Back in April, 2006, a reporter for the Daily Iowan named Erika Binegar wrote a touching story about a young man named Joe Domke.
Joe had passed away in August, 2005. Joe became an organ donor. A move, Erika explained, that friends and family called typical of Joe’s personality.
I wrote Erika a letter telling her how special her story was – and that she will help create awareness and save lives… I also posted a comment on the story itself.
Last October, Joe’s brother Adam reached out and thanked me. He said that Joe was an amazing person – and he said that I sound the same… But if I’m anywhere near amazing, it’s because of a precious person like Joe Domke.
I asked Adam about his brother. This January, he sent me pictures, and this is what Adam told me:
Joe was born in 1985 in Honolulu Hawaii, a part of him that he took everywhere, he loved the fact that he was a native of Hawaii. Even in the frigid Minnesota Winters Joe would wear shorts; that was just him. I was only two and half years older then he was, which made my bond with him so great. We spent hours upon hours hanging out together, staying up late playing video games, racing cars, or just talking a bond we shared even through our college years (maybe not the racing cars). Joe in every sense of the word was my best friend. It is funny to think that an older brother could look up to a younger brother but I did. He was amazingly smart, he could pass an exam with an A and not even open the book for the class. He had a go get'em attitude that nothing could stand in his way from his dreams and nothing ever did.
In High school Joe was a shy quite kid, but when at home he had the best sense of humor in the world, he could make me laugh on my worst days. Once he got to college he finally let that Joe come to the surface, it is funny because most of his friends from Iowa don’t believe my parents and I when we tell them how shy he was in high school. Joe was the one person I knew I could talk to, the one that I could count on for advice or for that laugh that I longed for. He was the best man in my wedding just months before his death, and I was so excited that he would be the uncle to my kids, the uncle I never really had. My daughter was born May 8th, 2007 two years after Joe’s death. Every time I look at her I see a little of him in her, she inherited his ocean blue eyes, and she truly loves to laugh, just as Joe did. We all miss him so very very very much, He truly was one of a kind. I often think that the children that go before their time were angels, gifts from God to teach the rest of us how to live. I believe in my heart that Joe truly was an angel, he was never suppose to grow old with me (like we had planned) he was here for a short time to show us that laughter is the key to life, not money, status or other selfish desires. The day Joe died the world lost an amazing person that so few people knew but everybody loved and I lost my best friend, my hero, my “little buddy”. Amazingly even in his death he gave a precious gift to many people in the act of donation, I can not stress enough how much it means to me and my family to know that my brother lives on in other people and has given them life again, whether it is vision or valves for the heart I know that he gave one last gift to world. If you are reading this and are not a donor I ask that you reconsider it is the greatest gift you can give back to the world, Joe did not do it for the glory of being called a hero he did it because he truly cared about people and wanted them to know that.
I miss him today more then I did yesterday but I know that he would want me to continue to laugh and enjoy my life until the day we meet again in Heaven. I love you JOE always and forever.
Thank you, Adam, for sharing part of your brother with me. Maybe more than most, I understand what Joe has done for several other people on this planet. There are a lot of amazing people in the world – I think Joe and Adam and their family fall into that group…