One year ago

I hadn't planned to post tonight. I'm finalizing the design for Jeseca's (and my) headstone, otherwise known as a marker. Thumbing through Jeseca's journals for a quote I might use, I came across the following entry dated May 1, 2007:

"Hello Lord, my King and Savior. I lay at your feet, feeling so done, so tired. Wishing that I could stay in bed all day, I instead push myself to get up, make breakfast for those boys, do school and try to make it through dinner...sometimes in too much pain to bear. I am too weak now to do much, and my poor sweetie has had to take over things like laundry, dishes, etc., even while he is burdened with work and his dad's business. He gets up at 4:45 every morning to work out and study the Bible, and then stays up until I go to bed around 10 or 11. He is such a good man; thank you, Lord.

"Even now I am getting too tired to write, but I want to thank you for speaking through Christian to me tonight. I was telling him and Everen how it may get to the point where I am in bed all the time, but to always trust and believe that God will heal me. Christian replied, "It's like you're going to take a snoozy-poo (nap) while God's healing you!" Thank you, Lord, for letting me know it's okay to rest and be sick. You are still healing me!"

There's a TobyMac song titled, "I'm For You" that I used to sing to Jes. I thought of it as my anthem to her. I was wrong. It was her anthem to me and the boys. I've never seen such faith or love. Lord, make me like that. Like you. JG

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

A Beautiful Journey

Boy, the passing of time never slows down, does it? It is 100% consistent. The sun comes up and goes down, right on time, every day, just as God said it would.

When Jeseca passed away holding my hand in the hospital, all I wanted was for God to stop the clock; to stop the world from spinning -- just for a day -- so I could stop and think. But He didn't. Instead, just moments after I watched her vital signs all fall to zero, I had to decide how our boys would say goodbye......if they would at all. Half a dozen nurses, doctors and social workers were flooding in and out of the room as I sat there in disbelief, and it was all I could do to keep from locking the door behind them when they left. I did ask for a few minutes to myself, which they politely gave. And in those five minutes of prayer, I realized the emotion and anquish with which Job must have praised the Lord after hearing that he had just lost everything. I imagine he gritted his teeth, forcing himself to say those famous words, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." That's what I did......every word true, and yet every syllable so difficult to say.

Here we are, five weeks later, and I thank God for His amazing consistency, and for not stopping the clock. Many, many things have transpired over these past five weeks, and all of them have helped to bring about at least a sense of healing for me and the boys. I had a most unique "I love you" from the Lord on the golf course. I've watched two amazing young women open the doors to my boys' hearts and minds in their respective classrooms (Thank you, Ali and Jamie). And I've had the opportunity to read through the many journal entries Jeseca and I wrote over the past four years.

What I can say now (and I will look for more opportunities to do so in the future), is that God is incredibly wonderful, and that Jeseca knew Him more deeply than anyone I have ever met. I am in the process of transcribing her journals (a project I have titled, "Beautiful Journey"), and am fairly confident you will feel the same way after reading them. Quite honestly, I never knew such a relationship could exist between one person and the creator of the universe. And I yearn for it in my own life now more than ever.

As for the boys, they are both doing well. We've started to do two new things here at home. First, every morning on the way to school I ask the boys to listen for God's still, small voice. We bought a journal specifically to write down what we believe God is saying to us on a daily basis. Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice..." I want them to start listening so that they will never confuse His voice with anyone else's.

Second, we have a weekly "Family Music Night," where I turn on a sampling of some of the finest classical music pieces by Dvorak, Beethoven, Mozart and others, and just speak quietly to the boys on the couch. Christian lies down in my lap, while Everen (the most restless kid I have ever met) grabs a pillow and blanket and does his very best to figure out how not to be quiet and listen. Eventually he calms down (usually after Christian falls asleep), and we end up talking about his mom and how much she loved and cherished the time she was able to spend with them. It is a sweet, sweet time that God has given us together. And I pray that we (the 3GBs) will follow in Jeseca's footsteps on that Beautiful Journey to the gates of Heaven. We all should. Lord, help us to open our mouths and take as many people with us as we can.
From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Jeseca's eternal work

A few days ago, someone from my son's karate class approached me to give me her condolences, and to tell me how special and strong our family is in the midst of this. She mentioned that Everen was smiling and working so hard, and told me how lucky we are. I told her it was God, and the amazing job that Jeseca did in revealing the Kingdom of Heaven and the hope we have in Jesus to our boys. And that was it. She walked away offering her help in any way and said goodbye.

But the seed that God comforts -- even in the worst of times -- had been planted.

When people see us now, they see strength; but it is God's strength in our time of weakness, not our own. And He wants to be there for them, too, when they experience their own heartache and pain. He is always there, knocking on the door of your heart, waiting for you to cast your cares on Him and rest.

This new reality -- life without my best friend and true love -- continues to reveal itself slowly every day. It comes in the middle of all of the tasks now before me, and I can't help but wonder when the pain that rests somewhere deep within my heart will come to the surface. It is such a blessing, though, to know that the work Jeseca did is still paying dividends. It always will.

Many things have changed for me. First and foremost is that I am more in love with Jeseca now than I was before. She endured so much for the boys and me, and she did it all out of love. So I have purposed in my heart to continue what she started. Believe me when I tell you that she started a lot.

This website will change, as will hers. And I trust that God's hand of blessing will be upon me as I strive to know Him more, and to honor my one and only love in this life -- my extraordinary wife, Jeseca. Please stay tuned...JG

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Joy, Sorrow, and True Love

With the rush to get everything prepared for Jeseca's service and burial now behind me, I've had a couple of days to contemplate all that my life has come to be, and how it has led to this moment in time. (Sigh)........ Jeseca's passing has left a hole in my heart that only Jesus can fill, and I have cried out to Him many, many times since August 15 to do just that. So much has changed. What is this task ahead of me that has required my two great loves (Jeseca and baseball) to be ripped from my heart?

On the day that Jeseca died, I drove away from Scripps La Jolla without her for the very first time. We'd been there so many times over the past few years. I was lucky enough to stand by her side for each and every treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation, scans, tests, surgeries, checkups, etc. It was always us together, exactly as we liked it. And she always came home with me. But not this time.

Why? What changed? I only know of one thing......I prayed differently that morning.

Each time we went to the hospital together I prayed for God's hand to be with the doctors, to guide them, give them wisdom and understanding when dealing with Jes. It was always the same. But that Wednesday morning I stopped myself halfway through the prayer and told God, instead, that I trusted Him to do what He knew was right. "We have been down this road for far too long to pray in panic. So I will trust that whatever happens today will be what you want, and we will deal with whatever happens according to our understanding of you...that you are a loving, all-powerful God with our best interest at heart."

Little did I know that I would kiss her goodbye for the last time just three hours later. (The time at the hospital was a blur, and a story well worth telling, but not now.)

Did I pray wrong? No, I don't think so. I think God had been waiting for me to let go. He had perfected His work in her; now it was time to work on me.

And now, like I said earlier, everything has changed.

Gone are the aspirations; the dreams of grandeur. They don't matter anymore. My boys need me to carry on the dreams and legacy that Jes left behind...to raise them to be mighty, Godly men; lights in this world of darkness. And I want to show them that there is still such a thing as true love.

I have such wonderful memories of Jeseca. Times of great joy and excitement; of shared dreams, both personal and professional; of hardship and trial; of true contentment in our love; and of the amazing woman she became in our 11 years together. I am so proud of her. She made it. She endured so much more than she let on, and she did it all with a smile on her face.

And I am so proud of the couple we were. We did it right. We did it right, sweetheart.

I will love you always. Jon

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Jeseca's Memorial Service

Jeseca's Memorial Service will be on Wednesday, August 22 at 4:00 p.m., at Serra Mesa Christian Fellowship. (http://www.smcftoday.com/?subpages/How-To-Get-to-SMCF.shtml). I miss her so terribly. But I am incredibly proud of her and the job she did in raising our boys to love the Lord. It is her influence, her reflection of Jesus, and her undying love for them that is carrying them through this time of utter sorrow for me. Jesus, thank you for your faithfulness.
For anyone interested, in lieu of flowers we are requesting that donations be made to the Jeseca Graves Memorial Fund at 2240 Bolinas Street, San Diego, CA, 92107.

Here is a link to her tribute in today's Union Tribune:
From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

"Happy Heaven Day"

Jeseca passed away today at 3:01 p.m. I cannot express the amount of pain and anguish I feel. Jeseca is, was, and will always be the love of my life.

The boys have suggested that we have a party in celebration of their Mom. I agree. Everen wants to call it "Happy Heaven Day." He couldn't be more right.

For all who have prayed for her healing, and for those who will take this news especially hard, please do not lose your faith in our God. He is still good. He is still good.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

I'm back

It's been more than a month...nearly two, in fact...since I last had the chance to post here. I've thought about it many times, but have become so busy with the day tasks and the night hours at the airport... Alas, here I am again.

The time between my last post and tonight's has brought Jes and me perspective on quite a number of things, not the least of which is God's overwhelming grace and love. Many, many times over the past year I have wondered what I might happen upon after spending time away from the house, even after an hour or so at the grocery store. Walking up our sidewalk to the front door I would hear thoughts like, "You're too late. You should never have left. She's dead." (You know, the happy thoughts.) Each time I put the key in the door and peeked in, I couldn't help but wonder if any of that were true. After all, the doctors have told me time and time again that I should prepare myself for it because it's coming. Yet every time I open the door and glance in, I witness God's amazing grace as she lays asleep on the couch or busies herself during the day. It sounds trite, but every day is an absolute miracle in our house, and I don't believe that will change any time soon.

Just this week, we were at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla for Jes to have a procedure done. (To serve as background, as time has passed, and as her liver has grown to more than 3 times the size of a normal liver -- at least two-thirds is tumor -- her stomach has been cramped and she has not been able to eat as much as her body requires. Consequently, she lacks the protein needed for her cells to retain water, and has thus obtained an incredible amount of adema throughout her body. The procedure helped to relieve some of the swelling.) When the procedure was completed, I began the jaunt outside to get the car and take her home. While I walked, God opened my eyes a bit to see the bigger picture He is creating...that Jeseca's story is unique in the medical field, and that He will use that at some point to His glory. It's an odd thing to walk out of the hospital with hope after a loved one has undergone a procedure to relieve symptoms of what we are told is a hopeless cause. But that's exactly what I had as I walked to the car. God had given me a new reason to hope. He always does.

There is so much more to say, but I'm tired and will have to save all of it for another day (soon). What I can leave you with is the knowledge that God is a good God. No one can tell me that He isn't real; He makes sure I know every time I open our front door. Believe me when I say He is in complete control of the situation. There is no other way to explain why Jeseca is still here, and not only here, but here with a smile and the desire to do a great number of things for the God who has continually held her up. God really is good. JG

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

What next?

Quite a bit has changed since I last posted here, not the least of which has been the addition of a four-person hospice team...

I have to admit that I don't really know what else to say anymore. Jeseca's health continues to worsen and all I can do is pray about it. I just cry out for God's mercy. What more can I possibly do?

This evening, after going in to do some work at the airport, I headed for Harbor Island at 1:00 a.m. to spend some one-on-one time with the Lord. It couldn't have been more peaceful, with the nearly full moon's light glimmering off of the calm bay waters. I sat there on an empty park bench and poured what's left of my heart out to God. I know He was listening, but I don't know that I heard any response. Just.......well, just peace.

A week ago, Jes mentioned how painful it is to cough now. The growth in her chest (what causes her cough) has either grown into her sternum or is burrowing beneath it. It's also painful to the touch. The doctor says don't touch it. (Makes sense.) But as she sleeps, she coughs. And three nights ago, while she nearly cried her way through a coughing fit, I found myself pleading with God to take her. I couldn't take it anymore and wanted God to end her suffering. And I understood for the first time in my life why people sought out Dr. Kevorkian's "help." (No, we would never, never do such a thing.)

When I got home tonight, I read through Romans 9. Verses 14-16 say, "What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." I wonder what that's supposed to mean...

You know, I come back to this almost every time I ponder what's happening -- that God remains in control, and that my very best will never be good enough to save Jeseca from death. As Romans 9 articulates, it's all up to God and has nothing to do with me. Sometimes that's enough. Sometimes not. In the end, though, I still find myself staring back up into the heavens, waiting on the Lord to make his next call. And while I do that, I pray that my beautiful wife sleeps peacefully through the night. Lord, please be merciful. JG

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

11 down, looking toward 12

Jeseca Graves smelling roses at the Butterfield Bed & Breakfast

I make it a point to do something special with Jes each year on our anniversary. In years past we've visited Maui, Lake Tahoe, Vail, Laguna Beach, Palm Springs, etc, and always in the finest accomodations we could afford. This year I thought we'd stay a few nights at L'Auberge Del Mar Resort & Spa. Jes thought otherwise, and we found ourselves at the charming Butterfield Bed & Breakfast in Julian, CA. It turned out to be the ideal place to go on a day when we needed the utmost privacy.

The day started out with a great breakfast served by the owners of the place. Immediately following, we went back to our suite and prayed, talked and cried for more than an hour. I told her that earlier in the morning, before breakfast, I spent some time talking to God about her, and why I needed her to stay. I learned a lot about myself in that conversation. As I listed all of my reasons, God was prodding me for more, almost as if He were saying, "Is that it?" He was telling me that I can love her more than I do now. I can.

We also decided to write down all of the things we want to do when she's better. Visioning, per se. It was good for us to look ahead to the good we expect to come. Shortly afterward, we took a drive through the countryside and admired the wild turkeys and deer roaming the nearby hills, then headed into town for lunch.

The afternoon came with two occasions when Jes couldn't breathe while trying to sleep, and we both wondered if her time here was over. I can only guess that it was all of the prayer offered on our behalf that kept her going. And without a doubt, had we gone to L'Auberge, we would never have had the intimate moments spent together in the car talking about the life we have led as a married couple. She's always right...Julian was the right place to go...where we could meet God on the mountain.

We're home now. I must admit I hoped everything would change yesterday; that I would wake up today and see Jes as she used to be. That she would be able to sleep without gasping for air every two minutes. That her beautiful blue eyes would look the same again, and that her vision would not be so impaired. That she would have gained back the 30 pounds she's lost. And of course, that the cancer that has ravaged most of her body would no longer be visible.

Nothing has changed. In fact, I just had to pray for her heart to slow down so she can sleep. Does that mean anything other than that I still have to get on my knees and ask God for another day with her? It's an exercise in futility to try to figure God out, but how can I question Him? God says to me just as He said to Job, "Would you condemn me to justify yourself?"

I can't do that. I have asked Him for help in understanding why we must continue in this fight, but I just can't say that He is wrong. He knows best. What else is there to say?

So many of you have joined in our fight. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for praying with us on Saturday. Please know that we are praying for God to rain down His blessings upon you. That's the best and only way we know to repay you for your kindness, support, and prayers.

And now, we fight on.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Quoting Paul

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (NIV)
"...We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."

Wow.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.