What words do you say when someone you love leaves? This past 12 months, I have had more touches with death around me than ever before. My father-in-law, my grandmother, and last weekend, my friend, Josh.
Josh was bright. When he entered a room, the lights actually burned brighter, trying to match his will and his courage.
Josh was born with a heart condition that made the doctors shake their heads and say “no” alot to him: They all said he wouldn’t run, he wouldn’t play sports, he wouldn’t live to see adulthood or get married. Josh didn’t let that stop him, though… proving doctors wrong was one of his chief joys.
I remember growing up when he would stay over at my house and play with my brothers. He and his brother Caleb were my brothers’ Chad and John’s best friends. The four Amigos. They were quite the muskateers. And they always annoyed the hell out of me. 🙂
Josh had so much will and vibrance, always laughing riotiously; as a cool pre-teen, I had no patience for their silliness…but you couldn’t help but laugh along (even if you also were rolling your eyes) when they were cracking up over something.
Josh’s will propelled him through boyscouts; I remember him racing cars with my brothers at the pinewood derby, and playing on the huge lot in front
of our church, his shirt tail perpetually untucked.
As I was mentally thumbing through the images in my head of Tyler and growing up, Josh is infused in the memories; he seemed to be everywhere, because all of our lives were so interwoven with church. His dad was the pastor, my dad was the worship leader, us kids were at church everytime the doors were open and Josh – he was always there, being willful and determined and never letting the word “no” stop him. Always laughing at my brother’s stupid jokes.
As I grew older, I began to see the courage. Not just the courage of Josh, who, somehow against all odds, refused to acknowledge his disability. But I also began to see the courage of Joe and Becky, his parents. Now that I’m a mother myself, I see how much courage it took for them to let him speed ahead, trying everything in life and succeeding.
My impulse, as a mother, would be to clutch him near, pray the days pass slowly, protect him from every little thing that came near, but in doing that I would have “protected” him from living. Becky let her son try: Cub scouts, soccer, even becoming a paramedic, Josh plowed ahead in life.
|Josh and Pam’s wedding|
I remember when Chad came back from Iraq. I had invited Josh to a homecoming and birthday party, since he was Chad’s best friend, but I thought he was two hours away and probably wouldn’t make it. Of course, he showed up, with his entourage in tow. He was always the main guy. And in that entourage, was Pam, serene and beautiful, and obviously in love with him. When I met her, I saw courage. I saw that she loved him with abandon and was courageous enough to put her heart out there. I wondered at that courage.
We all grew up. We all got married. Some of us started having kids. Chad’s firstborn he named Joshua, after his friend. Its a good name. Joshua the fearless. Joshua the fighter. Joshua, who seems to have selective hearing when it comes to the word “no”. It seems my nephew takes after his namesake in more ways than one.
Josh was the guy who made people smile and laugh and live a little less fearfully.
Because of his courage
and his press-on attitude,
He not only believed anything was possible, he made you believe it too.
Two weeks ago, I was sitting in Josh’s hospital room at UT Southwestern telling Josh he looked too healthy to be sitting in a hospital bed and giggling at his impressions of the idiots on “Take the Money and Run” (a game show).
Two weeks ago, the room was lit up. Every nurse that walked past his open door stuck her head in and laughed at his jokes.
Two weeks ago, I heard him telling the lab technician that he would just take his own blood if the tech couldn’t hit a vein.
He was lighthearted and funny and so kind to everyone. We laughed as we watched Japanese extreme women’s strength competitions. And he was HERE. Ever vibrant, loud, funny and patient. I was there, better for having him in my life.
Thank you, Josh, for living and for showing the rest of us how life was meant to be lived. You will be missed.
The local TV station in Tyler had done many stories on Josh over the years, and they also did a story about his passing. Its a good story. He was a good man. See the video here: http://www.kltv.com/story/15618389/east-texans-heart-legacy-will-live-on-through-others?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6318543