8 Years Ago Today

Eight years ago today, my father died. He had fought a seven-year battle with leukemia, and the complications finally caught up with him. I remember the whole week leading up to it. He had gone into the hospital on Sunday afternoon (the 10th) after a blood transfusion failed to stabilize his red blood cell counts. Monday night several blood clots moved from his legs into his lungs, heart, and head, resulting in a mild/moderate heart attack and stroke. The rest of that week saw steady improvement, though, and by Saturday he was out of ICU.

Sunday night (the 17th) as I was leaving my small group leader’s house, my mom called to ask me to come by the hospital before I went home because Dad had been moved back to ICU. She said it was nothing major, but she just wanted me come by. I will never forget walking around the corner into the ICU waiting room and seeing my cousin Jeremy standing there, sobbing. In the 30 minutes between small group and the hospital, my dad’s heart had stopped and been restarted, and as I arrived the doctors were restarting it for a second time. They got him stabilized, but couldn’t get his blood pressure above about 50/20, and he never regained consciousness.

At about 4:30 on the morning of March 18th, 2002, I lost my father to death. It took me several weeks to get to the point where I could actually mourn. I don’t know if I was trying to be strong for everyone else, or if it just didn’t really sink in until then. Even when the tears finally came, there weren’t that many.

Eight years later, I can look back on such a hard time in my life with at least some understanding of why it happened. In the summer of 2003, I had the opportunity to tell my story to about 150 middle school students at a camp, and how God’s love expressed through my friends, and specifically my youth group, brought me through. The next fall, a friend at college was dealing with the death of her father, and I got to be there for her. Since then I’ve told it many times to various people, and had the opportunity to share some of the love that was shared with me.

I’m grateful for the ministry opportunities, even though it still hurts a little bit. What about you? What difficult thing has happened in your past that God has brought you through? What opportunities to share God’s love, grace, and peace has it created for you?

Side note – You know what I’m most thankful for out of this whole experience? I’m thankful that the last words I ever said to my father were, “I love you, Dad. I’ll see you later.” Both statements were true then, and they still are today. Please make sure that the people you love know that you love them.


One comment

  1. Joseph, I will never forget the day your father, my brother, my best friend died either. We were there the day before and he was doing so much better. Talking with us about going back to Florida to fish. Cecil told him when he got out of the hospital he would love to have him go with him.. he wanted to know if I was going.. Cecil said yes. He said okay then he would not be afraid to go for if something happened with him, I would be there with him… that was a wonderful feeling to know how he trusted me with his life. Cecil had to make a special run that Sunday and after he had left for a trip to South GA and back I got the call that he was back in ICU and my heart sank… no this could not be happening. I had to wait for Cecil to get back which was within a short time and we made it to the hospital… he was there, helpless and there was nothing I could do to help him… How helpless you feel…but I could only tell him how much I loved him and that I was there with him and I was praying. The lights turned off but his presence will always be felt in my heart each day. I think of little remarks he made, things that we all did when we were young and silly. I have such fond memories, thinking back when he was only a few months old and was in the hospital and the doctors did not know what was wrong or what to do for him at that time and it appeared he was not going to make it. The doctor decided to just do exploratory surgery to see if he could see what was going on, and sure enough he had appendicitis and gangreen had set in. He was lifeless.. Dad would take up down to Georgia Baptist Hospital where he was and we would play by the fountain in the front on the outside of the hospital. Mom would wave to us from the window… how we wanted our little brother to get well and come home.. God allowed that to happen and then some 50 some odd years later God chose to take him home with him… How thankful I am for those years. He gave us you and Kimberly and this was such a wonderful gift to our family. We are so proud of you and what you are doing and I know your father is looking down with such pride. God allows things to happen that we just cannot understand but
    there is one thing I know… my brother was ready to go be with Jesus.. I talked to him the day before and he said he had thought that that was his time, but he had gotten so much better, said he did not know why God decided to keep him.. I then asked him, well Don are you ready to go and he said yes I am, I asked him if his heart was right and he said oh yes, I feel good and I know where I am going when I die and that is to Heaven.. I knew that in my heart but I wanted to hear him say it. My heart was so sad that day but then I think how selfish I am to want anyone back that is in Heaven.. He is having a wonderful time… And I plan on meeting him there… we never know the Day or the hour but no matter when, I know that I am ready so when that time comes I will meet them at the Pearly Gates of Heaven.. Love you Joseph so much and I am so proud of you..
    Your Aunt Arlene


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