One Year Later

In March 2019 when the original tumor was removed from Josh’s brain, I naively thought that he would be healthy again after a few weeks of recovery and some physical therapy. I thought that the brain tumor was just a bump on the road, and that we would continue on with life once it was gone. What I didn’t understand at the time, but would soon realize, is that we were on an entirely different path filled with tough choices, hardships, and sorrow. Or, that Josh would carry the heaviest weight as he was faced with several hard truths and asked to make unimaginable choices.

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Although we were grateful for the successful removal of the entire tumor, this was still only the beginning of Josh’s road to recovery. When he was transferred to Mary Free Bed, he had paralysis on the right side, and couldn’t speak. Simple things that we take for granted, like being able to spit, were challenges for him.

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At the same time, Josh was about to do something incredible. He was once a teen who needed to be reminded to take out the garbage, or woken up for school in the morning, but once he started rehabilitation, he gave everything he had as he worked hard to gain back the abilities he had lost. He persevered during the remaining three years with kindness and a sense of humor.

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There was a point during his rehabilitation where he was undergoing physical therapy, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy at the same time. There were some rough days, but he was able to do it all.

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Josh had improved so much by the fall of 2021, that I was beginning to feel like we were finally coming “out of the woods” and that he was about to have a long future. He would ask questions about what would happen after graduation, and I would explain that he would continue his classes, but I wasn’t sure what that would look like. We helped him purchase a one-handed keyboard as a part of his Make A Wish request, and I thought this would be something he might use later in life as a part of a job.

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I’m grateful for the privilege to be Josh’s father, and to stand beside him as he courageously regained his ability to walk and talk during his fight with cancer. He was a wonderful young man, kind hearted, a strong big brother to Elijah, and a good little brother to Kayla.

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I’ve missed him every day since he passed away. There are a lot of things that I would have wanted to share with him.

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Most recently, Elijah and I played a joke on my wife for April Fools Day. The day before, I bought four packages of googly eyes, and hid them around the house. This was in homage to a trick Josh played on his Grandma Morgan a few years ago after he found a package of googly eyes that she had at her house. He hid them so well that it took several weeks for my mom to find them all. She still complains about it.

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This was the kind of thing that Josh would have appreciated helping me with, both because it would be funny and because it would have been an opportunity to show off his height. But, he would have initially groaned and rolled his eyes before going along with the idea.

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Maybe the best thing we can do in Josh’s absence is to live life the way that he would have if he had been given more time. Appreciate every day, show kindness to others, persevere through tough challenges, and take every opportunity to laugh. Especially if it involves googly eyes.

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3 Replies to “One Year Later”

  1. He’s missed every single day. I’m so proud to be encouraged by such a strong soul. I think of you all and pray for happy memories to always be in the front of your mind.

  2. This is beautiful! I didn’t know your family, but it’s evident that Josh lived a bright and loving life with his family.

  3. Absolutely beautiful!
    I like to believe that to the degree we suffered on earth we celebrate in heaven. I imagine that Josh is having an absolute ball up there

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