This is a copy of the thoughts that I shared during the memorial service for Josh on May 2, 2021.
When I became a father, I always expected that it would be my job to teach my kids everything knew about life, but I never realized how much they would teach me.
For example, when Josh was younger he taught me patience, vigilance, and how to take risks. He could be stubborn, but was kind and always willing to help others. This included holding the door at public events, or just keeping friends company while they waited to be picked up from school.
He introduced me to
Together, we experienced
And I showed him
All of this culminated into many memories of dart gun battles in the house, or the time we opened up my old Nintendo console with the intention of fixing it only to never find the time to put it back together.
Trips to the local pet store which had rabbits on display. Hunting for salamanders at my mom’s house. Catching lightning bugs.
Playing practical jokes on my mom, like the time he and Kayla hid googly eyes all over her kitchen, and it took months for her to find all of them.
And fighting StarCraft battles in maps Josh custom built from scratch.
We would often exchange memes on Facebook, and sometimes sat together and just watched favorite videos from YouTube. That’s how he happened to introduce me to Chadtronic. He also starred in many of my videos.
When he was a Cub Scout, I helped him build a derby racers, rubber band guns, and took him to group activities at the nature center.
During his battle with cancer, Josh demonstrated virtues in grace, perseverance, and gratitude.
The morning of his brain surgery, my head was swimming with so many fears and so much sadness that my eyes teared up as I was leaning down to give him a hug.
He looked at me, and said “Don’t worry, dad, it will be okay.”
I never would have expected to get a pep talk from my son in a moment like that, but he sounded ready to face the challenge, and that was comforting.
Fortunately, the tumor was removed completely, but nothing could have prepared us for the physical and communication challenges that Josh was going to face during the months ahead.
There is a quote I saw this weekend on Facebook which reminded me of Josh.
“The strongest people are the ones who are still kind after the world tore them apart.”
Because this was Josh throughout all of his rehabilitation, and treatments. He never let cancer change who he was despite everything it had taken away, or all that we asked him to do. And maybe the best thing that he showed me was what a great young man he had grown up to be.
I will always be proud of how much work and dedication Josh put into learning how to walk and communicate again. This was hard enough, but he even kept up his therapy while taking chemotherapy drugs and going through radiation. After he returned home, he barely slowed down as he continued outpatient therapies and chemotherapy.
He faced several setbacks, such as his seizure, toenail infection, vision issues, canker sores, and new tumors. He still continued to work at everything, and even returned to school in January 2020.
Eventually his health began to fail, and in March he was faced with the choice of either continuing his battle, which would mean trying a new cancer treatment, or living out his remaining days in relative comfort. This is a choice someone his age shouldn’t have to face, but he was mature about his choice.
After he had entered hospice care, we talked a couple of times about what the afterlife would be like. I told him that heaven was said to be a mind bogglingly wonderful place, and that he would be reunited with loved ones that had passed away before him, such as his grandfathers.
I have no way of knowing this for sure, but it is what I will continue to believe. I also imagine him no longer feeling pain, and regaining back all of the abilities cancer had taken away from him.
I also believe that one day he and I will be reunited when my time has come, and although it will be a moment when I will feel sadness for the life I left behind, his presence will once again bring me comfort.
Josh enriched all of our lives with his bright smile, sense of humor, compassion, fortitude, and generosity. I will always treasure the time he and I had together, and find inspiration in the way that he worked to overcome his hardships and handled so many difficult decisions.
I will deeply miss him.