The Day My Friend Died . . .

Note from Joey:  I wrote this a while back; one of the most impactful events I’ve ever experienced.  To this day, I still get those periodical, “oh my gosh,” “no way,” “I’m shocked,” “did this really happen,” “heart-throbbing,” “yes that happened” feelings.  I was telling my wife (and Joshua’s wife, Liz) that I don’t think you really go over a tragic death like this.  It doesn’t seem like life should go on and yet his kids are three years older.  I haven’t talked to him since the accident and in the physical realm I’ve talked to his family these last three years more than he has.  I wish it hadn’t happened and that’s the most pointless wish ever.  I’m glad in dark situations like March 18th 2012 (and the aftermath) can’t steal my hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

When some one calls you three times in a row, within 3 minutes without leaving a message, something is up.  It was a rainy, stormy Sunday afternoon, kind of chaotic for the Svendsen family as my wife and I were getting the kids ready to spend the night out, so we could go to the Emery show in Savannah, GA.  During family time or “chaos time” (getting our 4 kids ready for bed or to go out), even my closest friends need to leave a message so I can listen and get back at a better (more quiet) time.  After the third call from my friend, I called her back to find that our mutual friend, Joshua Miller,  had likely been in a fatal car accident.  I tried motioning to my wife, who was bathing the kids, to come closer to me.  I needed to tell her what was going on, but didn’t want the kids to see the tears that were already flowing.  We needed to get to the hospital 10 minutes ago.  On the way to drop the kids off at my parents, we received confirmation from Joshua’s father-in-law, that he was indeed gone.

Huh?  This is a guy that I had just seen and talked to that morning, had plans to go on a double-date with in 5 days, was going to let borrow my bike, and hung with almost every day of my life.  Intricately connected.  Gone?

At the hospital, I saw Joshua’s father-in-law first, giving him a bear-hug, as he sobbed in my arms.

This was happening.  It was indeed real.

Down a long hall, my wife and I could see Joshua’s wife in a wheel chair.   Walking up to her, I put my hand on her shoulder and asked if I could pray.  To be honest, I had no idea where she was emotionally and actually had doubts whether or not “praying” was an appropriate request at this time, thinking she could even have been offended by the notion.  Liz was a Christian, but who knows what one’s emotional state is during this sort of thing.  I later discovered that she received knowledge of her husband’s passing about 3 minutes prior and  this whole exchange was such a blur to her, it was barely remembered.

I spent little time that night with Joshua’s immediate family as friends began to pour into the hospital.

Joshua and I shared a unique relationship.  We were friends who shared beer together as buddies.  But, God had also decided before the beginning of time that I would be an integral part of Joshua’s growth as a Christian.  Now the tables had turned and he’d be an integral part of my growth as God worked through Joshua’s unexpected/early departure.

As my personal friends poured in, all of us sharing one another’s grief, they were also looking to me for leadership.  As I encouraged everyone that “God has this,”  ”He’s at work,”  ”He loves us,”  ”is with us,”  ”is working good,” etc, etc, in my heart I was saying, “Lord I believe this stuff that I’m saying, but help me with my disbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Hours at the hospital ended with a somber drive to an empty home.  My kids were with my parents and my wife was staying at the hospital.  Unlike other times of my introverted life, I didn’t want to be alone.  It was no use, as I laid down on the living room couch, knowing the nightmare that awaited me the next day.

for a closer look at this story, read this blog, written by Joshua wife,The White Widow.