Dear Jim

Jim’s siblings created a Facebook page where we could all go to share our memories of Jim.  We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve created new friendships and strengthened old ones.  One of my favorites that was shared was from one of his seminary students, Macy.  I’ll never sing the Hello song again without thinking of Jim and chuckling.

“Brother Rowberry was my seminary teacher for a year, and for a good portion of that year, I walked to seminary each morning. On the mornings when it was so cold my hands couldn’t open the door on their own, he would always wait by the door to open it for me, and then ask me about how I was and what I was doing before the other kids came. He taught me how to be gentle and kind. He taught me how to choose a favorite sin and banish it from my character. He taught me how to find Christ in everything. He taught me how to be optimistic when everything seemed too dark. and he could always make me laugh! I can’t make it through the Hello song from primary anymore without laughing because when he was leading the kids as they sang it to me, we sang the line “and be our friend in a very special way” and he leaned over to me and whispered, “whatever THAT means…” How lucky we all are to know him!”

Here is what I shared:

Dear Jim,

As I’ve thought about what I might have said to you if I had the chance to say goodbye one word keeps coming to my mind. And that word is “sustain.” This word might seem like a puzzling choice, so let me explain…

I, like so many others, loved sitting in front of you in sacrament meeting. But mine was for a selfish reason. I did love to listen to your beautiful voice but even more than that, I loved how my voice sounded with you behind me. I am a mediocre singer at best but when I’d combine my alto with your tenor I felt like I could give the MoTab a run for their money. Your voice lent sustenance to mine in so many ways. I looked to your example in how to speak to friends in encouraging and positive ways and how to speak to my children in patient and loving tones. Because of you I will speak a little kinder and sing a little louder.

Your voice sustains me.

When wrestling with the hard questions in life I often found myself wondering, “I wonder what Jim thinks?” I’d find a way to bring it up in conversation and without fail your faithful, realistic answers uplifted and replenished me. Your testimony often brought my cynical self to tears.

Your faith sustains me.

You, Sarah, Rusty and I share a love of food. Food nourishes and sustains the body, but when shared with friends it also sustains the soul. There was always cheering when our family got invited over to the Rowberry’s for Sunday night dinner. Your cooking is famous at our house. But even better, Rusty and I loved going out to dinner with you and Sarah. The four of us have shared some pretty amazing meals together. The last one was on Feb 20th, just one week after we learned of your cancer diagnosis. We went to the Mercantile at Union Station in Denver. We all played shuffleboard (and ended in a dead tie thanks to my amazing final shot) and ate the best charcuterie board I’ve ever had. We laughed, we worried about the battle ahead of us, and reconfirmed our friendships and commitment to stand by each other in the hard times we knew were coming.

Your friendship sustains me.

And now, Jim, I want to make a promise to you. Rusty and I will help sustain your family. Sarah is so strong. She has unwavering faith, fierce determination and undaunting courage. We will be at her side to support her always. We, along with countless others, will lift her up and help her carry this burden. We will grieve together and when the time is right, we will laugh together as I know you would want us to do. We will love your children. You already know that I love Grace, Claire, Max, Jane, and Luke like they are my own. We will be there to cheer them on through life moments both big and small. We will help, teach and love just as you would have done.

We will help sustain your family.

Jim, please make the same promise back to me. Sustain us all from heaven. So many are grieving your loss. Send us comfort and let us feel you here among us. Inspire us and cheer us on from heaven as we all strive to keep your memory alive by living fearless lives full of love and faith. Fill us with hope and resolve. Help us understand and apply the atonement to this trial.

Send God’s love to sustain all who love and miss you.

See you on the other side, my dear friend.

Love, Tara

And here is what Rusty shared on his blog:

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