Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fan mail of the best kind

Our Web site has generated much thought-provoking dialog. This was one of the recent letters we received and wanted to share:

Hi Mr. Findley & Mrs. Findley,

First I am really sorry that I haven't talked to you guys in so long. It's been a busy several months but that is no excuse for not talking to you guys. Thank you for my birthday card, I got it on my birthday and it meant a lot to me that you guys sent it. I also recieved another great gift. A football that belonged to Jake had been sitting in the ball bin at Sugar Grove for several years until Mine and Jake's 4th grade teacher Mrs. Diaz discovered it. She sent it to me along with a very kind note and I recieved it as a birthday gift. It is my favorite birthday present I have ever recieved. Patrick immediatley remembered the football and that we did use it in some of our many backyard football games. It now sits on my desk next to Jake's North Carolina hat and is the only physical memory of those great memories of playing football with Jake and Travis.

This football season has been a good one and I wish I'd have e-mailed you a schedule. I could not get number 89 as my varsity number as Andrew Gudeman already had the number. I ended up with number 21 for varsity and still got to wear 89 for JV games. I have also started my own tradition of writing their names on my wrist tape before every Varsity and JV game (The refs won't let me wear my wristband). I also have a picture of them in my locker. Coach Moore (head coach) knows why I am playing and has told me how great that is and told me that I was a "great man" for playing football for my friends who can no longer do so. I saw some good action through most of the season making tackles here and there, but two games stood out. Against Terre Haute South, I played almost half the game and in the fourth quarter I made my first interception. As soon as I hit the ground, I thought about Jake and Travis and knew that they were cheering along with the parents and my teammates in heaven. In our final game against Warren Central, I started and played most of the game. Even though we lost and I didn't play the greatest game, it was a tribute to my hard work and my cause that I started. We are playing Floyd Central in Regionals on Friday at home and hopefully we can win another State Championship.

I don't know if you have heard the story of Tyler Genneken, so I will give it to you in short. He was a young man who was diagnosed with leukemia 3 years ago when he was in 5th grade. Aggresive chemotherapy put it into remission, but this past year the cancer returned. After battling for 3 years, he died on Thursday night. He was an 8th grader at Central and played football. I did not know Tyler but followed his story after I heard of his worsening condition. I prayed for him and his family and his friends every day and every time I lead the prayer after football practice. On Tuesday night after practice, when there was no more hope, I prayed that God take him home and end his suffering. The next night, shortly after a friend of mine's church group prayed for him, he died. To me, that shows how merciful God is and how he has his hand in things. I know many of his friends through Patrick's various sports teams, and have told Mrs. Thacker that I am willing to help in any way. Coach Moore called me yesterday to tell me that he wanted me to call three or four friends to get together and go to Tyler's funeral and hand out programs at the door. I appreciated it very much that he thought enough of me to call me, not a star on the team, but me to do this. Needless to say I attended the funeral yesterday and the Celebration of Life today. It has reminded me of nearly three years ago when I went through the same thing Tyler's friends are going through. While the circumstances are very different, it is still much the same in that a child has died too young. It touches me much more than someone else my age because I know what his friends are going through and it deeply saddens me to see others go through it.

I still miss Jake and Travis so much. I think about them all the time, at school, during football, when I lay in bed at night and especially when I am alone and I know that time would be spent with my best friend and another friend who happened to be his little brother. I still wear my Jake and Travis wristband every day (I'm glad I bought so many, I think I'm on #6 or 7) and occaisonaly wear my Arms of Life T-shirt, which is faded from so much wearing and pray for you guys every night. Often times, those same thoughts, Why them?, Why me?, I wish I could have them back? come back into my head. But it is selfish to want them back because they are in such a great place right now, too great for us to understand until we reach that glorious day when God calls us home.

Again, I'm so sorry I haven't contacted you guys in so long. I would absoulutly love it if we get get together in the future, however it would most likely have to be after football, which hopefully ends on November 30 (championship game). I look forward to seeing you guys soon.

See Ya,
Matt Norris