Four years ago today we lost my nephew Joey. His death was sudden and unexpected, having been healthy and having just celebrated his 24th birthday one week prior.
I’ll always remember Joey as an exuberant young man. When he loved someone or something, he loved them completely and enthusiastically. Growing up, he had faced his own challenges but that never stopped him from wanting to help others.
I am saddened not just because we all miss him so much but because I feel the world is missing his presence as well. At the time of his death he had just really come into his own, “found himself” if you will. His faith and connection with God had deepened and his focus had clarified and he really seemed to know where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do with his life. And what he wanted to do was just so typically Joey. He wanted to help people. He wanted to make the world a better place.
Although I am still deeply saddened by his loss, I recall his funeral and believe it or not, there are things from that which make me smile. The church was packed to the point that it became standing room only – all those many many people who had been touched by Joey’s presence in their lives. And then they came forward, the people wanting to express their sympathies. Each one of them had a story about Joey – a story about the love they had felt from him, about how he had helped them in one way or another, be it by act or by example.
It’s thinking back on this and on the time I got to spend with Joey when he was here on earth that I realize…he may not be here physically with us anymore, but his presence will always be felt by those who knew him.