When the band is rocking on a Sunday morning and my wife and I are worshiping I often throw my fist up in the air and hold it there. There is a reason behind that action. Actually it's a person, and his name is Joe. I known Joe for a long time, he is the father of my friend Emily and Joe was my best friend Paul's dad's best friend. So the Hirts (Joe's family) was best friends with the Ericksons (Tom's family).
To be totally honest, the term best friends is a misnomer with these two families. They were family, I have yet to meet a set of families that close. It is a straight up goal for me and my best friend Josh's family. Josh and I met early on and he played a role in Kim and I's relationship and Kim and I then played a role in his relationship with his wife Jessie. In addition to that Jessie and Kim worked together and quickly became the best of friends. So all that said, I think we are on our way to what Joe and Tom had.
See, I say had because during my sophomore year at ISU Joe died of Cancer. I remember getting the call from Emily when she found out that he finally past and meeting up with her and some friends and just crying, because what the hell else do you do but cry. I still remember the table that we sat at in the Student Union.
So, what does this all have to do with me throwing up my fist in the air, you may be asking yourself. Well, Joe's fight with Cancer started the summer before my sophomore year, and the fight was not going well. In typical Joe fashion he asked that a few of us come with our guitars and just sing and pray. So along with my youth pastor Rick and his wife, and a handful of close friends we did just that. It was a beautiful day full of music and prayer, one of those times where it made sense and didn't feel empty. And that is when I saw Joe throw up his fist.
Gah, I wish I remembered the song we were singing then, but I just remember the sun shining on Joe as he sang with strength and defiance. With his fist in the air it was like he was telling the Devil to fuck off while simultaneously telling God that he believes that "to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
And boy did Joe leave a legacy. Three amazing daughters and lovely wife, with some of the kindest and most generous hearts that people can have. The kind of people that I hope Edmund and Alma will be, wise and gentle at young ages.
So yeah, when I throw my fist in the air I am thinking about one of the people that I will be hugging when I reach Heaven. Be it two or twenty year from now he is one of the people that I look forward to seeing, and getting to tell him how much of an encouragement his life has been to me. Even before finding out about my own Cancer.