When the call came on Monday, Jan. 18th, from our dear friends, John and Tammy Eunice (USAF ret.) informing us that their 17-year-old son, James David, had gone missing during a local duck hunting venture with one of his pals, we joined thousands who were praying for his safe rescue. I actually kept delaying writing this blog post, hoping for positive news. Yesterday, after returning from a four-day speaking engagement in Rome, Georgia, another call came from John, informing us that just yesterday morning, their son’s body has been found in the lake, 17 days after his disappearance. This Saturday, in Valdosta, Georgia, at Cross Pointe Church, his young life will be celebrated.
While the search has gone on these interminably long and haunting days, our hearts have been filled with the kind of pain any parent would relate to were they in the shoes of John and Tammy. Upheld by the strength of their faith and the support of literally thousands, they have grievously and honorably lived out every parents’ worse nightmare: the death of a precious child.
I’ve found myself uncharacteristically lacking appropriate words for the Eunice family. I want to express care, empathy, wisdom, sorrow...without exacerbating their pain by repeating religious sounding platitudes or by trying to explain why this might have happened.
Truth is, we don’t know why it happened. James David was doing what he was supposed to be doing, safely and properly. He wasn’t in an altered state of mind due to drugs or alcohol. He was an outdoors enthusiast, and went duck hunting with his friend. He was a scholar/athlete preparing to go to college in the fall. He had a deep heart for Jesus: on his facebook page, he writes: "Employer: Jesus Christ!" He loved his family and his friends and was well loved by all of them.
For now, in the face of an incredible lack of answers and an even greater load of pain, it will have to be enough to accept that James David’s family and friends do not have to grieve as those without hope. And while it is true that he is in a place which is unimaginable to those of us still broken-earth bound, since we were not designed for death, the pain of grief and loss is overwhelming to those left behind who loved this young man so deeply. As we walk with this dear family through unchartered territory, our prayer is that God will meet them in previously unknown ways. May they know the comfort of His presence as they never have before and may they see God’s grace and purposes work out in the lives of those touched by James David.
We were particularly moved by these words penned by his parents:
What a day, and where do I begin. They say life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey. When I look at James’ life, I’ll disagree. James’ life was about the journey and the destination. James lived life, loved life, loved God, loved people, loved the journey, and I know he loves the destination. I’m so thankful God allowed me to be part of the journey. I look back on so many good times, great memories, and all of the James’ stories, as it seems everyone has one. One of my friends commented that this was an earthly accident with a heavenly purpose. I couldn’t agree more. Tammy and I had the chance to go on the water today and gain a better perspective of what James and Drew were doing. It comforted us to know that James appeared to be doing everything right. We don’t know what happened, but we know it was part of the journey, and he loved hunting and being outdoors. We’re comforted and encouraged by the outpouring of love, much of which was inspired by the journey. We will be forever grateful for all of the men and women who assisted in the rescue efforts and watched him as he reached his heavenly destination. As I walked along the water today and watched in amazement at the A-10 flyby, all I could think of was the wonderful life James led that made up the journey and his rising up on wings of eagles to his heavenly home. I love and miss James Eunice, and I can only hope my journey will be as rewarding as his…
by John L. Eunice on Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 1:06 am
"The anchor holds, though the ship is battered. The anchor holds, though the sails are torn. I have fallen on my knees as I face the raging seas, the anchor holds, in spite of the storm." Thank God that he knows how everything will begin and end. I love my boy James and wait with anticipation for the day I walk with him on streets of gold! Thanks for your prayers, love and support. John and I are forever grateful..."
by Tammy Eunice, Feb. 1, 2011
Please join us in upholding John, Tammy, brother John and sister Lindsay as they grieve the unnatural and unexpected death of James David.
"...That you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
" (I Thessalonians 4:13b, 14)