An angel’s wings and ice-blue eyes captured my heart this week, and I don’t believe I can ever let them fly away from me. 

Sunday evening, I arrived in White Marsh, Maryland. I called to meet with the Yorks and have our first face-to-face before we would delve into a long week of work starting Monday morning. I was nervous. My brain was running in a million directions, wondering what I would find myself walking into. I knew the week would be long, full of strategy, and more than likely exhausting days, but who would welcome me into their world? Would I truly be welcomed? I couldn’t help but feel anxious and hope for the best. 

Boy, was I wholly unprepared for the Yorks. 

William immediately greeted me with a huge hug and a smile. His first words after our greeting were, “Hope you’re ready for some crabs.” I laughed and said, “Oh, yea.” When in Maryland, crabs must be had, after all. On our way back to their house, we chatted about the humidity and how hot the weather had been for the past few days in Maryland. I had hoped I would be escaping the Arkansas heat, but I may have unluckily towed it along with me. 

When we pulled into their driveway, I looked to the left to see a monument of a rock right in the front yard. I giggled to myself.

What did I expect from the foundation that created the Facebook group Suicide Prevention Rocks? Their walkway, lined with a hodgepodge of colored rocks all with uplifting sayings, brought a lightness and ease to me. I walked into their foyer, where the front door had recently dropped a variety of different-sized shoes. I kicked off my heels and commented immediately they must’ve been preparing for the arrival of the Southern Fried Asian. We all laughed at my corny Asian joke. As I walked into the kitchen, I was immediately hugged by Dawn, William’s wife and heart. Saying I was welcomed does not do my first night justice. I watched a family who draws you toward them in the most unintentional but compelling ways. 

After getting to know each other, they broke out a huge roll of brown parchment paper and covered the dining room table. I noted, “This is getting serious.” We took our seats and jumped into the centerpiece, a huge steaming box of Maryland crabs. The kids showed me how to pick apart a crab Marylander style, everyone brought up family jokes about the importance of not eating the crab’s lungs, and each opened their hearts to me. I was family on night one and felt nothing less than that for the rest of the week. 

Tragedy hits us all too often in this world, and its aftermath too often destroys those who remain. I knew walking in that tragedy had happened here. I knew this week would be difficult as they were nearing the one-year anniversary of the loss of Joshua. I knew I might need to be patient, calm, compassionate, possibly forgiving, and so much more because of how difficult this process could be. And yet, I did not need to do any of those things, not because they haven’t felt unflinching pain, but because they have drawn from their love to find strength. They lift one another up and open themselves naturally to others who may need love and acceptance. They are each other’s rocks. 

As I write this, I find my eyes full of happiness, joy, and thankfulness. I have felt something beyond myself this week and have had the chance to witness the power love has over pain.  We’ve shared unforgettable moments where we shared some of our deepest pains. We’ve experienced a rainbow of emotions as we worked toward sharing Joshua and his love with as many people as we are allowed. 

Nothing is perfect, but this family works and, dare I say, makes it look unrealistically easy. They feel they are gentle, and most importantly, they are forgiving when needed. The Yorks are the family who swerves when a butterfly is on the road. The York family paints rocks to heal and bond through tragedy. The Yorks, the family who laughs and loves and welcomes strange Korean women from Arkansas. The Yorks are the family that continues bringing life to their beautiful Joshua. 

To say it simply and without flourishes, I am amazed by this family and their journey. 

With my deepest gratitude to –

The Joshua York Legacy Foundation

#jylfrocks #suicideprevention #strengtheningliveswithlove


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