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Saturday, February 14, 2015

LET'S SHINE SOME VALENTINE'S LOVE AND "LOVE" IN MEMORY OF ANDREW....

Andrew's Friend Supported him by shaving their hair!


Greetings Dearest Family and Friends of Our Dearly Departed Andrew!

This is the late Andrew Park’s father, Joe Park.  It’s been a long two and a half years since my beloved Andrew passed.  For my family and me, life has been challenging since Andrew left us.  However, one thing that keeps us going is to “Let Our Little Light Shine” in memory of Andrew.  At Andrew’s celebration service, we played a photomontage of Drew accompanied by the song “This Little Light” by Addison Rose.  I chose this song, because it best represented how Andrew lived his life: Letting his “little light” shine. And this is what my family and I are trying to do, do our very best in whatever endeavor we are currently in despite our grief.
            One way I have tried to keep my light shining is by trying to raise money to find cures for cancers, in particular The Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk to fund research to find cures for blood cancers.  This year I have decided to fundraise for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, who raises money to help fund research to find cures for pediatric cancers!
            Andrew and his wonderful legacy are not the only gigantic reasons why I have decided to support St. Baldrick's. The amazing fact is that I currently student teach a boy named Ryan C., who had a brother named Dominic who also passed away from pediatric cancer. Another incredible fact is that Dominic and Andrew's paths crossed as they were in chemotherapy together at Children's Memorial.  I don't know if this is a sign, but if it is, it has squarely hit me in the face! Many of the students who I am student teaching in Ms. Spitzner's class will be participating to honor Ryan's brother.  We are fundraising under: Do It For Dominic. 

Many of you know I switched vocations to teaching large in part to honor my late son and the fact that one of Andrew's chemo colleague's brother is in my classroom is nothing short of incredible! A HUGE SIGN! I can see Dominic and Andrew grinning ear to ear right now!
            I have been part of an incredible wave of magnanimous giving over the past few years in honor of Andrew and I am beyond grateful. I am humbled and overjoyed at the love for Andrew and our family through your amazing generosity. I ask you to consider continuing this wave of love and consider giving whatever you can to honor Andrew and Dominic.
            To be perfectly transparent, cancer has rocked me and my family's world in a way that cannot be explained. Cancer is HORRIBLE AND DARK. No one should lose a loved one to pediatric cancer, especially parents. However, I know WE can make a lasting impact by giving in this small tangible way. As Andrew's "little light" shined and continues to shine, may we let our light shine as well. By the way, I am SHAVING my head for this event! 

FOR THE LINK TO ST. BALDRICK'S Press HERE!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Let's keep Andrew's and Dominic's light shinning.
Truly Yours,

Joe  Park

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Another Father's Day......




Hi Everyone.  It has been a while since I last posted.  Life has been busy with school and work.  I am out for summer break from Ogden, but I am teaching summer school for 6 weeks.  As far as Trinity and the teaching certification, there is light at the end of tunnel, as student teaching will soon be upon me in January.  Classes are going well and I will have my first real break from school after this Wednesday's class, having two weeks off!  

Well, as the title of this post reads, I will be celebrating another Father's Day without Andrew:-( In fact, Andrew's two year anniversary of his death will be upon us this June 30th! Two years!!! I can't believe it:-(  I miss him dearly and that is a total understatement.  How am I doing with the grief?  I suppose I am doing well, but it amazes me that there are some people out there that don't understand what grief is, how it affects a person, and how it will for the rest of their life.  You just "don't move on"!  Grief and it's process is analogous to a hole in a heart that gradually closes, but never closes completely.  The nature of grief is as such; you will live with it for the rest of your life.  It has become an unwelcome partner as I sojourn this earth.  This is my "new" normal and I don't pretend to ignore it, for I know this is a never ending process. So I have reluctantly embraced it, embraced it from the beginning, and I know that because of this I am in a much better better place.

I am so grateful to God that I have had more better day than bad.  However, I still cry everyday, some days being worse than others.  As I have explained before, the grieving process is not linear and the various facets of grief may creep back in one's life at anytime, no matter where you are in the process and how far you are removed from the traumatic experience.  In fact, I struggled with immense anger that made a surprise appearance  a few months ago, which lasted for a month or so.  I am not sure what ignited the flames of anger, but I struggled with God and why He would allow my son to leave me and his loved ones.  I pounded fists into pillows and the ground, crying in anger in sadness, all the while asking why!  I won't get into the theological reminders of God's sovereignty, but all I can say is that God gave me a modicum of peace, reminding me that I will be reunited with Andrew soon in heaven.  

As a father, I have been reminded a lot of Andrew and how I loved being his father.  Every time I see the White Sox on t.v., I can't help but think of Andrew and how we bonded through sports.  Andrew was not the most verbose young man, but you knew when he was enjoying time with his pops.  That's what Andrew was about, he loved spending quality time with people, especially his dad.  As I sit in my recliner watching t.v., I often times look back at the empty comfy couch where Andrew would be firmly anchored watching t.v. with me and say, "How 'bout that Drew!"  And I imagine him quickly firing a wide grin right back at me.  I miss the little things that Andrew and I would do.  I miss camping with Andrew and looking up at the stars.  I miss his laugh and his big bear hugs.  I miss him being goofy around his family.  I miss his infectious wide smile where his eyes would dissolve into jovial little slits.  



I just plain and simple I MISS HIM BEING AROUND AND ME BEING HIS DAD!!!!  As I have said before, I would give all the blessings Andrew and our family have given to people throughout our journey back, to have Andrew back in my life!  

I wish I could be more of an encouragement and give you some wonderful Bible verse to encourage you all, but I can't at this moment.  God's love and his grace are so ever magnanimous, but I don't feel them at this moment, rather I feel the sharp pieces of shrapnel from grief in my fragile heart.  Yes, I will enjoy my time with Emily and Bry on Father's Day, but something is missing and that something will never ever be abled to be replaced. So, I am resigned to the fact Father's Day will not be same ever again.  I have come to grips with this sobering reality, but I mourn it.  

Thank you for those that continue to pray for me and my family.  They are greatly appreciated.  While we are on the topic of prayer, there are some urgent prayer requests I have.  I posted a few month about a little girl named Ava Lee who is battling a form of Leukemia.  She is a very sick girl who is undergoing chemo.  The chemo protocol has had it's trials and tribulations, as Ava has had a severe allergic reaction to a drug in the protocol and a crucial one to eradicate the cancer.  I ask that you pray that the next bone marrow biopsy would show completer remission with no cancer cells in the bone marrow.  Here a list of prayer requests that are on Ava's blog:

Please pray for:
1) Ava's complete healing; MRD negative (permanently!)
2) Gwen and her allergies - may God bring revelation and insight and healing to Gwen as well
3) Mike & Esther, for overall strength, perseverance and REST all at the same time.
4) Anything else you have on your heart to pray for.

Please goto there blog for details and to read up on Ava's journey thus far:

I hate cancer and it's insidious nature! I pray for a day where all pediatric cancer is eradicated, not to mention all cancers!  Please pray to our Lord, that His mighty hand will be on Ava and her family.  Thanks!.

Andrew,

Daddy misses you so much!  Last week there was to be a spectacular meteor shower and I ended up staying up late into to the night waiting in anticipation. The copious amount of "shooting stars" forecasted never came to fruition, but something special happened.  The only "shooting star" I saw was one that streaked across the sky and went directly into the "Big Dipper"!  I thought that was a wink at me, was it?  I want to believe it was.  I could imagine you in exuberant glee, asking Jesus to shoot that star into "Our Big Dipper":-)  I can see your big smile and you jumping up and down asking for the favor.  Well, son,  I can say that the hours of waiting was worth it.  I miss you dearly!  Can you see Dad? Anyway, I am glad you are healthy and in eternal bliss!  I know because you loved and acknowledged Christ on this Earth, you are in heaven fellowshipping with believers that went before you and ones that you continue to meet.  I love son, rest on glory's side and as each day goes by, it's one day closer to seeing you again.  

Love, 
Dad xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoox

Friday, March 14, 2014

Calling All of Andrew's Army!!!! NEED HELP!

Hi everyone!  It's been over 6 months since I have blogged last and to be quite honest, I have been contemplating shutting this blog down.  Things are going well as they can be in my "new normal" without my beloved Andrew.  I continue with school for my teaching certification and there is some light at the end of the tunnel with my student teaching in the not too distant future.  The kids at Ogden School continue to keep me busy and focused.  I am grateful for this job and it has been a godsend.

I am writing to you today, because I just received an email from a person I have never met before, but  has supported our family in prayer by praying for Andrew and helped in a bone marrow drive at her church where her husband Mike is a pastor.  She has a child that has been just diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.  Her name is Esther Lee and her beautiful daughter is Ava.  Ava is currently at Lurie's Children's receiving chemo and care.  In the past year, I have received news of three children who have been diagnosed with pediatric cancer, two of them leukemia.  My heart aches and breaks for these children and their families.
Beautiful Ava Lee at Children's
Ava has a rare form of leukemia, where a b.m.t. (bone marrow transplant) will most likely be needed survive.  If you recall when Andrew needed a bone marrow match, I informed you all how woefully underrepresented Asians are on the national bone marrow registry!  It is almost sickening.  The process to be a potential donor takes only a few minutes and it could very well save a life.  I am not only calling all Koreans and Asians to take the test, but all my "brothers and sisters" of all races to get tested and potentially "Be the Match".  It is so ridiculously easy.  Here is the site where you can order a test, which consists of swabs to be swabbed inside your mouth and simply be mailed back in, to be a potential life saver: Press here!  The site is Bethematch.org if there are any issues with the link.

I ask not only do you get off your butts to take the test, but to lift up the Lee Family in prayer. Please lift up Ava and that God would fully heal her.  Here is the blog for Ava( press here) so you can have some more context of her plight.  I beg you to pray and to get tested.  Many of you have asked since Andrew has died what you could do. Well,  the aforementioned is what I am pleading you to do.  Thanks.

Please also pray for the other two children who are battling pediatric cancer:

Sophie Cho:  Her blog: press here!

Ella Joy Won:  Her blog:  press here!

Finally, I know Andrew is calling from heaven and asking you all the same things I am.  I know all of you who are part of Andrew's Army would want to honor Andrew in taking these small practical steps to help out God's children.  Please look out for posts with info on future bone marrow drives!



XO,
Joe

Monday, October 14, 2013

March with us? Andrew's Army Live On!

The final time we walked as Andrew's Army with Andrew:-
Andrew's Army without our departed Andrew.

Dear Friend and Family.

I am writing today to discuss a very important event that is near and dear to my heart: 
The Leukemia Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk to raise money for cancer research and to make cancer patient's lives more comfortable, fighting this insidious disease.  
As many are aware, we started walking as Andrew's Army three years ago, but it was with a heavy heart that we walked last year without Andrew:-(  I was so devastated last year, so much so, I could not walk, but still fundraised.  During the short walk, walkers carry one of three colored balloons:  Red for supporter or a loved one, White for survivor and Gold in memory of a lost loved one.  Well, we walk this year with Gold colored balloons in memory of my Andrew.There are still moments where for an instant, I can't believe he is gone!  But the stark reality is that he has passed away.  

As you know, since Andrew's passing, the journey has been arduous to say the least, but there has been things put in my life to give me a reason to live and press on: my kids, my job at Ogden School and the wonderful children and staff there, my pursuit of a teaching certification, and causes like Light the Night.  With that being said, I am asking you to consider donating whatever you can to the LLS in honor and memory of Andrew.  I am asking for those that are not part of Andrew's Army to join the troop to help a worthy cause.  We have raised over $20,000 the past three years and we hope to add a substantial amount this week, as we walk this Saturday in Grant Park in Chicago.  Furthermore, Andrew has been chosen to be honored by having the V.I.P tent (access is for top individual fundraisers) named after him and the names of top fundraisers are posted prominently in the tent and I thank everyone who has donated in the past!! Wouldn't it be great and apropos to have Andrew's Army on that sign?!?  

I take great pride in honoring my son in tangible ways like the Light the Night.  It not only honors my departed son, but keeps his memory alive.  I must tell you the truth, I worry and get sad that Andrew's memory is fading.  I am downtrodden when life goes on all around me and Andrew's name is slowly fading in people's memories.  Please keep Andrew's memory alive with a donation of any size, it would mean the world to me!

When you get a chance, please goto to my fundraising page,  press here, and read more about the cause.  Won't you be a part of Andrew's Army?

On a sad note,  another alumnus of Hinsdale Central's class of 2013 has been lost: Abbey Bott.  She enrolled at Indiana University this fall.  As I can relate too well with a death of my son, please pray for Abbey's mom and her family she left behind.  Even though I lost a child like Abbey's mom, I can't relate fully what is going on with her.  All I know is that my heart goes out to her as she is mired in immense pain.  Furthermore, not only remember Andrew often, but pray for me and my family as we journey without our son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin.  Hinsdale has lost two shining stars!  

Again, please give whatever you can in memory of Andrew and be a part of Andrew's Army, which has picked up the pieces and marches on.  Just simply press here, to join the ranks!  Thank you from the depths of my heart.  Blessings and peace!

Joe Park
Super Dad in Champion of Andrew's Army
Chief Advocate Superhero for Andrew's Army!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Surviving and Letting Go.

Wow, it's been almost three months since I have written. Why so long?  I think it's due to many things; trying to enjoy the end of the summer, school starting again, work starting and just being too mentally tired to write on a blog that reminds me that Andrew is indeed dead.

Some of you may be wondering how our family and I are fairing.  I will try to give you the abridged version. Jennifer has been busy with nursing school all summer.  She may have gotten a few weeks break, but other than that, Jenn is busy focusing on being a mom and trying to achieve her goal of becoming some type of pediatric nurse in honor of our dearly departed son.
Emily had a busy summer with softball and she ended a successful season in Maryland for nationals where her Blazers team finished in the top 8 of 55+ teams.  Emily has started her sophomore year and she stays busy with cheer, clubs and academics.  She seems to excel when she stays busy.  
Bry had a fun summer, finishing it by staying in Norther Virginia with her beloved cousins, aunts and uncles for a couple weeks.  She has started middle school and she is having a good time.  

Me, I have had better days than bad.  Thank God!  I remember this time last year and the utter depression, despair and pain that consumed my life.  I still cry everyday, but the severity and duration is not nearly as painful or long.  I realized the things that get me by everyday and are great for my soul are: my immediate and extended family, my close guy friends, my wonderful cohort family at Trinity, my softball family, my colleagues my job at Ogden School and others who make me smile and laugh. They all accept me for who I am.

I titled this blog Surviving and Letting Go.  The surviving is self explanatory, but the "letting go" is what I would like to expound on.  I have explained I am doing much better, but my grief has ramped up a bit the past month or so.  Remember, grief is non-discriminate of when it will come back and to what severity.  What triggered this escalation of grief?  Around this time last month, most of Andrew's friends and classmates made their vigils, with their parents, to go to their colleges and universities.  Andrew was suppose to be one of those young adults.  It was suppose to be Jennifer, Andrew and I going to Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target or other stores to get "dorm stuff" and all the accoutrements associated with life at college. It was suppose to me loading up the car, in frustration, trying to stuff every last piece of stuff in for the road trip to school.  It was suppose to me and Jenn "letting go" and saying bye to our oldest as we left him and as he started his next chapter in life. 

I am reminded constantly of Andrew and what was suppose to be, everyday.  I see Andrew's friends parents and my friends and family who have kids going to college on Facebook, as they post how they are sad or joyful that they dropped off their kids at school. But the reality is my son is dead and I won't have those "first" with my Andrew and not "let go" in the way I thought I would have.  Sure, I am grateful Andrew is not suffering anymore and he is in heaven, fully restored and in the presence of Jesus, but I human and I grieve.  I have been blessed to get messages from some of Andrew's friends before they went off to school.  It was nice to hear from them as I often times wonder if Andrew is being forgotten.  Life all around me is going on and many have moved on from Andrew's death, but I still am mired in the reality Andrew is gone.  

I know my "letting go" was vastly different.  I let Andrew go, to see him rest in his permanent home...Heaven.  He believed in what Jesus Christ did on the cross with his "mustard seed" of faith and went home.  I am not sure if you remember, but the last time Andrew communicated with me was when the ventilator was turned off and Andrew was ready to pass and I told him to go to Jesus and he nodded yes and then passed away.  I know I will be reunited with him some day, but I have a purpose here on earth that God wants me to carry out and that's what is keeping me sane and keeping me going, as I long for Andrew.  So, I work at a wonderful school named Ogden School, surrounded by elementary school children and an outstanding staff.  I work with my utmost in honor of Andrew, and let those kids feed my weary soul as I serve them.  I survive because I have a purpose and a passion.  A purpose to use my gifts to glorify God and touch the lives of others in memory of my son and those lives happen to be children.  I press on.  

I am about to share with you something very special to me.  This past summer I went into Hinsdale Central to get Andrew's honorary diploma, I ran into Bill Walsh, vice principal, who gave me a letter, which was kept by Andrew's counselor since he was a freshman.  The letter was written by all freshman, where they answered questions about how freshman year had been going and their future hopes and dreams and was to be open upon graduation.  Holding that letter made me so emotional, I couldn't breathe.  What was inside it?  Andrew wrote of his freshman year to that point, his future plans and dreams, but the last sentence really tore me up: "I wonder what I will be like in the future?"
I will answer the question for my son. He became a "light" to so many people.  He was and will forever be a blessing to so many.  
As I have grieved a bit more the past month, I have often times thought about Andrew's last sentence of that letter.  I wish he could have been here to enjoy school, meeting new friends and experiencing new things, but it won't happen here on earth.  His future is in eternity and that's where he is.

Fyi, I was looking for anything hand written by Andrew to make into a tattoo 
and I finally got this in his letter to make it happen!  

Many of you know that our family and friends have participated in the Leukemia Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Light the Night Walk campaign to raise fund for cancer research the past 3 years. Andrew walked two of the walks and last year we sadly walked without him.  Along the way, we have raised over $20,000 for the LLS in hopes to find a cure and make lives more comfortable who fight this terrible disease.  We will walk again this year in Grant Park on October 19th.  I have set a lofty goal of $20,000 this year and I simply ask you consider donating whatever you can.  I know many of you get inundated with requests to give, but I ask in light of your relationship and association with Andrew and our family you consider giving to this worthwhile organization.  We not only ask you to donate, but to walk with us as well.  The Chicago LLS has honored Andrew this year by naming the v.i.p. tent in his honor!  We have been privileged the past three years as Andrews Army to be vip's by being top fundraisers.  I know many of you have wondered how you could honor Andrew. This event is a very practical way to do that.
Please help in honoring with a donation:-)  
To view my page for Light the Night, please goto:
http://pages.lightthenight.org/il/ChicagoL13/JPark or press here


Our last walk with Andrew (2011)


I ask you continue to pray for me and my family as we navigate the grief and the surprises of life.  But I have a very special prayer request.  Jennifer's brother-in-law, Jae, who is Jennifer's sister's husband, has been recently diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma and is undergoing care at John Hopkins in Maryland.  I ask you pray for a complete recovery, strength as he endures the harsh treatment and for his family.  Leukemia/lymphoma has and is a big part of my life and I dream of day where this insidious disease will be cured forever!  

If you would like to send an email, please contact me at:
josephp102@me.com

Andrew's Father and Forever I Will Be,
Joe
xoxoxo

Friday, June 28, 2013

A YEAR GONE BY.......


I don't have the energy nor the compulsion to write much, but I will share a few words as the anniversary of Andrew's death is this Sunday.  

I can't believe it sometimes that Andrew is really dead!  It is so surreal at times, but the surreality is so closely juxtaposed with the stark reality of Andrew not being here with us.  Words are so inadequate in explaining how I have feel and felt, only a parent with a lost child can only understand, even then their grief is unique until themselves.  But a good metaphor of how I feel at times during a typical day is like boat being anchored and not being able to move, my heart feels "anchored" and I feel like I can't move or breathe.  Anger crept up again right around prom and graduation.  I recall going off on a diatribe asking God why!  Why did he decide to save one person and not Andrew.  With a "click" of his fingers, my dear son could have been here to enjoy prom and to graduate with his classmates.  I cursed and yelled at times being so frustrated and mad.  Some of you may be thinking that is so un-christian like.  Well, let me tell you something, God understands.  He can take it all.  I am grateful my anger is not mixed with the bitterness.  It's an anger which has to play it's course on this lonely and sad journey. And I have reconciled the fact I will never know fully why God chose to take Andrew "home" so early.  I must admit, God can take the numerous blessings, encouragement and love Andrew's life has given to others and I would trade all that to Andrew back!

On this Sunday, the anniversary of Andrew's death we will not do anything "special", no balloons, special services, or anything extravagant,  rather we will share a meal as a family and enjoy each other's company, remembering our beloved and missed Andrew.  That's what Andrew enjoyed the most:  Food and Family.  He was a simple kid and he indeed loved his family and food;-) I will blog about grief and share some of my insights I have gained along this process later, but for now, I leave you with some pictures and a special poem.  Please continue to pray for Jennifer, Emily, Bry, myself and the rest of our grieving family. Please pray for my mom, Andrew's beloved "halmunee" (grandmother in Korean) who is especially taking her grandson's death hard. 
 I encourage you to leave a comment.  If you are reading on this your email, you must goto the actual blog on your phone, tablet or computer to leave a comment.  The comments left really minister to my soul.  You can also email me at josephp101@yahoo.com.

XOXOXO.
Joe
Andrew's classmates honoring their beloved classmate with AP initials on their caps
Emily accepting a degree on behalf of her brother and Andrew's classmates
and the whole audience giving Andrew a standing ovation.

Andrew's best buddies always gracious and loving. They miss you Drew!



Feelings: Raw and True




A year has gone by, so fast it really seems
But I’m still encumbered by shattered dreams

My heart is so heavy, angry and blue
To these abhorred emotions I can only say, “I HATE YOU!”

This process of grief is so lonely and sad
Causing me heartache and making me utterly mad!

Andrew “My Champ”, the journey to heaven seems so far away
But I must cling to the hope I’ll see you one day

Until then, I struggle with my faith and hang by a thread
I will try to trust and obey because that’s what God said

On this one-year anniversary my emotions run deep, my departed son and friend
But I cling to the promise of what Christ did, this world a comma, not a period nor end

Words are so inadequate about how I miss you Son!
I will miss you and love you until my life here on earth is done.

I LOVE YOU!
Dad


Monday, May 20, 2013

THE "MERRY GO ROUND"

An extremely emotional moment taking prom pics with Andrew's friends:-)
It's been almost two months since I have blogged. Andrew's one year anniversary of his passing is right around the corner, June 30th.  Life has been filled with grief, albeit less severe as months past, work and just trying to survive.  However, as the the title of the blog post says, grief is a merry go round and some components of grief are back.  As I mentioned, grief is not linear and for those that have not grieved in any fashion, the various facets of grief come and go as they please: shock, depression, anger, sadness, frustration.

The anger and questioning has come back with a vengeance.  About a month ago, I was washing dishes and I started a conversation, more like a rant, with God and I just simply said to Him, "Why?".  God could have with a snap of his finger healed Andrew, yet he chose to take my son "home".  Why does God heal certain individuals and not others?  I know some questions will not be answered here on earth.  That night started a precipitous slide into anger and now has transitioned into deep sadness.  Don't get me wrong, I still believe with my "mustard seed" of faith the sovereignty of God and how everything happens for a reason, but I got to tell you, that the seed of faith looks awfully small at times.  Yet, I know my God is big enough to handle whatever Joe Park dishes out.  I learned this valuable lesson a while back.  I always thought being angry at God and raising a fist toward Him was sinful, but on the contrary I think it shows grace at it's fullest.  I know I am a sinner, yet saved by the blood of Christ and the grace that comes with it.  I will have sinful tendencies until my body will be whole as I go "home" to God, just like Andrew.  God is god who does not frown on His children venting, yet is a forgiving God and a God who wants a personal and loving relationship with His children, no matter what state we are in.  Some see prayer as a person reverently bowing their head and hands folded, uttering Psalms, but prayer is not only that, but a personal thing: a communication with God in any shape, way or form.  I do have days when I get on my knees and close my eyes to pray, but there have been many more days where I just talk to him wherever and whenever I want, in adoration or indignation.
My sincere hope is that Christians and those who are seeking God to know this fact.  God is gracious enough to hear whatever we say.  

This month has been hard as I have said.  Prom just passed and graduation is in a few days and these are the events which have stirred up the grief and the pain of not having Andrew around.  It was suppose to be Andrew I was to take pictures with at prom.  It was suppose to be Andrew in the cap and gown walking down the aisle to graduate and to mark a new chapter in his life, but this was not meant to be.  I have thought about all the things I will not be able to experience, that most parents will: the first ride to college, meeting a first love, marriage and grandchildren, among so many other things people take for granted.  I see all the pictures of Andrew's friends and the soon to be graduates going to the beach on "senior ditch day" and prom and I sit with a gaping hole in my heart.  My friends, my heart aches!  Jennifer's heart aches and we miss him a lot these days.  I can hear some of you say that Andrew's in a better place and he is pain free and eternally joyful, but I got to tell you the truth:  I DON'T WANT TO HEAR THAT!  I know all that!  I know people mean well, but that's not what a grieving person needs to hear.  As a Christian, I "know' these realities,  nonetheless, the grief is real and severe.  I know Andrew blessed so many people in our community and some people's lives were so profoundly effected, I hear amazing stories on what Andrew's life has meant and means to them.  We had almost 1.000 people come to his memorial,  but I would trade all that to have him back.  I ask for your prayers, thoughts, comments, emails and calls.  I really need them!  I  know I am grieving in a healthy manner, but please pray my anger does not turn into bitterness.
Graduation is May 30th and Andrew' friend, Tanner Makris has been so gracious in making stickers which have the intials "AP" in orange lettering symbolizing Leukemia awareness to be put on all the graduates caps.  He also has arranged a empty seat to represent Andrew, a moment of silence, and reading of his name, so he can graduate in spirit with the class of 2013.  I have not decided whether to go or not.  Please, please. please pray for me, Jennifer, Yun, Emily and Bry during this difficult season.

I know things are starting to "get better" by the virtue of me willing to help others out who are grieving and going through similar trials I did with Andrew.  With that being said, I got wind of a couple, Jason and Jeannie Cho, who are caring for their daughter beautiful young daughter Sophie, who is fighting pediatric brain cancer.  I am attaching a link to their blog for Sophie.  Please blanket them in prayer! To go to their blog,  press here. 

I know God is big enough to handle my anger and sadness and I thank you for taking the time to read this entry and to also pray for me and my family.  God bless.  Until next time.  xoxo

Joe