I realize that there will be many of you who have been following Josiah's story since the beginning who are aching to hear what happened in the last 24 hours that so quickly brought our precious Josiah into Jesus' presence.
It doesn't make it any easier, but we can see many signs along the way of how God ordained this day to be. Josiah had just completed his first big road trip: he visited Grandpa & Grandma's farm in Enderby, he got to walk through Gardom Lake Bible Camp with us, and he was able to visit with family - especially his great-grandmother - in Calgary. Josiah passed in peace, and was assisted by a Christian firmen who we knew and a Christian police officer who took our phone book and made calls on our behalf. Josiah's body was sustained until the afternoon so that I and others were able to say our good-byes, though it quite possible that he was already in heaven and his body was just on auto-response.
Josiah had a wonderful day on Saturday. He went for a walk through his favourite parts of Mill Lake, went shopping and bought gifts for some of his friends, and attended his buddy Sammy's birthday party, where he played and played and played.
There was no indication that anything was wrong. Josiah was fully cleared up from his ear infection that he had 2 weeks earlier. He was sneezing a lot from his allergies, but was incredibly happy, content, and playful.
Marie was woken by our nurse around 12:30 AM. Josiah was in a typical seizure and then nothing. No stress, no coughing, no slowing down of the heart, just nothing. In second Josiah was gone in complete peace. The nurse was so confused, and Marie and him just thought the sat-probe was off because there was no indication that Josiah went through any trauma. But he was white and gone.
You can imagine what happened: confusion, screaming, alike. I was in Grand Forks with our youth camping trip and so it was Marie and the nurse. Marie did CPR and pounded his chest until the paramedics arrived. A fireman from our church was first on the scene. A police officer called family and church members, and arranged for Grand Forks RCMP to come to our camping site and inform me of the situation. I left Grand Forks at 3 AM and was able to be with Marie & Josiah at BCCH by 10 AM.
The firemen and paramedics first tried CPR, then the paddles which didn't work. They gave him a short of epinephiryn (sp?) - heart juice - and continued with the paddles which this time re-started his heart. But Josiah had been without a pulse and not breathing for at least 10 minutes.
Josiah was taken to Abbotsford Regional Hospital and then flown to BCCH. When he reached BCCH, his temperature was out of control, a sign that his brain was unable to function properly. His body temperature reached 42 C - hot enough to damage his brain - a so they cooled his body with a ice blanket to help him out.
By noon he had stabilized, heart rate around 150 bpm and his temperature was down. And though he was off his sedatives, he didn't indicate that he was with us. Though he was breathing on his own and would wiggle his thumb, smack his lips, and flicker his eyes a bit, the absence of any coughing to clear his lungs and his soaring temperature were enough of a sign to realize that he was gone.
We opted to treat him as would at home: Tylenol, oxygen, etc and see what would happen. It is difficult because the ventilator complicates the whole dying process. It was obvious within a few hours that he was getting worse: his temperature came back, his heartrate became irregular and sky-rocketed and his breathing became very stressed and ineffective.
Josiah passed around 5:30 PM on August 2nd, 2009. He was surrounded by his parents, Marie & Andrew, his grandparents, Don & Bev Haak, and our pastor Rob & Leanne Dyck. We sang with wavering voices, we cried, and Marie & I held Josiah close as he went. It was difficult - the worst day of my life - but we believe that despite what his body was going through that Josiah was in peace, felt no pain, and was perhaps already in heaven though his body was with us.
We were blessed to have many of our family and friends join us as Josiah was entering heaven. Many were able to say their good-byes and hold him one last time. We are blessed to be loved so deeply, death is always best as a community.
We know Josiah is best off in heaven and for that reason we don't want him back. But we miss him so much. He was in God's hands from the very beginning, and he is there now in God's presence free of all the challenges and obstacles that he faced on a daily basis here.
As you all know, Josiah was unique in more than just his physical challenges. He had a presence, a spirit that transcended all of his limitations so that he touched more lives than any toddler could. Strangers on the street, families on all continents, and friends and family who interacted with him regularly, we all experienced God's blessing through the love Josiah gave everyone. His smile, his touch, his eyes that looked right at you shared more than any words could say.
Memorial arrangements will hopefully be communicated within the next day. We ask for prayer, not only for us and the many families who are grieving, but also for the planning that needs to take place through the next week. Obviously we want the whole process to be as easy and trouble-free as possible.
There are no words to express the heartbreak that Marie & I will live with for the rest of our days. And we understand that many of you will also walk with that same heartbreak. And in the same way, there are no words to express our sorrow for all of you who are grieving alongside of us.
For all those who have cheered, wailed, prayed, and supported Josiah, Marie & I through the last two and a half years, we are grateful beyond comprehension. Josiah lived and beat the odds because of the prayers of you were heard by our powerful God. Josiah was "supported by the Lord" (as his name means), and he continues to in that reality now by Jesus' side.
There is much still to say, and maybe there will be time for Marie and I to share more of our heart. We'll see what the next days and weeks will bring. For the moment we live just to make the next decision.
We are broken. Yet in the grace, strength, and mercy of our God and Saviour, and the presence of Spirit and people, we are forever blessed.
- Andrew, Marie, and - our precious gift from God - Josiah