Paul had battled brain cancer at the age of four, went on to live a very healthy, fulfilling life despite the medical statistics against him, and worked through daily difficulties that others could only imagine. After he was diagnosed with cancer again in 2011, he moved back in with my parents while he was treated. Through surgeries, chemo, and trial-and-error pain medications, Paul was hands-down the best patient I have ever witnessed. My parents said he never complained about his lot in life and expressed gratefulness for the things they did for him each day. He didn't see himself as a remarkable person, although almost everyone who met him knew he was.
When I was small, I wanted to be just like him. I remember a picture of us standing next to each other when we were about 6 and 3 years old. I was wearing the same outfit Paul was wearing and looked so proud of myself. For the past several years, I've felt exactly the same way - I can't think of a better person to imitate than my big brother in so many areas of life. Because he trusted Jesus for salvation from his sins, he had peace knowing that God would take care of him on this earth and heal him fully in heaven. He had always enjoyed working, serving others, and being useful. He lost many of his physical abilities as the cancer progressed, but he continued to love others well and pray regularly for their burdens. Sometimes I find myself wondering what he's up to in heaven. If I had to guess, I'd bet he's doing what he always loved and serving others with a body, mind, and soul that are no longer limited.
Needless to say, we miss Paul terribly and will continue to miss him for the rest of our lives. There is amazing comfort knowing that he trusted Jesus to forgive his sins and offer him a relationship with God. He is experiencing unimaginable joy in heaven because he is finally with God - not because he deserved it or worked towards it during his life, but because Jesus lived perfectly and died to pay for the sins of everyone who trusts in him. So I have joy and comfort despite the grief of missing Paul, and I will be forever grateful for the way God has used him to impact my life.
This picture was taken in June 2011 when we celebrated my parents' 40th anniversary just before Paul was diagnosed with cancer.
Emma got to meet him for the first time in June 2013. He was so proud of his niece. She will grow up hearing lots of stories about Uncle Paul!