He will have no fear of bad news, his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Psalm 112:7

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Service for Craig Merimee

Amazing Grace (My chains are Gone)

I can Only Image

Ecc. 3
II Timothy 4:7

I Believe

Jason Briet rememberance of a dear friend.

Matthew (5:3-10)
Blessed are the Poor and Spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of God
Blessed are the Meek: for they shall possess the land
Blessed are they who Mourn: for they shall be comforted
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have        
            their fill
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the   
             Kingdom of Heaven

 My name is Jason Breit. I first met Craig in 1996 when I joined Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity at UK. We became close friends through the years. We were in each other’s weddings and watched each others Families grow.

The Beatitudes show a perfect reflection on Craig’s spirit.  Even though this horrific disease cut his time hear on Earth short, he always felt blessed for the time he did have.    

I’m sure that through Family, Friendships, co-workers, etc.  we each have encountered our own Craig. Even if you don’t have your own personal Craig story; following “The Merimee’s Journey” allowed you to share in his life.

So here is my Craig:

the Craig who certainly loved his family more than anything

the Craig whose passion for his sports teams was second to none. Although he and I never really agreed on any of our J teams. Especially that Other High School!!

 I can remember how furious Craig would get over a loss by UofL.

 The scene at a bar from a comment made by an Eagles Fan, about his beloved Bears. No. Craig didn’t hold much back when it came to his teams. By The Way that Eagles Fan was a lady too. He was always willing to put up a good argument even if he knew he was wrong.
the Craig whose love of Music was obvious to all. As everyone was able to see on

the Blog the pictures from Jimmy Buffet here just a couple of weeks ago

the Craig whose love for food would lead him to skipping class at UK occasionally to be first in line for the Buffet at the Oak Room in Donovan Hall

the Craig whose One Liners quoted from some of the funniest movies that would have you laughing so hard.  Craig definitely had his Sense of HumorJ

then there was the Craig who could definitely draw out that stern look from Michelle. Especially when he would pull out his famous Harry Carey impersonations. Hey! Sorry Michelle. I was never a help in that department.

And of course one of his famous lines from Christmas Vacation to Michelle when he didn’t have the answer for her, “I Don’t Know Margo!”J

the Craig whose most pitiful look came to me at the Derby one year, when I came back from a Mint Julep run, to learn that the Derby had run out of Mint Juleps! He couldn’t understand! J

the Craig who walked the maze of hallways at the Vanderbilt Cancer Center. Head up with pure determination to beat the odds.

That’s my Craig and he will be sorely missed but certainly not forgotten.

God Bless Craig
My rememberance:

Scriptures read by Emily Merimee (age 6)

After 17 months of praying for God’s hand to heal Craig we are here to celebrate the Almighty healing of Craig. Our prayers have been answered and he returned home Sunday afternoon. The week after Craig was diagnosed I asked God why this impossible cancer and he replied to my heart, “Without a shadow of a doubt, it will be my healing.” We were blessed with a great summer of a healed body but we rejoice today in a complete healing for Craig.
 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Second Corinthians 4: 16-18
Craig grew up in J-town, went to St. Edward for grade school and started his soccer career there. He was the kid that everyone was friends with and was known as the cute soccer player and the nice guy.
After St. Edward he went to him beloved St. X to continue the Merimee tradition. His reputation as a great kid continued in the classrooms and hall of St. X and on the soccer field. Although his good boy status would be set aside in the lunch room, camping trips to “the farm”, Jimmy Buffet concerts, and spring break trips. He was a faithful friend and “the nice guy” every where he went.
After winning the state title in soccer and graduating from St. X he decided to go to UK which could only be described as a “God-thing” since his love was for the red team.  And so his story continues through the UK campus, to the Lambda Chi house, to K-Lair, Blanding Tower, to the 8man house. There are so many memories at UK, tailgates, house parties, date parties, spring break trips, watermelon bust, and formals. He thrived in business school after a rocky first semester and became an incredible leader in the fraternity, taking the offices of VP finance as well as president. We met freshman year in the fall semester. What we can remember we hit it off and had a great time. We dated on and off for four years, walked to class and went to most events together. He graduated from UK with two business degrees in management and finance, many memories, tons of friends, and a bright future.
After graduating in summer 2000 he landed a great job at Bank of Louisville in their management training program. We married in 2002 at Immaculate Conception Chapel in April on a rainy day.
He excelled at Bank of Louisville and ended up at the Springhurst branch about 7 miles from our first house. Craig earned a sterling performance award for his loan sale performance in 2003 and we traveled to Cambridge, Maryland in April of 2004.
In our pre-marital counseling we discovered communication was not our strong suit since our personalities were so different and by different I mean polar opposite. The good news to that struggle was we would be able to identify with whatever personalities God sent us in the form of children. Our difference made a great balance for parenthood. In December 2005 Emily Michelle was born. She was a Merimee from the get-go. The most laid back baby on the planet. We were so in love we would fight over who got to bath her, changed the diapers, feed her, and cuddled her. God saw this sweet conflict and quickly sent us a second little lady. But this one was much louder for the first couple months. Morgan Elizabeth was born in February 2007 after six weeks of bed-rest and two family members in the hospital it was a hectic time in our family and Craig rose to that occasion never getting frazzled and leading our family God’s way as he learned to trust Him in the tough times. We continued to go to SECC and our purpose together made more and more sense as we trusted God through the rough patches. A high note of the year was a very quick trip to Jacksonville, FL for his second BB&T Sterling Performance award. So that year was not without its valleys but Craig was strengthened in his faith and during the “not a fan” series he was baptized and made a commitment to surrender his life to Christ. He was a committed follower of Jesus Christ and not be just a fan.
“Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come to me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for man to gain the whole world and yet lose t his very self?” Luke 9:23
God lead us to add another blessing to the family and Hannah Jane was born in June 2010. Craig was promoted to a regional VP position and moved to the LaGrange BB&T branch. We were excited about where our family was headed; everything seemed to be falling into place in the great plan of a blessed suburban life.
After being fatigued for a couple weeks with additional stomach issues and we passed it off as having a newborn and a new stress at the bank I noticed Craig was a shade of yellow on the soccer field while he was coaching Morgan’s 3 year old league on October 3rd. He agreed to visit the doctor’s office and I was excited for him to be able to take whatever quick fix they had and be able to enjoy the life we had created. I told him on October 3rd, I don’t think I have ever been this happy in my entire life and I wanted him to be able to say the same thing.
On October 4th after instructions from his general practitioner he went to the ER for testing and a CT scan. Within minutes he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was given 6 months to live. In room 313 we were given the news and he rose to the occasion. He stated with tears flowing that he had given it over to God and whatever he thought fit. He followed through on his promise of being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and said His will be done.  
The 17 months that followed you have read on the blog. To say that Craig fought the good fight is a ridiculous understatement. He endured 6 months of intense chemo to get a break that most Pancreatic Cancer patience do not get. We traveled a lot last summer with the girls in tow, he returned to the branch in LaGrange and tried to live as normal as possible.
In September his scan showed growth of the cancer and we were back in treatment with less hope than a year prior. After a try on the same treatment as before, a clinical trial at Vanderbilt and a round of the standard of care he unselfishly chose quality rather than quantity and stopped chemo shortly after Thanksgiving.
In December if you can recall a blog post that he couldn’t quite finish. He was attempting to compare his life battle with that of Christ and the pain meds got the best of him and he couldn’t quite get it together. He asked over and over what the bible said about how Jesus felt the night before he died. He kept saying doesn’t it say that he was honored to be able to save the world from their sins? Wasn’t it a “no-brainer” to make that scarifies? I couldn’t figure out what he was getting to help him finish his thought so I just told him to close it up and work on it again later. The next morning I still was trying to figure out what he was saying and just couldn’t understand.
So I read the scripture where is describes Jesus’ thoughts the night before he knew he was going to be killed.
LUKE 22: 39-46
Jesus prays on the Mount of Olives:
“Father if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Because of Craig’s laid-back, great guy personality he was to take what was the hardest news to hear  and make into a purposed filled journey. Many times we asked to take this cup away but each and everyday as he fought His fight God’s will was being done. And b/c so many people have said that this journey has changed their prayer lives, brought them closer to God, made them think about what is truly important, it  was his honor and a no brainer to fulfill that purpose and fight the good fight. He has also helped start a PanCan chapter here in Louisville to help raise awareness of this horrible disease.
We are currently studying The Story here at Southeast which is the narrative version of the bible. We’ve learned that God picks the most under qualified people to fulfill His purpose. God chose a “nice guy”, a Buffet fan, and a quiet sweet man to show how to take life in stride, always be thankful and remember who is in control even in the toughest situations. Although we did not receive the gift of an earthly healing, there are many miracles we have witnessed throughout this journey b/c God has been there and working through Craig each step of the way.
He took each step of the treatment process in stride leaning on his faith for the big picture answers. B/c of his faith he knew where home was. He couldn’t image heaven being better than a UofL game, Cub’s game or a Bears game. He couldn’t imagine that heaven would be any better than witnessing Emily reading, writing and catching on to skills at lighting pace. He couldn’t have imagined it being better than witnesses Morgan creating beautiful art projects, working hard at a job, or running around burning some energy. He could not image that it was better than Hannah’s giggles, pigtails or continuing to watch her grow. But he knew where home was and he now knows there isn’t anything better.
A life with no cancer in his body and he can walk without assistance, he doesn’t have a port, he doesn’t have to make the next treatment decision or make sure affairs are in order. Heaven is not a consolation prize. It is not a retirement plan that we go to when we have accomplished our bucket list here on earth. It is home. Heaven is nothing that we can earn but with a relationship with Jesus Christ we are welcomed home with open arms by our loved ones. Craig was welcomed home by his dad, Mammaw Merimee, Calvin and many more family members who have had similar faith journeys.
He was a faithful follower of Jesus His purpose of showing how to stay faithful through life’s storms became clear on October 4th and ended March 18th.
Craig was a great an incredible husband, father, friend, brother, son, nephew etc etc. b/c he humbled himself enough to be a nice guy and his life showed it. He is a survivor not b/c the chemo worked or he conquered cancer, he is a survivor b/c of his relationship with Jesus Christ allowed him to hear those words that we all long to hear one day. “Welcome Home, Good and Faithful Servant.” He is at Home and the healing that we have prayed for has begun.
John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The Reason for this World
This is not Where I Belong
Message: Kyle Idleman (associates pastor Southeast Christain Church)
John 14
This Great I Am
Closing Prayer and Revelation 21
Recessional : The Healing Has Begun

Thank you for all the prayers, support, and love over the last 17 months. God has worked through so many to get us through this cancer journey. We celebrate Craig life here on earth and his life in heaven. He wa truly a blessing that we simply did not get to keep long enough.

Oldham Era article from last week:
Craig, if you get to read blogs in heaven, I love you, I miss you and I will see you...


Elizabeth said...

I have thought and prayed for you daily over this last week. Words can not begin to express how sorry I am for your loss.

Jane said...

Touched beyond words by your tribute to Craig. You are in my thoughts and on my heart. May Grace Overflow the Gates of Heaven and Bless you, Always, Jane

Anonymous said...

Still thinking of you & the girls,hope you are doing well.

robdyson said...

A touching, moving and faith-filled account. This is the first I've read of the blog. I was a former customer of Craig's. He graciously helped me organize some of my financial issues. I heard about his struggle a couple of times by random encounters with fellow employees of his and was told about the blog. Now I see his earthly journey is over, but not without a tremendous testimony. Thanks for sharing. I pray that your faith will continue sustain you.