He packed a lifetime of lifetimes into 36 years. There are so many people who don't fill up their days in double that time in the way John was full of life. What an inspiration he was to so many people. What a man of his faith. What a solid, never changing, always fighting, kind, generous and exemplary soul he was. His family is also an amazing group of people - his parents and siblings and his wife and young son. They are so strong and encouraging. They were to John and are to many others. John was such a wonderful friend to my S over the years. And to me too, for the last at least fifteen years of my life. And we miss him already!
At the memorial service, they reprinted an entry John made on his Caring Bridge site last November. I remember reading that entry when he made it with tears running down my face. First because it reminded me how fragile John's life - our lives - this world, really is. Second because it showed the humanity of and bright shining light John was to the world. Third because he spoke so truthfully and honestly to us that day in his writing, and that was just how he was all the time. I want to share what John said with you here, as a testament to him and to the kind of person he was. Here is what John said:
This is John again and I wanted to share something that the Lord has placed on my heart tonight. I am so grateful for my doctors who are working diligently to stabilize my lung functions. Please pray that Dr. Torres, Dr. Blewett, Dr. Rosenblatt, Dr. Da Maio and Dr. Wait would be given wisdom from the Great Physician as they help me fight this rejection.
I want to assure all of you that I am still fighting and will fight till the end of this life but more importantly I wanted to say that no matter what happens God's grace is sufficient, He is faithful and He promises us that he will make our burdens light - we just have to turn to Him and surrender all.
Over the years I have heard people say how inspirational or courageous I am - well the truth is I am a sinner just like everyone else – no different. A sinner who was in need of a Shepherd. That Shepherd, Jesus Christ, left His large flock of sheep to find me when I was lost. And He found me when I was six years old, a little lamb, and has guided me my entire life. I have made plenty of mistakes but that is what sheep do, research a little more about sheep - not that bright. The greatest compliment that I could ever receive in this life would be that I was inspirational because Christ was showing his inspiration through me. That I was courageous because Christ was courageous first. That as a sheep, I did the best I could to follow my Shepherd with faith and obedience knowing that he would protect me and would lay me down in green pastures. Plenty of fresh sweet grass – Sheep love grass. The sheep would lie down at night before falling asleep knowing that they had food in the morning given to them by their Shepherd, Provider and Protector.
I love all of you, this is not a goodbye because I am fightin’ but the Lord placed this on my heart and I was compelled to share this with all of you.
Some truths I have learned over the years.
1. Hold on to your faith in Christ. If you don't know Him, Just ask. He already knows everything about you, loves you, forgives you and wants to spend time with you.
2. Love your wife, husband, significant other, etc… and the children in your life like God loves you – They are blessings from above.
3. Love your whole family to the very best of your ability and keep those relationships in good repair. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Life is too short not to forgive.
4. Love your friends just as they have chosen to love you.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – this is one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn – still learning.
6. Finally, if you are broken hearted ask God to wipe the tears from your eyes and He will. He is the only Person in this life that will never let you down!
By the way I am not in Heaven yet and I have a long way go on the above list! You can ask anyone who has talked to me lately. I am actually pretty cranky.
I love all of you good.
And now John IS in heaven. And he is no longer in pain. He fought that horrible disease like a prize winning champion. And now he can rest. And breathe. And we will miss him but will be comforted by this knowledge.
We miss you already, John. Peace.