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Remembering Joe

Perhaps you read in last week's post about our son's 19-year-old best friend who perished in a tragic motorcycle accident. Joe bought a new motorcycle and crashed the same day when a truck turned suddenly in front of him.

Below you will see thoughts our family wrote and the minister read at his funeral in South Dakota.

Joe and our son were best friends and partners in mischief. Although Joe was five years younger than his buddy, their appetite for mischief was about equal. Whether mudding or racing 4-wheelers across the prairie, they lived life to the fullest, daring one another to jump a little further, climb a little higher, and yes, even pry a rattlesnake out of a hole in the rock, just to prove they could.

One of the things they loved best was laughing. In fact, one of my favorite memories involved one of their crazy stunts at our house in the country. We had a plastic, gallon-size jar of mayonnaise that had turned rancid. Looking for something to do, the boys wondered what would happen if our son shot it close range with his gun. The older of the two would shoot; Joe would watch.

You can guess what happened. The jar exploded, covering our son with mayonnaise, head to toe—but especially on his face. I looked out my kitchen window just in time to see Joe fall face forward on the ground, pounding the ground and laughing. That was just one of many episodes. The Lord was merciful in not letting us see them all.

Every Tom Sawyer needs his Huck Finn, and Joe and his best friend mirrored Mark Twain’s famous duo. As they grew older their zest for adventure expanded, but their common sense didn’t always keep up.

There was another magnet that drew these two friends together. I think it may have been their being the youngest child in their families, with so many years between them and their siblings. Since they spent so much time laughing together, we can only surmise they may have cried together a few times too. And that’s what friends are for.

In Mark Twain’s famous book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, there is a scene where Tom has been missing for a while and the townspeople think he no longer lives. He appears in the balcony during his memorial service and listens in wonder at the kind things people say about him.

We can’t know for sure if Joe was able to pray while struggling to breathe the last few hours of his life. I like to think that our merciful God allowed him that opportunity. If He did, and if Joe is allowed to peek over the balconies of heaven right now, I think he would want us to remember the good times. And while his best friend couldn’t be here right now, he assured Joe’s mom in a text that remembering the carefree times gives him closure on the life of his best friend. And it’s okay to cry too; God made us that way.

To Joe’s family: know that while his place at the table now is vacant, he will always live in our hearts and yours. Thanks for sharing your son and brother with us.

--From the Sarver Family

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