It was a beautiful day filled with joy, anticipation, and beauty. The sun was shining brightly, and the waves were rolling up on the beach as we drove down Pacific Coast Highway through LaJolla. Kristi and I were off to celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. How could anything possibly interrupt this moment?
My phone rang, and as I looked to see who was calling I didn’t even need to answer to know what I was about to hear.
I answered to hear my good friend Pete gathering himself to deliver a message both of us knew could come any day, but neither wanted to accept. “Jim, Jim Suski passed away just a couple hours ago.”
About 18 months ago, Jim was hospitalized. The diagnosis was pneumonia. After almost four weeks in the hospital Jim was not making much progress. With his lung capacity at about 60%, and deteriorating daily, he was transferred to the UCLA Medical Center.
The best doctors in the country consulted on Jim’s case, and concluded he had a rare infection that was attacking his lungs.
The doctors were not optimistic. Jim told his doctor he wished to dance at his son’s wedding. When his doctor asked Jim the date of the wedding Jim replied, “He’s not engaged yet!”
Ultimately, Jim received a lung transplant. Soon after he underwent back surgery, suffered further complications, and was hospitalized for an another extended hospital stay.
Given Jim’s condition and journey you would not expect Jim to be joyful, or thankful for his circumstances, but that is just what he continued to do.
Even the simplest things became difficult. Eating, bathing, sleeping and breathing commanded his attention and energy.
Ask Jim how he was doing and he would be quick to tell you – he was positive, optimistic and enthusiastic.
Jim called himself a “walking miracle.” He frequently told me that all who prayed for him and encouraged him were part of his miracle, and he gave thanks to God for this journey.
Weeks before Jim passed, I asked about his state of mind. “Jim, I am prepared, but not ready.”
Days before Jim passed he told me, “I am prepared and ready, it has been an wonderful and amazing journey.”
Tears flowed as Pete and I talked about the gift of Jim’s life, friendship and impact.
“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
I Thessalonians 5:18
Jim danced at his son’s wedding, walked side-by-side in the journey of his life with his wonderful wife, celebrated the gift of grandchildren with his daughter and son-in-law, and relished in a World Series victory for his beloved White Sox. No regrets!
The sun still shined bright as it sat over the Pacific Ocean on June 26 – a reminder of the source of Jim’s positive, optimistic, and enthusiastic personality. I miss Jim, but celebrate the gift of his friendship and the example he lived out every day.
Jim’s path to preparedness and readiness was energized and supported by his knowledge and acceptance of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Jim’s joy and enthusiasm were a gift from our Creator, and he wanted everyone to know the source of his joy. How blessed I am to have known Jim and I look forward to seeing him again.
Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
Question: Let’s have a conversation, who has inspired you with how they have lived? You can leave a comment by clicking here.