I’m not sure I can write about this but it’s become clear that until I do, I won’t be able to write much of anything. Beyond heartbreaking to us was the loss of our grandson, Joshua James Beller, on September 4th of last year. Josh was born with cerebral palsy and lived to be almost sixteen before he simply didn’t wake up on that sunny, fall morning. It seemed as if God said, “This boy’s had enough and I’m bringing him home.” While we rejoice that Josh is with Jesus and free of his earthly body, the shock and grief of losing him continues to be a part of each day.
It’s so true that grief and relief are close companions. Some days, at unexpected times, it just washes over me that Josh is missing from our family and the tears come. Other days relief springs up, reminding me that he doesn’t have to struggle with his inability to talk or walk anymore.
What helped our family so much was the amazing support of the community of Parker, CO. Josh was a sophomore at Chaparral High School there and part of an inspiring group of special needs students. The day before he passed away, he applied for and got a job at the school’s Wolverine Wake Up Coffee Bar. With the help of his language therapist, Josh was able to respond to the interview questions on his computerized “talker.” Since it could also be programmed so Josh could push a button to say, “Hi, I’m Josh, welcome to Wolverine Wake Up,” Josh got the job as greeter! By all reports he came home that day so proud and excited that he had a job.
Word spread rapidly through the school that Josh had passed away. The Significant Special Needs Class decided to wear green T-shirts, the color denoting cerebral palsy, the following Thursday. Soon the whole high school decided to wear green to their ballgames that week to honor Josh. Then one of Chap’s competing high schools, Legend, heard about Josh and they all wore green to their ballgames too!
When Josh’s mom, Joelle, and his older brother, Charlie, went over to the volleyball game that Thursday night, the Chap Superfans began chanting, “Love like Josh! Love like Josh!” and friends of Josh’s twin brother, Will, wore green T-shirts with “Love like Josh” printed on the back. Later more T-shirts and wrist bands saying “Love like Josh” were created and sold in Josh’s memory to raise funds for The Cerebral Palsy Foundation.
Beyond the school, neighbors offered housing to us, brought food, and openly shared their stories of how much Josh meant to them. He inspired all who knew him to be the best they could be because he worked so hard at being the best Josh he could be each and every day. As a friend wrote to us, “Josh developed the fruit of the Spirit in everyone in his family, and that is his legacy” (Galatians 5:22-23). Clearly, that’s so true.
And of course, from the first moment until now, God has been ever present, offering comfort and hope in the midst of our despair. He gifted Joelle with a beautiful vision of Josh in heaven, standing behind a bright light and pointing down while saying, “Mom! This is Him! This is Jesus! He’s right here!” He continues to comfort us every moment of this journey with the peace of God which passeth all understanding (Philippians 4:7 KJV).
I know without a doubt that when I get to heaven a handsome young man is going to walk up to me and say, “Hi, Grancy,” and I’ll know it’s Josh. I’m saving my first dance for him.
We miss you and love you, Josh. And we will do our best to “Love like Josh” the rest of our days.
Kathy Fitzgerald says
Deep breath! Weeping throughout the reading of your most touching tribute to Josh. I only knew Josh through you, but I, also, wish to love like Josh! It hurts to love People, but oh how rich our lives are when people like Josh are ours to love! He inspires us to never withhold loving people when you can “Love like Josh!” What a gift!
Any chance of getting one of those wristbands?
Thanks for “getting it,” Kathy! I know you truly do. I’ll ask about the wristbands!
Joelle Brummett says
You are so sweet. I will try and get you a wristband. ❤️😊
Kathy Fitzgerald says
Hi Joelle, I just now saw this. That would be so awesome! That’s so sweet of you. Sending love!
Tony & Fay says
Wow what a beautiful message. Having only met him once we believe that we missed knowing a super young man. There is no doubt he is in heaven and has met Jesus. God bless you all.
Thanks. Fay and Tony. And thanks again for coming alongside us last September.
Pamela H Omar says
I am so saddened to learn of Josh’s passing. Josh seemed like a sweet, happy young man. I am so happy to hear that Josh took the initiative to apply for and got the job at his school’s Wolverine Wake Up Coffee Bar! How fortunate that Josh had a Language Pathologist and computerized “talker” to assist him with his interactions and communications with other peers and teachers. May we all be able to “Love Like Josh”.
What a blessing and inspiration he was!
Love and Prayers,
Thank you, Pam. I know you understand the school setting well and can probably imagine his life at school better than most of us. I appreciate your thoughts.
Kim Watts Sanford says
Oh Nancy I’m so very sorry for your loss. Your sweet family will be in my prayers and may we all learn to Love like Josh!
Thank you so much, Kim. It’s sweet of you to comment.
Gay Hope says
Oh Nancy…..how precious! I’m so thankful for that community of precious people that are honoring Josh and bringing some comfort to you all too. Love the article and the photos.
Thank you, Gay Hope. And to you and Brian and our small group for the prayers that sustained us!
Peggy Lovelace Ellis says
Nancy, I don’t have adequate words. Please know my prayers are with you and all Josh’s family and friends. Peggy
Thank you, Peggy. I’m just grateful we got our work on the book done before this all happened as I’ve been pretty drained of creative juices. (March 29 is the release date now.)
Peggy Lovelace Ellis says
Nancy, thanks for letting me know the release date for “Hope of Glory” volume two. There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, so let me know when “our” book is actually available so I can post some PR. Peggy
Lyn Krause says
Once again, you have touched us with this loving, heart warming, yet heart breaking message, Nancy. I am so sorry for your family’s loss. What a great tribute to this young man that his friends and schools did for him. And Josh was blessed that God gave him to just the right family! Cherish the thought of your first dance!
Thanks so much, Lyn. Yes, we saw first hand the importance of “community.” Makes me want to be a better neighbor to those God has placed us near.
Sandy Glynn says
Yes, walking with God at you side is exactly what you have to do to step forward in dealing with such a tremendous loss. You will become aware of God’s presence in small things. I remember going to Village Inn writing a letter for my grief class after my daughter’s death. I sat there for hours, tears in my eyes, and a broken heart. I put pencil to paper, and I wrote! After writing my letter I felt humble, and a calm came over me that I did not understand.
Nehemiah 8:10 says The Joy of the Lord is our Strength. I felt like God found Joy in watching me write that oh, so difficult letter. I felt like He was pleased that I had taken a positive route to work on my grief. I felt stronger. It seems like even in Josh’s short life he touched many family and friends.
Thank you Jesus for giving Josh to his family. Thank You Jesus for Your death and resurrection, so we KNOW that my Michelle and Josh are safely in Your arms. No more pain or suffering, we all will see our beloved children again in Your Glory, and in Your Time.
Thank you so much for your heartfelt sentiments, Sandy. Yes, writing is cathartic and I can already feel that writing this about Josh helped me. He and Michelle had different experiences on this earth but are experiencing many of the same things now! God bless and comfort you.
Ben and Audrey says
We didn’t have the privilege of meeting this special young man, but we too want to
“ Love like Josh” — after reading through tears and learning about him. Let us all be examples of Josh’s amazing abiding Faith!
Thanks for your comment, Ben and Audrey. Yes, maybe Josh’s story encourages us all to love more. I appreciate you both so much.
What a special tribute for Josh! I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet him but what a legacy he has left. You and Jim have to be excited about the aspect of seeing him again with the Lord! Love to you all.
Thank you, Helen. Yes, knowing where Josh is has made us way more curious about heaven! I gave Jim “The Case for Heaven” by Lee Strobel for Christmas and he said it was amazing. I haven’t read it yet but plan to do so. Love to you, too!
Lea Ann says
Your beautiful words reach down into our hearts to see and love as your Josh loved. What a lovely tribute to this special young man. I’m seeing Grancy and Josh for that first dance – oh what a wonderful day that will be. You’re in a wispy green ball gown and he in a tux with a green bow tie and socks!!!
Thank you, Lea Ann, and I love your vision of our first dance! Thanks for adding some details to my imagination.
It is good to be back in touch with you my friend. I am so sorry for your loss.
Yes, Josh and Michelle led very different lives, and yet they both loved Jesus, and Jesus loved both of them. That makes my heart sing.
I love you.
Love you, too!!
JoBeth Wachtman says
Your writing is such a beautiful tribute to your grandson Josh. As tears run down my face, I see that he left you with sweet memories and experiences. That is what I hold dear when someone we loved so deeply has left us. I am so sorry for such a tremendous loss to you and your entire family. There will be a line to wait in to dance with this sweet boy in heaven. Love to you.
You are probably right, JoBeth, but I plan on “cutting line!” 🙂 Thanks for your sweet response.
Marylou Gonzalez says
Nancy, I don’t have words for your and your family’s loss. My heart goes out to you all. What a beautiful story of kindness and support from those who knew Josh. Sharing the vision of Jesus gives us all hope.
Thank you for writing this. May you know the comfort of our Lord and be strengthened. Blessings to you and your family to have peace.
Thanks so much, Marylou! I sure appreciate your thoughts and words.
Time does have a way of mending our broken hearts. God’s grace is part of that package. It is understandable why it took time for you to share your sad bit joyful story of you grandson. His spirit shines through your memories of a remarkable life he lived. As we live our years on this earth there is always more to be learned in the many lessons God gives to us. Josh was fortunate to have touched so many lives and spread so much love. The moments will arise to show you are still struggling with the loss of Josh but the love will carry you forward. We miss seeing you and may you continue to inspire others in the Word. We send you our love and thank you for your tender story of loss.
Thank you for the kind and healing words, Cheryl! Miss seeing you too.
Rachel Wannlund says
Absolutely beautiful Nancy. I will include that in my prayers daily.
Thank you, Rachel. And also for your texts of support when we were in the midst of it all. That meant a lot.
Pat Scott says
Losing such an obviously special boy is surely one of your saddest experiences–except that you can rest assured that he is now, as the hymn says, Safe in the Arms of Jesus. Living without the child who was a gift to your family from God has to be a heartbreaking challenge for now. I think of some wonderful songs that comfort us when we feel such an almost unbearable loss: No Tears in Heaven, In Heaven They’re Singing a Wonderful Song, and the comforting words of “Just a Little While” that remind us that someday we’ll be together again for all eternity! My heart hurts for you today.
Thanks so much, Pat! It’s good to be reminded of those wonderful songs. I pulled into the garage with tears streaming down my face one day after hearing “Scars in Heaven” on the radio. If you haven’t heard that one, I recommend it. Have a tissue handy!!
Elizabeth H. Van Liere says
Thank you, Nancy. Both Josh’s story and my grandson, David’s, bring tears and joy, because we sense what they endured, but joy because they are free to run now. And run–I’m sure they did,
right into the arms of Jesus.
Absolutely, Betty! What a joyous image that is!
Pam Cosel says
Oh, Nancy, I am overwhelmed, knowing this is what you and your family have been dealing with, fighting back tears. What beautiful words and Josh had such a story. I am so sorry for the loss of your grandson. My deepest condolences. And, yes, he is now whole and healthy and fully engulfed in the love of the Lord in heaven. May you feel comfort in your memories of and love for him.
Thank you for your kind and sweet condolences, Pam.
Kay Walker says
Sweet Nancy, What a beautiful Legacy this young man leaves on my heart. and many others, not even knowing him! I hurt for you all as you feel the earthly pain of losing precious Josh but a free feeling of hope, knowing he is in such a joyous place in Heaven. “When we all see Jesus , we’ll sing and shout the Jubilee!” I love our old songs and how the words have so much meaning to our hearts. I’m so glad you wrote this one!
Thank you Nancy for being such a great writer and friend with a lovely sister. I look forward to seeing you again.
“When we all see Jesus, indeed!” Thank you for the kind words and condolences, Kay. Hope you and yours are all staying well.
Nancy, I am so sorry for the loss of Josh. This reminds me of how my sister Anne, who lived with Type 1 for 65 years, said shortly before her passing, “I can’t wait to be free of this body!”
I’ve read similar thoughts from Joni Eareckson Tada, Sue! I can certainly understand. Thank you for your expression of sympathy at our loss.
rolle walker says
Nancy, you and Jim have been the broad shoulders of steadfast faith and counsel for Joelle’s family in a suddenly and crushingly sad time. You have beautifully and bravely shared your heart. Glory to God in all things! That’s about all we can do in times like this. You and Jim have been fully present near Josh his entire life. Josh led an exemplary life against all odds. What a courageous soul he continues to be.
Thanks so much, Rolle! And thank you for wanting a T-shirt! Hope you can wear it as you kindly serve those in your care.
Linn Fillmore says
Last fall when I heard about the loss of your grandson, I did not know of the special circumstances of his life. I can readily believe he was a joyful blessing to all the family. In my “other” life, I worked with parents/families of special needs kids and occasionally with the kids themselves. My heart is deeply touched by this beautiful tribute to Josh. Instinctively, I know that Josh was also blessed by you. How wonderful to know that he is where God always intended for him to be.
Thank you for your kind thoughts, Linn. And yes, Josh is home!
Charlie Fusco says
Oh Nancy… I ma so sorry for your unspeakable loss… your family’s loss of your beloved grandson. What a bittersweet time. My heart goes out to you. Indeed, our shared faith will sustain you in the blessed hope that you will meet again one day with great joy as you see Josh freed from limitations of this earth. May the Holy Spirit comfort you and give you peace in your fond memories and God’s promises of Heaven’s rewards.
Thank you, Charlie. This happened before I saw you at the class reunion but I found it hard to work in to a casual conversation! Glad I was finally able to write about it and I appreciate your comforting thoughts.
Ben Ross says
Nancy, I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s hard to fathom the depth of your emotions upon the passing and remembrance of your grandson, Josh. Be consoled that God in his infinite wisdom chose to bless your family with Josh, and try to remember His promise to you, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and His promise to Josh, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.” God is love, and Josh surely obeyed and lived that greatest command. Thoughts and prayers are with you.