The loss of father is never easy. On July 23, 2013 one of the people I hold dearest to my heart left this world way too early. The circumstances of his passing are owed, at the very least, to Cancer.
His loving wife Sarah carefully documented their journey on their blog. I encourage you all to read their story if you are curious about what fighting Cancer with inspiring faith looks like: http://joelandsarahsjourney.wordpress.com/
He wanted nothing more than the gift of having a family and living to see them grow up at his side. He wanted to give them everything he never had.
Does that sound familiar to you? I hope so, because I can do nothing but relate completely.
Now his wife is faced with raising their son without the man she expected to have along side her through their life’s journey.
This brings me a deep pain in my heart. The most painful realization is that his son won’t know him firsthand, and won’t have memories to hold on to outside of photographs and cell phone videos. Clearly those are not the same as a lifetime of memories that could have been built in their relationship.
Witnessing the loss of my friend, the loss of a young father, also brings me a great sense of responsibility.
To his son, I say: First, your dad wanted you so much. He loved you the minute he knew you existed. He went through great lengths with your mother to ensure that you would be here in this world. I can only imagine the plans, and dreams he had for you. Your mom told me that he would sit and cry while looking at you, saying out loud that he “loved that little guy” so much.
I am far away from you my little friend. But I want you to know that your dad was an awesome guy, a great friend, a loving father and he would have shown you so many things.
Last night I returned from having the honor of delivering a eulogy to honor his life. Here are some things I want you, and everyone, to know about your father:
- He was amazingly frugal: He could get a free Xbox One if he wanted to by hunting for deals, trade-in offers and more. Everyone knew to go to Joel if you were selling or buying a piece of technology.
- He loved to dance.
- He had an amazing laugh and sense of humor. People often say this about others, but he genuinely had a loud beautiful laugh and a smile/grin that was unmistakably his. His son now earned the privilege of carrying it on.
- He loved God and Jesus was his Lord – amen.
- He played video games and amassed over 50K Xbox points, which is an epic amount!
- He literally killed me 1,000′s of times in 1st shooter games while laughing hysterically.
- in High School he was one of my first friends, who took me in after being a transfer from another school.
- He had amazing confidence and social ability far beyond his years
- He was great at dominoes
- He loved food – back in HS we could each knock back a large pizza pie, individually, with a 2 liter soda, then go home to have dinner.
- He never complained. Joel did not have an easy life. He lost his mother in Senior year of HS, his father was battling illness and he was born with a cleft palate. He beat Cancer once, got it again and literally worked F/T through chemo. After surviving his first stroke and starting rehab, he would call on the nurse to do more rehab so he could heal quickly. Through all of this – he forged ahead, never looking for sympathy or complaining about his challenges.
- Through chemo he was more concerned of his wife’s eating, and his son than his own rest and recovery.
- after the Moore Tornadoes, he was too weak to do cleanup himself but he wanted to serve and help others. He could not just sit there and watch. So he drove his truck through the neighborhood offering iced water to those who were cleaning up in 100 degree weather. Truly an amazing heart to give.
- he loved your mom and I think he loved serving her and giving to her more than caring for himself.
Milo, your dad’s friends and I are no replacement, and for the most part we are far away. But I know I speak for all of us when I say that we will do all we can to ensure that you know your father.
When the loss of a father occurs, there is a great responsibility, to those who are left to carry on. We must ensure that these children know their fathers lives, have men in their lives that they can count on and are not left without the loving hands of a father to hold them and show them the path to manhood. I urge you men, in your communities, to look around and take notice. In your own family – take notice. There are children who need a father. While you may never be able to truly replace what was lost, you can at least hold their hand and do something instead of idly watching. Do this in honor of those fathers who would give anything for one more day with their sons and daughters.
If you would like to make a donation towards my friends sons future, no amount is too small – please do so here: http://joelandsarahsjourney.wordpress.com/