In Memorium – Joseph A. Duby (9/17/69 – 09/17/09)
‘Bridge to Grace’ is a reminder that faith is a journey. It started small for me and has grown over the last ten years. I started as a baby in my faith, and over the years, I have matured in Christ. With that thought came the reminder of how faithful God was as I walked through the difficult weeks and months of my youngest brother, Joseph, fighting for his life to have it so fittingly end on his 40th birthday. His only desire was to see the age of 40. God was so merciful to make his one dream come true.
Perspective is key
One could look at this as a sad time, a difficult time, but I was reminded once again of God’s presence, and my heart overflowed. I was quickly reminded again of my journal that I kept of everything that happened during that time, and as I opened it up this morning at 4:30 am, I couldn’t help but rejoice in God’s faithfulness.
How was God faithful and present during those dark days of watching my loved one fade away each day? I am happy to share that with you because I journaled all of it. Funny, it wasn’t my initial idea to keep a journal. I had been taking a college class, and I was required to journal the whole semester. What perfect timing! God knew I needed to, and He had a purpose for it – to remind me of His faithfulness in our lives. I have so many stories I can share about those times, so many things that were extraordinary moments for me, and so I decided to pen a novel titled, ‘Bridge to Grace – Finding Life and Peace in the Midst of Death and Chaos.’ You can find ‘Bridge to Grace’ on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.
For now, allow me to share some of what God did during those dreadful days when I felt like prayer was the only way I could make it through the day.
Journal Entry – Sept 19, 2009 – Joe is finally at peace
“…Throughout this process with Joe since September a year ago, I have tried to be compassionate. I’ve tried to be understanding, merciful, loving to him, so that in some way he would recognize Christ in me. I wanted him to experience what I know to be true – God is faithful, loving, kind, truthful, merciful, slow to anger, quick to forgive, magnificent, and awestruck. God reigns on high.
Through this process, I look back, and I see God working through all of this, but none so prevalent as in the last several weeks and months of Joe’s life. I have no doubt God took a horrible, painful disease in my brother and worked, and brought good out of it. For all those, and the role I got to play, I am eternally grateful.
Here’s my list of some of the things God did in our lives.
1. Brought Joe and me back together
2. I was able to witness to him
3. Brought Joe and mom back together
4. Allowed me to play the role of health surrogate, which helped me learn what mom went through with my father.
5. Allowed mom to take a break from it all.
6. I was able to put boundaries in place.
7. Brought my brother James back into my life.
8. Mom and my ex-sister-in-law apologized to each other after ten years.
9. All of us except Joe, enjoying dinner together for the first time in 10 years.
10. Meeting Joe’s caseworker of 18 years who turned out to be a very loving and compassionate who saw Joe like a son.
11. Meeting Joe’s friend, who I got a chance to speak to about his relationship with God. He also has been there for Joe several times.
12. The excellent staff at the hospice who was kind and compassionate.
13. My family members, friends, and church family who have been praying for us diligently for the past year.
14. The meeting we had at the nursing home that opened their eyes to the neglect with patients there.
15. All the kind things said about Joe and the kind things he did. I didn’t know so many people thought good of Joe and liked him. That was very comforting to know.
16. Mom witnessing my tenderness and compassion to Joe, and him relating to me in return.
17. Me getting to witness to a friend down there and attend church with her.
18. An old friend and I were getting spending time together talking about all God had been doing in our lives over the last decade.
19. Having the chance to pray for other sick and dying, which led to another opportunity to bring comfort to someone in the hospice unit.
20. God was giving me the strength and abilities to get through this.
21. Work being so supportive during these times.
22. My ladies’ bible study was praying for and supporting me.
23. Allowing a new friendship to grow through all this to help us both grow.
24. Having Kim in my life at this time, being able to draw medical advice from her regarding Joe and my on health issues.
25. God was speaking to me back in June 2009, when I was trying to decide to have my surgery. He talked to me and told me to do it now b/c September 2009 would be the month for Joe – Oh God – you spoke to me, your child whom you feel is worthy.
26. Joe was getting his one wish – to make it to his birthday, even past the time he was born. Who else could ordain a time such as this? Only the Lord!
27. The witnessing of love, we showed the staff at hospice by keeping vigil.
28. The film crew filming prayer and communion with him to be shown in Japan. The Word of God being shown in Japan through Joe’s illness.
29. The rose that stayed alive and was being watched by my office for two-plus weeks and what it spoke to some nonbelievers and those who were struggling with their faith.
30. The strength God gave me.
31. Being able to mend some fences with loved ones.
32. Allowing Joe and mom to be together alone in that final hour.
33. The strengthening of my mother, having her go through this, and being there for Joe, and getting that quality time with him before he died. What a blessing.
34. The staff and Joe’s friends at the nursing home.
35. Corrine was working Labor Day and what that brought.
36. Keeping all of us healthy to get through it.
37. The care my daughter got from my friends back home during all this.
38. The honor I received being chosen to officiate his service and the lessons it would bring.
39. The forum Facebook has brought me to be able to show them the strength God has given me.
40. Allowing me to get there and back several times in my old car and providing a place for me to stay freely.
41. Small ways this has brought my whole family back together.
42. Joseph confessed his belief in Jesus and me being able to witness to him, read the Bible to him, sing to him about Jesus in those final days. We enjoyed some real tender moments together.
43. Tender moments with Joe in those last six days I won’t ever forget.
44. God was sparing me the pain of watching Joe’s final moments after six days keeping vigilant.
45. Being able to celebrate Joe’s 40th birthday, the first one in over ten years, I got to spend with him. Watching all the love poured out for him on that day by numerous people. Having been able to wake him up at 12:01 am that day, and be the first to wish him a happy birthday and tell him he made it. He had made it.
46. Having talked with Joe’s chaplain and him comforting me about Joe’s salvation and his assurance Joe was ready to go. This man was so faithful to Joe all those months.
47. The funeral attendant was very kind and compassionate to mom and me.
48. For my stepdad, who was with us, and who took care of my mother during those challenging times. I am so grateful to him. He is a rock.
49. God has worked all those things through a dying young man.
50. For my wonderful, loving daughter, whose smile yesterday, when I saw her, was worth it all. She’s so wonderful, and I’m so blessed to have her for a daughter.
51. Joe received his very own Bible from a family member.
52. Getting to apologize to some people for past mistakes.
To God, be the glory forever and ever! Amen!”
The Bible says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Fifty plus good things came out of one bad thing. Do you see the good that came out of a difficult situation?
Bridge to Grace is a reflection of our story. Joe’s story is a beautiful story and I couldn’t allow all God had done in our lives to be stuffed in a drawer somewhere, so I wrote it all down in hopes it would encourage others going through difficulties and remind them God is near.
When we are going through struggles, we need to keep a watchful eye on the good things happening around us as we go through them. Record these things, so you, too, will be able to go back several years later and be reminded of God’s faithfulness and presence in your life.
All those things above are pleasant reminders of what came out of a challenging time, and I don’t have to be sad, because God was clearly at work, and was with us. That is something to be praised, not depressed over. God is good all the time; we just have to open our eyes.
In His Service