"Josiah." The name comes from the Hebrew word, "Yo shi yah," meaning "God upholds." "Michael." The name comes from St. Michael the Archangel, defender against all evil. Josiah was affectionately known as Mikey to his family. This was supposed to be a secret from his friends and his classmates.
Josiah was born in Honolulu. He was a "kama'aina," Hawaiian-born native son and he had the spirit of "ohana." But the only thing Hawaiian in him was paddling, the love for the ocean and receiving flower leis on special occasions.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, as a small boy, he quickly realized that he was ethnically different. In preschool, his classmates were either Black, White and of other Asian descent. One day, he asked us: "What am I?" We told him,he was part-Chamorro, part- Filipino, and part-Japanese. Mikey, we would tease him, you are chop suey,and since Mommy and Daddy are born and raised in Guam, you are also Guamanian.
One Christmas, when he was 4 years old, after Christmas mass, we were explaining to him the manger scene at the back of the church, we pointed out the shepherds, the angels, the animals, Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and out of nowhere he asked: "What are their last names?"
My wife and I looked at each other with a big question mark on our faces. How are going to answer this? He quickly said, "Is it Mary Christ and Joseph Christ?" Yes, Mikey, it is.
That same Christmas, he wanted a toy gun. We told him that Santa Claus did not give little boys guns because it was too dangerous. Instead, he received a box of Lego blocks. He was happy. The three things he made out of those Lego blocks were an airplane, a car, and what else, a gun.
Growing up, we worried about him. He was shy and always liked to play alone. At birthday parties and other Guamanian gatherings in the Bay Area, while all the other kids were outside playing, he would be in the house alone either coloring,reading or drawing.
He loved airplanes, especially military airplanes. He knew just about everything about airplanes. He loved going to air shows. He wanted to be a pilot one day.
He was sad the day he started wearing glasses. Why, I asked. As he put it: "Pilots don't wear glasses." Take heart, my son, you are riding that big airplane in the sky and God is your pilot.
He attended St. Bernard's School in Tracy, Calif., for 1st and 2nd grade. He attended Harvest Christian Academy on Guam from grades 3rd to 8th grade. For 9th grade, he made a choice to attend Father Duenas Memorial School on Guam. He did, but he had doubts in his mind if he had made the right choice. He was sad because he was leaving his old friends behind and scared of the unexpected.
One night, he seemed depressed and I asked him: "Why are you having second thoughts about going to Duenas?" He said, "Dad, I don't know how to fight." Mikey, your friends in high school are your friends for life.
Josiah hated his hair. He thought his hair was too thick and wiry, almost to the point of being kinky. He went through a phase where he would use tons of hair gel to try and control his hair, he even thought of using hair straightener. It was only natural that he would shave his head, his military haircut, as he called it, and this, he loved. Sometimes, he would jump into our bed and I would rub hisclean-shaven head and he would fall asleep,just like he did when he was a baby.
My son loved sports but he did not excel in any particular one. He loved paddling and he was a paddler for the Ohana Canoe Club for three seasons until high school and girls got in the way. His senior year, he wanted to play football for Father Duenas, but this would never be.
He was a member of the Father Duenas Cross Country team in his junior year and he went with a combined school team to Japan for a cross-country invitational meet, not that he was top qualifier. He wanted to go because, as he puts it,he wanted to be with his buds. He was into body building, he would work out the UOG Field House every day, not for his health,mind you, but to impress the girls.
Josiah loved music. He took piano lessons, but it wasn't his style and, sad to say, he was a piano dropout. He played the trumpet, this he loved. He wanted to take guitar lessons,but it didn't happened. He would save his allowance to buy CDs. He was into rap, hip hop,reggae --- this, I didn't understand. He also loved Frank Sinatra, and he actually bought Frank Sinatra CDs. This was the romantic in him.
After the night when the car accident first happened and seeing him in a coma, intubated and on life support, laying helpless on his hospital bed, I did not want to believe that this is happening. Time stood still. We wanted everything to be done and everything to happen. We wanted him to be sent off island to receive the best care, best facility and to be taken care of by a specialist. But it did not happen.
He was too unstable to be moved. This was his way of telling us that he didn't want to leave. But looking back at the care he received, everything humanly possible was done here on Guam and there was nothing anyone or any hospital could have done different to bring Josiah back as we knew him before the accident. He received the best care, here atGuam Memorial Hospital. Josiah peacefully left us on May 21, at approximately 4:55 p.m.
When this all happened, I was angry. God, why him? Give me a reason. Why are you making him suffer? If it is me you want, take me and spare him. God, he is only 16,he's only a kid. Yes, God, I was angry. Then I began to deny, then I began to bargain and plead with you. It was only with time and prayer, that I began to accept. God, with the acceptance of what has happened, the healing begins, the wounds begin to close, the burden is lighter, and the spirit is uplifted, and it is through you, we begin to have resolution and we begin to have closure.
There is a reason for everything and an answer for all that has happened. We won't know that reason nor that answer, at least, not in our lifetime. Ours is to accept what has happened, get a sense of closure and move on. This is what Josiah would have wanted.
To the Father Duenas Memorial School class of 2001, as you walk down the aisle next year on graduation night, Josiah is amongst you. He is in your midst, for his spirit lives on, in your minds and in your hearts. No truer friends did he have.I have three things to say to you:
1. The phoenix shall rise again from the ashes.
2. Be strong in faith. FORTES IN FIDE.
3. Go out into the world and whatever you do, do it for the greater glory of God. ADMAGNADEI GLORIAM.
To all the family, relatives, friends, classmates and all the people, who in any way were connected and touched by Josiah, you know who you are. THANK YOU. For being at our side daily, in our time of need, through your kind words, hospital visits, prayers and mass intentions, condolences. THANK YOU.
As a father, I love my son and I will miss him. We were blest with 16 wonderful years. I have no regrets and I have nothing to say sorry for and nothing to take back. Mikey, you have made us all very proud and in your own little way, you have touched us, and know my
son, that you were loved.
As a physician, I could make you well, I could not bring you back to health but it comforts me to know, that one day I will go to be with you. He is absent from his body now, but he is present with the Lord.
It is most befitting that we lay him to rest today. Today is Memorial Day and tonight would have been his Confirmation. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Intensive Care Unit at Guam Memorial Hospital. Wouldn't you know it,he is still a military man, he is now serving in God's army. Onward, Christian soldier.
Goodbye, my son, wherever you are. Look down on us, and with that big grin and smile on your face, know that you have touched a lot of lives, and you are loved and will be missed.
- John Marco H.Garrido, Father