It’s finally beginning to turn cold here in South Louisiana, and I thought it would be appropriate to start the first fire of winter, so I went to the back to grab some kindling. I looked down and saw the lone piece of wood and immediately thought of our Jonathan.
This is no ordinary piece of wood. This piece of oak is the last piece from a truckload of wood that Jonathan bought last winter for our fireplace. He and Lindsey were driving around Mandeville when they spotted a guy parked on the side of the road selling firewood by the bundle. It was no surprise that Jonathan asked how much for the whole truck load; bought it, and then had the guys bring it to our house and stack it in the backyard. I remember when I got home he couldn’t wait to show it to me. It completely filled the 5′x 10’ rack. With that wood we enjoyed many fires during the last few months of his life. I can still hear him say “man you outdid yourself” after I would load up the fireplace and get it going.
Ask anyone who knew Jonathan Avitia how they would describe him and you’ll get an array of answers. Beloved husband, devoted son, faithful friend. A typically healthy 29 year-old, he visited a local urgent care clinic with chest pains that he thought was a pulled muscle. An x-ray of the chest showed a large mass behind his sternum. A subsequent CT scan and biopsy confirmed that the tumor was malignant. One week later, Jonathan was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer with extragonadal germ cell tumors, a very rare and serious disease. He spent the next year of his life fighting valiantly for it. In October of 2012, he married the love of his life, my daughter, in a last minute, outdoor ceremony under a beautifully setting sun.
Jonathan and Lindsey spent five wonderful months together before he went home to be with the Lord. We miss him tremendously every day, but his legacy lives on in those that knew and loved him.
Tonight, as I burn this last piece, I fondly remember my son-in-law and a dear friend. And when I see a guy parked on the side of the road selling wood out of the back of his truck, with several little bundles ready for sale, I’ll think of Jonathan. This Thanksgiving, I give thanks for a thousand different things but I’m especially thankful for getting to know a truly remarkable man who, when presented with opportunities in life to be generous, said, “I’ll take the whole truckload.”
- Jim Dotson