Josh Bixler: We Shall See Him Again

Simone Weil once said, “There are only two things that pierce the human heart.  One is beauty.  The other is affliction.” 

What do you do when beauty and affliction are present in the same person?  On January 11, 2008 at 1:12 pm a beautiful soul named Josh Bixler, my nephew, took his life at the age of 14.  And now our hearts are pierced.

Fifteen years ago this Easter will mark the day I held Joshua Brandon Bixler in my arms before a loving congregation and prayed God’s blessings on his life at his baby dedication.  Standing beside me were his mom and dad and big sister.  I held a chubby cheeked, blond-haired and blue-eyed beautiful baby boy.  He squirmed, drooled and cried as I asked Jesus to bless his life.  I had no idea at the time that almost 15 years later I would be standing before a loving congregation with his mom and dad and big sister to say good bye.

The pain of this last week is almost unbearable.  We feel afflicted.  We feel despair, but not despair as if we have no hope.  For we do have hope.  We know that Josh had a relationship with Jesus.  And because of that…all we who have a relationship with Jesus shall see him again.

Was my baby dedication prayer answered?  Did Jesus bless his life?  If it is true that you can only give what you posses, then I invite you to look at the hundreds of faces that gathered at his memorial service and ask did Josh bless the lives of people in his world?


Yet, it was a reciprocal blessing.  Many people impacted Josh like so many streams and tributaries that flowed into his life: coaches, friends, teammates, teachers, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandpa Jim and grandpa Cliff, grandma Wanda and grandma Inez… all flowed into the life of Josh in ways the depth of which we will only know when we get to heaven and understand all things.

With his leaving this earth the way that he did, the chasm of pain is beyond the limits of language.  I am grateful for the promise of Scripture that says that when our pain is so deep and our anguish so intense that we find ourselves bereft of words to speak to God that the Holy Spirit speaks for us.

The Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:27:

“…the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

For many, during times like these we describe what our beloved did with their lives.  But that would not give you an adequate picture of Josh.  For Josh’s impact on lives was his way with people.

He loved to have fun.  He loved to bring people together and see the best in people.  I remember his sense of humor.  The guy had a sharp wit and would not back down from a big, mean looking uncle.

Two summers ago while visiting in Colorado, Nette and I were to drive grandpa Jim’s pickup truck back to Washington State.  On a whim I said why you don’t come back with us.  It was a joke.  I was kidding.  Josh said, “Okay, I’ll ask my dad.”  As he left to go call his dad, I looked at Nette and said, “Now, we’ve done it.  He called my bluff, but I would take 10 of him on his worst day.”

Both his dad and mom said yes and Lindsey rushed to get him some clothes together.   We traveled through Yellowstone and Montana on our way home.

At one point I told him about how Caleb’s older brothers Cole and Clint teased Caleb when he was very little that if he didn’t straighten up and not be such a bother that what happened to their other little brother would happen to him.

That other little brother was a pretend kid they made up and named Clay.  They told Caleb that Clay was given to gypsies and never seen again so he better straighten up.  Josh thought that was funny.

I would tease him saying if you don’t quit leaning on me I am going to put you out up here at this next stop.  He would shoot back, “Go ahead.  I would probably get there faster hitchhiking with Gypsies.”

Brian told me how he used to tickle Josh.  He would hold him down and tickle and tickle until the little fella would almost burst with laughter, begging dad to stop.  When he could take no more tickling, Brian would stop.  They would catch their breath.  Then Josh would say, “Do it again Daddy.  Do it again.”


I took Josh backpacking with Caleb to Flapjack lakes in the Olympic Mountains a couple of summers ago and as we arrived at the lake, up ahead in the willows about 20 yards away was a black bear.  The bear looked at us, snorted and ran off.

Later that night after we had finished supper Josh looked over at me and said, “Hey uncle, do you think that bear is going to come back?  I said that I didn’t think so.  Josh asked, “What makes you so sure?”  I said because he is eating blueberries and we don’t have any blueberries.  Besides he has probably tasted “boy meat” before and knows that it is not as sweet as blueberries.”  Under his breath Josh muttered to no one in particular, “Well, this ‘boy meat’ is pretty sweet.”

One time I teased him for sleeping too much.  He said, “I need my beauty sleep.”  I said if you don’t stop sleeping you are going to be prettier than a girl.”  He never smiled.  Looked right at me and said, “Uncle, you didn’t sleep much when you were my age did you.”  Why I oughta…


Josh was fearless.  At the lakes we decided to go swimming.  Josh was the first one to jump in the lake.  The water was cold and clear, but he dove right in.  He swam out to a tall rock about 50 feet out from shore and climbed to the top.  Everyone else was still fearful of the cold water and Josh was on top of the rock with arms raised in victory.  We dared him to jump.  He never hesitated.  Splash!  Then one by one…we all jumped in and swam to the rock and did some cliff jumping.  He and I would climb to the top and tried to time our jumps so that we hit the water at the same time.  He came up gasping for air laughing and said, “Let’s do it again Uncle.  Let’s do it again.”

We had been up in the mountains a couple of days and I was fixing supper one night and said, “I miss my wife.”  Everyone went around the circle and said who they missed.  When it came to Josh he said, “Well, I miss my sister Lindsey.”

Josh loved his sister.  I have never known two siblings who were more in love with each other than Josh and Lindsey Caye.

Josh’s best friend Casey told me that he would ask Josh if he and his sister ever fought.  Josh said not much.  Casey said, “The relationship Josh had with his sister…that was “gold.”

Lindsey, Josh was the wonderful person that he was due in large part to you.  Both your mom and dad would agree that you had as much of an influence on his life as anyone in the world.

Lindsey, you shall see him again.

Josh loved is dad.


While fishing with Josh one day at the Flapjack lakes, I commented to him that I had fished with his Dad a couple of times.  But that his dad was 10 times the fisherman that I was.  I asked if he liked to fish with his dad and he said yes, but that he really liked going four wheeling with his dad more than anything.  He told of going to Utah and spending lots of time going over impossible terrain.  He loved spending time with his dad.

Brian, Josh’s dad told me a story that tells much about his heart.  Because of difficult family dynamics, I hadn’t seen Josh’s dad Brian for almost 9 years until last fall when we attended Aunt Suzanne’s funeral.  I saw Brian across the room and went up to him, we shook hands, hugged, and spoke for a little.  Brian said he glanced across the room and caught Josh looking at his dad and uncle hugging and had a smile on his face as if to say, “That is cool.”

The angels are enjoying the most beautiful boy they have ever seen.  Brian, the fact that so many people are here honoring your son’s life is testimony to the character you built into his life as his father.  You were a good father to Josh.  I watched you with him.  You were patient and tender.  He had an inner strength that he got from you.

Brian, you shall see him again.

Josh loved his mom.  And Cyndi I know you loved Josh.  Do you remember the message he wrote in the soap scum on your shower?  “I love you mom.”  Do you remember the vitamin C he slipped under your door one time when you were coming down with a cold?

Cyndi do you remember a prayer Josh offered the day one of his friends died?

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for taking care of my friend and making him happy again in heaven.  Thank you for loving me too.  And dear God, remember that question I asked you?  When do I get to go?

You said that Josh’s eight year old version of heaven:  fishing streams, doggy houses, and Jesus coming over to visit.

The next time you see him he won’t have long hair and baggy pants that were about to fall off his butt.  You won’t see him sad.  You won’t see him in despair.  No, the next time you see your Josh he will be transformed into a being of unspeakable splendor.  He will dazzle you with his smile, he will amaze you with his understanding, he will tell you stories about what he and grandpa Bixler have been doing in heaven and he will take you by the hand and lead you to Aunt Suzanne’s mansion…he will tell you things about Jesus that you never knew.

Cyndi, you shall see him again.

Caleb, my dear son, Josh loved you too.


Caleb and Josh were more like brothers than cousins.  They were famous for their Lego and Star Wars collections.  Their names even go together.  In the bible it was always Joshua and Caleb.  These Old Testament warriors were partners in believing that with God on their side that the children of Israel could whip the Canaanites and conquer the land.

That sounds like Caleb Chambers and Joshua Bixler.  They fought many epic battles together in grandpa’s backyard with duct-taped swords and cardboard shields.  They always won the day. In fact in the history of the Chambers/Bixler alliance they never lost a battle.  Untold hordes of barbarians were slain over the years.  All of us owe our freedom and safety to these two brave warriors.

Caleb, Josh loved you like a brother.  He thought of you at the end.  Caleb, you shall see him again.

Chuck Swindoll wrote in Improving Your Serve:“It was well-known author and pastor Charles Allen who first told the story of a little lad named John Todd, born in Rutland, Vermont, in the autumn of 1800. Shortly after the boy’s birth, the Todd family moved to the little village of Killingsworth. It was there, when John was only six, that both his parents died. All the children had to be parceled out among relatives — and a kind-hearted aunt who lived ten miles away agreed to take John, to love him, care for him, and to give him a home.

The boy lived there for some fifteen years and finally left as he went on to school to study for the ministry. Time passed gently as he began and later excelled in his work as a pastor. While he was in middle life, his elderly aunt fell desperately ill. Realizing death was not far off, in great distress she wrote her nephew. The pitiful letter included some of the same questions all of us must one day ask: “What will death be like? Will it mean the end of everything?” Fear and uncertainty was easily traced in the quivering lines of her letter.

Moved with compassion and swamped with the memories of yesteryear, he wrote her these words of reassurance:

It is now thirty-five years since I, a little boy of six, was left quite alone in the world. You sent me word you would give me a home and be a kind mother to me. I have never forgotten the day when I made the long journey of ten miles to your house in North Killingsworth. I can still recall my disappointment when, instead of coming for me yourself, you sent your colored man, Caesar, to fetch me. I well remember my tears and my anxiety as, perched high on your horse and clinging tight to Caesar, I rode off to my new home. Night fell before we finished the journey and as it grew dark, I became lonely and afraid.

‘Do you think she’ll go to bed before I get there?’ I asked Caesar anxiously. ‘O no,’  he said reassuringly. ‘She’ll sure stay up FOR YOU. When we get out of these here woods you’ll see her candle shining in the window.’  Presently we did ride out in the clearing and there, sure enough, was your candle. I remember you were waiting at the door, that you put your arms close about me and that you lifted me — a tired and bewildered little boy — down from the horse. You had a big fire burning on the hearth, a hot supper waiting for me on the stove. After supper, you took me to my new room, you heard me say my prayers and then you sat beside me until I fell asleep.

You probably realize why I am recalling all this to your memory. Some day soon, God will send for you, to take you to a new home. Don’t fear the summons — the strange journey — or the dark messenger of death. God can be trusted to do as much for you as you were kind enough to do for me so many years ago. At the end of the road you will find love and a welcome waiting, and you will be safe in God’s care. I shall watch you and pray for you until you are out of sight, and then wait for the day when I shall make the journey myself and find you waiting at the end of the road to greet me.

Not only is that a beautiful, true story, it is the hope of all who know Jesus as their Savior. It is the way it will be. We are expected. Jesus is waiting to welcome us.  And Josh will be by his side.

Joshua Brandon Bixler.  A beautiful soul and a young man who died too young.  I love him.  I miss him.

I shall see him again.


44 thoughts on “Josh Bixler: We Shall See Him Again

  1. Seventeen years ago today. I held my baby son, Benjamin, who God had taken home to be with Him. Yet, still I can’t imagine your pain, at lossing this 15 year old. Hold your memories near. I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you all.

  2. Joe: I attended the services with my daughter, Sam, who went to middle school with Josh. She has been very sad about the circumstances in which Josh found himself. I cannot imagine the pain you and your family must feel in your heart from losing such a wonderful kid. Sam would talk about how he would light up a room when he entered. We need more Josh’s in the world. I am very sorry for your loss.

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss. I went to school with Josh but sadly didn’t get to know him. But I’m a freshman so a lot of my friends knew him. He sounds like he was just a great kid! But like you said, we’ll see him again someday!

  4. I also went to school with Josh. He was such a great friend. Josh had funny jokes that would leave me laughing for days. Everybody misses him.

  5. Josh was such an amazing friend and person i hate not seeing him walking the school halls anymore with a smile plastered on his face i miss him so much i want him to come back and make everybody he knew smile again

    • Hey Kelsey, Thanks for being Josh’s friend. We miss him too. Keep smiling and pass his smile and love on to others. Cyndi Bixler, Josh’s mom

  6. I was friend’s with josh in middle school and talked with him every once in a while in high school because we went to different schools. The way he could make classes i would dread to classes i wanted to go to. He was probably the funniest kid i knew and could make you feel better barely saying a sentance. What he did did not reflect the josh I knew.

    • You have said such fine words. We think what happened was a moment in time when he got his report card. Although we’ll never know the answers, we do know how he made us all feel…a very special people on this earth. Carry that with you and live life to the fullest. Thanks for being his friend and I’m sure he’s smiling down on us today. Those of us that know his Jesus will see him again. It’s a promise! Cyndi Bixler, Josh’s mom

  7. Josh was and is an amazing son. Everyday I am reminded of him and the legacy he has left on this earth. Josh I believe will leave an imprint on this earth that is beyond our comprehension. Everyday, through my tears I still smile. I see his wit, his charm, his love, his jokes, his intellect, and his character played out in the lives that he touched everyday. His essence continues to guide me everyday in the decisions that I make.
    I love you son and I miss you dearly. Can’t wait to see you in heaven. Mom
    I miss him but I will see him again. Do you know if you will?

  8. My son was a student at Columbine also. I remember getting the automated call that a Columbine student has passed. I asked my son about it. I thought to myself how terrible this must be for his family. My son passed away on the 20ty of January. How the thought has turned into a nightmare. I am so sorry for your pain and loss. My son passed away from an ecstasy overdose. My son too has guided me to speak to our youth about drugs. You are in my prayers.

  9. josh was one that i could always count on to be there when I needed someone to talk to. he was so full of life, and his choices make me wonder if there was anything i could have done to help him. then again, i never saw any signs of sadness in him. the past four years have been amazing with him. he will always hold a place in my heart.

    • Alee, Josh liked you a lot. So, as much as you miss him, know that. He was just a bit sad around Christmas but never anytime before that. You are right, he was always happy. I am glad you shared so much great time with him. Thanks for loving him and writing an amazing note about him. Cyndi Bixler, Josh’s mom

  10. I was Josh’s English teacher last year. My family and I have participated in the Second Wind walk for the past three years. The money raised goes for counseling for kids at-risk for suicide. We will participate again this year, and I have purchased a white dove to be released in Josh’s name before the event. I just thought you might like to know that I have not forgotten him.

    • Paula, I have been with JOsh’s friends today..some who attend Columbine. Brian, his dad also mentioned to me that he saw you at the walk this fall. Thank you for caring. Tt means a lot to us. I still have all of Josh’s notes and work from your class. I think of you often and pray for you as you impact the lives of students at Columbine. If you get a chance, look up Nate Stephens. He’s in 9th grade there…he wrote a great English paper recently on Josh. Sincerely, Cyndi Bixler

  11. dear josh,
    i miss you a lot.
    right now, its still sinking in that ill never see you again.
    you were such an amazing and funny boy.
    i love you boy!

  12. Josh was an amazing friend. I miss him so much. His smile and his laugh the most. He was always so funny and so sweet. Itll be like we went for awhile without one another. I can understand why god wanted you close to him. Cause you truly were an angel on earth.

    I’m thinking of your bright blues eyes, brighter than the stars that lit the skies. An angel in disguise. I just need a bit more time. I wanna hold you in my arms tonight
    I can’t forget those bright blue eyes, can’t forget the moment they met mine. Please turn back the time.

    • Kayla, If I recall Josh really liked you. So, just know that and thank you for saying the sweet things that you did. He’s smiling down and we’ll see him again…all of us that know Jesus. Josh’s mom, Cyndi Bixler

  13. josh was such an amazing kid. he was my best friend. I will always miss him. his smile could always brighten my day and his eyes were the best ones i have ever seen. I miss and Love you Josh!

  14. I did not have the honor of knowing Josh personally, but I am becoming aquainted with him through his beloved mother, Cynthia. Through this I have come to believe that his absence has made the world less wonderful than it would otherwise be. My prayer is that somehow,God will be honored in the midst of this horrific tradgedy, and his friends and family will someday see him again. I look forward to meeting him on the streets of Heaven.

    • Bystander…Josh knows who you are. Thanks for sharing and loving him. I am sure he loves you too. Cyndi Bixler, Josh’s mom

  15. Josh 🙂
    I can’t wait to see you in heaven. It has been too long since I have seen you last. I miss you, so much.
    I love you

    • Whoever this is, I am sure Josh loves you. You will see him in heaven again and I can’t wait either. Remember his good heart and live life to the fullest! Blessings, Cyndi Bixler, Josh’s mom

    • This is Josh’s mom Hayley. He cared an awful lot for you. Hope the days are easier.. I miss him terribly everyday too. Live your life to the fullest Hayley and remember the goodness of Josh’s heart and pass it on. He’s smiling down at us.

  16. I can’t believe its been two years.. The sadness welled up inside me is almost unbearable.. i hope to see Josh again.. To lose Josh the week before my birthday was a major blow.. I hope to see him again. My thoughts are always with the Bixlers..Josh..i can’t say i miss you cuz i know you’re in a better place and much happier where you are now..but i can say that you are forever in my heart.. hey josh? do you need a pencil? ha..

    • Whoever this is, I am sure Josh loves you. Hey, and that doesn’t surprise me that he needed pencils. He had asked me for new ones right before Chrlstmas break.. Thanks for sharing and for being his friend. Josh’s mom -Cyndi Bixler

  17. Josh was a wonderful person! To his parents.. thank you for raising such a great person! we talked a lot in middle school and could honestly talk to him on the phone for hours. Everything was really comfortable with Josh. He was always nice to everyone and I know he always had me smiling. It is truly tragic what happened to him. But two years later, i am at peace knowing that he is in a much better place and watching over us! I can’t wait to see him again. Love you Josh 🙂 thank you for being such a awesome friend! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your nice comment that I am reading a year later! I have since lost my twin sister, so she is with Josh as well. Sometimes being here on earth is almost unbearable, but I’m sure God knows what He is up to. Josh’s dad, sister, husband and friends visited Josh’s place today. Brr it was cold 7 degrees. Thanks again! Josh’s mom

  18. josh, i still think about you every single day even though i never knew you as a person. we love you, and we miss you everyday.

  19. I’ve known Josh since the early early Normandy days, he has been one of my closest friends throughout all of elementary school until highschool. I love him and miss him more than anything. To his parents, thank you so so much for raising such a wonderful kid he truly was the brightest, happiest, and nicest person i knew. You should be so proud of him. He never failed to make me smile. We always talked about soccer, star wars 🙂 haha and we played football. wow i miss him..josh if youre reading i love you and miss you. Rest in Paradise you earned it.
    P.S this article was beautiful thank you for posting it

    • Thank you Becky for saying these things about Josh. I am reading them on his 3rd anniversary. It is great to know how he treated others. He was good to his family too. It is such a loss to not have him here, but hopefully his life and knowing him will influence you forever as it does each of his family members. Thanks Becky! Josh’s mom

  20. Pingback: 2010 in review « Above Tree Line

  21. Joshua Brandon. I miss you more than ever today. Your friends have been by. We went to your site. You are missing a beautiful little girl named Chloe as a niece. Lindsey is so proud of her. She is a great mom….as she was to you too. Hope your aunties Val and Suzanne are taking great care of you. I know you are blessed Josh…where you are and that helps. Love and miss you until the day I see you again in heaven. Love you! Mommy

  22. Josh, i cant wait to see you again! I miss that smile that lit up every room you were in! I know heaven is everything you hoped it would be and so much more! I miss you more then words can describe! Thanks for always being there for me when I needed you. You truly were a great friend! ❤

  23. Josh, We all miss you so much. You have left a big home in our hearts, but that is OK because it drives us to Jesus, who is the only One who can fill that hole. I know you are having a ball up there in heaven. We have sent you more family members and heaven is getting sweeter every day. I know that your cousin “Uncle Jack” is bugging you to go golfing. How about you teach him to kick around that soccer ball a little instead. I’ll bet that would be quite a sight to see. Please keep him company for me and don’t forget us all down here. Loving you and trying to make the best of what we have left.

  24. Wishing we could give you a great big hug, but please know that our thoughts are with you today and we are learning to cherish each other and take nothing for granted. Life is such a sweet gift, and heaven is closer than anyone knows.

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