I know you all can’t tell, but I have started, back spaced, and restarted this post several times. I don’t know where to begin. My wonderful, fun-loving, gregarious son, Joseph Matthew Messina, was taken from this world today in a car accident in Colorado this morning. His wife, Michelle, whom he loved so much it made my heartache, was in the car with him but is doing fine and should be released if not tonight, then tomorrow morning. She is in shock and devastated along with the rest of our family. Joe, Michelle, and Rich spent the weekend in Colorado snowboarding and relaxing. Joe and Michelle dropped off Rich at the airport this morning…I spoke to them all in the car around 0830 my time. A couple of hours after they dropped him off, they were in the accident. The weather was really bad. I was able to call Rich and let him know at the airport and not to get on a plane but to find a way to Michelle, who was all alone in a small rural hospital. Praise God for good friends, as Kevin Graefe, a college friend, came and got Rich and took him to Michelle. He helped remember who they were talking to and helped secure her release so they could take her to a major hospital in Denver to get further treatment. They are still by her side, and hope to be able to take her to Kevin’s house once her small surgical procedure is done. Rich’s brother, Joe, is flying to Denver tonight to be with Rich. Joe and Heather arranged for Tim to fly home to me tonight. He should be here in an hour or so. A very special thanks to Wanda and Ed Oslica, who stayed all day with Lily and me….made phone calls to Missouri on Michelle’s behalf and helped me remanence about stories about Joe, and their son Zac, his best friend. Church friends came with paper goods and food, hugs and prayers. Thanks to the Emily Ryan, RoseAnn and Tom Harvat, and Tanner, Mick, & Kaysie Wiebelhaus for coming to just sit with Lily and me today. I have never cried so much or so ugly in my life. The pain of knowing that my son is gone is overwhelming. But I want to make this positive….and about Joe.
I have received so many texts and messages on social media that I am overwhelmed. People have reached out to me from all walks of Joe’s life….whether it be Army buddies, firefighting brothers, Delta Chi brothers, or simply childhood friends of his from all over the world…the messages are streaming in. It is a testament of the kind of person Joe was. He was the life of the party. He had a huge heart and he made me very proud. I loved being around him because he always made me smile. He didn’t even have to try. I feel like the light of my life has dimmed dramatically today. Joe was a huge supporter of my photography. He loved the photos I took and pushed me to get them on platforms where they could be noticed. That meant the world to me…that he was proud of what I did and found it interesting. He called often and almost always called using videophone so we could see each other. Joe loved his little sister, Lily. When she was really little, for years she sat on his lap during Mass, usually finger wrestling. Joe had two dogs, Moose and Jenna, who thought the sun rose and set on his attention. Half of the time he called me, he would be on his day off from the fire department, he would be in bed and snuggling with a dog or two. They will miss him terribly. Then there is Michelle. He fell so hard in love with this girl 8 years ago. They were finally married on October 17, 2020. Not nearly long enough for him to love her the way he felt she deserved. I told people so often how much I enjoyed spending time with the two of them because they were such a neat couple. The playfulness they had between them was adorable and it made my heart swell to know they had each other.
Please pray for my Joe, for Michelle, our family, his fire department (who has been amazing), his Army National Guard unit, and his friends. He had so many wonderful friends who loved him and although I already knew this, it has been really powerfully underlined today. Although I am absolutely devastated by all that has transpired, I do feel the love of everyone trying to support us. Please know I am just not up to responding back to most of you right now. It isn’t because I haven’t seen your messages or appreciate your kind words. I just can’t….I just can’t….right now. I am leaving you with the last picture I had taken with my Joe (I always called him that as there are several Joes in our family). This was a few weeks ago on my 51st birthday when he drove up from KC to surprise me. People, hug your children…tell them you love them. Let them know how much you care about them…how proud you are of them. I was blessed to know I was dying and told him as much whenever I could. This may be the only gift of a stage IV cancer diagnosis. My beautiful boy, my handsome son….until we meet again. I love you.