A Mother’s Words
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”— Josh’s chosen life verse
My niece Susan posted these words- long before Facebook- to remember a boy who changed her forever and made her a better person. I got to witness that first hand. We were so young- me having just finished college and moved to California, – she having settled down, married and had her first amazing baby. Her faith was strong and she was ready for life lived fully! Little did we know God had other plans…
After Josh died, she asked only that remember her son and that we be not afraid to talk about him, her pain and to be present to her loss. That lesson has served me well and as I wrap up a vacation, some time at a 25-year reunion ( Go #cua1993!!!) I post her words with a simple reminder and a call. Remember Joshua Badeu Perez. If you know Susan, ask her about her son, her daughter and her daddy. If you know a mother who has lost a baby, be comforting and present- ask (and listen) about how they are doing and hear the stories of the joys and sorrow. Giving witness gives peace.
[ Shortly before his untimely death, Joshua created this picture for his mom. Susan explained that Josh said, “Mom, she’s sad because she’s lost something.” This is one of the last pictures he drew for her and it hung on the fridge when she returned to her empty, broken home. ]
Susan’s Journey with Joshua, Motherhood and with God
January 26 1994 was the day the Joshua Aaron Perez was born into this world. As I held my baby boy in my arms for the first time I knew my life was changed forever. I never knew I could love someone as much as I loved that child. Joshua made me want to be a better person and became the reason I was looking for to become that person.
Joshua was a great baby, he hardly ever slept, he was always looking around. He was one of those children that you could not lay on their stomach. He had to be able to see everything. I use to tell people that I wish I could know that he was thinking. It was like you could see his wheels turning all the time.
Night time was our special time. I would rock him to sleep and sing Amazing Grace to him (it was amazing that he would go to sleep to my singing) that song made sense because it amazed me that God would trust ME with such a precious gift. What if I messed up? What if I did not do it right? I was scared as many new parents are when faced with the face of God through a child.
As Joshua grew he always amazed me. He was a special child with a very sweet spirit. I saw that spirit very early on. He always had a smile on his face (OK not always, he had his moments). His smile would light up a room. He loved to make others smile and hear them laugh. He was easy going and loved to help other people.
When Jennifer was born I was so scared that he would be jealous, I had heard all the horror stories from other mom’s that fought that. But Joshua was not jealous at all. He loved holding his little sister, feeding her, and helping mommy bath her. Often as Jennifer was napping in her crib Joshua would crawl up in the crib with her and just lay there and pat her back as she slept. As Jennifer grew Joshua taught her how to talk, he would tell her all the names of things and get her to repeat them. As they grew Joshua loved teaching his little sister new things that he was learning in school and helped her to begin writing and doing math. He was the greatest big brother to that little girl and again I would so often find myself asking God how I was so lucky to have such a great son. I obviously did not deserve to be so blessed.
Joshua did not always excel at everything though. As he progressed in school it became obvious to me and his teachers that there was a problem. Joshua always brought home great grades but it became harder and harder for him to maintain his grades. He became frustrated that he had to work so hard while it seemed so easy for others in his class. He began to doubt himself and as a parent that crushed me.
During this time I often told him how smart he was and used positive words of affirmation and this is when Philippians 4:13 became his life verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. So he went through testing at school and we discovered that Joshua has dyslexia. He was now labeled and that scared me, I did not want him to think he was different. Joshua was so excited that there was a name for it and he embraced it as a gift. He was different and that was OK with him. He went to special classes and if anyone made fun of him he just laughed it off. He stared excelling in school again and while it was still hard he knew that it was a gift that God had given him and he was just fine with him. He never gave up and always strived to do his very best. That became one of the most valuable lessons my child taught me.
Joshua was a great friend to all. When he started third grade he came home so excited one day and told me about this boy in his class that was from China, Bill, he said: “mom, he does not speak much English but I think I understand him”. They became great friends and Joshua spoke of him often. He always seemed to be drawn to others that were different.
Joshua had a great relationship with the Lord as well. When he was seven he asked Jesus into his heart. I remember being so proud of him but a the same time being scared that he did not fully understand the significance of his decision, after all he was just seven.
As I watched him with other people though I realized that he did understand and he took that commitment seriously. The last summer we had together a friend of mine had surgery and we went over often to check on her and help her with chores around the house. Joshua was always so excited to go and loved serving her. He served other so well, not just adults but his classmates as well.
Joshua was a great son and loved me well. I will never know this side of heaven why God chose me to be his mother but I am so grateful for the time I had with him. I often say to people that I think I learned more from my children than they ever learned from me. Joshua taught me how to love unconditionally and how it be a friend to all.
I miss you Josh and until we are together again always remember: I love you to the moon and back!!
Your Mommy – 5 December 2003