Awake My Joel
Amy and I did not get much sleep last night. As the hours flew by faster than I could catch them, we prayed, we grieved, I cuddled my sweet son as tightly as I dared, examining his face and hands and toes and belly button, taking pictures of us that I will never show anyone else, and sweeping the hair across his forehead over and over again.
Joel fell asleep at home. Surrounded by his family and friends, only hours after we had filled our home with songs of worship to our God and prayers for mercy and healing for Joel and for ourselves from the voices of our church and friends and family.
As I awoke this morning after an hour of sleep, I lingered in the early morning light of our room, his body cradled, as always, in the crook of my arm. Except instead of the sweet sighs of comfort and the warmth of his little body against mine, the moors of death had tightened, leaving Joel’s earthly tent, cold and breathless.
And so now we mourn, and we weep, we rage and we argue with the God who knows how the story will end. And we laugh with our family and friends, and sob in the quiet moments, and wrap ourselves in his blankets and wrap ourselves in His peace. The kind that passes all understanding as we make the decisions that will lay Joel to rest.
We continue to contend; For a miracle of Grace; For resurrection life, in this life and the next; for our hope.  Hope that the story of our love for each other and the story of our Father’s love for us, will be more real and more true than it has ever been before.
With all the fullness of emotion that makes this human experience so utterly beautiful, thank you for your love.


There are 30 comments for this post.

  1. Christina on March 13, 2014 3:45 pm

    I’m really sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how painful it must be, but I’m glad I got to indirectly share Joel’s moments through Instagram, your book, and talking to you at PAX last year. Your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

  2. Zac and Steph Bidelman on March 13, 2014 4:08 pm

    Ryan and Amy, we want you to know how sorry we are for the loss of Joel. We also would like you to know as we become new parents soon, we have watched your walk, the courage you have had, the strength that you have both shown, and the love that you have portrayed through all this. It some way it has given us more courage as we prepare to be parents. We would only hope to be half the parents you have shown all of us, if we were in a similar circumstance. Know that you through all this you have brought light into the two of us, as I am sure others. Much love, as we continue our prayers and mourn with you.

    Zac and Steph

  3. lysbeth on March 13, 2014 5:08 pm

    So sorry for your loss! ….praying for your family.

  4. damien on March 13, 2014 5:26 pm

    We are so sorry for your loss. We will pray that God takes care of Joel. He was such a brave, strong and gentle young man and we know that Joel is loved, healthy and safe in His care. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help in this difficult time. Please extend our deepest sympathies to your family. -Ashley & Damien

  5. Janice on March 13, 2014 5:35 pm

    God bless all of you. Always remember that Joel is now happy and well in Heaven with Jesus to love him and you will be with him again one day. Thank you for all of your posts so I could pray for him and you these last few months. I pray for peace for your family.

  6. Tara Gallegos on March 13, 2014 5:44 pm

    We loved Joel very much and you and your family are always in our thoughts and prayers. Joel is a beautiful perfect angel now. God Bless all of you. We are so sorry for your loss.

  7. lisa Fisher on March 13, 2014 7:11 pm

    Amy and Ryan hello it’s your friend Lisa from San Diego here.I was saddened to receive the update that Joel has gained his wings.Amy I think of you as you are carrying a new sweet baby girl (Zoe)how this walk must be for you I cannot begin to surmise.I have however suffered many losses in this life and I know only the comfort of our Lord and Saviour is able to exchange ashes for beauty.Ryan what a wonderful example you have been to us all! You gave Joel his absolute moments of bliss even as he was so ill being in your arms was healing for him.It has been an honor and a privledge to walk alongside you both in spirit and as a sister in Christ Jesus.Love and continued prayers Lisa in San Diego

  8. Mary on March 13, 2014 7:40 pm

    I am so sorry for the loss of your little boy. I’m sure that he is with our Lord Jesus Christ now, and I will pray for healing for you and your family.

  9. Katie on March 13, 2014 7:55 pm

    Words cannot express how sorry I am for the loss of such a great life. Even though I do not know you personally, I know your story all too well. Sending my thoughts and prayers to your family during this difficult time.

  10. Pennie Macdowell on March 13, 2014 10:35 pm

    Dear Ryan and Amy, I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. When I heard the news this morning, I did praise The Lord, because all of our prayers have been answered. Joel is healed. He is running, laughing and telling Jesus about all of his adventures. I know that we all wanted for Joel to have been healed right here on earth, it was not the plan that The Lord had. But The Lord had a very important purpose for Joel. His story (your story as well) taught us all more about faith, and how to actually have that faith. I cannot imagine the grief that you are all feeling, but want you to know that we are all thinking about you, praying and trusting that He is embracing you all in His loving arms. God will continue to bless you.

  11. mary lawrence on March 13, 2014 11:42 pm

    I have been reading your posts for months. Cheering each new accomplishment and crying with each setback. I cannot believe how fast this day has come; I truly believed it would not. We are all grieving with you and our hearts are broken. The 4 years that were given beyond the initial diagnosis were a blessing in itself but it makes this day no easier. What a wonderful summer you were given with the true Joel; laughing, playing, running and growing. We do serve an awesome God who has touched so many thru your journey of triumph and pain. I cannot even begin to imagine the imense loss you are feeling as one should never lose a child but I thank you for your strenght and sharing your life to strengthen the faith and relationship we all need to develop with our Lord and Savior. I thank you again for opening your hearts to strangers who inturn have loved you and your precious Joel from afar. I pray that the Lord comforts you in the days to come. Joel is at peace and loves his wonderful family so much. God bless you abundantly. Mary

  12. joy on March 14, 2014 12:30 am

    Praying for you all as you mourn Joel’s absence with you here, and that God would comfort you in ways you can’t fathom right now. I appreciate your candor through your blog and facebook allowing me to share your journey from afar and am in awe of how God has strengthened you and gave Joel the best parents he could have because you love God so deeply. May God give you strength as you parent your other boys and bring others around to share your grief and meet your needs…amen.

  13. Sarah Johnston on March 14, 2014 3:35 am

    Dearest Green Family, I have followed your story for several years now and have prayed for you all often. I was stunned this morning when I read the blog and I offer you all my deepest sympathy at this devastating time. I trust you all find great comfort from God and feel His loving arms surround you continuously! Much love, your sister in Christ, Sarah

  14. Ed Bryan on March 14, 2014 4:43 am

    My heart goes out to you all. All I can say is that in sharing Joel’s story, you have shown what determination and resilience and humour and most of, what love, truly look like.

  15. Ji Zhen on March 14, 2014 5:12 am

    My heartfelt condolences for your loss. Joel was a brave, strong boy, finally home with our Heavenly Father. Praying for comfort, peace, resilient faith and a restoration of joy in your sorrow for both of you, Ryan and Amy, as well as your beautiful sons.
    “Weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5

  16. Allison on March 14, 2014 7:11 am

    Beautifully written Ryan, you and your family are in my prayers.

  17. Natalie on March 14, 2014 8:55 am

    Sorry for you loss. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  18. Christian S. on March 14, 2014 10:26 am

    I have never felt so attached to a person that I have never met in all of my life. The constant hope, love, peace, and strength, that y’all have shown and shared with the world is just beautiful! Joel’s life was beautiful and now he is made even more beautiful, by being cradled in the arms of his Savior! I am deeply sorry for your loss and I offer up this prayer for the mourning:

    Bless those who mourn, eternal God, with the comfort of your love that they may face each new day with hope and the certainty that nothing can destroy the good that has been given. May their memories become joyful, their days enriched with friendship, and their lives encircled by your love. Amen.

  19. Ryan Johnson on March 14, 2014 12:56 pm

    Your story has touched me more than I can express in words. Nothing I can say will ease your pain but I will never forget your beautiful little boy. I wish you peace and comfort in your harrowing future.

  20. Jennifer on March 14, 2014 12:56 pm

    I can’t begin to tell you the number of prayers that were said for Joel at our home. While the final miracle did not appear, the miracle that Joel is happy, healthy, and perfectly whole in the arms of our savior has been realized. May God’s peace be with you during these difficult days and know that at night my children and I are still praying for you before we go to sleep.

  21. Philip on March 14, 2014 4:56 pm

    My sympathies and condolences; my heart hurts for your loss.

  22. Sharon on March 14, 2014 9:18 pm

    During this time of pain and sorrow, trying to understand and never forgetting, a little boy whose body was tired, has become a little boy with the most perfect body anyone can ever have. Joel became an angel! He no longer hurts, he speaks to God now in a way he knows how, and he watches over his family with love…
    God Bless your family as you go through this difficult time. Know that Joel is with you everyday and he’s no longer in pain or discomfort……In time, you will be together again.

  23. Cindy on March 14, 2014 10:52 pm

    I’m sorry for the pain and hurt you feel. Sending much love to your family during this time.

  24. Eve on March 15, 2014 1:20 am

    Sweet Joel, you are truly free now to run and play and be the free spirit you were meant to be. I’m so sad you didn’t get to stay longer to be with your family who loves you so dearly. God speed sweet boy. I feel so blessed that I got to know you through this medium. My heart breaks for your family.

  25. Jon on March 15, 2014 2:26 am

    Sorry for your loss. Wish you all the best for the future.

  26. Daniel on March 15, 2014 3:29 pm

    “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

    – Kahlil Gibran

  27. dc mama on March 15, 2014 10:55 pm

    such beautiful words. wrapping all of you in love and prayers.

  28. Diane VanDyke on March 17, 2014 10:23 am

    Thank you for sharing your story through Lifetree Cafe. You will touch many lives. May God continue to give you comfort and courage.

  29. Angela on March 17, 2014 2:35 pm

    Prayers to your family and to sweet Joel’s soul in Heaven.

  30. John on March 21, 2014 7:44 am

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your wonderful little boy, words fail to express the grief I felt on reading this update. And yet, and yet… I am so glad that you made it home to be with all your friends and family. My sincere condolences to you all.
    Sleep well Joel.

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