Mormon missionary's brother shares miracle preceding his death, pays tribute to his life
Yet by the time my mom arrived in Dallas, Josh's progress had taken a turn for the worse. Due to swelling of his brain resulting from the concussion, Josh's lungs and heart began to fail. After all the doctor's efforts to resuscitate him, Josh passed away at 11:15 p.m. on Monday.
In the days that followed Josh's death, many friends and family arrived at our home to offer their condolences. In each visit, the comforters become the comforted as my dad shared the tender mercies he and my mom saw in Josh's passing.
"When the Lord showed us the miracle recovery of Josh's back, he let us and everyone that prayed for Josh know he heard our prayers. There's no doubt about that. But God knew it was Josh's time, so once he'd shown us, he called Josh home," my dad said.
For the third child in our family, Elder Denny Burton, who reported to the MTC on the same day as Josh and who now serves in the Belgium Netherlands Mission, the gospel of Jesus Christ gives the right perspective to his grief. "I've always known the gospel plan was true. So I realize this isn't a test of my faith, it's just a test of my patience."
Josh was the second oldest of nine children and was homeschooled through elementary, middle and high schools. Upon his return from missionary service, he planned on studying music and business.
Josh's two maxims were "life is music" and "live life to the fullest," and he worked hard to put these into practice. As a young teenager, Josh first discovered the magic of Fredric Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu" and began filling his life with classical mentors like Beethoven, Grieg, Ravel and Rachmaninov.
From that point forward, Josh drank, ate and breathed classical music. As an accomplished pianist, he began composing for the piano, and in the summer of 2010, Josh packed Cardston's Carriage House Theatre for his first concert of his own compositions. Josh moved his audience from laughter to tears as he shared both the excitement and the depth of feeling he found in music. To the delight of his audience, he even did a back flip in his suit pants and dress shoes.
That same year, Josh produced and distributed his first CD, "Sketches," which he made available on YouTube and iTunes. He then went door to door in Cardston and surrounding communities, selling his CDs to earn money for his mission.
In his compositions, Josh sought to express what mattered most to him, feelings he could only describe through music.
"If you listen, really listen," Josh promises in his CD's dedication, "I think you will hear something more than just notes on a piano, something deeper within the music. And my hope is that you will be better for having heard it."
In all of his endeavors, Josh's goal was to uplift others. On one occasion, a mother in Cardston saw a young man walk past her little girl in the yard. Several minutes later, the mother saw the young man return, hand her girl an ice cream cone and walk on. When she asked her daughter, "Who was that?" she replied, "Josh Burton."
During his lucid moments in the hospital, Josh's chief concern was for his investigators and fellow missionaries.
"He kept asking for his planner," Dr. Cameron said.
At his funeral on Monday, a table displayed many of Josh's personal articles. In the center were his missionary shoes, worn and cracked from so much walking, calling to mind President Kimball's declaration, "My life is like my shoes, to be worn out in service."
As Josh's older brother, I find it nearly impossible to paint the life of my best friend in so few words. Yet those who knew Josh will attest that his life was his message. He loved deeply, lived fully and served faithfully.
I am proud of my three brothers serving as missionaries: one in the Netherlands, one on his way to Mexico and one wherever God may send him.
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