Tragedy Can Inspire

Dear Joe,

If you're reading this then my feelings were right and something has happened to me and that something is that I'm dead ... Joe, I have a job for you, and only you. There is someone I need you to take care of for me."

That was the letter that changed Joe's life. The letter that asked him to take care of someone else instead of being taken care of. And without realizing it, what started as a favour to a lost treasured friend became the biggest gift he would ever receive. And sometimes, tragedy can inspire.


1. A Meaningless Desire

It both ended and started with McDonald’s and a burger.  All Joe had wanted was a Big Mac and not even that badly.  He was just used to throwing out a meaningless desire and it would be fulfilled by somebody around him, the scurrying of the warm body background noise to him. That was the way his life had been for the last three years.  He didn’t mean to take advantage of the people around him and he did it with such charm that no one thought they were being taken advantage of.  Besides, he always said please and thank you and genuinely appreciated the people who fulfilled his wishes.  That’s why the Big Mac had been just another simple desire.

Joe now sat in the sterile waiting room with only his brothers Nick and Kevin.  They were supposed to be at a party right now that was being thrown by their record company to celebrate the kickoff of the world tour they were about to embark on.  He was one third of the famous Jonas Brothers, Nick and Kevin the other two.  None of them had spoken since they had entered the room, just read the two year old Time and People magazines while they let the silence tell the story of sadness that was overwhelming them.

His parents were in the hall, visible through the two large windows across from him, his mother softly crying into his father’s shoulder as they sat on the hard plastic chairs that matched the ones their son’s sat in.  She pulled up suddenly and Joe saw a doctor walking down the hall towards the two of them.  Joe randomly thought about how his face was both detached and compassionate at the same time.

The doctor stopped in front of his parents, his face set in the mask of preset compassion.  He spoke to his father mainly and Joe ached to hear the words.  But he didn’t really need to hear them.  He could tell by the drop in his father’s head and the renewed sobs of his mother what was being said.  His father shook the doctor’s hand and Joe watched as he returned down the hall he had come down.

His parents held each other for one more moment and then slowly separated.  They spoke a few more words then his father left, assumedly to go to the other waiting room where the rest of the band was waiting.  His mother hesitantly opened the door to theirs.  As she sat down on the chipped coffee table in front of them, Nick and Kevin set down the magazines they weren’t reading.  Her hands were raw from the constant motion of them being twisted and squeezed from the emotions she had been holding back.  As she looked up at her young sons, her eyes glistened with recently shed tears

Kevin reached out to stroke her hand, stopping her in the midst of another twist.  His smooth voice broke the cold silence.

“Is he going to be okay?”  It was the question all three knew the answer to.  They had seen the interaction between their parents and the doctor while peaking over the faded magazines.

His mother took a visible shaky breath and exhaled it slowly before answering. 

“No sweetie.  I’m afraid not.  The doctors have tried everything but it’s only the machines keeping him alive now.  And with no next of kin, they’ve asked us to make the decision."

“What decision?”  Kevin’s voice filled with fear.

“Whether to keep the machines on.”  Joe saw a shiver run through his mother as she said the words.

Nick’s quieter voice came from beside Joe.

“What are we going to do?”

“What we know he would want us to do.  Say goodbye and then let him go.”  Fresh tears fell down her still damp cheeks but she held it together.

Nick’s voice was pathetically weak now, for one of the few times sounding to Joe like he was lost.  He was the brother who always had the answer, the plans.  The one who always told Joe what needed to be done.

“But what if he wakes up?”  Nick’s voice shook with the overwhelming emotions he was feeling.

Denise pulled her son into a bear hug, letting his tears fall on her chest. 

“Oh baby, he’s not going to wake up.”  She held her shaking son as he let his feelings pour out of him for one of the few times in his life.  She patted his back and stroked his hair, whispering words of comfort to him.  She turned her head slightly and looked at her two oldest children, reaching out one hand to stroke Joe’s arm.  “I’m so sorry.”

Joe felt himself start to lose it then, his lip quivering.  His best friend was gone, killed by some random driver because of his random request that he hadn’t even really wanted.  It wasn’t fair.  The only thing that saved him from melting into a pool on the floor was Kevin’s hand clamped on his shoulder.

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