We were not left alone after our son, Joshua, died by suicide. People from across the states took the time to listen and some cried with us. It would take pages to mention them name-by-name, but because of who he was to Joshua, I’ll choose one.
After Joshua’s memorial, when the hall emptied out and the doors locked, Dana, Joshua’s childhood friend, stood with my husband and I and asked questions. “Why do you think Joshua did this? What was his frame of mind right before it happened?” And other such inquiries.
What Dana did from then on was stay in contact. Even though Dana took extended trips to other countries as a missionary, when he came home he called. If we were gone, he’d leave messages on our machine in his best Irish brogue, “It’s Dana McGregor. I’m in town for two weeks and wondered if we could meet this Sunday.”
At the time, I didn’t consider how hard that might have been for Dana to visit us, knowing he would never see Joshua again. I’m sure it was especially hard with me sobbing on his shoulder at our greeting. He helped us when he attended our church, not his normal place of worship, even though he had not seen his church group for months. We witnessed his love for our son the day he sobbed with grief in my husband’s arms.
Around a year after Joshua’s death, Dana came to our home for a grandchild’s birthday party. Dana played the same outdoor game with our grandchildren that he played with Joshua: hacky sack. For our three eldest granddaughters it helped them with their grieving process to interact with Uncle Joshy’s best friend.
At one point during the party I was preparing food at the picnic table, when my husband and Dana stooped over Joshua’s dog, Heinrich. They examined the dog’s head for a possible tick. Concern showed on Dana’s face, and I turned away with tears in my eyes. I thought, How sweet. Like a photo in my mind, I enjoy pulling out that memory and gazing at it with love in my heart.
Now we live in another state, but we’ll call Dana to make appointments to meet with him. It’s a yearly thing for us to go back home to see family and friends, and visit Joshua’s stone. We’ll join Dana at a restaurant and catch up, talk Bible, and eat a meal. Last year was extra special when he introduced us to his girlfriend. We were instantly drawn to her and so happy for Dana.
It says in the scriptures the Lord brings us comfort in times of trials. God brought us people like Dana and other folks, who help through their love and support.