4 July 2016

Liberia: Tribute - Joe Max Hinneh, Jr. 1978-2016

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I write with great sadness over the unbelievable loss of a very good friend, a family friend, to an unknown illness in Liberia these past few weeks--a sad tragedy indeed--because the health situation in our country is bad, and the government cannot guaranteed adequate, or a some sort of partial health care to its citizens, my friend's illness was undiagnosed, in Liberia in this 21lst century.

I encountered my friend, the late Joe Max Hinneh Jr, in the early part of 1995, and we have remained friends since, he was humble, kind, grateful and never asked much from his friends, even when he should have. He was a gentle soul, very soft spoken and lively. Joe Max would fill a room with laughter. His energy for kindness was immeasurable.

He was such a funny guy, very amusing to be around, as he was selfless. We became very good friends: we went to school together, sharing meals, living together in Darquee Town. We understood each other very well, and he was one of the few friends, with whom, I never had argued about anything, he was just simply a good friend. I am thankful that God brought us together, and that I was fortunate to have known a friend such as Joe, my dear good friend, for whom I grieve! May God grant him eternal peace, for his memories are with us!

I can go on talking about all the good things about my friend, who lifeless body lies before us now, but today, I choose to talk about some of our last moments together during my last visit to Liberia, and I wish to be very simple and clear for the understanding of my friend, Joe Max's mother who fed our empty stomachs, during my days in Darquee Town. He always looked sick to me but he kept telling me he was okay.

I could tell Joe Max was in pain, the moment I saw him. My once lively friend could only laugh at jokes from our past. When I saw him last my once lively friend could no longer start a joke nor have any recollection of some of the silly times we spent together, slowly before my eyes, Joe Max was withering away. His laughter was short lived, not the once loud calm glee I once knew.

When I asked Joe Max if he was ok, he would go on to say "yes Champ, I am ok ohh". He always called me Champ, my nick name in the area, as most of my friends would call me. I asked my friend many times if he was okay, but Joe Max kept his response constant. He was humble and proud to beg or ask for favors, something a lot of Liberians cannot say today, he was different. Joe Max only wanted to be able to support his poor mother whom he knew loved him very much. The cold hands of death deny my friend that opportunity. All his struggles and pains and sufferings ended on the faithful morning of June 21, 2016, may the soul and bones of my good friend Joe max rest in peace, for eternal and forever!

For we all know we lost a gentle soul on this planet earth, but we celebrate and mourn our dearest departed friend because we gained so much from his time with us and we hope he rests peacefully in heaven, and seated by our Heavenly Father for he was a good man, loving and dedicated to his friends and humanity. Joe max death has caused so much pain to our hearts, he has left the troubles of this world, and he is at peace now, looking down with a smile on all the people he loved.

I cannot end this tribute without assuring my friend who mortal remains lie there in a casket that as a family we care about the things that mattered to him, we are aware that you have three children and that you left behind a mother whom you desire supporting so badly. We will do our best as friends to your family to keep the dream alive. Your heart was golden, your love was touching, your affection was in reach, we thank you for your friendship, we thank you for knowing you, Joe max.

Go to sleep my friend, Joe Max. We will meet again. We will laugh and play again. What a wonderful man you were. These tears will roll down these cheeks and fade away, but your memory will never!

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