As youth director, you often find yourself talking with students. Talking about parents, kids at school, life changes like college, new bf's or gf's, or just general life situations. However this year I have been blessed to be able to spend time with a family who faced the biggest thing a family can face, the death of a loved one and more specifically Dad.
Now a little back story may be needed, but not too much. My friend Dave was a great father, brother, husband, and friend. He had a smile when you needed one, a joke when he could, and a smile and laugh that would perk up any bad day. Dave was also maybe one of the most positive people I knew. He faced cancer treatments off and on for probably most of the last 3 years and even when he was sick he said "let me know what I can do" or "I will try to make it to help with Sunday school". Dave was just such a gift to our church and my life.
Yet, the impact and measure of Dave is not just in him, it is also in the children and family. His wife Linda is a committed woman. Even with all of the issues the family dealt with she made sure the kids made it to confirmation or church on Sunday. She made sure that the kids could stay positive and that life would keep going on as normal as possible and she stood as the rock Dave needed.
His son Thomas is at times deceptively quiet and while not like dad there, he jokes like dad. I say deceptively because if you knew him well enough, his comments and jokes come out and you had to be able to listen to hear it. Also like Dave Thomas will always stretch out further then you would expect to fill the role needed. He was part of the Youth Sunday Skit last year when his sister asked him to and he did a great job breaking down what normally would have been a barrier. One week in January during Confirmation we went around doing woes and WOWS. Thomas shared that his wow was “My dad played Ping Pong with us this week, even though he was really tired” and he said there are no woes, that was all he needed to share.
Then there is Cheryl. Cheryl is a wonder, she has the energy and joy that when first experienced can be almost overwhelming, but when surrounded by it, you realize it is just pure joy. Last year, in the depth of Dave's treatment Cheryl came to Pastor Lawlor and presented her with this Skit that was viral online, to the Song "Everything", it spoke to her of the love God has for us and that in all of our darkest times we may lose sight of God and Jesus, but he does not lose sight of us and constantly is there to cover us and pick us up when we need it. She wanted this done for her dad. She wanted him to see this message and in doing so, she showed me and the entire church and later our ASP center this message. It was exactly the message we needed.
Earlier today, Dave went home to the arms of our loving Lord. He went home to a place with no treatments, or hospitals, no tests, no pain, and to see the fulfillment of the promise we have all been given. Today many hurt. We hurt for ourselves and the friend we lost. We hurt for The Rozinski's and the wife, children and siblings who have lost Dave. Yet, we also hurt because we cannot make this pain better. There are no pills or treatments to make grief easier.
There is however hope. There is hope in the love God gives us everlasting life even after our time on Earth is through. There is hope in the things Dave's love and caring will bring forth through Cheryl and Thomas. The fact that they knew such a strong father who loved them so much he spent his last day’s home with them. There is hope that even though we hurt know, we know that we will begin to feel relief when in days to come we can celebrate in the life of Dave with smiles and laughter. We will know his life made an impact on all those youth he served and all those adults he worked with.
Dave loved as he believed his Savior loved. He cared as he believed his savior did. He smiled and joked, and inspired as he believed his savior did.
I hurt today for the loss of my friend David. I hurt for Linda and knowing as a son can of the loss a mother has when her husband dies so young. I hurt for the kids in a way that I know losing a father so young can impact and the many things you feel he will not be there for. Yet, in all that hurt, I have great joy in knowing I will see Dave for years in the lives of Thomas, Linda, and Cheryl. I take comfort that my friend who was so sick for so long and who fought so hard, went home to the one who loves us more than anyone else ever can.
Today, I know I will not see my friend anymore here on earth, and I know I will not see him until that day I see him again in my father's house. Yet, I take comfort in all the many ways I see him. In his final week I was told his face would light up when he spoke or people talked about Youth Ministry and Sunday school at UDLC. I humbly take small comfort that I know Dave knew he had a part in that and that his joy was in working with youth and that these young people will one day go on to do amazing things in their home congregations, like he did for all of us.
God Bless you Dave. Take care my friend until we once again are able to hug and laugh together in God's kingdom.