Jake Albanesa lost his good friend, 13-year-old Jacob Aversa to a heart attack on Sept. 9, and now that the holidays are here, the 8th grader came up with a way to bring a little bit of joy to those who knew and loved him.
"When I was in the car just randomly going to hockey, I thought of doing something for Jacob, because I've known him since first grade, and so I just randomly thought, ‘Hey, maybe I could just do a (large) board (with his name and face on it) for him, and I then I got the idea of putting a tree out next to it, too," Albanesa said.
Devin Sgambato is also a friend of Jacob Aversa. He told NBC 10, "At our age, losing someone, it just seems unreal, and I think that will like be on our shoulders for a long time. For me personally, it feels like unreal for someone our age to just pass away, so suddenly."
Aversa, a popular middle schooler, had his entire life ahead of him, and from skateboards to scooters, friends say the teen was well-known for his love of anything with wheels.
"Recently he was into scooters," Sgambato said with a nostalgic smile.
"Purple was his favorite color. His bike was purple; he wore a lot of purple clothes, so purple meant a lot to him. So purple kind of for us, it represents, Jacob and that he can rest in peace," said Albanesa.
Albanesa chose purple as the color for the lights and decorations on the tree, large painted board, and other points of interest on his parent's front lawn to honor Jacob's memory.
"Knowing his favorite color, I was like, 'Yeah, why don't I do it in purple?' And purple just looks good on the tree too," Albanesa said glancing over at his project all lit up.
The teen says he spent several days stringing thousands of lights at his home, and hours perfecting this memorial to his buddy.
The eighth grader says life without Jacob, has been beyond tough.
"Doing this makes me feel a lot better, because I feel like I'm honoring him and. I feel like I'm honoring both him and his family, and so although I can't talk to him, I still feel like I'm honoring him and his family with this display," Jake Albanesa said.
Albanesa is also asking that friends and family bring purple ornaments to add to the 19 Larchmont Drive home in Coventry as a way to ‘help heal.'
"If they want to bring an ornament and put it on the tree, they can, or, if they want to sign the board, they can," the teen said.
And Albanesa's classmates say they are quite impressed with the effort. "I like how you can bring like your own ornament, preferred purple, for the tree and you can hang it on the tree at his house, and I just think it's a wonderful thing, what he's doing," Sgambato said.
Albanesa also decided to collect donations to be delivered to the Aversa family. He'll bring it to them on Christmas Eve, in the hopes of making their first Christmas without young Jacob, just a little bit brighter.
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