Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rob Phillips

This has been a difficult week, as I lost a dear friend and brother in Christ early Tuesday morning (February 15, 2011). A heart attack hit, and suddenly he was gone, despite the best efforts of the doctors and nurses.

It all started when I joined Christian comedian Bob Smiley's online message board in approximately 2000. That was where I met Jerri Phillips, a wonderful Texan woman of God who I have grown to admire more and more over the years. She had a husband and two children that I heard about often.

Fast-forward to 2007. My friend Brian Green was getting married in Texas, and I was honored to be requested to come and be a groomsman. I decided to make a vacation of it and visited friends in Louisiana and Texas, as well as surprising Christian singer Clay Crosse by attending a concert in Baton Rouge (we've become good friends). After spending a few days in Louisiana with friends, I took the train to Dallas, where I was greeted by a very excited Jerri and her two children. Her husband Rob was at work, but I got to meet him when he got home that evening. Over the next few days, I got to know their family, and I gained even more of a respect and love for each of them. They took me around, and we generally had a great time. The kids especially are very artistic, and I also enjoyed my time doing artwork with them at their home. At one point, they took me to a restaurant they loved (I forget the name), and Rob introduced me to their cheese fries. Probably terribly fattening, but they were oh so good!

One thing that particularly impressed me about Rob was his thoughtfulness. About a month before Jerri's birthday one year, he sent out an e-mail to all of their friends and asked us to send birthday cards, as a special surprise for Jerri. He worked it out for us to send them to their neighbor so Jerri would not catch wind of the plan. Then on her birthday, she was flooded with cards from all over the country.

Tuesday morning of this week, I was on the bus, almost to work, and I checked my e-mail on my phone. I saw a message from Jerri explaining that Rob had had a massive heart attack shortly after midnight. I was immediately very concerned, and then a little confused when I saw in the next paragraph that there would be a celebration service. Then I reread the first paragraph and realized that it said "fatal massive heart attack." Then the bus arrived at work. Early in the day, I sent an e-mail to my manager explaining that I had lost a dear friend and may be a bit slower than normal doing my work, due to the shock. At lunch I called my friend Carmel, also a good friend of Rob and Jerri, to make sure she knew (I didn't feel I had the right to tell her what happened, as it needed to come from Jerri, but I recommended that she check her messages). Most of this week I have had to hold in the grief, or I would not get any work done. But this weekend I have had some time to process it. I don't, and probably never will, understand how or why God would choose to take a healthy 42-year-old man who had a family who needed him, and I can't fathom how it must feel for the family left behind. I know that I've shed lots of tears this week.

When looking through my pictures of my trip to Texas, I was disappointed not to find any of Rob, but I found a few of the rest of the family. (One of my favorites is at the top of this post.) Please keep Jerri, Anna and Robert in your prayers. I can't even begin to imagine their pain, but if it's been this tough for me, it's got to be much harder for them. I know that God will work even this out for good, but sometimes it's so hard to see the beauty to come through the difficult and strangling ugliness right now.

Update: Jerri reminded me that the restaurant with the cheese fries is called Snuffer's. If you're ever in the Fort Worth area, I highly recommend it.

1 comment :

  1. He so enjoyed you. He considered you a precious friend, and he loved hearing about you.

    Thank you for your love and prayers, sweetheart. Hugging you tight...and long...