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20 Hours For Nikki

As I told you on my show last week.  We had a personal tragedy in my family.  My niece and God-daughter, Jamie Nicole Rogers — Nikki — passed away.  She was only 31 years old.  It was sudden and tragic and shocking and has shaken us all.

Many of you already know I was off of my weekend show, “The Weekend w/Joe Pags,” yesterday so I could tend to family business.  I was up at 6am, on the road a little after 7 and got to the service in Louisiana at 2pm.  I walked in to see my sister and her two surviving children gathered around the open casket broken and weeping.  I stood there for a moment taking in the sounds of sobbing from my mother who lost her first-born grandchild, and my other sisters — and, from people I had not yet met on the other side.  I saw Nikki’s father there who had long been out of my life yet was rekindling his relationship with his daughter in recent years.

Nikki’s path was not an easy one.  She was diabetic and struggled to control the disease.  Beyond that, as much as we all unconditionally loved her, she still battled accepting that love and truly believing in it.  She fell in with a bad crowd which showed her attention and took her on a detour from which she would never recover.  There were always bright spots through the darkness, though.  Just six months ago, she reached out to us all on Facebook.  She was so excited.  She’d turned to God and found a brighter, smoother direction.  She wrote me, “Hey Uncle Joey.  I’m feeling much better and just wanted you to know life is good and I love you.”  I smiled and responded, “I love you too, Nik!  I’m really happy for you and want you to reach out anytime!”

Sadly, the draw and power of negativity can sometimes overwhelm the positive factors afforded us all and the bumpy road was too tempting and inviting and it took our baby girl.  We all loved her so deeply that we would have done anything to have her healthy and happy and still with us.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t make all of her decisions for her.

As a Christian, I do believe Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior has a plan — one we mere mortals will never fully understand.  For some reason, we only had Nikki for this short amount of time.  I don’t purport to know God’s plan but, I wouldn’t doubt it includes a lesson and wake-up call for those of us who survive.  If you have a loved one who might be having a rough go of it — someone you avoid because you want them to get right on their own — don’t.  Step in.  Offer help.  Tell them how much you love them and see if they’re open to hearing it.  If not, don’t get frustrated.  Accept it and walk away.  But, make sure to circle back and try again.

The circle of life is wonderful and confusing, distressing and enlightening.  It is unnatural for parents to bury their children, for uncles and aunts to bury their niece, for a grandmother to bury her granddaughter.  Do yourself a favor and don’t turn a blind eye nor a deaf ear to someone you love who’s in distress.  Many times, things will not fix themselves.  If you do nothing else, have a conversation with your kids like I just did with mine.  Look them right in the eyes and tell them how much you love them and remind them that if you ever suspect there’s something awry, you will not hesitate to get involved, ask questions and take action.  My sister was always there for Nikki but our girl was stubborn like her uncle and wouldn’t always be accepting of her mother’s guidance.

After many tears, memories and saying goodbye to this beautiful young lady for the last time, I got back in my car and headed back to San Antonio.  I arrived after 2am — more than 20 hours after my day started.  I was exhausted, sad, introspective and angry about the reason for the gathering.  But, it was the very least I could do to show my support to my big sister and to bid farewell to the newest angel looking over my family.

We are all better people for having known you and for having been blessed by you in our lives, Nikki.  Rest easy, baby.  Uncle Joey loves you so much.

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49 Comments

  • avatar image
    grg-maLorrie Lunnon
    December 13, 2015 Reply

    God Bless you all, my heart breaks for you.

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    Cyndi
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    I am so sorry for your family's loss.

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    Carrie Brown
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    God bless you and your family Joe. We can't begin to know His reasons or His plan, but we can rest assured that everything He does is with the greatest love. Nikki turned to God before she passed. What a wonderful blessing!! Praise God and His goodness and love. Nikki is with Jesus now, happy, healthy, and unafraid. You are all in my thoughts and prayers, Joe. Give it to God. He will never let you down.

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    Jeanna Gaulke.
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    I'm so sorry for you and your familys loss. No one should ever have to go through that. You are right, always try to reach out. Don't give up. Some things you can't fix. But have to try. My heart breaks for your family. Loved ones that have left us are always around in our hearts and spirit. They never leave us. Be strong...Jeanna G.

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    Sean Lulofs
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Joe, being a parent of a type 1 diabetic, this is a great fear on mine. I don't dare allow my son to know I lay awake many nights terrified he will not be awake the next morning. I check his glucose levels in the middle of the night and ensure he is still breathing. We've only had a couple close calls, the last one was about 18 months ago but it was the worst low blood glucose episode, I had to give him 2 breaths and hearing my mother in law screaming into the phone at 9-1-1 was something I'll never forget. The experience was worse than anything I encountered in Fallujah. This disease doesn't only affect them physically but also socially and psychologically. My son is too young for any type of crowd but that is something I too worry about. A single beer could have deadly results for up to 72 hours after consuming it. Joe, although I cannot know your family's grief, I do empathize with y'all. I pray "Nik" had that conversion and is now wrapped tightly in our Father's arms. Your long time listener, Sean "K9" Lulofs

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    Kelly andersen
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    So sorry to here this Joe, my prayers and hugs sent to you and your family.

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    Linda Taylor
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Sending prayers to you and your family. It's so hard to lose a loved one. Just know she is with God. Only He knows the plan.

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    Daron
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    I am truly sorry for your loss. I'm just 25 but have struggled with the same problem of accepting the love my family has to offer. I have found that at many times, it has been easier for me to give into the negativity instead of accepting help and doing what is best for my mind, body, and soul. Too many times, that negativity has almost taken my life as well. Recently I have once again found myself struggling, and many nights I am awake desperately trying to think of what to do next-help myself or fall deeper into the hole. Those are the nights I listen to your show until the sun comes up. It sincerely helps distract me. Reading this post has helped me tremendously. I feel a new turn to wake up everyday and just live life and appreciate everything there is. I don't have many people I am close with in my life, but reading this has reminded me that the people I do have are there for me unconditionally. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me ( and the rest of your fans). I just wanted you to know your support has already helped one person out there.

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      Joe Pags
      December 14, 2015 Reply

      Daron, I'm glad my show and my voice help you.. but, nothing can take the place of your loved ones. No matter the barricades.. knock them down and call them.. meet them for lunch.. talk to them.. tell them you want to lean on them.. and trust me, they'll let you. God bless! jp

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        Daron
        December 25, 2015 Reply

        Joe- I don't have my family in my life right now. But I do have a few friends that still want to help. I appreciate your support and I really take to heart your message. -Daron

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    Cindy Hadley Hitchcock
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    So very sorry for your loss, Joe..... praying healing prayers for your family. Love to you all Cindy

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    Cari
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Many Prayers to your Family. #angelstoosoon

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    Connie Helms
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Joe, So sorry for your loss. Praying that you and your family find comfort in God and your memories of such a beautiful girl.

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    Scott Patterson
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Joe; I pray that God sends his angels to wrap their wings around you & your family and love ones in your time of need. My condolences.

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    Darren
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Condolences, to you and the Family. Sending positive energy and thoughts ya'lls way.

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    Carol
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    I am so very sorry for your loss. My own son tragically passed away at 30 and I can say, from personal knowledge, that everything you do or say or feel from now on will be experienced through the lens of this very personal loss. But you learn to go on. You go on because other loved ones need you to be in their lives to help them understand what you don't completely understand yourself. I know God lives and I know He loves me. I know He has a plan for us. Sometimes I struggle with my part of His plan, but I am willing to have faith and trust in Him because He knows so much more than I do. And, after all, my son was only on loan from Him. He needed my son back. Who am I to doubt the Lord?

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    Chris Johnson
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Joe, I missed the announcement during your show and I am glad to see the full story here. I am sorry for your loss, but thankful to you for sharing. All of us should use this time of year to touch base with our loved ones anyway, but those who read this ought to take this story as the tap on the shoulder from God that, no matter how young or old, life can change in the blink of an eye and we should treat each other with the notion that we may never get the chance to say, "I'm sorry, I love you, I miss you, and I forgive you." I urge everyone to reach out to your loved ones, especially those with whom you have had quarrels with in the past, and just make the effort to start anew or just right the ship. Even if things don't improve at first, at least they know that you care and that you took the time and effort to reach out your hand in an effort to pick them back up.

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    Kim Doran
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Joe, So sorry. Blessings to The Entire Family and Friends.

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    Kenny Barras
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Beautifully put. I know Elina and also lost a 38 year old daughter in May of this year. She also had the Demon controlling her. Her so called "freinds" used her good heart for their benefit not hers. Please talk frankly with your loved ones. Tomorrow is not promised.

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    Barb Rohrer
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss and the pain you and your loved ones are experiencing. God is the greatest healer of our worst hurts and sorrows. I am a faithful 82 yr old listener who starts her day uplifted by your recorded shows on my smart phone tucked under my pillow as I struggle with my weary bones to wake-up. Even in your grief you are touching lives in ways you may never know, and are fulfilling God"s plan.

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    Lynn
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Prayers and God's touch to comfort you and your family during this difficult time. Having lost two friends and one nephew with demons this way, all under 30 years of age, my heart breaks for you. Thank you for asking all to get in touch with loved ones, wonderful advice.

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    Patricia Montrose
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    You give love in a very unselfish way. Just make sure to let us give it back if you need anything. Love always.

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    Jeannette Celi
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    So sorry about your loss, Joe. This is a beautiful tribute of love you have written for Nikki. I pray that God will comfort you, and your family at this difficult time. Hope you will be feeling better soon.

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    David quayle
    December 14, 2015 Reply

    Send my condolences I personally struggle with my own path and understand how a person can find there self down a wrong road and how hard it is to turn yourself around so thank you for sharing your feelings on this subject it helps me in the realization that I am doing the right thing in sobriety! !!

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    Robin
    December 15, 2015 Reply

    I hesitate to say this was God's plan, but I do know He can and will turn tragedy into something meaningful. So sorry for your loss.

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    Sally
    December 15, 2015 Reply

    Joe, I am so sorry for your families loss. God has a plan for all of us, some are hard to understand. She is at home now in Gods arms. God Bless you Joe. Thank you for all you do. Sally

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    Bryant
    December 15, 2015 Reply

    Joe: I can't imagine the grief you & your family are going through. I am so sorry for your pain. Addictions are killers. Fortunately I turned my life around at age 24 & stopped putting my family through any more suffering. Been clean & sober for almost three decades now. Life can get better for anyone caught up in the Hell of addiction. It only gets worse out there, until you get help.

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    Teresa Mowery
    December 15, 2015 Reply

    I have never posted a comment anywhere before. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your tragedy touched me tonight on my drive home from work. I too have lost a daughter. She was 33 years old. She was healthy, successful and educated. Her auto immune disease was unknown when doctors gave her an antibiotic that made it a lot worse. Then it was to late to reverse the terrible symptoms. After two and a half months of suffering, she commited suicide 3 days after Christmas one year ago. By the Grace of God I get through each day putting one foot in front of the other whether I want to or not. I keep working to stay busy. She prayed God would forgive her and I must remember it was his will or it would not have been successful and she is safe with Him. He has plans we do not always understand. There are days my chest aches with pain and grief. As a mother I know how your sister feels and my heart goes out to her. Stay in close touch with her. She need the love and emotional support of friends and family now more than ever. Sincerely.

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    Sherry
    December 15, 2015 Reply

    Joe, Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal. I am reminded daily that this world is not our home and the struggles are very real. Hope is very hard to find at times. Praying for all loved this precious girl! Looking forward to an amazing reunion, blessings until that day!

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    Ossie Regan
    December 15, 2015 Reply

    Joe, I lost my youngest sister to drugs 4yrd ago. We tried to help her but you always feel like maybe you could have done more. Strength and prayers to your family.

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    Tom
    December 15, 2015 Reply

    God has a special place in Heaven for those who have suffered and made sacrifices. Rest assured that your dear Nikki is in that special place now; at His side. The rest of us must believe in Him and be kind to our fellow man in order to someday be in Heaven. Please know that her spirit is alive and she can still feel your love.

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    Jean Mottm Mier
    December 16, 2015 Reply

    So sorry for your loss Joe. Our family went through the same thing 5 weeks ago. Keeping you and your family in my prayers. God bless you all and keep living the dream.

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    Bob
    December 19, 2015 Reply

    Thank you, Joe, for sharing this heartfelt tribute, and I am sorry to hear about your loss.

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    Jim
    December 19, 2015 Reply

    My best friend Sande lost her daughter Ashlea on Dec. 11th. Ashlea's path sounds very similar (she was 30). I have found peace knowing she is in a better place in heaven. Nikki's family will be in my prayers. God bless you and your listeners.

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    Megan Morelock
    December 19, 2015 Reply

    So sorry for your loss my heart my heart breaks for her mom and the rest of your family. Praise God she got close to Him before she passed.

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    Barbara H
    December 19, 2015 Reply

    So very sorry for you loss. I agree that we need to let those who have demons know we are there for them. In the end they are the only ones who can really do anything. We love them and they rip our hearts out. Love them any way. Sending you and your family hugs.

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    Cindy Webb
    December 20, 2015 Reply

    I am so sorry for your pain and your loss. I lost my son 3 years ago at 29 to brain cancer, and I agree, we shouldn't have to bury our children. May God give you and your family an extra measure of peace and comfort. Blessings, Cindy in Salem, Oregon PS Thank you for being open and transparent about this terribly painful subject. Your sacrifice in sharing this will touch many hearts and hopefully will help others to go down a different path and draw closer to their families.

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      Joe Pags
      December 20, 2015 Reply

      I'm sorry for your loss. Thank you, Cindy. jp

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    John and Kristine Shecter
    December 20, 2015 Reply

    Thank you, Joe for sharing, "20 hours for Nikki" May her memory be a blessing. God bless you and your family.

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    Kelly Still
    December 21, 2015 Reply

    Cherish her memories and think of her often.

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    Paul Durazo USA F ret
    December 22, 2015 Reply

    I just found your program last summer 2015 after parking my party bus at 2am Sunday morning . At 63 I found you funny with wisdom common sense knowledge. Your Niki is a loss that strikes me profoundly losing my youngest brother to Iraq 2005 navy 17 years 3rd tour. I'm thend oldest of 4 boys . God Bless your sister and her family take care.

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    Bob M
    December 22, 2015 Reply

    That story touches me. I also have a niece who drives us crazy. With Christmas coming , I'll be honest I really don't want to be bothered with her.After reading your story I will reconsider.

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    Kierston
    December 22, 2015 Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss Pags Family. Reading 20 hours for Nikki made me cry. My heart aches for your big sister and your entire family. May Nikki be waiting for you in Heaven, as she cannot come to you but you must go to her. I pray for all parents that had to send a child off to eternal life. In the name of Jesus Christ, my prayers, thoughts and tears are with you Pags family. Sincerely Your sister in Christ♥ Kierston Young

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    barbara jones
    December 26, 2015 Reply

    May God bless you and your family. Thank you for all your hard work.

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    Tom Ouellette
    December 29, 2015 Reply

    Can appreciate your feelings Joe we lost our grand daughter a week before Thanksgiving. She had cerebral palsy couldn't talk or do anything for herself and was in a wheelchair But she could express her feelings. We miss her smiles. We know she is in heaven doing all the things she was not able to do here. God Bless them both.

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    Tom Ouellette
    December 29, 2015 Reply

    Joe I meant to say: We know they are both in heaven doing all the things they could not do here.

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    Bruce Swayze
    December 30, 2015 Reply

    Joe, I am so very sorry for your loss. And my thoughts and prayers are with your sister. I lost my son 4 years ago, Oct 2, 2011. He was 27 years old. He had proudly and honorably served in the Navy, had an excellent job, had just bought his first home in San Diego, and left a little girl just 2 yrs. old. He was on top of the world, and I was so proud of him. He made some bad decisions one night after drinking with some friends, and went on a wild ride on his motorcycle. The ending wasn't pretty. So I know the shock, the sudden gut-wrenching loss, and even after 4 years I still can't get used to the idea. We're not designed to outlive our children. It was very hard, but we have moved on. You don't "get over it", you just learn to live with it. We're doing what we know he would have wanted us to do; that is, live our lives to the fullest and enjoy every moment of every day, surrounding ourselves with love and respect from those of us who remain.

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    Larry Louis
    December 30, 2015 Reply

    I am sorry as well Joe. I know you only from your show, yet I feel I know you as a part of my family. I can only pretend to understand your pain, but rely on your faith now.

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    Clay Davis
    January 15, 2016 Reply

    Joe - I'm truly sorry for your family's loss, but I can truly say that I know what you and your family members feel. I lost my 30 year old son on October 28, 2015 to a motorcycle accident. He struggled with bipolar and other demons most of his life. On that fateful night he made a bad choice and became impatient with a vehicle he was following, and past on a double yellow line and impacted an oncoming car. His decision cost him his life, his parents a son, his sister a brother, and many friends a friend. I'm only relating the following in hopes that maybe it will help someone else who seems to make less than good choices. Several months prior to his death I introduced him to a life coach by the name of Ron James who started working with him to try and get his life back on track. The story of how I came to know Ron is too long for here, but the two of them had started to develop a plan for him to help him move on. I would highly recommend Ron's book " Choices: Lessons Learned from a Repeat Offender" which clearly shows the impact that continued bad choices have on not only the persons life, but those around them. I do not have any interests, financial or otherwise, in Ron's work or book, but in my case it crystallized the fact that it wasn't anything in particular I did, but the fact that my son made a bad choice. Just as you noted that ultimately no one could make all the decisions for your niece, or several others who have lost children to things caused by their choices, ultimately in situations like those described, it's up to them. I don't know how long it takes to move on, but I do know that there will always be a place within the heart that has both memories and sadness. To all that have lost someone, my heart goes out to you.

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