The kids and I talk about Jeremy every single day. Eliana will share a story about something she used to do with her dad. Nehem will walk up to total strangers, tell them about his toys, and then tell them his dad is under the dirt (which means I have to jump in to explain what he’s talking about). I am getting out of bed, entering into each day, missing Jeremy and enjoying the beautiful blessings we have. I cry a little but smile, too. I keep thinking that as terrible as the last five months were, and as brutal as they were to Jeremy especially, the good Lord must have been considering the kids and I during that time. Since he was away from us for so much of that time, we were able to establish ourselves without his daily presence active in our lives. Losing him has been awful. Through the prayers of so many we were and are continuing to be surrounded by grace, making this time more bearable than it could have been. We are grateful for that grace and that time with Jeremy. So many of the things we discussed this past summer are so much clearer to me now. God was good to us during those days and He continues to be.
When I think about those final months, and all the time Jeremy and I had together, I am intensely proud of him. I am forever changed to have had him in my life as my husband, mentor, friend and father of our children. One of the things I will always carry with me is how Jeremy lived his life as a faithful servant to his Lord. When Jeremy first received news of his diagnosis, he accepted it with incomprehensible faith. During the summer months he continued to call his lymphoma his “blessing”, knowing God was using it for something beyond himself. He frequently said “Who am I that I should be spared lymphoma?” His humility and faithfulness were inspirational. He was what he would describe in his journals as an “ideal servant” until his last breath. The ray of light shining down on him from heaven was shining extra bright. It was so beautiful. And we were all blessed because of it.
One aspect of Jeremy that I will work hard to share with our children is the way he lived an intentional, well-examined life. Jeremy would spend hours alone one his computer journaling. His writings are largely related to goals he had for himself, our family culture and values he wanted to instill in our children. The goals he had for himself were all focused on becoming more Christ-like. Jeremy would consider a virtue, say loyalty, and would spend hours, days and weeks studying the concept of loyalty. Then he would intentionally practice it. Most of this was done in secret, very few people knew Jeremy’s inner-mind and how he operated. I was always grateful that he shared those secrets, his processes, with me. I wouldn’t always know what he was working on but occasionally something would come up, a difficult situation with a friend, and he would say “This is a chance for me to be a loyal friend.” And he would be. Jeremy did this with so many virtues and it was evident in the way he lived his life. Many people have shared stories about Jeremy that exemplify this. I hope and pray this aspect of his character, the self-examination and intentionality with which he lived his life, will continue. I pray for the ability to model this for our children and I’m grateful for the many writings Jeremy left behind so they can see this for themselves.
One of the most amazing gifts Jeremy had was the ability to see people, making each person feel known. I have never met anyone else who could do what he did when he talked with people, no matter their relationship, no matter the topic. Jeremy showed each person respect and he was genuinely interested in understanding who they were. Many people have shared stories with me about how Jeremy impacted their lives at a particularly important time. Many have shared how Jeremy was one person who provided timely encouragement or inspiration when it was most needed. The loss of him is felt so deeply because of the profound impact he made in others’ lives, even if just for a short season. I don’t have this special gift but I’m praying it has been passed on to our children, that they have the gift of truly seeing others so they can be a vessel of encouragement to everyone they meet.
The hardest thing about losing Jeremy is that he is no longer here, living among us. However, as a dear friend recently reminded me, we are “Resurrection” people. There is a hope and joy that comes with that which is even stronger than the pain of the death of a loved one. Losing Jeremy is gruesome yet, through faith, we know he is in a much better place. His life did not end but continues on in the presence of God through the power of Christ’s resurrection. Because of that, I know Jeremy continues on. I see traces of him everywhere. I feel his presence when I need it most, as if he is there beside me, whispering an important truth in my ear. I see him in my children’s faces. I hear him when they speak Spanish. I know he lives on, even if he doesn’t live in the flesh among us. And it is incredibly difficult to live in a constant state of despair knowing Jeremy continues on.
I’m aware that harder days are ahead as the holidays approach. Yet, we continue to have faith and hope and love. We continue to be surrounded by tremendous blessings. Blessings of family, friends, community. There is tremendous beauty in crisis and we continue to be surrounded by beauty even in the midst of this sadness. I am incredibly thankful for that beauty. I am incredibly thankful for each person that has “entered in” to this crisis and prayed for us, cared for us and loved us. God was, is, and continues to be good. We accept this tragedy as God’s will, knowing (but not fully understanding) He is being glorified through it. We accept this tragedy in the same way we accept all the blessings we have received, believing, trusting there is no better place to be than in His will. Because of Him we have hope and because of Him we can carry on.
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving we have many things to be thankful for. We had the blessing of having Jeremy in our lives. And we know we will met him again. We are, and Jeremy is, Resurrection people. May our lives here on earth, even during these hard days, be a continual reflection of that.