Joy Follows Sorrow

She gave me a daughter exactly six months and one day after we exchanged our “I Do’s” in her uncle’s back yard. Located in the County Seat—directly across the street from her childhood home—Uncle Dee Jay has a very impressive landscape. The perfect setting for a shotgun wedding.

My daughter has proven to me that there is indeed life after death. Her name is Anna, and she is my undeniable proof that joy most definitely follows sorrow…

Oh, the irony of it all.


I’ve come to realize that what happens to the human body when it quits is not simply a single sound (kaput!). And there is not just nothingness to the point of dead. On the contrary, there are lots of sounds and a whole heck of a lot of somethings: beeps, whistles, inhale, exhale, buzz, bangs, laughter, tears, sobs, tantrums, fevers… The complex molecules, which make up your body tissue, decay into smaller, simpler molecules like ammonia, carbon dioxide and water. Nearly all the complex molecules decay into simpler molecules... without a controlled input of energy.

I’ve seen it – in all its glory, up close and personal. I have been eye to eye with it. I’ve held its hand and rubbed its swollen head. I’ve reminisced with it while it just sat there, unable to move or respond or listen. I’ve cried on top of it and I’ve beaten the hell out of it with my fists.

I’ve been beaten by it. Again.

Joshua died. The baseball player. The illegitimate son of a legitimate rape victim.  An innocent little boy, conceived in a grocery store parking lot in Orange County, Florida. He’s dead (kaput!). He got hit by a car on Jenkins Road in Fayette County, Georgia. I was at work, working, when I got the call: “Your brother was hit by a car. We don’t think he’s gonna wake up.”

He got an intra cranial hematoma. Those things cause swelling of the brain, and because the brain is enclosed in the skull, it does not have room to swell, and that causes  pressure within the skull to increase (this is called "intra cranial pressure"), and this stops blood flow to the brain, and that kills brain cells, and that causes herniating of the brain – which pushes the brain outside of its allotted space, and when brain cells die they do not grow back, and that causes big-time damage, and that is permanent and irreversible, and that’s when people die.

Did you know that a person's heart can still go on beating even after all of that?

Oh, the irony of it all.

Because of the ventilator and medications helping to keep blood pressure normal, people can go on “living”. They can also go into cardiac arrest and start to convulse and sweat and shake and bleed and ooze and blister. Their insides can begin to boil, literally, because of fever.

The Executioner knew all about this a long time ago. He tried to warn us.

The human body is an amazing thing. It never just quits, and there is never just nothingness to the point of dead. A part of it – even a big part, like the brain for Christ’s sakes – can all but disintegrate, and the body just keeps on fighting. Fighting. Burning. Bleeding. Burning. Fight. Fight. Fight!

“Oh, just pull the goddamn plug already! Can’t you see he’s gone?”


He was a neat kid. He had been known to play up to 6-hour long games of Tetris on his ‘Gameboy.’ He thought about and talked about and read about and ate about and slept about and breathed about sex and boobies and French kisses. He studied the Victoria’s Secret catalog like it was a dissertation on the human genome project. He liked strange music and Japanese cartoons. He loved America, and hoped to defend Her one day.

He was the sweetest, most sincere, truthful, kind-hearted and annoying teenager I’ve ever known. He was a seventeen-year-old little boy. And now he’s gone. (kaput!). Dead. Deceased. No longer with us. Passed on…


Twenty-seven hours after we put Joshua in the ground, my wife gave me a son. His name is Ben.

Sorrow. Joy.

Oh, the irony of it all.