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.