| I will always cherish you, John ...|
My Beloved Brother John:
“You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, and you have kept the faith.” Finally, there is laid up for you the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to you on this day.”
We shared the best of times, as we were the most joyous children you would ever see. We took great risks together but we survived them all. Our parents worked long hours to provide us with a good life; nevertheless, the three of us managed very well.
As the older sister, I would dress John and Jackie for school, feed them breakfast, and then we would walk to school together. The school staff referred to me as their little mother. I can’t say that John made the task easy. He wanted to be in charge. One day, I let him do that, by allowing him to hold our apartment key for a day. We spent hours later in the day, waiting for the super to bring his key to let us in because John lost the key.
As we grew older, our bond only became stronger. We became very dependent upon each other and we grew to be best friends. Whenever our parents left us alone at home thinking that we are working on our homework, we would hang around the dining room table together. We would each draw a picture of the mansion we wanted to move into when we grew older. John’s was always the most beautiful, because he was the most artistic of us. He always said he would be the first to move into his mansion because everything was a race to John.
Once again, he has beaten us, by moving into His mansion first. Our Lord tells us, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John, our Lord prepared your mansion for you and you moved in with no hesitation.
The Dark Journey and Mommy’s Help
John was completely devastated when we lost our father and had no desire to keep on living. Throughout this time, I suffered with John.
It was a long and rough road, which I thought would never end. Eventually, however, it did, and it ended because of you, Mommy. John would not be where he is today if not for you. You stood by him when the world was against him. You believed in him when everyone else abandoned him. You lifted him up when he fell. Your unconditional love and compassion was the medicine John needed when he was sick. You raised a fine young man who was always so polite and gentle. You stood by his side and never once turned your back on him. You led John onto the path of righteousness and you paved the road he walked on, which led him to Jesus Christ. You prepared John for this journey and this is the greatest gift you gave your son. You should be proud of John today, and happy for him, as he is united with his Father in heaven. As a mother, I hope I can be like you one day.
Discovering More of John
The nine days we spent at the hospital at John’s bedside were the most dreadful days of my life. It was with great pain and agony that I watched my beloved and dear brother lie in a coma with no hope of recovery. Day after day I prayed fervently that the Lord heal John, but He had a different plan for him.
In a sense, Our Lord was gracious, by giving us nine days to prepare ourselves for John’s departure. During this time, He also revealed and unfolded John’s ministry to us, as we had little idea of the extent of John’s work. We met many people who John had reached out to. He helped mend people with broken hearts, became a friend to the lonely, gave hope to drug addicts, provided food and clothes to the homeless and hungry and visited prisoners in jail.
But his greatest ministry was leading all these people to our Lord Jesus Christ. He transformed the lives of many people and led them to salvation. He was as bold as St. Paul in his ministry, a solid rock like St. Peter and beloved like St. John. One cannot do such a ministry unless he himself is one with the Lord. John walked with Jesus Christ daily. He meditated on His words and they were as sweet as honey to him. He meditated on the Kingdom of Heaven daily making that his only goal in life. It was John’s dream to go to the Kingdom of heaven and be with Our Lord.
Two days before John passed away, Danielle, my older daughter, called me at the hospital. She asked if John was still in a coma and I painfully told her that he was. She said, “Oh, good.” I thought she didn’t hear me right. I said Uncle John is still in a coma, but she repeated, “Oh, good.” I was totally confused by her answer, so I asked her why that’s good. Danielle told me that she had had a dream of John the night before and that she knows where he is while he lays in the coma.
As Danielle described her vision, I felt as though an angel was speaking to me. She told me that she saw John with the most beautiful smile on his face. His face was glowing and she had never seen her uncle so happy before. She said that John was with my father and my father was telling him how proud he was. My father told him to keep up the magnificent ministry he had started.
These last few words gave me great hope that John will soon wake up to continue his ministry. Now that John has moved on, I realize that my father’s words were meant for us. He wants us to continue the ministry John started. Both my father and John would want us to use this difficult trial in our life as a light in the darkness to those who are not close to our Lord Jesus Christ.
My dear brother John, I am honored and proud to be your sister. Throughout our life, I always offered you advice. I always felt like I was your second mother. I felt the need to protect you and would never allow any harm to come to you. Times have changed, John, and you became my spiritual advisor, my mentor and my hero – please know that everything you told me is implanted in my heart and I plan to follow your wisdom. You counseled me on how to raise Danielle and Caitlyn and I promise you, John, that I will heed your advice.
I won’t forget the last thing you told me over Christmas. You said that if I was completely filled with the peace of God, nothing could affect me, not even the death of a loved one. You must have known that I would be dealing with this. I can’t lie and tell you that I am handling it well, because I will always miss terribly the way you talk, the way you walk, the way you laugh, the way you imitate others, the way you smile and light up a room when you walk in. I miss you John and I can’t wait to be with you again one day.
I know that our Lord Jesus Christ greeted you at the gates of Paradise with open arms and embraced you with great love, and that daddy was right behind him. John, your dream came true and you are now in heaven with your Father. You and daddy now intercede for us before Jesus. I love you dearly and you will forever be missed.
John, the only comfort I have in my heart is that I have no doubt that our Lord said to you. “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of our Lord.”
Farewell, John, until we are reunited.
Written by John’s younger sister, Jacqueline Hanna
I feel very privileged to have known John throughout my entire life.
He, Caroline and I had such an awesome and amazing childhood. Our
early years were spent on Staten Island. When I was nine, John ten
and Caroline eleven, we moved to Middletown, New Jersey, which is where
we really grew up.
I could stand here from now until eternity and fill all of you with much joy and
laughter by sharing all the wonderful memories and the crazy stories that I
have of John. John, Caroline and I were inseparable throughout our
childhood and adolescent years. But as we got older, we went our
separate – college, career, marriage, family, and so forth.
We had the best of times and the worst of times. The death of our father
back in the spring of 1988 was utterly shocking and devastating to all of us.
Although Caroline, John and I each had our own very special relationship
with him, I believe that John felt that not only was Kamal his Dad, but also
his best friend.
John was deeply saddened and most affected by our father’s death. It
took a long time but, after many years, he eventually came to accept it.
Shortly after our dad passed away, John went through a very dark and
rough period in his life, which lasted about ten years. At times, I thought
that John would never see the light at the end of that tunnel.
But because of the help and the enormous strength of our mother, and
through the Grace of God and, most important, through the force of his
own will, John turned his life around dramatically and became the man
his father was. John went on to finish his undergraduate studies and
even earned a full scholarship to start his Masters in Counseling. He
helped and counseled people from all walks of life, who suffered from
drug addiction, poverty, depression, family troubles and anything
else you can imagine.
A couple of years ago, when he was studying at Nyack College, John
met Amy, a sweet and beautiful woman. They were together for the
past couple of years and I know for sure that he was planning to marry
her. He truly loved Amy more than life itself. He often told me that he
thought Amy would be such a wonderful mother to his children.
Although John and I had our share of the usual sibling conflicts, he was
always so special and dear to me. We had many arguments on the outside
, but on the inside, we both knew how close we always were. I never
laughed so hard in my life as when I was with John. He always put a
smile on my face, as well as the faces of countless others.
laugh and, last but not least, a heart of gold.While I was at the hospital,
I met many of John’s friends and colleagues, and I heard so many
wonderful stories about Johnny. One story in particular stuck in
my mind. I was sitting next to a woman in the hospital waiting room and
asked her how she knew John. She told me that she became good friends
with John through school and she used to eat with him often in the
cafeteria. She told me that Johnny would make a point of talking
to one particular man, who was lonely and mentally challenged and
who worked in the cafeteria, every day for an hour. They would always
talk about sports. She told me John did this to make sure that this man
would know that he had a friend in life.
John was truly an exceptional person and I will always feel profoundly
saddened and will feel a deep sense of loss in my heart for John, even
as my life was enriched by the years we did have together.
So . . . so long, Johnny. I hope I get to see you again one day. You
will be forever missed. The one saving grace that I do have is that I
know that you are sitting right next to Dad. And I also know that
Dad was waiting on the other side of that gate with open arms to greet you.
And I know that when you saw Dad, you had the world's greatest
smile on your handsome face.
John loved Amy with all his heart. He knew in his heart she was the woman who would be the mother of his children. He loved her family dearly and cherished the special moments he shared with them. Amy and her family will continue to be part of our family!
Thankfully, Amy met a wonderful man who became her husband and they married in May, 2010. Our family was delighted to see Amy find the happiness she deserves. She will continue to be a part of our lives. As of 2014, she has two beautiful children.