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"One Year Anniversary"

The day has finally arrived. We've reached the one-year mark of when my father left this earth. I still remember that day so vividly. Saying goodbye to my father has to be the most difficult day of my life. Watching my brothers say goodbye with dazed countenances and observing my mother slowly say goodbye to her best friend under deep sobs of grief was so painful. After we exhausted all possible hopes of sustaining my father's life, all we could do now was wrap our arms around one another (one shoulder tightly pressed next to the other), surround my father's bedside, and share our deep love for him. The tears flowed openly and for quite some time. There was no shame, no embarrassment in expressing what our hearts were feeling; it was a feeling that someone so beloved was being wrongfully taken away from us. That day was so unique. Never have I experienced grief as I did that day. It was the reality of saying our final goodbyes, a certain finality to the life of a great man.

Once we realized this was the day, many relatives and close friends began flooding the ICU department to say their last goodbyes to my father. Many were torn upon first seeing the condition my father was in. As many knew, my father was such an encourager to everyone around him. He always had a way of finding that particular something within a person in order to make them smile, laugh, or just see a clearer perspective of their life and their future. Now, they were seeing this wonderful encourager slowly depart.

I know I felt stunned that this was it, the final hours with my best friend, the man I came to love, admire, and look to when I needed someone to lift my head up. I loved him so much and, no matter how many times I told him, I still felt like I failed to convey how much I appreciated him. At that moment, there was nothing I could do to show him, nothing I could say, nothing I could create to somehow paint a picture of my deep sense of gratitude for the faithful love he showed me. All resources were finally exhausted except our physical presence. Perhaps that was enough for that very moment for him to leave us and enter into the arms of his Heavenly Father.

It was 9 p.m. when he passed away. I wonder what he experienced when he finally "let go" and "let God" embrace him. What was the first thing he saw? Was it Jesus? Did he sense or did he feel the warm embrace of two arms surrounding his whole being, the same arms that hung on the cross for him? Did he finally understand the immense love he once tasted from afar while on earth? I believe he did experience complete love for the first time.

How I wish my love was as complete as that. How I wish I could love my mother, my two brothers, my girlfriend with that same kind of love. I know I will always fall short of this unconditional love that only Jesus can give us. However, both my parents gave me a taste of this love. Even as incomplete as their love was and still is, it was the closest thing to pure, unadulterated love.

With this day upon us, I know we will be taking time to reflect upon the life of my father. Although today is filled with much sadness, I trust God will equip us and, yes, remind us, that he was a very unique GIFT to us. I will personally set aside time to look back upon my years with my father in order to look forward to the future I have ahead.

We've heard it many times that we have a purpose. What that is, for many, is still unclear. I must be quite honest, at times, this past year has brought thoughts of hopelessness, of questioning my reason for still being here on earth. There were times I wished that it was I who left this earth prematurely. For reasons unbeknownst to me, God chose my dad instead. Why God allowed my father to return home, knowing the vast impact he had on so many lives as compared to me is still unclear. I just know that I'm still here and that, amidst this cloudiness, I want to touch lives as my once father did. I know I will find a much deeper, a much richer purpose through this difficult struggle and, I believe, that out of this process, some clarity will take shape and my purpose will take on a new form. May I be faithful to this call and, more importantly, may I be faithful to my Lord who continually shows me undeserved grace through my own waywardness.

I realize I'm not alone in my struggle. So many of you who read this still ask similar questions of your inherit purpose, you're unique calling. I pray you won't have to experience the loss of a loved one so young to find your unique purpose. But I do believe that in the searching and in the asking, particularly in directing your questions to God and to trusted companions, you will find what your purpose is. Don't give up. Whether you're 15 or whether your 55, don't lose hope. Don't look back and say what a mess. Instead, look forward and "see" an open field of opportunities to make a difference. Trust me, it's not as hard as you think.

Try this: find one person you can give a word of encouragement to. I purposely used the word "give" because your words are powerful gifts to others. Tell someone you love them, but don't just say you love them, tell them why you love them or why you appreciate them. That's making a difference - one life at a time.

I wish I could thank everyone who continues to pray for us and those who faithfully help us through some very difficult times. After one year, we're still in need of your prayers.

I'm committed to building upon this site. After seeing the fruit of others using it for their own loses, this is more of a reason to continue maintaining it. I welcome your comments on ways I can improve/add to the site. Realize I can only do so much, but I continue to update the site each month.

Thank you again for all your love and support you've offered to us.

With love and sincere appreciation,