I imagine that of this moment you’re experiencing something akin to that which has been so beautifully captured in your photos – travels with Mike and family, quality time spent with friends, the enjoyment of delicious treats, and just the freedom from any sort of worry, fear, or pain. Paradise. But if heaven can be defined by that place in which God’s glory and presence is most fully manifest, it must be even that much richer. Having just learned last night that your earthly father was not much of a presence in your (or at least your brother’s) lives, it must be great to be experiencing the fullness of God’s fatherhood in your life.
Joy, I am so sorry for what you had to go through over the past year and especially these past couple of weeks since the stroke. It’s nearly unfathomable to imagine what you went through. I imagine that among everything else you experienced, the lost hope of “immediate” healing coupled with the inability to speak were two of the very worst you experienced. Even as I say that, I can’t even begin to imagine the physical pain you must have endured. Or even, at times, the fear of the unknown. I’m sorry you had to go through all of that. My hope and prayer is that the Holy Spirit ministered intimately and powerfully to you during this time. I imagine that you have come to know firsthand the great depths of human suffering and through it, the even greater power and comfort of the Father’s love. I imagine that were you able to speak, you would have blessed us with treasures “unspeakable”.
I don’t know if you heard me last night. But I finally decided to man up, hold your hand, and say a few words to you, one of which was that I’m sorry for being a bad brother-in-law and for being a coward, not taking more initiative to talk with you. I wonder if coward was the right word. I’d probably add selfish to it as well. A mix of the two probably do get at why I wasn’t a better brother to you. As you mentioned in the past, my family certainly has dysfunctions which I could easily choose to blame for my actions. But I know, as you know, that every family has dysfunctions. The question is whether I was willing to do anything about it, even if it meant displaying a seemingly enormous amount of courage, humility, and selflessness in the every-day moments. Even if it were to just ask how you were doing or what was going on in your life. I assured you (last night) that I would do things differently because of you. I’m not exactly sure what this looks like. They may be baby steps. They may be giant leaps. Probably both. For me, they would still probably be one and the same. Either way, I do hope that by the time I join you in heaven, I will have grown enough to get up off of the bed to ask you about you. To get up out of “my room” and get to know my sister-in-law!
Joy. I’m not sure if you noticed. But a couple of times on my Facebook status, I shared how you “inspire” me. Inspire is a big word. It’s a word that comes closer than most to that which I hope to do in my own life. Inspire. And yet, that’s exactly what you did do. While we surely trust in and submit to the sovereign will of God, I had come to see in you a “mountain” of faith which hoped and fought for complete healing this side of the resurrection. I think it was only a couple of weeks back when you sat across our dining table high-fiving with my wife at the notion of travelling our favorite places together as a family once you got better. When stopped at a medical crossroad, in the face of all of the suffering that you had already endured, you chose to hope, to fight again…even more valiantly. This was just days before you would experience your stroke. How devastating it must have been. The morning of your daughter’s big birthday party. Mother’s Day weekend. And I’m sure if we could’ve caught glimpse of your soul, seemingly trapped within your failing body, you were fighting still! Rest Joy. Your “fight” has inspired many.
Thank you for all of the times you’ve empowered me…your brother-in-law, “the pastor”. The encouraging words following a sermon preached, your enthusiasm after having shared the glorious good news with friends, your willingness to seek the “wisdom” of a younger brother-in-law. As much weight as you may have placed upon me as your “pastor” brother-in-law, it is ironically you who has ended up doing most of the pastoring in our relationship. =P Thank you. Be encouraged! Your life will continue to inspire me, and I don’t doubt many others, for however long I have left of my brief time here. A legacy. That’s what you have left for me. A legacy that will live on in eternity.
As you shared your delight in all things Seattle, you gave us all the confirmation we needed to book our flight. Not quite sure whether it was the right decision or not, once you started sharing of your time there, I knew it would no longer be just another visit to a new city, but a way for us to experience personally that which left an indelible mark on your heart. I can’t help but to remember how compelled you were to share about your time there with Mike and your love for the city. It was almost as if for that moment, we were all lifted beyond the realities of your cancer. (Thank you for the discount links you sent us right after we dropped you off!) I can’t wait! Oh, that we could all walk the streets of Seattle together! One day we shall!!
Oh, and by the way, I just found out last night that you gave yourself the name Joy (upon receiving your citizenship). I just want to tell you that you did a great job with it. It’s perfect in so many ways! Maybe one day you can share with us why you chose it. =)
I love you!