shaped my art...


In memory of Rebecca Wu. For Lele, and in memory of his mother Jan Zhang. For Jennifer, the inspiration behind the great balloon race. On behalf of all those who had sent private dedications online.

Time to Say Goodbye

I was last to leave Jacoub's Camp. The journey home began with the sun shining and moments later, the rains met us once again. I looked at my GPS. Highway 401 was a sea of red delays.

You are meant to take another path.

We detoured onto a secondary road that paralleled the highway. We meandered through rain-scented fields of green, crossed over the Twyn Rivers, and continued where calm had softly brushed itself over the gentle slopes of the Rouge Valley. Blue skies emerged as did a cemetery... intuition feels before the mind understands.

The rains had directed me to Christ the King Cemetery. I had arrived to where Jacoub had been laid to rest. Instantly, I recognized the light, playful essence that was Jacoub.

"Hi Jacoub..."

Coming here seemed poetic at this moment along the journey. How many of us learnt how to fly on this heart-warming, sunny (rainy) day?

Written by The Go-Between



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