Posted by: jodyglynnpatrick | 12/14/2014

Our Children: Joshua Aaron Van

Joshuaatbeach2From his mother, Cynthia:

Joshua Aaron Van, born 12/29/1989, was murdered on February 17, 2014 at 6:38 pm. On the day that Joshua died, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He gave his life to save the life of his friend and the last words that he uttered on this earth were “I’m okay.” 

Our whole family is devastated by his tragic death and nothing will ever be the same without him.  It feels like someone has turned off the lights.

Joshua was a beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend. The first thing you noticed about Josh was his thousand-watt smile. He was warm, positive, and always happy to see you- and you knew it.

At a young age Josh accepted the Lord as his personal savior. He grew to be a young man of faith and discussing the Bible brought him great joy. There wasn’t a person he was unwilling to share God’s message with. At one point Josh wandered down a difficult path and found himself heading in the wrong direction, however he was beckoned back to the right path by his faith in God.

Growing up, Joshua was a prodigious child. He was well-studied and read everything he could get his hands on. Throughout school he participated in speech contests, AP classes, choir, and athletics. Not a day went by that you couldn’t hear him rapping or singing.

But above all he loved basketball. He was a youth league star who earned the respect of his coaches and teammates alike. A defining moment was when he played at the world famous Rucker Park. 

If you would like to honor your child’s memory on this site, please email the material you would like to post to Jody at jgp@glynnpatrick.com.

Posted by: jodyglynnpatrick | 12/13/2014

Endurance: living with the impossible — a child’s death.

broke heartYou didn’t train for this marathon. In fact, you hate it… this living day to day when your child is no longer living. The way forward is dark, dangerous and unpredictable. While other people walk in sunshine and bliss, you walk on glass in the dark, trying to anticipate the crevices that will cause you to stumble – the next time someone asks how your (recently departed) daughter or son is doing, the next time your partner suggests it’s time to clean out a room or pack away possessions, the next time a friend suggests getting dressed for an evening out, the next time you wake up to no one else in the house, or pick up a phone that won’t be answered today.

When a child is hurting, we know what to do – we give them a shoulder to lean on, a kiss, a doctor, a safe place to be. When we hurt, we need those same things, but it feels selfish to seek it out or, if you do, perhaps others who have provided that support for a while now think they would be a greater help by insisting you move on, stand on your own feet again, or “deal with it in a healthier way.”

Does your heart agree? Do you feel that I understand your feelings here?

No sermon; merely an observation.

People of faith may find a shoulder to lean on in their belief of a higher power. I’m not pushing any religion at all, only saying that faith in a greater power implies that your deceased child is at peace, guarded, loved elsewhere, and some followers will find some small measure of relief in that. Or, if that angers us even more (“Why would a loving God deny ME the right to shelter, love and guard my own child?”), then perhaps we may find that our faith can give us the strength or foundation to endure the unendurable — the unfair and unmerciful events in our life — because God will hold us up. This is the “one set of footprints” doctrine, and I relied on it heavily in the past and did, indeed, find some comfort there on my darkest days.

My own faith suggests that God did not have a covenant with us to remove sorrow or prevent pain or death or illness or famine from the earth. The covenant was to be present in our time of suffering, should we seek God out, and to offer balm and a heavenly home to the one taken from us. God offered the promise of everlasting life though, dammit, on another plane of existence. That belief gave me the ability to hold steady to my faith after my son’s death. While it was a very tenuous string, sometimes nearly invisible and stretched out of all proportion, I guess over time it was sufficient, as today I am able to live a life which incorporates both Daniel’s memory, the belief in an eventual reunion, and joy again.

No religious strings attached here, however.

In your pain, you may want to believe that your grief is deeper, that you must have loved your child more than I loved my son, if I could actually enjoy living a “new normal” after the tragedy, but that is not true. I am just further up the road, looking back, encouraging you forward. You can find your way. I, and others like me, are here to help shine light on your path. And that light is simply this message: You can endure. If you can’t find any grace or peace or comfort in faith at this moment, please do see the shoulder we offer. We are here, not to convert or even to witness – only to help without any religious or philosophical strings attached. Some have deep faith, others have a weak grasp of faith, and others are atheists or taking a break at the moment from any affiliation. It doesn’t matter to me, frankly. As a greater community, we are simply here because we care about your journey and we understand the unimaginable pain of losing a child. We, too, have suffered this great trauma.

Stay with us, if only because it is true that yes, misery does love company. That’s probably why you first reached out — to find someone who truly understood your pain and sorrow because they have experienced what it feels like to lose a child, too. But hearts also crave hope, and we can help you bridge the pain eventually. You don’t have to believe that now, but stay with us awhile. Read the other blogs. Understand that this is your community and we welcome you, bruised and battered, heartsick or angry, regardless of the number of years it’s been since the separation, or the age of the beloved child you lost. We are here.

Today, let that be enough to know and accept.

Posted by: jodyglynnpatrick | 12/04/2014

Our Children: Matthew James Webster, 31

Matthew James

Matthew James Webster

Kailua Kona, Hawaii (March 2, 2009) Premier Guitar is saddened to learn that Matthew James “Matt Blaze” Webster of Kailua Kona, Hawaii has lost his battle with addiction at age 31.

Born January 22, 1978, Matt was the only child of legendary guitar builder Buddy Blaze and his wife Joyce. Along with his parents, Matt was a resident of Kona for the past three years where he often helped Buddy and Joyce construct their instruments. Previous to moving to Hawaii’s Big Island, Matt lived in Visalia, California. Matt is survived by his parents and his eight-year-old son Evan Zachary Webster, the namesake of the Evanator guitar built by Buddy.

Webster had battled substance abuse problems for several years but had been making progress in recent months. Well-known and well-liked in the tight-knit community of guitar builders and players, Webster’s death came as a shock to the musicians whom he had befriended over the years.

That was an obituary, a summation in 100 words or so of a young father’s life, but it doesn’t express how Matthew’s father felt when he found him collapsed in the bathroom in their home, where Matt had come after another attempt to detox. It doesn’t express how deeply the parents and Matthew’s young child grieved. The rest of the family rallied around Buddy and Joyce and then they went back home and Buddy and Joyce continued wondering why, why, why… and how they could go on. I know this because cousin Buddy called me for answers, wanting a mentor in the art of grief. All I could say was that he could and would do it, day by day, sometimes second by second, not because he wanted to, but because he needed to for his grandson — Matt would never have wanted anyone to suffer as they were — and to remain present for his wife.

Matt traveled with many legendary bands, primarily thanks to his father’s work in the industry with rockers such as Stevie Nicks and others. That was a bond they shared and memories that will last Buddy’s lifetime. But my heart goes out to both Buddy and Joyce, as they rebuild their lives now in Texas, and so I post this in honor of Matthew in celebration of the rest of the story — of his laughter and generous spirit and talent — for my cousin Buddy, in remembrance of his only child.  jody

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