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Friday, June 29, 2012

GOODBYES...............

FRIDAY JUNE 29 (9:30PM)

I hope you can understand why I haven't blogged in the last few days.  I am sitting here in the room alone with Andrew as he is heavily sedated and on his last leg of his journey here on earth.  The past few days have been an extremely emotional and physically draining.  Relatives have started coming in from all over the country.  Yesterday, Uncle Chan Soo, Aunties Jeannie and Cindy came in from the west coast.  And of course my brother and Andrew's favorite, Uncle Albert and Auntie Jennifer and cousin Margot came in as well.  Many tears were shed as they said there final hellos and goodbyes.

Today, was the toughest day.  This morning Jennifer and I had the difficult task, that no parent should have to say to their children, to tell Andrew there is nothing else the doctors can do and that he is dying.
Andrew was semi lucid and opened his eyes ever so slowly to hear us.  We asked if he understood the situation and whether he knew he would go into the arms of Jesus as passes from this ever so temporary earth and go into eternal glory with God.  He nodded yes.  We knew going into transplant that Andrew had given his life to Jesus Christ and understood what John 3:16 says in the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus Christ), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.    


Andrew understood where he was going.  He may not have had a lifetime to grow in his faith, but he acted out his faith in so many ways!  I will elude to this later.
We later asked if he was scared and he nodded and told him to not be.  We told him Jesus is waiting with open arms and he would be smiling in his perfect body glorifying God in eternity!  We told him not to hold on for us and that his family would be okay.  We told him we didn't want him to suffer and that it was okay to goto Jesus.  He nodded!


Andrew was being so brave as he tried to hold off more pain meds to stay somewhat lucid to "see" his friends and family.  That's what kind of strong boy he is!  Jenn and I believe he has hung on so far because of others!  With that being said, he had his Hinsdale Central boys come by: Ryan, Cameron, Andy, Marc,  Jonathon and Ritchie.  The next thing that happened blew me away!!!  We told Andrew his friend from Central were here and from his eyes being closed, HIS EYES FLEW WIDE OPEN AND HE SMILED!!!  HE HASN'T SHOWN ANY EMOTIONS BUT PAIN ON HIS FACE THE PAST MONTH IN ICU AND HE SMILED TODAY!!!!!  
Andrew smiling at his friends!


The emotion was palpable and real.  The tears shed for Andrew were of sadness because they were losing a selfless and wonderful friend.  I eluded to Andrew's faith played out in his actions, well we heard the stories of Andrew helping others and making people smile.  As a father, I am so happy to hear the impact he had on others!  It's been unbelievable the testimonies about Andrew making others smile, feel comfortable and just helping others out!  If you look closely at Andrew's chest in the picture, it is the medal Ryan (his best friend and part of the Park Family) won in his huge regional soccer tournament, which was dedicated to Andrew before the tournament!  The energy required to keep his eyes open and smile for the guys, considering he is heavily sedated and medicated, is incredible.  He also tried lifting his head to greet them!  I explained to the boys, although they are sad for Andrew's imminent passing, that Andrew knows where he is going, into the arms of Jesus.  I told them regardless of their religious beliefs, my hope would they would find the peace and grace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ.  It was wonderful as we joined hands and prayed in Jesus Name Andrew would be at peace and comfort, void of fear and worry.  


The next surprise came when Andrew woke back up after the boys left and looked at me.  I asked Andrew for a kiss and he puckered up, I kissed him and he SMILED AT ME!!!!!!  I will never forget that kiss and smile.  It was as if Andrew was saying Dad, it's okay, I will be okay.  He proceeded to pucker up for Grandma and Grandpa, Jennifer, Yun and his sisters.  He was so cute as he lied  there with his lips all ready to smooch.  He made everyone's day!  The Park side of the family all showed up: Auntie Sunny, cousin Sophia, Auntie Tina, Uncle Dom, Baby D, Uncle Richard and Auntie Jeannie and baby Anderson.  Andrew so loves his Aunts and Uncles!  He loved Baby D and the little cousins! But the Uncle and Aunt he loves the most is Uncle Albert and Auntie Jennifer.  The blessing of what those two have done for the kids over the years cannot be repaid!!!


There was some levity as well during the day.  We talked about Andrew's taste for Cheetoes and how he always had a stash of chips, mints, gum, candy and gatorade always at the ready in his back pack. We spoke of how Andrew would have as much Hooter's wings in heaven without he fear of pancreatitis.  Most of the family's funny and heartwarming stories were always associated with food!  We talked of how Andrew and his Grandfather (ha-bah-ghee) would be able to play unlimited golf in heaven and have as many 10th hole foot long hotdogs;-)  We tried to laugh and celebrate his life today as well.  But I know it was particularly tough for my mom and dad.  I have never seen my dad cry like he did!  You just don't see first generation Korean men do that.  It showed how much my dad loves Andrew!


More visitors came and left and Jennifer and I are exhausted!  But with the help of my best friends Dan, Don and Pastor Michael, I made it through this incredibly difficult yet joyous day.  These men understand that you need not speak to a person that is grieving, but  just be there for them.  Just be.  


Again, no one should have to tell their kids they are dying, but on the other hand, I have the honor to pass my son to his Heavenly Father who has and always will love him more than I could ever have.  So with that reality, I have a modicum of piece in my heart.  Again the peace that Philippians 4:6-7 speaks of:


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understandingwill guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


As I am looking at my sick child, I have divergent feelings.  On one hand I am sad that Andrew is suffering and broken, but on the other hand, I am glad he will be in eternal peace.  I know there will be many day ahead after Andrew is gone where it will be painful for our family, but I know God will not forsake us or leave us.  Hebrews 13:5:



“...Never will I leave you  never will I forsake you.”



One of Andrew's friends asked why Andrew?  And I replied why not.  Andrew lived a "full" life in his 17 years here on earth.  I believe he was put here to bless others.  I don't know if you remember, but one constant prayer I have had for the kids throughout their lives is that they would bless others!  Well, Andrew did that.  


Prayer Request:


-Pray Andrew would be at peace as he goes to Jesus.  Pray he would feel no pain!


-Pray for Jennifer, Yun and myself that we would have the strength to be there for Bry and Emily and that we would be able to grieve in a healthy fashion.


-Pray for my parents and family as they grieve and try to process Andrew's imminent passing and ultimately his death.


***As far as funeral arrangements, Jenn, Yun and I will decide on how to celebrate and memorialize this life.  Please respect the decisions of our family.  We will try to have a intimate gathering for family only and then a celebration service for the throng of loved ones of Andrew.  


Love You All!
Joe





42 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing such intimate details about Andrew and your family. Thank you for taking us through the real and tough times of your journey and sharing your strong faith. I’m so sorry for what your family and Andrew have been through but thankful for your faith in Christ to endure and be faithful to the end. I love Andrew and I don’t even know him. You guys are really an inspiration.You have all touched so many lives. Thank you!

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  2. Dearest All,
    Your courage and faith astound us. Thank you so much for taking time to let us know about Andrew and your family. Your strength is truly amazing; you are really one astounding family. We give you all our strength, prayers and love.
    With all our hearts,
    LynnFrankLaurenKendall

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing your faith and sharing Andrew's life and journey with us throughout this process, it has been a true honor to have walked this path with you and your family. Your faith and strength is an inspiration to me and Andrew will forever have a place in my heart for his strength, courage and gentle spirit. I so wished that we had different outcomes but am so glad to hear that Andrew was able to smile and have peace as he walks into the arms of Jesus. I am so sorry for your pain and loss, our hearts are breaking with you.

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  4. Replies
    1. This is a the Halls Family from Pete's church Harvest. Andrew's story is touching lives in places you wouldn't expect - in prisons. To the lost & hopeless. A few of the boys I minister to in Arizona have been praying for you Andrew & fervently ask with hopeful expectation how you are doing. They are THANKING GOD for you & your family to live out your faith & fears to the world. Those boys all know death but in a brutal way, by violence of gangs & they have been touched by Pete's blog & your's to see people face fear & uncertainty with courage. 1 boy in particular shared he lived life on the edge due to fear but now wants to live like the examples your families have shared with confidence & trust in God. You guys are heroes to these broken boys that there is hope even in the worst of times. Your weakness made strangers strong !

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  5. Andrew has touched so many more people than you could imagine. What an amazing son! Thank you for being a fantastic father and an example of Christ love lived out.

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  6. As I was reading this post, this song came on pandora...

    http://youtu.be/vvDBjNG_pws

    Your faith and your strength have been so amazing to see and a true blessing in my life... while my heart breaks for you and your family, I am comforted by the fact that Andrew will suffer no more and be able to be free of all things and be at peace and eternal happiness with Jesus! Praying for strength for your family during this difficult time, and that you will feel the love and comfort of God... He is always with you, always by your side!

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  7. Jesus is present and has not left Andrew's side for 1 moment. We continue to pray for peace that surpasses all understanding during this difficult time here on earth. Love in Christ, Danielle

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  8. I've been following your blog and praying. No more pain and sorrow for Andrew - just unspeakable joy as he runs towards Jesus. Praying that peace will overcome your grief.

    "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18)

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  9. Dearest Andrew....

    It is no wonder that you are who you are. The unbelievable love and strength that surrounds you as you journey forward was instilled in you through an amazing family, and an amazing God. I thank you for sharing your sweet heart with me over the years. You are wise, courageous, humorous, and intelligent, but most of all, you are a hero in every sense of the word. You have challenged my spirit to reach higher, and to extend my hand more to others while here on earth. You have reminded me to not be afraid of my own journey one day, for Jesus is beside us into eternity. But most of all, you have humbled me in ways you will never know and forced me to look at myself and the imprint I want to leave on this world. Sometimes, miracles are right before us...YOU are my miracle and I am certain the miracle of many. Just look at all you have touched....
    I thank you for that gift. Your mark on this world in unforgettable and I know that Jesus has greater plans for angles like you. May God keep you in his loving care. Hugs, Joni

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    Replies
    1. All messages I've read from all these loving friends and family have been wonderful, full of inspiration and love. Yours, however, is so very inspirational that it is truly a phenomenon to me. I am deeply affected by your writings, and I am sure that it has meant the world to Andrew and his family. Thank you so much for rising me up to a higher level through Andrew and his outstanding life.

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  10. Joe -- I am so happy Andrew has had the opportunity to choose his ending. There is no greater gift! I am also happy that you were able to tell him it is okay to let go when he is ready. The process you are now going through is very powerful and will help you cope when he is gone. Looking back, a year from now, you will be comforted in knowing that you were there for Andrew ONE STEP AT A TIME and EVERY STEP OF THE WAY, fighting right along side him. There is a tremendous amount of peace in that. Treasure every moment you have with him. But take comfort in knowing his gift will live on in your heart forever. Andrew's life is changing, not ending! He will be with God for eternity, and you will see him again, someday.

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  11. Thank you for sharing this incredibly difficult journey with us in such humility and transparency, God is glorified in this family and in the amazing life of Andrew. We see you are worshipping in all circumstance and I can only imagine the pain the family feels. May the Lord give you peace and faith in knowing he is good and faithful to his promises and although it doesn't look the way you imagined that he will bless you in abundance for your faith and steadfast prayers. We will continue to pray for Andrew and the family for God's will to be done and hope that the mercy of the Lord to hear us. Love in him.

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  12. Giving glory to God that you all have the strength to trust, to have faith, to find joy and meaning through your love and community with each other. You've touched me with this blog.

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  13. The Balice FamilyJune 30, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Thank you Joe for sharing Andrew's story to us all and having the strength to do so. We feel blessed as a family to have been the given the gift of being your neighbors and watching Andrew take this difficult journey. Andrew has inspired us all to have strength and courage for anything that comes in your way and we will always have a special place in our hearts for such a courageous young man. God Bless.

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  14. We are thankful for the nods, smiles and kisses. The abundant love is overwhelming. Your faith is beautiful. The Saffords

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  15. Danielle VickersJune 30, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    I truly feel that there are people placed in my path at moments when I need them most, and Andrew is that person for me. Although I never got the chance to meet him in person, I am blessed to know him in spirit. He has taught me more about faith in the past 5 months than I have learned on my own in 30 years. He has touched the lives of so many and I will carry him in a special place in my heart forever. He will always be missed and never forgotten. Joe, thank you for being a vehicle to spread Andrew's joy to so many to share. May you find peace in your new journey.

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  16. Thank you Joe for sharing this incredibly difficult and intimate time as Andrew prepares his journey to God. I'm so happy your prayers were answered for him to be able to communicate and share with all his loved ones who came to say their goodbyes. I still pray for a miracle that he recovers, but it is already a miracle he has hung on as he is. It reminds me of the last days of my father's passing, from a similar condition, pancreatic cancer. The last two days in the hospital reflected his life and the person he was; people coming in and creating a festive atmosphere, before we brought him home to go in peace. As hard as it is to lose a parent at a young age, I cannot imagine losing a beloved child -- in life as in the afterlife, however, Andrew will continue to radiate his boundless love and joy, and be a model of courage for us all. Yours, Mikael

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  17. Your brothers and sisters take great comfort in Andrew's entrance into heaven - in perfect peace! Thank you for your sharing of the dedicated love and hope for Andrew from you and your family! It is encouraging to all.

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  18. Rest in Peace Andrew. We did not have the privilege of having to gotten to know you, but through your courageous fight and struggle, you have touched us deeply.
    God has truly wanted you home more than we can imagine.

    Peace to you and your family...

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  19. Rest in Peace Andrew! Have a glorious time basking in the Greatness that is our God! Joe and family, your story is definitely a sad tale w/ a silver lining that shines ever so bright. May that brightness overcome any dark times you may feel...and may you, also, rest in Peace eternal. Selah.

    From one Park family to another w/ love.

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  20. My heart aches for you Joe, your wife, your daughters and your entire family as Andrew is no longer here in this world. But I rejoice that he's with the Lord and no longer in suffering. What a testimony you have been to many people who don't know you. May the Lord continue to comfort and strengthen all of you at this time.

    Continuing to pray for you.

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  21. Joe, thank you for publicly posting about your journey with your son. It has been so encouraging and challenging at the same time to see the amazing faith that you and your family displayed. Rest in peace, Andrew.... you have reached the ultimate goal! Park family...praying for abounding grace and love for your family....
    Elvira

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  22. My heart aches for your loss. You are in my prayers. Rest in peace Andrew.

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  23. Fly away! Fly towards your Father's open arms.

    Strength and Peace to the Park family. May your tears eventually turn to rejoicing!

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  24. Andrew has been so brave and inspired so many people. I will continue to pray for your family. Rest in peace Andrew and know that God will welcome you into heaven with open arms.

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  25. Andrew you are in God's loving care now and can finally rest with no pain. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    The Colin Family

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  26. Andrew Park and family: just reading this inspirational life story gave me goosebumps. Andrew, you are in God's home now where you can celebrate, have fun and rejoice with no pain or suffering. In a few, your wings will arrive and u shall find yourself in the Kingdom of Heaven with all the other angels. Continue to watch over us until we meet u again. Rest in peace Andrew.... Park family: my prayers go.out to the whole family..... Jane

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  27. "And with your final heartbeat
    Kiss the world goodbye
    Then go in peace, and laugh on glory’s side...and
    Fly to Jesus
    Fly to Jesus
    Fly to Jesus and live!"

    "And until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the palm of his hand."

    This is our prayer tonight...

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  28. Dearest Park Family,

    Thank you for sharing Andrew's journey. He is truly an inspiration. All of you have touched so many hearts. Your extreme strength and faith in the Lord is amazing! I will continue to pray for your family and hope that you will find comfort and peace during this most difficult time.

    Love from the Fox Family

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  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  30. Joe,
    I heard news about Andrew's passing and immediately came to your blog. I usually refrain from reading personal blogs, as I want to be able to be a nurse to yall without crying in the room. All bets were off and I read every single word: from joyous and full of hope, to the heartbreaking and unjust rip of Drew's smile from this world. I am crying for the loss of such a great young man, for the sorrow and earthly pulls of mourning, and for knowledge of seeing how brave Drew really was. I am so, SO sorry for your loss. Please share my condolences with all of your family. I will never forget any of you and will always keep Drew's memory and smile cemented in my heart.
    Love,
    Bridget (4 west RN from the first days in 88 on)

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  31. Michelle SchlicherJuly 1, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Joe & entire Park family,
    It was with a very heavy heart that we heard the news about Andrew. We haven't seen Andrew in years, however my 1st memories of him that come to mind was his smile! He was ALWAYS smiling! And his friendship to his fellow baseball buds! Ryan was very fond of Andrew, and we are all very blessed to have known him.
    You and the entire Park family are in the Schlicher's prayers.
    Jim, Michelle, Ryan, Austin & Troy

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  32. Dear Park Family,
    Andrew is the most blessed one on this day and we as the family of Christ rejoice in our grief as we send him home. You don't know me but I've been profoundly impacted by your blog and following your story. Thank you for being so transparent and now blessing us so much through your strength and hope as you say goodbye to Andrew. We will be praying for your family. God bless you all and may his peace that transcends understanding cover you.

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  33. Dear Park Family,

    We do not know each other personally, but we have been following your family's journey for the past few months. Although these may seem like mere words, we are truly sorry for your loss... We just want to thank you for being vulnerable and honest and sharing your family's lives with us. We have been touched, encouraged, and challenged by the example you all have set, and we have been in awe of how good God truly is. We truly do love Andrew and your family and look forward to the day when we will be able to get to know each other and enjoy Jesus together in eternity (as Andrew is doing now).

    May the God of all comfort be with you and cover you.

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  34. Dear Park Family,
    I do not know Andrew personally, but I am really touched by his story. Although I am not a Christian,my aunt told me that God has a plan for everyone. The Bible says that God has the best plan for everyone. I believe that God's plan for Andrew is to teach the rest of us to stay strong. Now Andrew is in the arms of Jesus with no suffering. Though he is not physically here, but he will forever live in our hearts.

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  35. Praying for God's comfort for you and praising Him for Andrew's peace in knowing Christ. God bless.

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  36. Dear Joe and family,
    I am a friend of Pam's, and had the privledge of helping at the Be the Match blood marrow drive in VA in honor of Andrew. I only know Andrew through Pam's stories, and yours, and his gorgeous smile in the photos on your blog, but he has made me want to be better. I will smile more at people, I will embrace life and live it fully each day, and I will be grateful for everything and everyone God places in my path. Andrew has blessed me! And countless families will be blessed because of all the people who are now on the bone marrow registry because of Andrew - what a legacy! Your blog has inspired me to reach deeper into my own faith, and to read and commit more scripture to memory. When I am in the midst of trials in my own life, I aspire to have God's word at my fingertips the way you have demonstrated. I praise God that we know Andrew is with Him and smiling that unbelievable smile, and I lift up your family in prayer as you walk the next stage of this difficult journey. I am terribly sorry for your loss, but please know that Andrew's legacy and blessings will carry on forever.

    The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Ps 34:18

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  37. Dearest Park family,
    I've been following Andrew's journey through your blogs and updates and have been praying for him along with my children here in BKK, Thailand. I can't even begin to imagine how this all is for you, but I am one among the many who have been challenged, blessed, encouraged, & drawn to prayer by and for your son. May the Lord bless and comfort you Joe & Jen and family, as none other can. Words cannot even begin to express my condolences...Welcome Home Andrew! Welcome Home!
    Your fellow sister in Christ...
    Natalie Cho (Bangkok, Thailand)

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  38. Thoughts and prayers for your family...

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  39. Prayers for your family. Your faith is astounding and such a blessing for all of us. Andrew and your family have touched my life. Thank you.

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