02 March 2016

Saying Goodbye Too Soon

Today we are joining with many, many people from near and far to say goodbye to a dear friend who passed away last week from a very rare form of cancer. This is a tragic loss to we who admired and loved him.

This has been a painful journey for our little family to watch our dear friends suffer and to consider the possibility, for some months now, that he would pass away and leave behind three fantastic young sons and his beautiful wife.

I think it's humbled us and pushed us to be more focused on life, our family life and how we use the time we do have in this life. It's amazing how one day can change the entire course of one's life and how one day last summer changed the course of the lives of our dear friends forever. His wife and I had just been talking about visiting them after both families got settled in new homes. It seemed like at practically the same time, the cancer diagnosis came.

This sad experience has also forced us to think about how we feel about death. Watching our dear friends come to peace with death has pushed me to have a clearer focus on how I feel about death and to fine tune my faith in the process and what happens afterwards.

Because there was a pretty good support group created on Facebook, we would get regular updates on the situation and since our friend's passing it's been interesting to mourn as a community of people who know this family from dozens of different ways living all over the world. But all the words of comfort and every word they've used to describe our friend and his family have been beautiful, inspiring and could not be more true.

I hope at the end of my life, there will be similar tributes like to our friend Jeff. It has been the common thread I have heard that he always had a smile, was a wonderful husband and patient, loving and adventurous father. He was a cheerful friend and fun and supportive coworker. The thing I will remember most about Jeff is that he was a man that was always aspiring to do a little better. He was a wise teacher and humble student. He paused when he wasn't sure what to do or listened to wise counsel from others, one of those being his incredibly wise wife. I love that Jeff was always abounding in good works and trying to grow usually with a smile and a laugh.

This is a small tribute to a man of great stature in his community, be it the military, his church congregation or neighborhood. We miss you Jeff and will look forward to a reunion again someday. In the meantime we will be watching over your little flock here along with you. And we are open to any "services" you want to provide all our families in the way of guardian angel protection - especially when all our kids hit their teen years! Thank you Jeff for the amazing light you brought to this world. You will not be forgotten.

Here is a video of Jeff that aired on the news in Denver after he surprised his boys at school on his return from deployment. I envision this was but a small taste of the next great reunion this family will have.

*Have to share a little miracle that happened with our friends. Monday we were still trying to decide if we could get to the funeral in Colorado. Monday morning The Man told me he thought we should not go, because it would be difficult in some important ways that we needed to consider. I agreed and we decided to send flowers but not go. And yet we were both still feeling really torn about wanting to go. We just so desperately wanted our friends to know we love them and support them and how much Jeff meant to us.

That evening, I offered  to pick up The Bug from martial arts class, which her Dad usually does. I was about an hour early but thought rather than drive home and back I would just sit in the parking lot and get caught up on social media and relax. A friend from a nearby state was asking for doctor recommendations in her area. Why I started reading all the comments on that I have no explanation. Then I saw a woman with the same maiden name as Jeff's wife. It's a fairly common name but for some reason I thought, "Maybe this is her sister?!" So I clicked on her name and sure enough she was friends with Jeff, his wife, my friend in the neighboring state and even stranger, yet another friend in yet another state.

So I replied to her comment about the doctor recommendation and asked if she was Jeff's sister-in-law. She said yes! I asked her to please, please give her sister a giant hug from us and let her know how much we wanted to be there this week and how much we love them and are so sorry about Jeff's death. Then I got a beautiful reply back a few minutes later. "She is right next to me. I will give her a great big hug! <3 p="">
I fell apart and cried in the car for a good half-hour. Even if we had attended the funeral we would not have had the opportunity to give her a hug in such a quiet moment. I felt this was an amazing miracle to be able to give our darling friend a giant hug on Monday night and let her know we are standing with her and all the angels around her. It meant so much to The Man and The Bug too that they knew Jeff's family knew how much we love them and got a hug from us across all these miles. I am constantly amazed at the miracles God can make happen in our lives. If my friend has not asked about a doctor, if Jeff's sister-in-law had not taken the time to reply to that post and if I had not read the responses and reached out to her, our private moment with Jeff's wife never would've happened. Now I know that Jeff's family has felt our love I feel so much more peace.

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