Although this is the most difficult day of my life, God is with me and has been upholding me throughout this entire experience AND my whole life. There are some things He has laid on my heart that I feel compelled to share with you. So, if you will bear with me as I share words from a mother's heart...
First of all, let me thank mine and Benny's family for all your love and support; not only for the past three weeks, but throughout our lives. Had you not been who you were, Benny and I would not have become the adults we are today. You all loved us, disciplined us, cheered our joys and triumphs, and now grieve with us too. You are the ones who showed us God's love and ultimately helped us discover a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship has been passed down to Andy, who now is walking in heaven with Jesus.
Next, I would like to thank my church family. You guys are so awesome! Your love, guidance, and prayers have been a source of strength for us! Thank you to all of Andy's Sunday School teachers, choir leaders, RA and Mission Friends leaders, ministers, and all of you who helped guide him to channel his energy for good. You have made an eternal difference for him!
Wayne County ... what a blessing you have been! You all have provided us with love, prayers, and so much support including physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, and financial. Although the census from the government can tell others about who lives here, this lets us know who you really are!! I love you beyond measure. You took up the rally cry, "Pray for Andy," and you did. Your cards, letters, and e-mails were ALL shared with him. I believe, regardless of Andy's medical diagnosis, he heard each one. God communicates with us all, and I think he sent messenger angels to utter to Andy your words of love, encouragement, and support. Also, let me thank you for sharing Andy's needs with others. He got e-mails from all over the United States, England, and the Caribbean. What an expression of love from you all. For all of that, I am truly grateful.
For our newest family members, I thank the folks at the Shepherd Center. On paper, it may be considered a rehabilitation facility for acquired brain injuries and for spinal cord injuries, but in real life, they are so much more. The love, concern, and dedication they showed, not just to Andy, but our whole family, is truly appreciated. You laughed with us, prayed with us, accommodated us as we set up Voyles Central in the family waiting area, and cried with us for a week as we made the most difficult decisions a family can make. I could never express to you my gratitude for helping Andy spend his last moments "at home." To those of you who made the extra effort to be here with us today, I am honored that you are sitting with our family.
Finally, to the Class of '03. Can you guys even imagine how much you have meant to Andy? You have been a group for all your lives. God's timing of your birth and your location at WCHS is not an accident. Each of you has a memory of Andy that is precious and unique. As the Alma Mater states, "Cherish the memories of days that were bright and forget every cloud in the sky." There are too many good things, or as the Homecoming so aptly put it, "Good Stuff," to dwell on the sadness of today. God is with us, loves us, and shares our sorrows. He, too, lost a Son, who can offer you eternal life. Take it! Because of that, I have eternal hope and knowledge that I will see Andy again in heaven. It is my prayer that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and will join to celebrate our homecoming in heaven.
Although there are so many more things I could say, I'll close now. Andy never liked long services, and he is probably rolling those eyes of his now. So, as I finish: I love you, I thank you, I appreciate you.
Cheryl and Henry ... It's a wrap.
Denise Voyles, March 2, 2003