Our life with Jesse

written on AUGUST 26, 2020

It’s been nearly 2 years since his lifeless body left that ICU room after being there for five and a half months.

Jesse Paul Rotholz

Ive been waiting to write about Jesse. Waiting for what? To get over his death? The pain of his loss? I’m not exactly sure what I had been waiting for. Perhaps it was the anticipation of Jim’s book. Jesses dad Jim recently finished a book about his sons life titled, “Best Day Ever.”

Jim wrote from the perspective of a father and I am writing as a friend from the two years Ken and I got to know Jesse. We had so many amazing experiences with this young man on the Big Island of Hawaii. I highly encourage you to read about this young man’s life if you haven’t already. It’s a phenomenal read. I purchased several copies and I have passed a few of them out to close friends and family. Ironically, every time i pick up my own copy to read; I only get through a few pages and then I put it down. Why?

When I look at Jesses picture on the front of the book cover, I might as well be looking straight into Jesse’s sky blue eyes. A couple days ago, my husband Ken was scrolling through some Jesse photos on my phone and asked if we can delete some of the pictures of when Jesse was really sick. Ken said, “It’s really hard to look at them and besides it’s not how I want to remember him.” At first I didn’t want to delete any of the pics but the more I thought about it, Ken was right. Jesse wouldn’t want to be remembered like that. And it’s definitely not what he looks like now in heaven.

I can only imagine what his heavenly body is like. I’ve imagined hundreds of times how he is going to be recognized in heaven the way we knew him on earth, only more completely perfect.

I had just finished dinner with some friends at my daughters house in Seattle. We were all sitting in the backyard, I had washed all the dishes and cleaned the kitchen, I grabbed an ice tea, It was a cool spring evening. Everyone outside was talking and siping on their sparking drinks. I went into the guest room, sat on the bed and stared at the book. It seemed Jesse was staring right back at me. “Go ahead, pick it up, it’s a good time to read,” I could hear him say. So I opened to a part about his friend Wes and Katrina and how the three of them were sitting together at the banyan cafe at YWAM, and they were all talking until four in he morning. It described so accurately how Jesse did things, how he lived his life. It was all so vivid. I put the book down, went into the kitchen to get some water and came back and tried to read more. But I just couldn’t. Why?

As I was reflecting over my lifetime, I could recall the most profound loss for me was my father leaving when I was 4 or 5 (I can’t really remember). It was like he just vanished off the face of the earth with no explanation (from him or from anyone). Later on, it came as a surprise how significant loss could be and how deeply affected we are by it, regardless of how it happens. The grief from my dad was not from death but rather from abandonment. I just want to make mention here that loss is loss and grief is grief. Whether from a death or a breakup or an estrangement or whatever finds you at a loss, I would like to take this time to encourage you, that loss in time can heal. It never goes completely away, however, the sting of it will lessen and hopefully make us stronger in its own way. Going through hard times can mature us (if we will allow it), and it can broaden us in a way that we can learn to have compassion on those who have also suffered grief through a loss. One thing I have learned from being a nurse in hospice and from helping others through the process of grief is:

It’s important to be aware that there are special dates within that first year. Birthdays, Christmas, special occasions. And the anniversary day of the death. And these can be ‘triggers’, which is a really good thing to be aware of. It may not catch us off guard if we can anticipate these special dates and memories.

The second year it’s still hard but a little bit less. At times, we can still imagine the sound of their voice, recall their laugh or how they said their unique little phrases.

If you have ever grieved the loss of a loved one. It takes a long time for the sadness to go away. I have noticed that it will gradually start to wane after about 6 months. I’ve worked as a hospice nurse for many years and talked with many families about bereavement and there is generally a well planned program for a twelve month long process that is put together by hospice and offered to families for up to a year after their loss.

Jesse was someone who loved with no conditions and no limits. He reminded me so much of Jesus in just about everything he did.

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