I had to chuckle on the Sunday when the pastor mentioned in his sermon, “There ain’t a one of us getting out of here alive.” It did not seem as funny a couple of years later when the one who left was my child. I know it’s true that we all die just as sure as we’re born, but of any deaths I did expect to live through, I never expected to witness the death of my child, and neither did my good neighbors the Harmans or the Fosters. Neither did my good friends the Naases or countless other families affected by childhood illness across the world.
The fact remains, however, that God gives and takes; takes and gives. I believe that for many of us, what He gives is far more than He takes—that what we take from Him is, in fact, usually more than what we give. I know from experience that many of the after-effects of what God takes can be so intense—at times, nearly unbearable—that it makes things seem otherwise. But for the two months of agony that Joshua went through with us along for the ride, God gave us three and a half years of happiness. For the moments that I thought I could not bear the emotional pain of seeing my baby in the condition he was in, there were so many moments when God provided people in my life who made me smile, laugh, feel successful, and feel like life was the greatest thing I could ever have.
We all ask why. Floyd has been said to be one of the healthiest places that anyone can live. Some folks have moved their families into this area and many (including us) have returned after being gone because it is so ideal for raising children. We have a natural environment and air quality that most people in the country envy. And no one could ever say enough about the dedication of a community who rallied behind three desperate families with financial support, prayers, and the sincerity to literally bear some of the burden for those of us who witnessed the whole journey first-hand.
When the dust has settled; when three families have returned home without their first-born; when my Joshua has been joined by two other precious angels in heaven, I would urge everyone to not just remember, but to never forget: these things don’t just happen. Small communities do not lose three children to cancer in seven months. And they most certainly do not produce the massive amounts of love and kindness that have been displayed since the time that Samefight was founded. I would also suggest to each and every person who has seen this website that there are three special angels peering down at a little dot in Southwest Virginia that they all loved very well—and the many places that this little dot reached via the world-wide web.
Make no mistake that even though we did not expect God to take them all, we also did not expect Him to manifest the strange but miraculous phenomena that have come about as a result of a tragic situation times three. If you have changed one thing about your life, be it quitting that habit you couldn’t kick for awhile; finding the strength to wade through your own personal hell because you saw that we had to; contributing to Relay for Life or another charity for the first time; or taking a break in your own personal agenda to play with your child (which I will do when I wrap this up in about three minutes…); I am speaking to you. I thank you for not making our struggle all in vain, and I challenge you to always remember that 2007 was the year when three children went home to get all of our attention in an unmistakable way. May we all continue to pay attention not only to what God takes, but at what He gives us everyday. God bless you all.