Just the word itself gets me emotional. I can feel my throat swelling up as I try to hold back tears. I hate that word. But, I wasn’t always like this, you see death just seemed a part of the circle of life to me. It was something that came when you were old and then you went to heaven and got wings, that was my idea of it. But then, on December 12th, 2011 death became a reality to me. It wasn’t just this simple sugar coated thing anymore. It was happening right here, in my life, in front of my face and it seemed like everything got turned upside down.
Troy Gray was one of the most inspirational people who have ever come into my life. I met Troy when I was a sophomore in high school. He was this very very large man, with giant cheeks, and a really small mouth and he would usually be singing any Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears or Nsync song every Monday night @7:29 but that’s not what caught my attention. This man had a light in him, he was special, he had something so precious, he had a relationship with Jesus Christ. I wanted that. I wanted what he had. Troy was one of my younglife leaders who shared the message of Jesus to me. He let me know that I am a daughter of the King and nothing can snatch me out of His hands. He told me I was loved with the most perfect love. He taught me that this Man I never knew died so He could know me. And even when I keep making the wrong decisions, Jesus continuously flows mercy & grace into my life. In May 2008, in Williams, Arizona at Younglife’s Lost Canyon summer camp, I dedicated my life to the Lord thanks to Troy. I spent all of high school in the younglife ministry and I would never change the experiences I had for anything in the whole wide world. As time went on, things changed and so did I. Although I know Troy always cared for me, we slowly lost contact as we both went out with our lives. The last time I saw Troy was probably in late 2010.
In July 2011, I was informed that Troy had been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. It felt as if the world had stopped for a second. How could this happen to my friend, to someone I cared so dearly for? To someone who had faithfully served the Lord with his whole heart? To a man who deeply, deeply loved his wife, son, and new daughter so much? But, we all hoped for the best and brought our request to heal our friend to the Lord each and every day. As the months went on, God blessed me to be able to serve the Gray’s during this time with helping to watch the kids. I cherish every moments I have with them. I thank God for the opportunity He has given me to serve them. I remember the day so clearly. Kelly had just come home from visiting Troy at the hospital and was excited because he was going to be able to spend thanksgiving at home, Garrison would be ecstatic, considering he was mini Troy, seriously Garrison is a tiny man haha & he had missed his dad since he got sick. Joy overcame me, God is good.
The next time I heard from Kelly was through their caring bridge website about two/three weeks later. The cancer was spreading rapidly and options where running out. They would try one more treatment to see if they could stop the cancer. A few days later we were informed they would be sending Troy home to spend his final days with his family. It’s like it didn’t set in with me, I still thought a miracle was going to happen and I knew God could heal Troy. He had too, I’ve prayed for Him to do it all the time. I couldn’t lose hope, I knew my God was greater than this. On December 12th, 2011 God healed Troy’s broken body and called him home to be with Him for eternity.
Although this has been a difficult, difficult journey for me, in a weird way it has also been a blessing because I know death isn’t the end. That we can have hope in Jesus Christ and His atonement and know that this life is a small part compared to the eternal destiny waiting for us. Christ died on the cross and rose again so death wouldn’t be the end of our story, but so it could only be the beginning. There are days when I really miss my friend and wish he was here. I wish I could have done something different, seen him one last time, tell him how much he made an impact in my life and thank him for loving Jesus the way he did. There are nights when I cry to Lord asking “Why?” even though I know I’ll never understand in this lifetime and I know with time, I’ll be okay with not knowing. But sometimes as hard as it is, I hold onto the hope in Jesus, that I will see him again one day, and that his family is his forever. Although I sometimes wish the circumstances were different, I’m grateful for the friendship I have been developing with Kelly & the kids, as I’ve got to serve them these past four months and continue to do so. God is still good through all this, I know that, and I testify of that. He loves us, He cares for us, and we are forever His.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”