Submitted by Lisa Watson
Every day we make choices in our lives. We choose what kind of career we want, where we live and even the friends we keep. We don’t necessarily choose who we fall in love with. A combination of events can sometimes lead us to the one we are meant to be with, however, we have no control over the circumstances. When Lisa found the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, he came as a package deal. Tim already had a fourteen year old son, Josh, from a previous relationship. Becoming a stepfather or stepmother can sometimes be quite challenging. It is only natural that there will be conflicts and personality clashes until you reach a balance. In order to achieve that balance there has to be a great deal of love, patience, flexibility and respect for one another. In Lisa’s case she was lucky. It only took a few times of butting heads to begin developing their own unique relationship. Josh, or JT, as they called him was a great kid. He accepted Lisa and learned over time to respect and even value her opinions. It is never an easy task to take on the role of a parent with someone else’s child but Lisa loved Tim and grew to love his son Josh with an equal amount of devotion.
Josh was your typical teenager, most of which are intelligent children but have other things on their mind besides school work. It is frustrating to see your child who you know has potential, but fails to apply it. At one point he was part of a band which was no surprise considering how much he loved music. But where he really shined was with writing. JT was very artistic and creative and dreamed of one day becoming a songwriter. He kept a journal and continued nurturing his dream. In spite of his obvious intelligence JT ended up making decisions that were detrimental not only to himself but to his dreams as well.
Some acquaintances can be very destructive and choosing the wrong crowd can lead to a great deal of heartache and misery. JT experienced much of this and by his mid-twenties it was determined that leaving the neighborhood and city he grew up in would be in his best interest. He decided to move to Denver where his mother Bev had lived since he was fifteen. The general thinking was that with a fresh city he could obtain a fresh start.
After JT arrived in Denver he met a young lady named Jesi who he began to have a serious relationship with. Things were looking much brighter for his future. He enrolled in college to get a degree and worked at a full time job. For once it seemed as though he was on a better path. Jesi soon revealed to him that he was going to be a father. He was determined to be a wonderful father and loving partner to Jesi. They had a beautiful baby girl who they named Paige. She was adored by everyone and for the first two years of her life JT did just as he had promised himself. He stayed on the straight and narrow and provided for them as best as he knew how.
Old demons are hard to escape though and eventually they caught up with him. Their deceptive and destructive thoughts began to persevere in his mind bringing about a change in him that his soul truly did not want. He tried to resist but unfortunately the path he took led directly to a tragic ending for all.
Lisa and Tim had been hanging on to the hopes that JT had finally turned his life around for the better. He had a beautiful little girl to serve as inspiration and motivation and they truly felt everything was going to be ok. At least that’s what they dreamed of, until April 2008 when they received that devastating call that seems to suck the very life from your body. Joshua was gone and there was nothing that they could do to help him. With despair and helplessness they immediately boarded a plane for Denver to see their son one last time. The service was quite emotional for everyone attending. All the family members knew what a struggle it had been for JT and yet they were filled with frustration for what his life could have been. Seeing Paige, so young and innocent, left without a father to watch her grow up only added to their pain. The road ahead would be difficult but for Paige’s sake the family would have to be strong in order to provide her all the love and support that she would most assuredly need.
A few months after JT’s passing Tim still battled with the loss of his only son. Determined to help him through such a difficult stage Lisa felt it was important that they engage in some activity together. She decided to enroll them in a welding class. Even though she knew absolutely nothing about welding she thought it was something that would keep them busy. It would also be good that they could do it together. At times of a loss such as a child, no matter their age, parents sometimes drift apart in the grieving process. This is not an intentional separation it is just that each person deals with grief in different ways. Lisa believed that participating together would help strengthen their bond even more, and in turn help each other through such a heartbreaking transition.
To Lisa’s amazement Tim agreed. She worried that initially he would reject the idea because the class would be held at Joshua’s old High School. She was a little concerned that it might bring up painful memories but Tim was all for trying something new. They went to the very first class and had the opportunity to meet the other students and the instructor. He turned out to be a wonderful man and as he shared a little of his life and background with the class they learned that he had two sons of his own. After the instructor taught them some of the basics he then paired everyone off. Of course Lisa and Tim were paired together as they proceeded to one of the welding stations. They ended up with the last one on the far side of the room. As they approached they saw a welded cutout standing proudly at their station. They were a little shocked and caught off-guard as they read it. It simply said, “JOSHUA.” Their hearts jumped up in their throats for a moment just at seeing their son’s name. The instructor seeing their reaction came to investigate what was going on. Scratching his head he shared that each student was required to clean up their area every day. The most unusual fact that he revealed was that not one of his students was named Joshua.
Lisa and Tim had no doubt in their mind that Joshua had given them a sign. He knew how they were struggling with his loss and he wanted to convey to them that he was indeed alright. Not only did he accomplish that with a simple sign, they also believed more importantly that he was still a part of their life and that they too would be ok.
The knowledge that our loved one is never truly separated from us is a very comforting thought. We only need to adjust our beliefs and adapt to a relationship of completely different dynamics. What a joy it is to know that you can speak to your departed loved one at any time, at any place and believe that it is not just words drifting in the air. They hear us, they watch us and they know what we are going through. We simply have to learn to listen in a whole new way. As much as a person struck blind has to learn to “see” with their other senses, we have to learn to hear and recognize our loved ones not only through physical signs but also from our inner self. For those who have not had the blessed opportunity to communicate with a loved one who has passed, keep your hearts and mind open. Ask someone who has and they will tell you what an amazing, healing and joyful experience it can be. In Tim and Lisa’s experience JT used a simple but effective way to communicate, and for them a single name said it all.