Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Josh's Gift

I love this picture of Josh.  I don't know why, it just seems to exude Joshness.  As many of you may be aware my brother, Joshua David Andrews, passed away on February 22, 2011.  It was shocking and unexpected and left a hole in our hearts and our family.  Today marks the one month anniversary of his death.  Its hard to believe a month has already gone by.  It seems like yesterday, I was getting on a plane to say my last goodbyes.  I keep thinking I need to text him or call him to check up on him.  I wake up in the morning thinking that it was all a bad dream and then having to go through the process of remembering that he is dead.  I don’t like the word dead.  I think of death and I think of an empty body lying alone in the grave and my heart just aches.  But I don’t like gone either because he still exists, just not in flesh and blood.  I keep thinking of all the things that will be incomplete while we are still on this earth – family pictures, get togethers, my future spouse and children will never have met him.  You just never imagine what life would be like when someone is gone.  While I know that God has a plan and that we will be united as a family with Josh again, it does little to fill the hole right now.  While I am excited to see him again on the other side, I miss him here with us now. 

Having to confront this harsh and abrupt change has made me look at life and seek for something good to come of this.  That’s when I came up with the idea of Josh’s Gift.  It is so easy to think of the bad things and the lost things so easy to drown myself in sorrow and misery.  It was really hard at first to be around people who were happy and smiling, I wanted them to feel my loss, to feel my pain to know that all was not right with the world because Josh was no longer here.  I found solace in gloomy days when it seemed the whole world or at least my section of it was as miserable as I was.  I still have hard moments, but I have more good moments although the balance is still tipped in favor of the hard moments.  So I thought about the need to not focus on what was lost, but what was gained.  Josh wasn’t perfect but I know he had a good heart and I learned so much from him.  The last few years of his life were tough I can only imagine the physical and emotional pain he suffered.  But I didn’t know how to talk to him in a way that let him know I sympathized or reach out to him.  But thinking of all this has made me want to be more compassionate, kinder, loving.  It makes me want to reach out and help the downtrodden, lonely, and those that need help but don’t know how to ask for it.  It has made me realize what a precious gift we have of life and want to enjoy it to the max and not waste those precious moments glued to the TV.  It makes me want to dive in and experience all life has to offer and really live everyday as though it is your last. 

I want to gather my loved ones around and spend every moment I have with them.  But I still have responsibilities I have to make money to support myself and I think about how that process sucks so much out of my day, how I spend more hours in the office than I do any other single thing.  Its still a battle to get out of bed in the morning – I think about what I spend most of my life doing and how in the end none of it matters.  Yet despite my need to be more compassionate to live life to cherish every moment I find myself falling short.  I find myself angered over inconsequential matters, speaking harshly to family and my sweet boyfriend, failing to be as aware and considerate of other’s needs as I am of my own.  I find myself lying awake at night kicking myself for every little mistake wanting to rewind to that moment and do it all again and let go of all that stupid little stuff.  I am harsher on myself than I have ever been before because I feel if I fail, I let Josh down, I let his death be in vain if I do not emerge from this experience a better person, a kinder person, a stronger person.  I try to think about what Josh would want us to do, want me to do.  I wonder if he misses us as much as we miss him and then my heartbreaks again.

A lady at work knows a family whose son was in need of a liver transplant.  He just recently received one.  It was a bittersweet remembrance of our pain at our lost and the comfort of someone else’s gain.  Josh’s liver went to a 55 year old female in San Diego, CA.  His kidney went to a 55 year old female in Nevada.  His heart went to a 41 year old female in Los Angles, CA.  His pancreas went to a 48 year old male in Maryland.  Four lives that can still be lived because of his gift, four families who get the gift of their loved one’s life.  I hope they cherish their second chance and don’t squander it because a heavy price was paid.  I don’t say that to put any guilt on anyone, but I wish we could have gotten a second chance and so my feelings are sharp and poignant.  I know they are aware of the sacrifice that took place, but they didn’t know Josh and can’t comprehend the depth of our sorrow and pain.  But we were so grateful to give them that opportunity, so grateful that his memory will go on.

Then of course my next thought is the atonement and repentance and the death of my elder brother Jesus Christ and his gift to us.   I think about his words of pleading with us to remember, remember his sacrifice.  To remember the second chance that we have been given.  To not squander our lives away with the things that do not matter.  To remember what this life is about. 

That is Josh’s gift.  A reminder of how precious each and every life is.  A reminder that every person is important.  A reminder to never forget.

I miss you Josh. 


The Pali's said...

I know exactly what you are going through Melissa. My sister Becky passed away a year before Ben and I got married. It's been 6 years and I still miss her, but I have also been able to feel her spirit and know she has a greater work on the other side. I bet Becky and Josh are having a grand ol' time together. Keep your chin up and know that we are here for you.

Jeff said...

That was an excellent tribute and an excellent reminder of how precious life really is.

I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sure Josh would appreciate what you've written here.

lisa c. said...

Melissa, thanks so much for your thoughts during such a hard time for you and your family. It changed my thought process to read your comments. I know it's hard, and I don't know the full depth of what you're going through, but it's amazing to read about how you will make it through with the wonderful perspective you have in this post. loves..

Erica said...

Oh, Melissa, I had no idea. I am so sorry your loss and the sadness that obviously comes with it. What a wonderful, thoughtful tribute to your brother Josh. I don't even know him, but by reading this, I want to be a better person. And what a wonderful thing he and your family have done to help 4 other families. That in itself is so remarkable. I am sure they will always be thankful.

Holly said...

Big hug sweetie. That was a beautiful tribute. You are a good sister.
I love you so much and I am so proud of you
Your mom forever and ever

Josie said...

I wrote like three paragraphs of shtuff. And then deleted it because all I really want to do is give you a big hug...and cry simultaneous tears of sorrow and joy with you for the amazing life of your brother...and his gift.

I love you so much it hurts.