In Remembrance of Josh

As I’ve been following the news about Trump possibly being indicted, I can’t help but miss being able to comment about it to my son, Josh. I don’t think either of us considered ourselves political, but we found amusement by following the stories about Trump when he was president. This is just one example of all of the different types of things that spark memories or thoughts about Josh on a daily basis. I wouldn’t call this good or bad, because there are plenty of memories of Josh that are positive, even while he was fighting brain cancer. But, they all remind me of how much I miss him.

Josh’s story wasn’t supposed to go the way that it did. Until his cancer diagnosis in March 2019, my only concerns for him were his grades and, as he progressed through high school, his future after graduation. We encouraged him to join a sport, and sometimes he would sound like he was interested in joining track but then change his mind. The evening after his doctor’s appointment, he told me he wanted to try track that spring. I told him that was a good idea, although I had doubts about how well he could run while he was dealing with the issues with his leg. But, he was going to see more doctors soon, so perhaps this issue would be resolved, and he’d be a great runner.

His mom ended up taking him to the ER. I went to a festival meeting with Elijah. Theresa called me several times during the meeting. At first, they were just waiting for Josh to be seen. But, then the news became even scarier. Next call was that a CT scan had found a mass in Josh’s brain. Then, he was being transferred to Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. I’m sure that it was scarier getting the information first hand, and I can’t imagine how Josh felt at the time. As he had told doctors, he was there to get his leg checked out.

By the end of the week, the diagnosis was that there was a tumor in Josh’s head which was causing his physical issues with his leg. By the following Monday, the tumor was surgically removed from Josh’s head.

The morning of Josh’s surgery, I was amazed at how healthy he seemed. I almost expected a doctor to come in and tell us that his had been one huge mistake, and that Josh was totally fine. Or, maybe that was just wishful thinking. As they were getting ready to move him into surgery, I started to cry while I was talking to him. He looked up at me and told me that everything would be okay. How crazy that I meant to comfort him, but he comforted me instead.

A parent’s priority is to keep their children safe. Up until that point, I felt like we had done everything we could to protect our kids from car crashes, stranger danger, drugs, etc. Despite all of our efforts, cancer had slipped through. Perhaps at the time I felt as though I had failed Josh somehow, and even now I carry this feeling that there was more that I could have done.

I feel like our life was shattered when Josh received his cancer diagnosis. But, then he entered rehabilitation, gained back his ability to speak and most of his mobility, and then returned home in July. By then, it seemed like his story would be that of a cancer survivor, we seemed to be helping him to beat the cancer.

Then, during the winter of 2021 his health declined. New tumors would be detected. He declined new rounds of treatment. He entered hospice. His story was coming to an end, much sooner than I could have imagined.

I feel like my life was shattered all over again when he passed away. I knew that he didn’t have long, and wanted him to find an escape from his discomfort, but I wasn’t ready for him to go. That morning of the day he passed away felt ordinary. We talked as we sat at the table eating breakfast. He even seemed to be in good spirits. Before I got ready to start my work day, I asked him if he wanted to watch the “Falcon and Winter Soldier” show on Disney+. He said he was interested.

I’ve struggled to make sense of all of this, and have come to a few conclusions. Perhaps the time we had with him after his surgery, during rehabilitation, and while he was back home was a sort of gift. I know that while I was staying with him at Mary’s Free Bed in Grand Rapids, I feel like we became even closer than we ever had been in the past. It was just one of those situations where we needed to rely on each other. And, like I said, while the circumstances were dire, I feel like we had a lot of fun times with Josh. It was always important to make the best of the situation. I’m glad that I was able to do this, because it allowed me to enjoy most of the days that I had left with him. Although it was hard at the time, I’m grateful for all of those days we had together.


2 thoughts on “In Remembrance of Josh

  1. He was a great help he help me make his grandpa
    Memorial garden and he had to come in the house because he had a migraine , so o told him to come in and take a nap, so he did then , and then a couple years later he is gone , miss my josh .but he left is some great memories. Love ya josh grandma

  2. Hi Jon,
    I’m so sorry to read about your son. I’ve never been much for words. If you ever feel the need to talk, I make a good listener. Prays to your family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *