It has been about two weeks since the death of my friend, Jon Parks. He fought a courageous 15 year battle against prostate cancer. I had the pleasure of walking with him during this journey along with his wife Eileen. I remember our first couples group after he learned of his diagnosis. I will never forget hearing him cry out to God, “I don’t want to die!” Jon loved life. He loved his wife, Eileen, and he loved his boys. Jon wanted to live with every cell in his body.
I miss Jon. The Center for Christian Life Enrichment has lost a vital member of our body and we are hurting. Everyone is hurting. It is our turn to experience the pain that Jon lived with every day. I must confess that I was so relieved when I learned of Jon’s death. It hurt me to my core to see him suffering, even though he handled it with such courage and grace. I feel like it is our turn now, Jon. You have passed the baton of a life lived well to us.
When I remember Jon the word that comes to my mind is passion. Jon was passionate about everything aligned with life. Everyone and everything was his favorite. Jon made you feel like you were the most important person in his life in that moment. A rare gift. Even more rare because Jon meant it. In spite of his boundless enthusiasm, Jon was sincere. An unusual combo.
I will always think of Jon as a poet. I have been blessed so many times through listening to his poetry. I think back to the many times when I was leading a group and I would catch that hungry look in his eye. I knew what it meant. Jon had another poem he had written and it was crying out to be shared in that moment. I would reluctantly relinquish turrning over the mic to Jon, lest I never get it back. How I miss those times now. I want to share one of his poems that is crying out to be shared. I share this in honor of his life.
When you’re dying of cancer,
it really doesn’t matter if the Mets won, or who’s running
for president, or that the windows need painting,
you only notice the tick, tick, tick of the clock as time slips
silently away from you,
and like sand pouring through your fingers,
it scatters into the wind and onto the cold ground,
reminding you each golden moment of life, of your life,
is gone forever once lived,
and that they are not endless,
and that there are only so many God gives you,
and no more,
just death and then eternity.
So live your moments well my cancerous comrades,
and do your loving well,
as you battle on against this beast so vile and strong,
let every dawn be one more victory,
each setting sun a crown upon your head;
you who’ve learned the truth of all that’s valuable:
the ecstasy of living for another day,
of knowing you are loved,
and feeling God Himself so close to you.
Sing, robin red breast,
sing your lovely chorus to the day,
and dance around the branches, squirrel,
for all of nature loves your praise for life,
and we will join your chorus,
we who know the glory of this day.
Once again, Jon, my scarcity has been overwhelmed with joy and awe. Thanks for sharing, my brother. Your heart is huge.