MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — They’ve been in the hearts and prayers of thousands around the Twin Cities and on Thursday, the father of the little boy who died from amoebic meningitis, is sharing memories of his best friend.

Nine-year-old Jack Ariola-Erenberg apparently died from the rare brain infection after swimming in Lily Lake.

The first thing Jack’s dad said Thursday is, “No parent should ever have to bury their kid.” He said just last week, the two were wrestling in his basement. The next time he saw Jack, was lying on the hospital bed.

Jimmy Ariola said he’s still trying to figure out exactly how he’s going to say goodbye to the happy, caring little boy he calls his best friend.

There’s a picture of Jack and his dad you can’t miss — right when you walk into the Ariola’s home. Sitting next to this picture is a quote that Jimmy Ariola said was given new meaning on Tuesday, when he found out he lost his son.

The quote reads, “We do not remember days, We remember moments.”

“He was my best buddy,” he said. “We’ve got the same matching shoes. We would always wear Wild clothes, matching stocking hats in the winter time, everything. We were like a couple little clowns. We were twins.”

Their love for hockey was one on a long list of similarities. Like father, like son. Jimmy’s basement walls are lined with hockey memorabilia — most of it was given to Jack from players.

“Sticks and pucks, Jack just thought that was the best part. He didn’t want to go for the game, he just wanted to go for a stick or a puck,” Jimmy said.

We do not remember days — we remember moments.

“It still hasn’t kicked in,” Jimmy said. “It’s like he’s gone for the weekend or something.”

While it hasn’t set in, Jimmy said his one consolation? He and his little boy shared some unforgettable moments.

“He’s a good kid,” he said. “I miss him.”

Jimmy said he has a special message he wants to get out to all parents. He said while you can’t keep your kids out of the lake — he asks all parents to be aware.

He said take the precautions — have your kids wear nose plugs, avoid shallow, warm lakes. He also said, of course if he could turn back time, he would’ve taken these steps.

Jack’s mom’s sister gave a message from Sarah Erenberg, Jack’s mom. She said she wants to give a big thanks to everyone for their support, event people they’ve never met before.

She said it’s been touching and moving to say the least.


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