Sunday, January 5, 2014

Celebrating Brady's 10th anniversary in Heaven - Guest post by Rich


Last photo of Rich and Brady, New Year's Day 2004

Today is the ten year anniversary of our son Brady’s home going. I am privileged not only to guest blog for the e-Wife (my-Wife) but also to recount our son’s story and provide a bit of a summary of what his life and death has meant to us and others over the last decade.

In the early morning of January 5, 2004, our son went to be with the Lord at age 14 after succumbing to the effect of a four-year battle with medulloblastoma brain cancer. He had previously put his faith and trust in Jesus, his Lord and Savior, having also been baptized at age 13. So Heaven is now his home and where we will meet again and enjoy eternal life together, having had a life cut short here on earth.
Karen and I are privileged for the gift of God that Brady was, and accept all that happened through his illness as God’s good and perfect will. We are satisfied with all that happened. We are also privileged to have a child that has made an impact on so many people.

I’d like to start with reprinting, if you will, the text of the eulogy that I presented at Brady’s memorial held on January 12, 2004. The week leading up to that day, and the day itself, was so amazing and so precious to our family. We were so touched and blessed during that time by the huge outpouring of not only the hundreds and hundreds of people who showed up, but of their genuine love and concern. We had already been blessed all those four years by so many. That day was also for those who came to the memorial since many of them had invested a personal concern. We literally had friends fly in from across the country to be there. One such was Mark MacKenzie, a US Marine who befriended Brady as his wife was also receiving treatment at the City of Hope. Mark flew in all the way from his base in Florida to present to us an Honorary Marine Certificate for Brady. I have also carried these past ten years a card that Mark gave us stating the USMC core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. It has reminded me not only of Brady, but of that day, and, I must say, that it truly stands as the greatest day of my life. 

So here is the text of that day. Please see after this additional thoughts and memories of Brady and what the Lord did and continues to do through his life.
Eulogy
"A few months ago when it became fairly evident that Brady wouldn’t be with us too much longer our family began listening to our pastor’s recorded series on Heaven. Although he didn’t know it at the time, I wanted to give Brady an audio brochure of the place he would spend eternity. We didn’t quite get to finish the series but I’m sure he now knows the ending.

“I wanted to ell you a bit about my son. But before I do we wanted to extend our thanks to all who came along side of Brady and us over the years. I would like to start with Brady’s medical team at the City of Hope Hospital. His oncologist Dr. Michael Jensen, and his nurses Debbie Toomey and Karla Wilson (Nurse Practitioner) have not only provided the best care available on this planet, but have truly become family to us. Their genuine personal concern for Brady is one of our greatest blessings. Karla was extra special, and was with us the night Brady passed away helping him overcome the greatest pain he had over his four years. Brady spent many days at the City of Hope and the entire medical staff has become great friends to us. We are completely satisfied with the care we received at the City of Hope and are so grateful to the Lord that he used that facility and these people to prolong Brady’s life.

“I also wanted to say a special thanks to all of the blood and platelet donors, who, by their service, kept Brady alive. They all have a yellow ribbon on and I would like them to stand to receive the honor they are due. I know many more of you wanted to give as well. And many of you helped us in other waysm such as caring for Drew and Emma.

“Thanks also to our families and the ways they tangibly were able to meet our needs especially Karen’s parents Wanda and Steve – the only ones other than Karen trusted Brady with.
“Just by the very nature of what we were dealing with in caring for Brady there wasn’t much of a hands-on way that you all could help. But we do know that many of you prayed to our Lord. To you all I want to give an encouragement. The main reason we pray is to give God Glory. One of the marvelous guarantees Jesus gave us was, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” That amazing promise had a reason, and it was not merely for the benefit of those who asked.  Rather, Jesus said it was “that the Father may be Glorified in the Son.” The reason we pray is so that God can display His glory. That is why we know we receive from Him what is best for us and what glorifies Him most. Please know that in the answers to your prayers God has shown His glory.

“We all, as a church, have just started this year a scripture memory program and the first verse of the year really speaks to Brady’s life. Psalm 103 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord , O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems you life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;” It is truth that the Lord has blessed us in answer to your prayers regarding Brady. Look at all the benefits He gave Brady right out of this passage; forgiveness of sin when Brady placed his trust in Jesus, freedom from all sickness and death in Heaven, abundant mercy and everything he ever truly needed. If you ever prayed that Brady would be healed, please know that now he is. If you ever prayed that Brady would be comforted, please know he experienced God’s grace, mercy, and lovingkindness daily.

“In the summer of 1999 Brady began experiencing seizures in his sleep. As a part of the diagnosis for what was later determined to be partial/benign epilepsy, he underwent a routine CAT-scan. I was from this scan in November of that year that cancer was discovered in his brain completely separate from the seizures. By God’s providence we were able to begin what was to be a four-year treatment. Immediate surgery to remove the tumor was followed by over a year and a half of radiation and chemo-therapy. At the end of that time, Brady actually went into remission for about a year. However, tumors were again spotted along his spinal cord and into his brain. This began another two years of treatments that included high-dose chemotherapy and experimental intrathical chemotherapy in Washington State. He later embarked on various deferent chemotherapies and experimental drugs. The toll of all of this treatment was very hard on Brady’s body. He had part of his lung removed to treat a bout of pneumonia. In the end he became platelet and blood-transfusion dependent. His boy became too weak for any additional treatment and there were no more medical options to save his life. For some time it became very evident to us that any pain of losing Brady was overcome by the pain of seeing his body suffer more and the joy of knowing he would be with his God in heaven.

“I will say that never once did Brady complain about his trial, nor was he angry, bitter or express self-pity. He trusted in his parents and his God. He came to accept his cancer as his lot. A friend of mine said that Brady had a heart of a lion. I like that because it gives a picture of the great quality that the Lord gave Brady – that of courage. Those of you who know Brady and the trials that he went through can appreciate the definition of courage and how it describes Brady:  mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty; Courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty; the synonym Mettle suggests an ingrained capacity for meeting strain or difficulty with fortitude and resilience; the synonym Spirit also suggests a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one’s own or keep up one’s morale when opposed or threatened; two more, Resolution and Tenacity stresses firm determination to achieve one’s ends and implications of stubborn persistence and unwillingness to admit defeat.
“During his struggle my boy had a strength and resiliency that is a model to me. I am proud of my son for how he handled himself through his trial.
“Well, Brady truly was wonderful to be around. He delighted us with his smarts, maturity, and incredible sense of humor. He was very independent. He had many interests in spited of his limitations. In fact he often times said he didn’t have enough time to do all he wanted. 
He was always productive and kept himself occupied. Some of his interests and favorites were:

  • ·         Jeopardy. He would often time come up with the answers to the most obscure Final Jeopardy questions. I remember one time he got the answer to who was the first baby girl colonist born in America. How did he know this? Because...
  • ·         He loved to read. He read everything from “Star Wars” to “Battle for the Beginning.” From the “Lord of the Rings” to the Lord of the universe. He knew a lot because he read a lot. He especially loved history, and read the Business and Sports section of the L.A. Times every day with breakfast.
  • ·         He followed sports. Peyton Manning and the Colts were his favorite. And so far they haven’t been disappointing. Whenever Peyton was falling behind, Brady put on his rally Peyton Manning jersey to cheer them on. This year it’s guaranteed to be either Peyton in the Super Bowl or at least another Brady (Tom Brady the Patriots QB, that is!)
  • ·         Drew and Emma loved their brother. Brady praised Emma’s homemade cookies and Drew and him spent endless times rapping about sports at bedtime in their bunks.
  • ·         He liked to buy and sell on E-Bay.
  • ·         He was a meticulous and studied stock picker. He once figured he’d make a huge killing on a X-dividend stock and came to me and asked for only $8,000 to invest. His uncle finally convinced him that if anything is too good to be true it probably was. But overall his account has gained 50%.
  • ·         He was sustained physically with his love for, and the high caloric qualities of, In-And-Out burgers and Starbucks frappuccinos.
  • ·         One of his biggest joys was his little cousins: Austin, Luke, and Vance – and he was never bothered by them even when he was feeling ill. He loved to give them what toys and candy that he could.
  • ·         He also loved this church and its ministries from Cubbies to Big AWANA, to Juniors, to Student Ministries. It was a physical struggle just to get here sometimes but he was determined to do it and to be with his friends. He was especially fond of his high school Bible study. He essentially hadn’t grown since he was 10 years old yet he had no qualms of going and being among the Amazon senior girls!

“While we were watching him decline physically over time, we really watched him grow spiritually. He seemingly always told the truth and was passionate about justice. He was long-suffering and generous. He took his walk with the Lord seriously and was consistent with his person time with the Lord in prayer and meditation. He didn’t worry about his life or the future. He was what every parent should want for their child – chosen and saved by God.

“I would like to address the thought that no child or parent should have to go through what has happened. Everything we have is by God’s grace in giving us what we don’t deserve and His mercy in withholding that which we do deserve. Suffering is part of the human experience. There are no guarantees for tomorrow. But this life is not all there is. If the goal of life is to be like Christ we need to be willing to live a life like Christ who suffered unto death. The great part though is that Christ rose from the dead to Heaven, and through Him we might also live forever with Him.

“I always thought it interesting that Brady was treated at the City of Hope. In a real way God does use the acts and affairs of men to accomplish His purposes and in this way we did have hope in the care Brady was receiving would give him physical life.

“But there is another hope. It is one that is more than a wish. It is longing for with the guarantee of obtainment. My son was not perfect. As a child he was extremely stubborn and prideful. But he came to a point in his life that he realized he was just like everyone else and needed the forgiveness of sins from God through the work of Jesus on the cross. Brady’s faith and trust was in Christ alone. And his hope was in heaven to come. His hope has been fulfilled.”

Thoughts and Memories…
That day was special and largely because of the people who were there, most from Grace Community Church. I am also really grateful and thankful to my L.A. Department of Water & Power family of friends who showed up in mass. I remember Karen asking me, “Who are all these people?” Well, 10 years ago Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and CaringBridge didn’t exist. Nor did The e-Wife Blogs Again. But email did and Karen would regularly update our friends and family. I then sent those posts to folks at DWP. So they all followed along my wife’s sweet updates and when it came time they showered us with much honor.
For the memorial, in lieu of flowers, we directed donations to be made to the “Brady Harasick Memorial Fund.” Quite astonishingly to us, the fund collected more than $12,000. Karen and I decided to direct those funds to the Irpin Biblical Seminary library in Ukraine so that the brothers there would be better trained to preach and teach God’s Word. Greg White and our friends Bruce and Aimee Alvord (we lived next to Aimee’s parents for a couple of years) are missionaries serving at the Seminary. In each book that was purchased for the library, there is a note affixed that states, in part, the “money given to his memorial fund would make you greater equipped to serve the Lord, and more like the Savior whom Brady loved.” Brady’s favorite Bible verse, James 1:2-4, is also inscribed.

People often try to make sense of why seemingly bad things happen. Even when we acknowledge that it is all according to God’s divine plan, and know it all brings Him glory, He doesn’t always reveal his purposes to us. Some things we’ll only find out the why in Heaven, but sometimes he lets us in on the plan. Such as with the money collected for the Irpin Seminary. I can’t wait to find out the rest of the story of how God used those books to bring forth the salvation of his people in Ukraine and beyond.

But how God used and is still using Brady’s story doesn’t end with a far off seminary. It is not uncommon for Karen and I to still hear how people have been impacted and moved by how God worked in our family. In fact, just two weeks ago I was talking to a mom who was using Brady as a real like example to her kids of the frailty of life and the urgency of making a decision for Christ while the opportunity is still available.

Again, it’s the people that my memories are most associated with. I have a friend that has remembered Brady’s home going and birthday every year and writes to encourage me. We are still friends with Brady’s Nurse Practitioner and have fond memories of the City of Hope. Our son and daughter Drew and Emma spent countless days doing their homeschooling in that place and exploring the buildings and grounds as they accompanied Brady to his treatments. Just a couple of years ago, Emma chose to volunteer for a semester there, mostly because of her attachment to it. She was definitely able to show genuine empathy and compassion to families of patients as she hosted them around the campus because she herself was once in their position.

Most every year we’ve marked the anniversary of this date in some way. This year with this post and a lunch with our family. Most years we try to make it to The Crab Cooker in Newport which was one of Brady’s favorite restaurants. Once our front porch was built, I stenciled on Psalm 103:1-4 around the soffit. As I stated in his eulogy, this verse has special meaning to our family. Also of special meaning is the song “It Is Well With My Soul.” This song was sung by our good friends Dave and Erin Hoffman at the memorial. Years later Emma surprised us and arranged to have them sing it again when we visited them at their church in Tennessee. I had a copy of the song sheet of that song framed as an anniversary gift another year.

The memories are all good. Time allows you to make sense of it all and to grow from it. As a Christian I know that everything that happens is for my good and God’s glory. That’s the heart of progressive sanctification. I first received the news that something was critically wrong with Brady and that he had a brain tumor when Karen called from the hospital. When I got off the phone, I immediately prayed. From Pastor John’s teaching, I was confident in God’s sovereignty in what was happening, and what was to happen. I knew God was not caught off guard, but was actually orchestrating it all. I did have a fear though. It was not of Brady dying, but, for some reason, of him ending up wheelchair bound. I questioned whether I had the strength to deal with that. Over those four years Brady would experience much worse things and actually did end up unable to walk. But God was working in me and through me. My faith was tested and proven such that I continue to give Christ praise and glory.

You see, the Christian life is set apart for God. It’s not just about us. It is being brought closer to the likeness of Christ through obedience to the word of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. If we think our work is impossible, we face the task with fear and discouragement. As God works out his plan according to “the counsel of His will,” he energizes every believer with the power necessary for his spiritual completion. God’s glory, as evidenced by changed lives, is the supreme purpose of redemption.

Again, how does God do this? Through the Word (“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”, John 17:17), sufferings, and trials/circumstances of life He takes up residence in us and sanctifies us.
Karen and I have had many opportunities to tell Brady’s story, and maybe more importantly God’s story of Brady. Sometimes these have been informally and sometimes to a larger audience. One was for a Grace to You Television piece on the sovereignty of God and the existence of evil where the story of Brady and our family and how we responded from a biblical perspective was interwoven with Pastor John MacArthur’s teaching on the subject. You can view it HERE

We also had the tremendous opportunity to be featured in the Grace Community Church “Fifty Years of Grace” anniversary video. You can view it HERE and Brady’s story is featured in the very beginning (first 40 seconds) and the end (last two minutes starting at 22:30). In conclusion to that video, Pastor John states what makes Grace Church. He says “It’s always about the Bible because it’s always about the truth contained in Scripture.” He goes on to say that people are at Grace Church because they love the truth and they live the truth. The narrative then turns to me, and to underscore how God uses his Word to sanctify us, I say, “That’s what we have as Christians. We have the Bible. That’s what sets us apart. We have the Word of God. We have God speaking to us. It changes lives. It does. It changed our lives.”

Much Grace,
Rich






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1 comment:

Serving and Seeking said...

I did not have the privilege of knowing Brady or to even know you guys during this difficult time. But, thank you for sharing. God is glorified in it! I cried my way through reading it all. God is good. His word is perfect. So thankful for Christ's work in Brady's heart and ours! Michelle Rivera