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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Celebrations Service Info...

It's been over a week since our Andrew died and went home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   Jennifer and I have had our ups and downs since his passing.  When I have one of my uncontrollable sobbing sessions, Jennifer reminds me Andrew is not in pain and not suffering and in eternal joy, dancing and eating whatever he wants.  It comforts me a bit, but the hole in my heart is gaping and huge.  Thank God Jennifer and I have been there for one another and we are trying to focus our attention on our girls.  I have found myself pacing a lot and not wanting to do much except sleep.  Sleep doesn't come easy and when it does, it is not restful at all.  I have been dreaming about Andrew daily and often times talking in my sleep, according to Jennifer, about Andrew or to Andrew.  I miss him.  It's hard to do much but survive.  Please continue to pray for our family as we try to grieve and put the pieces of our lives back together.

***As far as the Celebration Service, there a few reminders.  One, if you plan on coming, please try to carpool if possible.  Our church utilizes the next door Amvet parking lot for overflow parking, but on Thursday, there is bingo night and parking will be limited.  The lot at the Amvet should not be full, but will limit overflow parking.  The next closest lot is the park a few blocks away.  There will be people directing cars, so please be patient if parking is limited and you get directed a to another lot.
Also, if the main sanctuary gets filled to capacity, there will be seating in the gym on the main floor with a live feed of the service.  Also, we will be serving light refreshments after the service.
Any nurses, doctors and staff from Children's coming to the service, please go to the front few pews to sit with our family.  We hold a special place for you all that took care of our Andrew the past three years.

Some have asked about memorials in honor of Andrew.  If you wish, you can bring them to the service where there will be a place to drop them off.  If you choose to send them, please send them to:

Joe Park
P.O. Box 335
Hinsdale, IL 60522

Thank you for those that have sent cards and memorials. We will be using memorials to hopefully help other families in need at Children's.  We know first hand how hard it is to be in the hospital day in and day out for months on end.  Memorials will be used for other financial considerations.   It's been amazing the letters we have been getting from complete strangers with stories of how Andrew' fight has impacted their lives.  Thank you all for your kind, encouraging and comforting words.  We look forward to celebrating Andrew's life with you all.

If you have further questions or comments, please leave them here or send me an email at:

josephp101@yahoo.com

Blessings,
Joe

**** So sorry, I didn't leave the place or time: Been a little out of it!


Celebration Service at Calvary English Chapel at 6pm 7/12
704 McHenry Rd
Wheeling, Il 60090

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

GOOD BYE MY SON!

REST IN PEACE ANDREW!  LAUGH ON GLORY'S SIDE!
Our Hero and Beloved!  Our Champ!  



















Your smile will be missed!  You will be missed my son.  I will patiently wait until I get to heaven to hug you, kiss you and celebrate with you my son.  I miss you horribly and my heart aches beyond words.  But my peace comes knowing you are in eternal peace exploring the galaxies and life with Jesus!  Oh how many more Big Dippers you will find.  Until then my son, I will look up into the nighttime sky and look at the Dipper and smile knowing you are watching over your daddy.



I have been putting off writing this post for over 24 hours.  My heart is aching horribly as I miss my Andrew so much, it's unbearable at times. I can't breathe at times, but I know he is jumping in joy, singing and dancing, eating whatever he wants and fellowshipping with believers gone to heaven earlier.  Worshiping and being eternally joyful in the audience of Jesus.  Nonetheless, it's so hard.  But I am constantly reminded by whispers from Andrew and God, there is a time for mourning and a time for laughing:

A TIME TO WEEP AND A TIME TO DANCE,  
A TIME TO MOURN AND A TIME TO DANCE...
Ecclesiastes 3:4

So, I have divergent feelings.  On one hand, I have been laughing and celebrating his life by myself and with family and on the other hand I have felt so alone and sad without my son, my only son.  I have felt numb and I have felt happiness and joy, but I sit here and write about Andrew's passing, his life and legacy and how I feel about my son.  Please be patient with me.  This is very difficult to do.  So  as I sit here alone, take a seat with me and read and listen.  It may be lengthy, but I know you all would like to know the details and the beauty of his passing.  


This is to my champ, my hero, my son....my beloved.


     
     The last time I wrote, It was this past Friday night after we had told Andrew there was nothing left we could do for him and that he was dying.  The family that meant the most to Andrew rushed by plane and auto to get to Andrew's bedside, some coming right before his passing.  We knew as of Friday, Andrew's health was deteriorating rapidly and would not last long.  But it was just Saturday morning Jennifer, Yun and I decided to stop treatment and not have Andrew suffer further.  It was one of the more difficult things we had to do, but it was the right thing to do and the Lord was right behind us.  Andrew's pain was increasing and we had to go up on the pain meds and sedatives to keep him comfortable.  Our goal was to keep our boy "comfortable" as possible.  We called the healthcare team in the morning Saturday and made sure everyone was gathered to make sure we all knew what we were going to do, to make sure Andrew passed without any pain.  They assured us they would make Andrew feel as comfortable as possible and he most likely not feel anything.  With that said, we called all our relatives into the hospital to gather and to say our last goodbyes and make sure he had a gathering of loved ones who meant the most, to send him off to eternal glory and to a perfect and healthy body which will last forever.  

Although the sadness and grief was palpable and overwhelming, the situation just seemed "right".  There was peace in the room.  Most or all of our family on my mother's side are believers in 
Jesus Christ and what was done on the cross to enable us to be cleansed from our sin, so when we pass from this earth,we will go on to eternity with Jesus.  Again, what John 3:16 says so profoundly:

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


We all believed Andrew hung on so all of his family could see him one last time.  That's who Andrew was, giving until to the very end!  I spoke of the smiles he showed to his friends and his family the day before and he continued it until just before he died.  It was Andrew's way of saying I love you and that he was okay and was going to be okay.  Beloved by Andrew, Auntie Pam, Jeannie, Cindy, Jean and Uncle Chan, Robin, Larry and of course super special Uncle Albert (my brother) and Auntie Jennifer were all bedside to say goodbye.  Even the younger cousins were there to send off cousin Andrew to Jesus.  The most poignant and touching scene was my mom and dad, beloved Grandpa and Grandma, Ha-bah-gee and Ha-mon-eee in Korean, to say goodbye to their first grandchild.  My mom and dad love their grandchildren, but Andrew was their first and had a very special place in their hearts.  One final act was particularly touching.  Andrew would love having his grandma to clean his ears with a q-tip as he lied on the ground.  It was not only soothing, but a bonding of sorts.  Well, as Andrew was laying there ready to pass, my mom gently swabbed out his ears one last time.  She tenderly served her grandson one last time. I gathered everyone around Andrew to sing the old Sunday school song "Jesus Loves Me This I Know", a song that we sang as a family before we had family worship time.  It's how Andrew would have liked it.  No drawn out hymns or songs, just a simple song that everyone knew.  After the song, we said a group prayer and ended with Uncle Robin reading some scripture and praying for us, my Godly Aunt praying in Korean and then Auntie Soo (Yun's sister) ending.  The extended family filed out and the most immediate of family, myself, Jennifer, Yun, Emily and Bry, and Pastor Michael stayed to say goodbye as the ventilator and machines were turned off.  I was scared at first knowing it might cause some pain and not knowing what to expect, but as the ventilator was turned off Dr. Freider of the palliative team gave the order to give more meds.  Dr. Freider warned us that Andrew might look like he is gasping for air, but in actuality it was a reflex instead of gasping.  When everything was turned off, his face was angelic and peaceful.  As he took his final breaths I sung a song I have sang to the children when they were really young, The Lord Bless and Keep You.  The end of the song ends with the words..."and give you peace and give you peace and give you peace forever."  As I held Andrew's head under my arm, I sang those words over and over until Andrew's heart beat it's last beat.  Right before his passing, I said it was okay to go and to be with Jesus and He nodded!  That was his last communication with us.  He was at peace at heaven's gate and ready to go to heaven.  At 3:35pm he was declared dead by Dr. Freider.  I held this young man and said goodbye.  I squeezed him and kissed him over and over saying I would see him soon.  The time on earth seems so long, but it's but a blink of an eye in comparison to eternity.  

After his passing, we asked the family to come in one last time to view his body and say goodbye.  As the family filed out, the nursing team came in to clean up Andrew's body and to pull out all the lines in him.   We also made handprints of each hand to save as keepsakes.  At the end, Emily asked us to have a private moment with her big brother.  We closed the curtains and slid the door closed to give Emily her final moment with her beloved big bro. I don't know what was said, but I am sure her heart was poured out.   I was so proud and touched to see Emily do what she did.  The final person to see and say good bye was his dad. I felt as if Andrew was telling me it was soooo cool in heaven and he couldn't wait for me to get there.  He said it was better than anything I had experienced.  It was my boy jumping up and down in perfected state.  He told me not to be scared and that had special meaning that is between me and my son. I kept on repeating to him, "I'm not scared, I'm not scared."  I was at peace.  I had pretty much held it together until the end, but I realized I was not going to see his body again here on earth and that made me really sad.  I was reluctant to leave and I closed the curtain to the room and closed the door for the final time, I turned around touched the glass door and put my head on the door and wept.

As I left, Pastor Michael was right outside to meet me. I mentioned to him it was really sad leaving him, his lifeless body seemingly all alone.   But I reminded myself that the body was just a shell and his soul was in heaven.  Did it make it easier that I reminded myself this?  It did a bit.  I said to Pastor Michael, how he looked at peace and he concurred and said he has witnessed people passing when the person was in torment for whatever reasons, but Andrew was at complete peace!  The reality had set in by all the forms we had to sign, especially the death certificate.  My best friend Dan remained with me until the end and just sat with me on the ground of the hallway, as I was completely spent,  and just was there for me.  Not many words spoken, but just was there for me.  That's what true friends do.  The drive home was one of longest and quiet rides.  I was in a daze.  Everyone was.  When I got home,  I went up to the third floor deck and just lied down.  I lied down and listened to Steven Curtis Chapman's album he made after his young daughter was tragically killed in an accident, Beauty Will Rise.




I was so numb and tired, I could hardly move.  As you know the weather in Chicago has been super hot and sticky, but as I lied there listening to the song, a sudden breeze came over me, comforting me.  It's as if Andrew was saying, it's okay dad, take rest.  

Again, so may wonder how can God do this to a child.  How tragic is this.  Why Andrew?  And my answer is why not Andrew?  I know Andrew was here to bless others, but I didn't realize the impact he had and is still having on others!  The outpouring of love and the sharing of how Andrew has blessed others in so many ways, confirms what God wanted to do through Andrew.  He cared, he smiled and he was selfless in so many ways. The stories of his gentle spirit uplifting others are many.  Although he lived a very short life,  HE LIVED A FULL LIFE!  There was one particular story about Andrew that showed his true character.  Andrew shared his life long battle with anxiety with a fellow camper at One Step (camp for cancer survivors and patients), who thought she was alone when it came to anxiety and panic attacks.  She said because Andrew shared his story with her, she felt more normal.  We just got a letter from a classmate of Andrew's at Central that he didn't know too well.  The letter explained how they were alone in a hallway passing each other by, an awkward moment, but Andrew flashed his huge grin and made her feel so comfortable and that would never be forgotten. The stories of Andrew caring about and for others are too numerous to share.  Andrew's faith and our family's faith have inspired others to seek out the God we serve who has graciously helped us through life's storms.  Andrew has and is inspiring others to do their best and to reexamine their lives when they complain and quibble.  As I have prayed since Andrew was a little child, Andrew did indeed come to this earth to bless others.  He did it with his infectious smile and did it out of his love.  I am so proud to call him my son!  So, that's why I would have to say, why not Andrew.  

On this journey, we have met so many people who have blessed us. There are too many people to list, but I want to point out a few.  I want to thank the nurses and doctors at Children's in Chicago who are the best anywhere on this planet!  Special thanks to Dr. Elaine Morgan our primary attending in oncology the past three years and who was there from the beginning and Dr. Timothy Lax, who left Children's last year.  Also, thanks to Dr. Sonali for being upfront and caring the past 6 months as Andrew's primary stem cell doctor.  These two doctors usually don't give out hugs that freely, but they gave their share, especially Sonali the past few weeks;-)  The rest of the stem cell team including Jenn Schneiderman and Dr. Bill Tse and all the other a.p.n's will never be forgotten.  The nurses on the hem/onc ward and in icu, what can I say?  You all made life bearable for the past three years.  Your level of care for my son is beyond description!  Thanks especially to Sena and Heather! Thank you!  The special people placed in our lives by God through the hospital and Andrew's condition, like Sean and Lisa Daley (Anna's parents),  Steve and Stephanie Park/Lim (Connor's parents), and the countless other brave and inspiring parents and patients will never be forgotten.  The encouragement and support coming from these families made life a bit easier as we cried, shared and encouraged one another to move forward and fight continually.  Thank you to our friend and Pastor, Michael.  Thank you for massaging Andrew as he lied sick in his bed.  Thank you for showing what it meant to be a Godly man to Andrew.  He looked up to you!  Thank you to my two closest friends Dan Sung and Don Kim for always being there for me.  Thank you to my Deerfield High School classmates who followed ever so vigilantly and supported Andrew and our family through prayer, thoughts, financially and other gifts.  I will never forget when Andrew asked for an iPad the day before he started his long journey in January and was told we could not afford one at this time and he said it was okay.  The next day, when 
Mike Cisneros came by to give me a check to replace my laptop which was stolen at the Children's in a surgery waiting room a week before, he brought an Ipad bought by the funds collected by my DHS classmates.  When Mike showed the iPad to Andrew as he lied on the stretcher, the smile he showed could have lit up a million galaxies!  Again, according to Lisa Daley, that was a Godwink!!!!  Thanks to my fellow congregants at Calvary for the hedges of protection prayed over Andrew and our family the past 3 years and all the financial support. Thank you to Kim and Peter Cho for sharing Andrew's story with their friends who in turn prayed for Andrew and for running along together in our fights against cancer.  Thanks to all the people I never met who prayed and continue to pray for us!  You all are part of Andrew's Army!!!!  God Bless You!!!

I can't understate the blessings God placed in our lives and at such perfect timing.  When we needed encouragement we got it.  When we needed money we have got it just in time.  When we needed "God Winks" as Lisa Daley puts it, we got them!  The journey was long and hard for Andrew and our family, but God never left us alone. 

 "...He (God) will never leave or forsake us."
Deuteronomy 31:6

God's grace was evident every step of the way, even when we didn't think it was.  I often times wonder to myself  how my family and I could have gone through this arduous journey without the love and grace of Jesus Christ.  I can't imagine.  I probably would have gone crazy and done something really harmful to myself, but in contrast the peace that passes all understanding has and will guard the Park Family's hearts and minds!  

Do not be anxious about anything but in everything with prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God.  And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

I can't explain it, but I can surmise by using one word: FAITH.  That is all that was required for Andrew's, mine and other believer's journeys to begin, to find the peace that passes all understand.  I have had the closest of people turn on me, I have felt utter pain and sorrow, I have felt broken and defeated, but God has never ever left me, as others have.  As the 80's group Wham so aptly put it, 
"YOU GOT TO HAVE FAITH!"  My desire is to have all of you discover the peace I have had in the midst of the rolling seas.  I will NEVER want to trade what has happened in my life for anything.  Even the passing of my dearest Andrew!!!!  All these circumstances have allowed me to grow closer to God and to ultimately find the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that can get me through the passing of my son that will sustain me here on earth until I go home with Andrew in the kingdom of heaven. 




Dearest Andrew,

I will miss you my son.  I miss you so much it's hard to breathe.  I have had my good moments and bad, but with your Aunts and Uncles, Cousins, grandmas and grandpa surrounding me, I have been ok.  The family has been great in keeping me from getting too sad.  I have had my moments my champ.  Anything can set off a memory of you and I will get so lonely and sad.  It may be a picture, an arbitrary item, a food, a smell, but they all remind me of you and how much I long to feel you, touch you and hold you.  I long to hear your voice saying, "Daddy, I love you".  I long to just be with you.  I miss being in a room and just hanging out talking about anything and everything.  

It's taken almost three days to finish this blog post and I can't seem to gain the energy to do so.  I have kept on putting it off.   Maybe it's the fact that it may be one of the last post I blog about you and how that may be another painful goodbye and point of release.  Auntie Pam, Uncle Larry, Nate, Olivia and Abby just left for Virginia.  I cried so much as I held Auntie Pam.  You know how much I love her and the special bond we have.  I am sure you heard her heartfelt speech last night at the memorial.  You and Emily were the reasons Auntie Pam and Uncle Larry wanted to have kids!  She misses you a lot!  You know Uncle Larry and how big and strong he is and how he had such a special place in his heart for you!  When he saw you at the hospital to say goodbye, this big strong man broke down, because of sadness and how much he loved you!  Remember how I pointed out a few men to always try to look up to as Godly examples?  Well, you know Uncle Larry was one of those men!  He will miss you so much!  The house is down to two families Andrew, and both will be leaving tomorrow.  Your Uncle Albert, Auntie Jennifer and Margot will be leaving at 12pm.  You know how much they loved you!  They were such important people in raising you and caring for you.  Uncle Albert has taken your passing extremely hard.  If you can do me a favor, I have asked Jesus already, but can you make sure you take care of him?  Assure him and tell him that you two will meet up in heaven soon enough.  To trust in the Lord with all his heart and lean not on his own understanding but in all his ways acknowledge him and he will make his paths straight: (Proverbs 3:5-6)  Also, Ha-muun-nee (grandma) and ha-bu-gee (grandpa) left for Florida this afternoon.  You were there joy and happiness.  They have taken it really hard!  Please take care of them as well.  Watch over your mom as well, but especially look after your sisters!  I know God is watching over Emily and Bry, but please remind them of what will be waiting for them in heaven.  Assure them that this was God's plan and to trust the Lord always.

I want you to know, we tried to honor what we thought would be your wishes for a memorial.  It was beautiful last night!  We had it at the Grotto, where Mr. Piernunzi organized everything with his connections there.  We had all your favorite things out on tables and Rachel didn't sleep all night to make an incredible scrap book for others to see and write words to you!  As usual your Bry Mommy (Jennifer) made sure the tables with all your keep sakes and valuables were lovingly displayed.  She got all your favorites Andrew!  Cheetos, Sour Patch Candies, Popcorn, Peanuts, your favorite stuffed animals, Curious George Book, Golf and Tennis stuff, and so much more!  She did it with such love Andrew.  She is going to miss you so much.   Look after your "Bryanna Mommy".  She loved you with everything she had!  Everything!  You know it!  If she could have, she would have died for you so you could live!   
We had all your favorites: fried calamari, pasta with alfredo sauce, steak, mashed potatoes and so much more. 




 The boys from Central took Matthew out for a bit after the memorial, wasn't that cool?  Everyone spoke of how everything felt right!  It wasn't the typical funeral home/visitation deal where the atmosphere is so morose and down.  For crying out loud, it was at a banquet hall/steak house;-) Not your typical place for a memorial.  Just like you would have wanted, celebrating and smiling!  Uncle Dan, Joseph, Jonathon and Auntie Pam spoke such beautiful words.  And the night ended with fireworks viewed outside on the veranda.  It was cool.  Actually it was soooo hot!  You would have wanted to come in to cool down.  Ha-muun-nee (grandma) paid for the whole party saying this was so worth it knowing it was many parties grouped together as one.  She smiled when she said it was your graduation and wedding, you never had, present to you;-)  

Hey Champ, I am going to wrap this up, but I have few words to let out.  I know, I'll try to keep it short.   I am realizing as each day passes without you, there are a lot of  "NO MORES" I will have to grieve. 
 I realize there will be no more guys movie nights, camping, runs to Shell for junk food,  no more searches for the best hotdog stand around, no more lectures, no more Sox opening days together, no more massages to give you, no more holidays and birthdays, no more hugs and kisses, no more gazing at the stars and especially the Big Dipper together,  no more smiles and no more I love you dad.  I will miss you with every fiber of my being.  I know it will be a short time before we meet and catch up.  It was a privilege to be your dad, son.  It was a privilege given by the Lord and I hope I did it right for the most part.  I am not so sure I did, but true to your wonderful character, you said,"You did great dad and I am proud of you" the other day and I really appreciate it.  Uncle Dan encouraged me with a comment on the post, with the last few words from the song "Untitled Hymm" by Chris Rice, which happened, if you recall, was the last song that was played to you before you passed:

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! 

You passed with such peace and with your final heartbeat, we all felt you flew to Jesus and are now living eternally!  I am so proud of what you did here on earth and the love you gave to all!   I am the proudest daddy of them all!  Rest and laugh on Glory's side!!!  I LOVE YOU ANDREW!  I LOVE YOU CHAMP!  I LOVE YOU AND I WILL MISS YOU!  KEEP FLYING MY SON!  SEE YOU SOON!

LOVE ALWAYS AND FOREVER,
DADDY XXOXOXOXOXXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOOXOXOX



CELEBRATION SERVICE INFO:

We will be having a Celebration service for Andrew on Thursday July 12th at 6pm at Calvary English Chapel 704 McHenry Rd Wheeling, Il 60090.  Press here for the link to Calvary. 
For any Hinsdale Central Students coming, please wear Devil Red in honor of Andrew and please come in casual wear.  This is a celebration service, no black please.  Come casual as you feel. That's how Andrew would have wanted!

As far as donations, if you would like to contribute or donate that would be great.  Jennifer, Yun and I have not yet decided where to contribute, but we are thinking of a fund for families of patients at Children's who are in the PICU or the Hem/Oncology floors who are in financial need.  Taking care of a sick and critical child like our son requires a lot of resources, especially money as we experienced the past three years.  So, we hope to donate to help these families out.
We were fortunate enough to have "angels" who supported Jennifer and myself as we are and still unemployed through this arduous journey.  Without these angels, our lives would have been miserable, but God chose to use these angels to bless us and bless us abundantly.  You know who you are.  I don't want to mention one couple, but there is a couple in Hinsdale, the Bairds, who we really didn't know us except having a daughter who was in Andrew's class at Central, but decided to give us so generously from their hearts.  There were such beautiful angels like them.
Jenn and I will also use donations given for other financial considerations as well and to be honest, God willing, to go on a much needed vacation if we can find the time and afford it.  I know Jennifer would not have like me writing what I just did, but I know our friends and loved ones we have.  I know most of you wanted so desperately to help out other than prayers and thoughts and there was no real avenue except meals and gift cards and still want to contribute.  So, I open this up to you so you may give whatever way you see fit. We Love You!

Donations can be mailed to:
PO Box 335 
Hinsdale, IL 60522
or can be brought personally to the celebration service next week.  
***By the way, when Jennifer went to set up a po box, she was shocked to randomly get a box number which was the time Andrew passed away: 3:35pm!  :-)

PLEASE SHARE THIS BLOG SITE WITH OTHERS THAT HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING ANDREW'S FIGHT! 

ANDREWSFIGHTONESTEPATATIME.BLOGSPOT.COM

PRAISE GOD AND ANDREW'S ARMY LIVES!!!  XOXOXOXO

Joe