Josh’s Story

Site created on March 26, 2019

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Over the last couple months Josh has been experiencing a nagging pain/discomfort in his back right side/kidney area.  Due to the large amounts of driving and sitting in a work truck for his new job, we thought that it was something muscular-related.  Last Monday evening (March 18, 2019), however, he felt nauseous after dinner. This, paired with some other on and off symptoms, forced us to get it checked out.  We were all down in Marshall at the time, so Tuesday morning we packed up and headed back to the cities. We checked in at West Health Urgent Care that afternoon and after discussing symptoms with the doctor, he also thought it to be more muscular-related.  He didn’t think that it was necessary to run any images or x-rays, but ordered some standard blood tests and ran a urine sample. Not long after, he returned and said that he decided to run a couple other blood tests. They were not related to the symptoms he was having, but he  just felt that he needed to run them.  After running these additional tests he returned again and said that the tests came back abnormal and he would like to do a CT Scan after all. About an hour later, the doctor came back into the room.  With deep compassion and care in his eyes, he looked at Josh and I and said, “I’m sorry, it’s not good. They found some spots and they were cancer.” The kids were still in the room so he said it quietly and asked if we wanted a nurse to take the kids on a walk while we went over the results of the test. CANCER. Never in our minds did we think it would be cancer.  A kidney infection? Maybe. A kidney stone? Most likely. But cancer? In a moment’s time our lives had completely turned upside down. We went over the results of the CT Scan and he said that there was a mass on his appendix and several “good sized” lesions on his liver and lower abdominal area and that they were cancerous. He suggested that Josh be admitted to Abbott Northwestern Hospital that evening where they would run some additional tests including a biopsy of the liver. Nothing prepares you for this kind of news.  Nothing prepares you for this diagnosis. Nothing prepares you for making the kind of decisions we were going to be making over the next several days. We made arrangements for the kids to be with family for the week and Josh and I drove to Abbott.






Newest Update

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

March 18, 2019. One year ago today. The kids and I loaded up the car, snapped a quick selfie to remember our ‘staycation’ and headed down to Marshall. To spend the week with Josh. 

One year.
365 days.
8,760 hours. 
525,600 minutes.

I remember the day so vividly. We were SO excited to spend the week with dad. Some people were spending their spring vacations flying to Florida or the beaches of Puerto Vallarta. But WE were heading to Marshall, MN! And we were happy! We had plans to do nothing but to BE with Josh. To LOVE on him when he came “home” from work. To laugh, play and just enjoy being together as a family for an entire week!

But this would be the LAST day of any kind of normal we would know...for the rest of our lives. It has been truly unimaginable as I try to wrap my mind around the things that took place in these days just ONE year ago. It brings me to my knees when I recount the memories and the events that unfolded. March 18, 2019. In less than 24 hours our world would fall apart.

I often feel like it’s still just a horrible nightmare. And that at any moment, I will wake up. And he will be lying peacefully next to me. Actually, he didn’t EVER lay peacefully next to me! If you knew Josh, you knew that he NEVER stopped moving. Ever. He was ALWAYS moving. His legs. His hands drumming on anything that would allow him to channel the beat and rhythms he held deep inside. He was a drummer! ALL the time. And did you know that he played with Bob Dylan’s nephew? Or was it Bob Dylan’s...nephew’s...son?! Well...true fact it was a relative of Bob Dylan! But his legs...Whether it was lying in bed or sitting on the couch watching a movie, his legs were ALWAYS moving! Couldn’t stop. I would gently rest my hand on his leg letting him know that things were getting a little on the wild side! But that’s getting off point. 

Last night as we were gathered together for our evening prayers, I noticed that it was just Kaden and I. Emma was already in bed. Light turned off and just staring into the dark. She was fighting back the tears. Missing her daddy so much, we sat there on the bed. And talked. I listened. She asked questions. And then the tears just fell. I’m so glad that we are a family that can cry together. I’m so glad that my children know it’s okay to cry and to work through the grief and pain that still lingers through each day. Especially this day. And so many more to come.

Lord, this is more than I can handle. 

I remember just WEEKS before this horrifying detour in our life, a dear friend and mentor asked if I wanted to read and go through a book together. By no coincidence I am sure, I was intrigued and said yes. The name of that book was, “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way: finding unexpected strength when disappointments leave you shattered,” by Lysa Terkeurst.

This book became a second favorite over the next several weeks and months. Our number one AND the book that would keep us alive was without question the MOST read book in the world...the Bible.

So many times throughout the this past year people have commented about how strong I am. 

“I can’t believe the strength that you have.” 

”I don’t know what I would do if I this happened to me. I can’t even imagine.”

“You have amazing strength.”

”I am so proud of you and how strong you’ve been.”

And the list goes on. But you know what? I’m NOT strong. Not at all.

But HE is.

And He has truly BEEN my strength. No joke that something like this will leave you shattered. Disappointment isn’t even CLOSE to how I would describe this experience and the last 365 days of my life. I’ve been sad.  Angry. Lonely. Lost. Confused. Worried. Anxious. And the list goes on.

There’s a passage in the Bible that people tend to misquote and I’ve heard it a lot throughout the past year. And to be honest, I’ve probably used it myself. It’s the statement that, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  But that’s not actually in the Bible. God does say that He won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear and that He will always provide a way out (I Corinthians 10:13). 

The author of this book goes on to say, “God doesn’t expect us to handle this. He wants us to hand this over to Him. He doesn’t want us to rally more of our strength. He wants us to rely solely on His strength. If we keep walking around, thinking that God won’t give us more than we can handle, we set ourselves up to be suspicious of God. We know we are facing things that are too much for us. We are bombarded with burdens. We are weighed down with wondering. And we are all trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense. Before we can move forward in a healthy way, we must first acknowledge the truth about our insufficiency.”

Cancer is more than I can handle...

The death of my husband is more than I can handle...

Being a young widow is more than I can handle...

Making life decisions as a single parent is more than I can handle...

Being the leader of my home is more than I can handle...

Seeing my kids heartbroken and missing their daddy is MORE than I can handle...

Dealing with what’s happening in our world right now is more than I can handle...

...On my own.

All of these things are more than I can handle on my own. But I wasn’t meant to. I wasn’t meant to handle these things alone. God is carrying me and HE is the strength. None of this is by my own strength. When I wake up in the morning and my feet hit the floor. Truly it is the strength from Jesus that I am able to put one foot in front of the other. I really can’t take credit. Honestly, if it WERE up to me, I’d still be sitting in my closet with the doors closed around me. Or I’d be lying in bed with the covers over my head!

But HE makes all things possible.

I really love words. I use them to express my inmost thoughts and feelings. Whether it’s in a journal or here on Caring Bridge, they help me discover and work through everything that’s going on inside my brain. 

Lysa, in her book, helped me reframe the word impossible and I love it. If you look at the word IMPOSSIBLE, what do you see? I see the word imPOSSIBLE. If you change it and add a little apostrophe, look what happens: I’M POSSIBLE!! I will choose to see the impossible as I’M POSSIBLE. It is POSSIBLE for the great I AM (God) to carry every hurt, disappointment, grief, decision, and uncertainty and even the most devastating news and circumstances that I am holding. 

If you are wondering what we need right now, Honestly, just pray for us. These truths I shared, I believe them with all my heart. But I need to be reminded of them moment by moment. Pray for us this week especially. As I speak of strength, we need some of His strength as we walk through the memories of this week. The memories are flooding our souls as we recount the happenings of everything that took place one year ago today. Keep the kids in your prayers. One of the hardest things to hear your child say is how much they miss their daddy. How hard it is to be in a group of their friends when everyone else starts talking about their dads. Pray that they will learn and feel strength from their Heavenly Father.

As always, thank you for your encouragement and love as we walk through the days ahead.
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