Friday, April 11, 2008

Suddenly everything changes

This photo was taken in 1998 or so. This is the good friend that was the purpose of this trip. Steve was born with a condition known as transposition of the great vessels. He had a surgery done forty years ago that was successful and gave him forty years of life. The procedure he had done was old, but it worked.

I first met Steve in 1989 when I went to school at Biola University. Steve was one of those people that you take an instant liking to, and we quickly became friends. I soon got to know Renee, his wife to be. We were at their wedding on August 1, 1992. Patty and I were married a year later and as young married couples we used to go places together on vacation.

In 1999 we moved from Orange County to Victorville, and although we didn't see them as much, we stayed in touch. In 2002 we were able to go to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City with Steve, Renee, & the girls. We had a great time as our two families (+ our Utah friends Dave & Terri Butts) enjoyed the salt lake valley and attended events together. It was one of those unforgettable experiences that was made so much more full by our friendship with Steve & Renee.

In 2005 they moved across the country to Durham, North Carolina. We were sad to see them go, but they quickly endeared themselves to the people around them and have made Durham their home. Although Steve had always had health issues related to his heart, he never complained about them and only talked about them when pressed for information. Steve's health began to decline, and over the last year he has suffered one setback after another. I came out to be sure we had the opportunity to spend time with Steve in case his health took him before we were able to come out during a vacation time.

Today was a normal day like any other. Steve went to work, came home, we had a nice time talking, we looked at pictures, we laughed at youtube videos, we just hung out like friends do. Then we went to dinner at a great North Carolina Barbeque restaurant. After dinner, we were heading to a Durham Bulls game when everything changed. Steve collapsed on the sidewalk and went home to be with the Lord.

I miss him, but I am SO grateful that I was able to see him one last time. I am even more grateful that I was able to be here for Renee and the girls. Watching Renee break the news to her girls was one of the saddest moments of my life.

God is sovereign and perfect, and His plans are perfect. God knew when He would take Steve home, and arranged my trip so that I would be here for Steve's family in this time of need. I grieve for my friend, and rejoice in the provision of the Lord!



Stacia said...

Joel, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. The experience must have been terrible, but so great that you - of all people - could be there for him and for his family.
Hang in there.

Carl said...

What a comfort that in a time when we might naturally question God, he gave such a strong sign of his presence to send you there.