A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
JOY IN THE MOURNING
The last time I saw Taylor
he was smiling.
It wasn’t a soft smile or a gentle smile. It was big and broad and joyful.
And why not? He was 14, he was handsome and he was
surrounded by pretty girls. What was not
to smile about?
OK, so maybe the girls were his cousins. And maybe he had spent all of his 14 years
battling heart disease and a series of illnesses and operations that had
limited his activity if not his attitude.
He was feeling great now. Beyond
great – he was feeling fabulous. Better
than he had ever felt in his life.
And so he was smiling. Enormously. Joyfully. Right from the bottom of his newly
Long-time readers of this column will likely
remember Taylor. About a year ago I wrote about his declining
health, and how his family was waiting and praying for a miracle to preserve
his life. (You can read the whole story at http://www.sfpnn.com/josephw/JoeW2006/vs020206.htm)
That miracle came in the form of a heart transplant, which combined the talent
and knowledge of skillful surgeons with Taylor’s
inherent strength and courage.
It was the perfect combination. Almost immediately Taylor
could feel a difference as his new heart pumped strong and true inside his
chest. Even during the healing process, as
painful and painstaking as it was, he told everyone who asked that he felt
better than he had ever felt. He
embraced his new health eagerly, and he savored and appreciated every energetic
Like the last day I saw him. It was just a few months after the
transplant, but there were no visible signs of caution or hesitancy on his
part. As I recall, he spent most of the
day skateboarding and playing games with his brothers and sisters and
cousins. Not once did I see him sit and
rest or struggle to keep up with the other young people as I had previously
seen him do. This was a day for fun and
activity, and he took advantage of it.
Fully. Happily. Joyfully.
At the end of the day there was a meeting during
which Taylor and his parents spoke
openly about their experiences of the previous few months. It was a rich and fulfilling session, filled
with laughter, tears and love. At the
end of the meeting all who were present knelt to give thanks to God for His
miraculous intervention in Taylor’s
life. As our family drove away from that
meeting I looked in the rear-view mirror.
That’s when I saw Taylor
standing there, surrounded by his cousins, laughing and smiling.
I haven’t been able to get that image out of my
mind ever since I found out that Taylor
passed away last night. As this is being
written we don’t know all of the reasons why – medically or spiritually. We just know that his passing was peaceful
and that there was a sweet feeling in the room as he died in his father’s arms.
Oh, and we know this: Taylor
had a miraculous year, filled with opportunities and events he never would have
experienced but for the wonders of medical science and the grace of God. And those of us who knew and loved Taylor
had an extra year to know and love him, and for that we are profoundly
I’m sure those feelings will be expressed when we
gather again in a few days to pay tribute to Taylor
and to celebrate his life. We’ll honor
his valiant struggles. We’ll exult in
the promise of a better life beyond this – for him and for all of us. But mostly we’ll remember the joy we felt
from him, and with him, and within him.
Especially when he smiled.
# # #
— © Joseph Walker
For more ValueSpeak, please visit http://www.sfpnn.com/joseph_walker1.htm
E-mail Joseph at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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