march 18, 2012
joshua woke up in an extraordinarily good mood on this particular sunday morning. he woke up early, showered and then proceeded to try and wake me up by doing that thing where you throw a towel and whip it back real fast. he did this on the bed to get me up and for some reason it just made me laugh. i do not like to be woken up, especially before my alarm, but i'm so glad i reacted the way i did and got up with him. his smile was just beaming as he danced around getting dressed after his shower. it was like it was his birthday or something. it was contagious. i even commented on his extra chipper mood that early in the morning. He woke up before the sun and our 2 year old.
we were stoked that it would be the very first time we arrived at church to set up before anyone else. on the way over to church i remember saying, "wow this feels good. getting there early and not feeling rushed. like everything is falling into place instead of being forced." joshua replied with "this is how i want every sunday to be." then he made some silly remark about how it is always my fault we are late for church and this particular morning was of no change in his timeline, but that i got up early enough and wasn't "slow." i lovingly reminded him that i was in the car first ;)
we talked about a21 (awareness of human trafficking in the 21 century) and how he wanted to have a huge fundraiser at our cafe, "how art thou" sometime in august. he kept going on and on about having live music, food, beer and wine. basically a typical joshua event. over the top. never half- assed. he was talking so much, i was starting to think, "OK let's talk about something else besides how art thou etc." i felt the holy spirit living inside me hold my tongue and tell me to be slow to speak and quick to listen. a21 was obviously something joshua was passionate about (one of many topics) and if i had interrupted him it could have broken his spirit. or just changed the mood because of my disrespect and impatience. praise the lord i showed my husband respect and smiled and listened as he told me alllll of his ideas with excitement.
joshua was on mission to use the cafe in all kinds of ways that would glorify god. a21 just had a special place in his heart. he would think of our daughter hannah rae and not be able to stomach the thought of it happening to her. no surprise, but he also designed awesome t-shirts to sell and give back to a21 last year.
so we arrive and nobody is there. still can't believe we are there before our amazing early bird set up/breakdown team. we may or may not have been a little impressed with ourselves and our punctuality followed by efficiency at getting the cafe ready for kidscoast (children's church).
he helped me move our fridge like a sweet husband would do for any female requesting help, but did it with a smile for me because he was happy to provide assistance. he prepped the main cafe area and i continued to clean up the office so we could turn it in to a classroom by 9am. i was enjoying working beside him and serving our campus together. it was intimate. just the 2 of us and our 2 kids in our cafe that transforms into a church every sunday.
once people began arriving we got lots of funny looks as to why we were even there so early with a 6 week old and almost 2 year old. joshua loved being able to re-arrange and prep the cafe the way he wanted to that morning. we were both in such a good mood for that hour and i remember feeling "on top of it" and "prepared."
before round up our pastor, joey, mentioned we needed volunteers to put together our marketing signs for our easter services. we planned on handing them out to folks so they could place them throughout charleston. joshua took joey's request seriously and immediately began working on the signs like a keebler elf. i'll never forget when joey came up and jokingly poked at joshua's intense behavior to get all the signs done in time.
if something needed to be done, joshua would do it. love that about him. he would give the shirt off his back and offer the other cheek as it says in the bible. joshua was way more in tune with his mission in life, purpose and relationship with christ then i ever gave him credit for. I can look back with such a grateful heart, knowing i was blessed enough to be his wife and that god knitted our hearts together. even if it was for a short time. he showed me more of the kind of love christ has for us then i had ever understood before in my life.
as i got things together and prepped for the church service to start, joshua came up to me and wrapped his arm around in front of my face holding an iced latte with a sweet message. he knew i needed some caffeine and went to make us both one to sip on during the service. he always had the love language "gifts," which if any of you have studied before...people tend to exude the gifts that they themselves appreciate. with that said, joshua was always a sweet little "surpriser" and gift giver. my love language is acts of service, but i never complained that joshua always gave me his love language of gifts. it was always so thoughtful and appreciated on my end.
we sat together in the 9:00am service and held hands the whole time. his hands were bothering him so i offered to rub his hands for him. on any other day i'm sure i would have just settled for a sweet hand holding session. the lord knew better and encouraged me to show joshua as much love as i could that morning.
i had to leave close to the end of service to feed george. joshua came and found me, sat with me and asked me what i wanted to do that day after i got off work. he specifically said, "i want to do what you want to do today." my answer? go to the dog park with costa and have a picnic as a family with our dog and kids.
our usual routine was that after the first church service, joshua would take the kids home for a nap while i stayed and finished out my work day at church. i followed him and helped him get the kids in the car, got my purse and walked back towards the building after saying goodbye to joshua. as i walked away my body involuntarily turned around and caught eyes with joshua. it was like a slow motion movie scene with his arm and head out the window, his hair blowing and that huge joshua smile. we had a moment where our eyes just met and froze. looking back, i did in fact think, wow that seemed like a snap shot moment in life i would never forget. one of my friends brian was sitting by the door and i remember looking at him and smiling, thinking, my husband is so handsome and i love his smile and i can't wait to see him in a couple hours. brian later told me he witnessed that moment joshua and i had as we parted ways. i appreciated brian sharing this with me because your mind can play tricks on you. it validated that the snap shot moment was real. he saw it, watched me turn to see my husband for the last time on earth and joshua slowly drive away.
right about the time of the accident i was entering joshua's check for tithes that day. it was his very first official paycheck from our cafe, how art thou. in fact, it was his first pay check in 11 months after leaving his previous job at saic. my heart swelled when i realized he slipped that check in the tithe box. i remember telling michelle, who was counting with me, whose check i had just entered and that joshua really did give the lord his first. not to brag that he tithed. but that i was so lucky and proud to be married to a spiritual leader like joshua, who would give his first, knowing it didn't belong to him anyways. made me love him even more.
my dad was getting work done in the cafe after church and offered to drive me home. i explained that joshua was coming back to get me shortly and we would be going to the dog park.
"i'll just wait for him," i said.
i decided to give joshua a call just in case he was going to be a while and see if it would be easier for my dad to take me home. he had just finished skyping with his family back home in illinois and was leaving as soon as he could get the kids in the car. that was our last conversation.
shortly after i hung up the phone my dad left. i was alone. a random storm came through james island and it was pouring outside with incredibly loud thunder. i began hearing sirens.
i sat there in our cafe waiting for joshua. mom called to tell me that dad had to turn around. police had closed the roads because of a really bad accident. she kept saying, "it is really bad, they closed folly road." since dad couldn't get through, he was going to grab lunch and come back to the cafe, where i was still sitting by the window. i felt the need to cut our conversation short and call joshua.
in my mind i thought joshua had to be close and probably missed all the accident traffic. he left a while ago. i was thinking about the timing. if my dad had already gotten that close to home, then joshua would have been here by now. worry set in. i called him several times. not a surprise when he didn't answer the phone. he had a 6 week and 2 year old in the car. he probably had to stop somewhere. he was really late. i started texting him and leaving voicemails. i told him i loved him and i was worried because there was a really bad accident close to our house and he hadn't gotten to the cafe yet. looking back at my phone weeks later, when i was frantically calling and texting joshua, he had already been killed. i kept feeling this need to talk to him and tell him i loved him, but he had already died.
my dad arrived at the cafe with food and offered to share. i couldn't eat. everything felt wrong and dark. i kept staring out the window like a puppy. looking through the pouring rain for our silver SUV to pull up with my family in it. i began fidgeting and the same phrase went through my mind over and over, "you are not guaranteed tomorrow." why was i thinking that? you aren't guaranteed tomorrow. my body knew something terribly wrong happened but i wasn't wanting to accept it. pacing by the door now, i started to feel sick.
i knew my mom was starting to worry because nobody could get a hold of joshua and she kept calling my dad. then she decided to just walk down to my condo. she thought maybe joshua and the kids were still there. they weren't. ok so maybe they were stuck in the traffic. she was ready to drive and find them. dad and i thought that was silly because she would get nowhere in her car if the roads were closed. she was better off walking. mom got in her car anyways with some food and drinks for the kids to look for my car in the line of traffic. she knew that the kids would be starving. once she got as far as she could in her little prius, she parked and began walking. as she walked, people along the road were talking about what happened. rumors of fatalities, including an infant.
back at the cafe i looked up the news on my i phone and saw that the accident had already been reported by a local news station. the headline said "2 fatalities." i began to loose my senses and entered into a nightmare that i wouldn't be able to wake up from. i got sick.
mom kept walking up folly road and then saw the scene she feared, our stickers on the crushed car. there were tarps up, but as the wind blew from the storm, a piece of the blue tarp flew up. she saw joshua's body bag on the gurney. the police tried to keep her away from the scene as they exchanged questions and answers. the officer gave her a solemn look as she explained who she was looking for from the silver SUV. he realized she was in fact related.
she couldn't get concrete answers as to who survived. she called my dad and told him that it was my car in the accident and she didn't think joshua made it. my dad remained calm on our end of the phone call, not giving any false confirmation of what we feared. he only said we should call the hospital and see who has been recently admitted to the emergency room.