A #JoeStrong Nation


Photo Via JMeyersForeman

If you could illuminate a map of the sadness across the world tonight, I think it would look like a spiderweb; interconnected and gleaming with energy emanating from one source. We lost our friend Joe. He is gone and we are left here, each feeling alone and at the same time united in our grief, united in our memories of him, sympathy for his mother who has lost too much in her life, love for his wife and child who will carry his legacy in their hearts and on their backs forever.

When he fought, we tried to fight too in the only way we knew how. We feebly sent thoughts and prayers and pictures and cards and messages of hope in every form. We visited and put on worried smiles. We wanted to rescue him but we didn’t know how. When he grew weary, we grew weary with him. He is gone but he has left a legacy of light and bravery in the world that is equaled only by the grace, dignity and courage shown by his wife Amanda.

Together, they weathered a devastating storm. By all accounts, everything should be ruined from the torrential rain and the gale-force winds, but when you look at what is left, a beautiful Mira-cle baby, a legacy of strength, a community of people aching to do something, anything to make things more bearable, you can start to see the light coming through the droplets that have collected in our web. We are forever connected by one incredible man.  He made us feel welcome, safe, funny, important, and loved.

To his family, there is so much to be said and yet nothing at all to say.

The lumps in our throats are nothing in comparison to their feelings, but here we are, hearts hurting and wanting to help.

So I want to end this night with an excerpt from a poem by Alan Seeger which is said to have been President JFK’s favorite poem. It’s in honor of our friend who faced his life with bravery and humor, even as it was being unraveled out from under him, in honor of his family who will always hold their heads high knowing what a meaningful life he led, and to anyone reading this who has been touched by their story. May we all be so brave and strong as Joe Clark.

I Have a Rendezvous with Death

I have a rendezvous with Death

At some disputed barricade,

When Spring comes back with rustling shade

And apple-blossoms fill the air-

I have a rendezvous with Death

When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

God knows ’twere better to be deep

Pillowed in silk and scented down,

Where love throbs out in blissful sleep

Pulse nigh to pulse and breath to breath,

Where hushed awakenings are dear…

But I’ve a rendezvous with Death

At midnight in some flaming town,

When Spring trips north again this year,

And I to my pledged word am true,

I shall not fail that rendezvous.

Florida Amanda Wedding 013

This sweet picture of Amanda and Joe with my Avery was taken two nights before their wedding, exactly three years ago tonight. I love the happiness in their smiles. I will always think of him this way.

Goodnight, sweet friends.

Orlando Sentinal Obituary


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