A Godwink in Denver
Author: Robert Bisterfeldt
On April 1, 2023, my son, Joseph, had a brain biopsy surgery for his brain tumor, at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. It was a stressful time for my family. Joseph’s last brain biopsy surgery — back in 2013 — came with many post-surgery complications, and we hoped for a better experience this time.
My wife, Amy, had just arrived back at the hospital to switch out with me — there was only one person allowed in the ICU room at a time, and it was time for me to leave the hospital and decompress for a little while. I headed back to the Hyatt Regency Hotel across from the hospital, where — on her way back to the hospital — Amy had noticed a TAPS event going on. I am currently an active-duty military member, and I had heard of TAPS before and wanted to know more. I decided to stop by and see what the organization was all about.
Upon entering the hotel, I headed over to the conference center area and saw a table set up, manned by TAPS volunteers. As I approached the first volunteer, I noticed that she was on a phone call, so I moved on to the next volunteer and engaged in a conversation with her. Her name was Anna. She shared the story and mission of TAPS, and I knew I needed to be a part of this mission. As Anna spoke, I noticed the photo button on her TAPS t-shirt, and — curious — I asked her if she would be kind enough to tell me about the photo. She said it was a photo of her brother who had passed away in 2011. I then asked her what his name was and she replied, “Robert Joseph,” only stating his first and middle name. I was amazed. Those were my first and middle names — it was my name exactly.
After explaining this to Anna, we both agreed the name I shared with her brother was a connection. We teared up, and she asked if she could give me a hug, which I gladly accepted. Still stunned, I let her know that God had brought me there today and that I didn’t believe that there were coincidences. I truly felt that God was calling me to volunteer with TAPS.
Eager to learn more, I asked Anna about what volunteer opportunities might be available for me. She kindly walked me through a few options, and I immediately zeroed in on the youth mentor role at the regional seminars. To ensure I reached the right point person at TAPS, she let me know that Karl was the Military Mentor coordinator and that she would make sure we were connected.
Again…I was stunned, this time at the sound of the name, Karl. Karl was my brother’s name — he passed away in May 2020. This had to be another sign that I was right where I needed to be, and TAPS is the organization where I should be pouring my time and efforts. As I explained this to Anna, she agreed, saying “You are definitely supposed to join the TAPS team!”
I signed up that weekend, along with my wife, Amy, and we are attending our first TAPS Regional Military Survivor Seminar (the Southern Regional) in San Antonio, Texas, in September of 2023. We are also signed up for the National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar in Boston, Massachusetts, in October 2023. My brother took his own life, so the Boston seminar will have special meaning for me.
I know amazing things are coming with our family’s involvement with TAPS. I am looking forward to the positive impacts we will make and experiencing how others will impact Amy and me. I’ve already learned that TAPS has a collection of Godwink stories, and this was definitely Godwink for me. God showed me that day that, even in the storms of life, He is there for us, showing us that He cares and has provided opportunities for us to make a difference in the lives of others.
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Robert Bisterfeldt is a TAPS Military Mentor and Surviving Son in Law of Jack Duft, U.S. Air Force.
Photo courtesy of Robert Bisterfeldt.