On Thursday of last week, my friend lost his battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS). My dad called to tell me. I spent most of the day weeping which both touched me and surprised me. His wife and I went to first grade together and were very close as children. We have stayed in touch over the years and while we are not very close as adults, we are still friends.
Two years ago, they came home from the mission field because Jesse was having some troubling symptoms. He was officially diagnosed with ALS. In April of 2007, they travelled to Costa Rica to undergo some experimental treatment involving stem cells. While it did bring a temporary slowing of the disease, it was no cure. They settled here in Washington and very soon he was wheelchair bound. When I last saw him in February, he could not even speak anymore but when I came through the door and when I left, he gave me a smile that filled the room.
In the last sermon I heard him preach from his wheelchair at our church, he talked about WHY? Whenever something like this happens, it is a very human tendency to ask why is this happening to me? He then went on to talk about how we need God's Wisdom, to have Humility and to Yield to God's will: W.H.Y. It was one of the sweetest and most touching sermons I have ever heard in my life. I am still amazed at Jesse's courage and his willingness to accept what had happened to him. Disease was never part of God's original plan for humanity but Jesse knew that God had a plan for him in spite of disease.
He leaves behind his wife and my childhood friend, Lisa. He also leaves behind four sons -- the youngest is 8 and the oldest is 16. My husband and I will be going to the graveside and memorial services on Saturday to remember this very remarkable man who is in heaven now.
I have not talked about my faith on this site before because I tend to be a bit private about matters of faith and belief. This doesn't mean it is trivial or unimportant to me. I know what I believe (Jesus loves me this I know) and why (for the Bible tells me so) and I also know that I will see Jesse again in heaven one day. In a time of loss, that knowledge is an amazing consolation.