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August 1, 1983 to October 28, 2023
On Saturday, October 28, our family suffered the tragic loss of our youngest son, JonMichael Richeson. Too saddened by his passing, we delayed sharing while our family was processing. However, on October 29th a leak began to spread word which is to be expected from the love of our local OBX family, but we apologize to many of you for lost opportunity to share to you from ourselves first. We thank the first who upon finding out sent the first wave of love God knew we needed. We appreciate the respect shown for our privacy while loving us through text and lifting us up in prayer. Your prayers were and continue to be felt for strengthening us.
Sunday, November 5th our family pulled together a private memorial on behalf of our hurting hearts that needed each other where transparency could allow us to love one another openly for the 2nd wave of healing. From the beautiful tribute, a link is shared below as a gift to his and our many friends and loved ones that we hope will bless and bring comfort to each of you for finding your personal closure.
JonMichael was born August 1, 1983, to John & Michelle (Shelly) Richeson. Although assumed to be Rachel during the era of not revealing the sex, we were quite surprised at the delivery of a boy. The eve before his birth, God had spoken a word to my heart “JonMichael”, his father and my name joined and for which God said He would make us one in JonMichael. Quite a different word that has stayed in my heart these last 40 years in wonder to its meaning and timing…but I think we are gaining understanding.
JonMichael was the youngest of 3 closely bonded brothers where each was bigger than life to one another. He grew up in a large loving family that started with just my dad and me some 50 years ago moving to the OBX. He and his brothers were of the 2nd generation for which their bond to 1st cousins were more likened to siblings. His cousin Nicole Farrell, closer in age, was joined at the hip and contributed to some of these memories. As a child she was deeply saddened to find she couldn’t grow up and marry her best friend 😊 She shared a tribute video too.
“JM loved the family deeply and you could see his joy and hear his laughter whenever together. We cherish family memories of Water Country USA, family beach day at Pink Elephant, 4th of July picnics, and Thanksgiving where drawing names for the especially favorite “Christmas Dirty Santa.” Asher-B-Dasher was JonMichael’s rock, confidant and best friend, big brother. This bond only deepened at the loss of their older brother, Jeremiah, 28 years ago. Although much of JM’s life was hidden and kept in a vault, if he opened his heart, it was deep and heartfelt.” Nicole Farrell
Family memories were shared during our private memorial to begin healing our fractured souls and navigating the new residency of JonMichael in our hearts. Nicole recalled a text sent from JonMichael this past spring that expressed JonMichael’s heart…
“Never hesitate to let (each other) know if we can help in any way. We’re the next generation of family, and we need to know we can support each other when needed for whatever life may present. We stand a better fight as a team than on our own.” JonMichael Richeson
JonMichael married his school sweetheart, Tori in 2006. Their love brought an incredible handsome son, Nehemiah Richeson, into the world. Although Nehmer’s world had challenges within his special needs, he is an incredible gift to all our family. JonMichael became an incredible single dad for the better part of Nehemiah’s now 17 years while maintaining friendship with Tori who together shared their son’s needs. Nothing was bigger than DAD for which Nehemiah signed daily with his ASL gesture to the forehead. Nehemiah is doing well and has added a new sign to Daddy…a closed fist over his heart. Feel free to sign that to him when you see him, because that’s the new place he will be residing in all our hearts.
Life is complicated, and John and I have more questions than answers. JonMichael along with each of our sons has been the apple of our eyes. Although each one was unique within their own entity as siblings, they shared the common thread of deep waters in their heart and deep love for family, friends, and people. JonMichael lived life big but carried pain at some of life’s disappointments. This summer seemed especially difficult as he turned 40; of which, his adopted grandma in heart, Nancy Burnette seemed to notice. Although he chose not to articulate his inner turmoil to any of us, Nancy was a safe place where he would have shared. Her care over his heart was priceless, and his care over her and family dogs were priceless. JonMichael loved us and so many people in his 40 years. We are so proud of our son for his many accomplishments. He was regarded, loved, and respected by so many. Thank you to the many who loved and poured into his life!
This one event does not define his life as close friends will attest. JonMichael loved God, but as many of us, we don’t know how to battle the enemy of our soul. We candidly say in cliché during tough times… “oh, you know the demons in our head’. Sometimes we are held hostage in our minds to fight life’s battles against an enemy we can’t see while having no weapons or training. Although JonMichael’s summer was rough, the last month found him making decisions and acting totally out of character with decisions in September that totally changed by October. We had spoken about the need to get medical and pastoral care for what he believed he was fighting; a battle of a hidden agenda against him for which he felt unable to share.
There are many sins which often people falsely believe will send a person into eternity apart from their loved ones and God…sins as judged by man. However, the Bible tells us judgment belongs to God. Holy Spirit has been sent to convict us of the only sin that could keep us from redemption & reconciliation to a Holy God. The Sin of Unbelief that God gave his Son, Jesus to shed blood to pay for ALL sin, a price we are incapable of paying. Believing and receiving Jesus within that plan is something JonMichael did with deep conviction. We know we will see him again. What we found when discovering our son was not something we believe JonMichael could have ever done to his family, or his son nor his friends. Nor would he have ever put our family through such tragedy again as he confidently shared over the last 28 years. We don’t understand the battle he was facing, nor would it be fair or just to judge. Our Pastor’s response was, “…he must have been in a lot of pain.” On October 14, he had written to John, me, and Asher, “Don’t believe the hype…y’all know me better than anyone!!” We did not know what this meant, but we are seeing a lot of hype not consistent with who he was the last 4-10 years. John and I have taken our fractured souls to the cross where there is healing and open arms to receive our pain while knowing JonMichael is no longer in the pain he was experiencing. He loved and spoke well of so many of you friends, and you know who you are…as though there had been no time lapse when at a moment of catching up with each other.
Our family is okay…we are breaking inside, but we have learned to trust God within the journey that is our story. We thank you for your love and prayers of which has been a baptism of God’s Love. We know we will have challenges ahead of us, but we also know Jesus will carry us by the Holy Spirit, and know God releases his Love to heal through the Church, not a building but a people, “…we stand a better fight together, than alone.” (JM) We also, are praying for the many that loved him who are also in pain knowing the biggest hurdle is missing the one we love as we struggle to find a new normal in his absence.
JonMichael is immediately survived by his son, Nehemiah Richeson; his parents, John & Shelly Richeson; his brother Asher & Tami Richeson with three beautiful children, Amarah, Harper, and Ryder. He has an abundance of uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, 2nd cousins for which include family tribes of: Richeson, Diggs, Farrell, Duffy, Shealey, Boniface, Whittington, Reich, Parsons, Griffin, Heath, Stuart, and Selby. He was greeted by many gone before him: his brother Jeremiah, Aunt Kathy, Uncle Scott, many Grandparents, and many friends – young and old alike.
The greatest support needed have been the prayers, hugs, kind words, encouragement, and memories. We would love pictures (pls send via text 252-489-9529). We appreciate your gift to our family by giving us privacy and by respecting that the questions and answers are not worth the spiral, knowing we will instantly understand on the other side of the veil. A heartfelt thank you from all our families listed above! Our God is bigger than circumstances. He can be trusted. He is holding us in the palm of His hands, and all our family look forward to chance meetings where encouragement to on another will assist our individual healing journey…
Below is one video published by Amarah on behalf of Uncle JonMichael, “A Family Tribute” shared at our family memorial. We hope it blesses as a gift for each person to find closure in their own way. The first song is “So Will I…” and 2nd song is a special compilation shared between Asher and JM to reflect upon the special relationship they and their cousins shared, sorry friend pics were missing for so many we would have included. Amid this devastation, God spoke 2 words to my heart by His Spirit. Two words from God is enough, “Trust Me.” Then I awoke to the song, “So Will I”. It enters into a covenant of agreement for trusting and praising God through circumstances. The best support to John and me, would be a hug, a nice text… but mostly, a “So Will I” from your heart that comes into agreement that God always has the final Word. He will redeem this for His Glory. He is the One who turns graves into gardens and gives beauty for ashes. Thank you for trusting God with us. Shalom!