Monthly Archives: April 2009

Meooooooow

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Last Night Adam and I went on a real live date: for the first time…in a long time.

For Adam’s birthday, our friends Tom and Wendy gave us a gift certificate for any show at the local auditorium. We were excited to find out that “CATS” would be showing for one night only, and we decided to use the tickets for that. When we went to the ticket office to exchange the certificate for the actual tickets, the box office employee told us we were in luck because someone had just canceled with REALLY good seats. We arrived to find we were seven rows back in the center. The seats were perfect.

CATS
Hot DateNeither Adam or I was familiar with the storyline of “CATS” before the show: although we are both fans of musicals in general. We loved it. The vocal talent was incredible. As were the costumes and the dancing. We both really enjoyed the show and had a great time being together.

In their infinite kindness to us, Tom and Wendy also volunteered to watch Megan for the event. Megan loves to spend time with Tom and Wendy. They are always so attentive and take such good care of her. Thank you Tom and Wendy so much for a wonderful night out. It was much needed.

“We Remember”

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Today Adam and I attended a service in Des Moines: “in loving memory of the children associated with Blank Children’s Hospital who died in the year 2008”. We received the invitation several weeks ago, and have been really looking forward to a having another opportunity to memorialize Jack.

FlowersAs we arrived, we were each given a flower and then seated amongst the other families who had lost their children last year. There was a sad peace throughout the lobby, as we all shared such a deep and strong bond. We began the program by each putting the flower we had received in a vase in front of the room. The number of flowers represented the grieving family members, and actually filled two vases. Music was performed, poems were read, and a slide show of our children’s pictures was shown.

I was caught off guard as the pictures flashed. I guess I had it in my head that these were all families grieving the loss of infant children…but there were children of all ages represented, and actually Jack was one of only two infants. I almost appreciated that no one in the room could say “I know exactly how you feel” and instead we could acknowledge how different and personal each loss was. Here is Jack’s part of the slide show. If you listen closely, you can hear Megan in the background saying: “Hi Baby Jack.”

BalloonsAt the end of the program, we went outside and each released a balloon for our child. It was rainy and cold and it was almost as if the heavens were joining in on our tears. Our little family was among the last few to watch the balloons fly away. We then went inside and chatted with a couple families and also reunited with one of the social workers who was invaluable to us the first few days after Jack was born. She had only seen us at our worst, so it was nice for us to show her that we had survived and that we were hanging in there.

Before we left, we walked around the hospital and went up to the NICU where we had spent those first awful days. It has been months since we have been there, and we were only there a few days, so it was strange the way the memories came flooding back.

Jack's FamilyThe theme for the program was perfect: “We Remember”. It was wonderful to be there with others who have experienced a loss like ours and know that they really do know what it means to “remember”. For us, we remember our children every moment of our lives. When we are weary and need strength, we remember them. When we have joy and yearn to share, we remember them. Jack will always be a part of us as long as we remember him. And trust me…we will never forget.

Grandma Williams

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Last Saturday we received word that Adam’s grandmother was in the hospital with pneumonia and wasn’t doing very at all. We had just finished saying prayers and had crawled into bed Sunday evening when we received the phone call that she had passed away.

We shed a few tears, but both accepted that it was her time to go. Over the past several years, her mental health had deteriorated large scale, and it is was sad to watch her struggle through her last bit of mortal existence.

That night we laid in bed and talked about our favorite Grandma Williams memories. Grandma was one FUNNY lady. She loved her children and she loved her grandchildren and her great grandchildren. And while we will all miss her dearly, the one person she loved the most has been waiting for her for eighteen years. What a beautiful moment that must have been: husband and wife reunited for all eternity.

Next week Adam’s younger brother Jake will be married in the temple for time and all eternity. What a wonderful reminder that our family is forever and that we will be with Grandma again. I know that she will be there next week; with her husband by her side – witnessing the generations that are continuing on after her.

We sure will miss Grandma Williams and we are sad that we will not be able to attend her memorial service tomorrow in Utah. However, we are there in spirit. I know that it will be a great service, memorializing a great woman.

Incomplete

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See this little guy?

jack-0121

I miss him so much.

This photo is bittersweet for me. He looks so sick and so sad but he also looks aware and alive. I wasn’t there when this picture was taken. It was perhaps the only time when his eyes were open and he appeared to be “conscious”. His daddy took this picture when I was still awaiting release from the hospital. By the time I got to be with him, he was never really “conscious” again.

When my Megan was an infant, she was always in my arms. Yes obviously Adam held her too, but my arms always felt so empty without her and I was most eager to hang onto her. For the most part, if she wasn’t asleep at our home in her crib, then she was in my arms. She literally felt like such a physical part of me, that I felt incomplete without her.

Last night I had a dream that I was holding Jack. He was sick and alive and I knew that he was going to die, but I was holding him. Throughout his life that was something I wanted so badly. Just to hold him. I never got to, and I hurt because of it. I just know how much the memory of his warm body in my arms would have sustained me through difficult times. But unfortunately, that is something that I can’t even imagine.

Five months ago today little Jack was born, and it’s been less then four months since he passed away. I still cry: a lot. Adam and I miss him and we ache for him. I want to see and hold my little babe so badly. I physically feel incomplete without him.

Lucky for me, Miss Megan is the smallest little gal ever. Someone up there must have known that I would need to hold her in my arms for a LONG time.

Fourth Photo

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So I have seen this “tag” floating around the blog world for a while now. I have never actually been tagged to do this (or maybe I have?) but today, out of shear curiousity, I decided to see what the result would be if I did do the tag.

So the “tag” goes something like this: “open your pictures folder. Go to the fourth folder and post the fourth picture.”

Really I wasn’t going to post whatever picture was my “fourth” in my “fourth” folder, but when I looked to see what it was, it was actually a video. The utter cuteness of it all prompted me to go ahead and do the “tag” and post.

So, for your viewing pleasure…this was the fourth “photo” in my fourth folder. Enjoy some everyday happenings from the Johanson house:

Just What I Needed

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Oh my, there were so many things said this conference that have filled my heart with renewed faith, hope, and motivation to work a little harder and be a little better.

At one point during General Conference, I had to briefly step out of the room to assist Megan for a minute. As a new speaker began, I called to Adam and said, “If he talks about grieving an infant death, make sure to call for me!” I was totally kidding, never expecting a talk to be that specific to my needs…

For weeks now I have been anxiously awaiting this conference. I have been looking forward to it with hunger and longing. I am living testimony that: “if it is important to us, it is important to the Lord” and that as we seek for His comfort, and His guidance with an open heart and faith, He will pour His spirit upon us and through the mouth’s of His living prophets and apostles, our prayers will be answered with words of comfort and strength to carry on through our adversity.

I was so deeply touched as Elder Pino talked about a family whose young three year old daughter died in a tragic accident. I shared in the sorrow of that family who lost their little child. I nodded vigorously at his comment: “At times we mourn, but we do not mourn a death without hope.”

I was so grateful for Elder Pino’s talk, and appreciated his reminder that the Temple Covenants seal our family eternally. I never would have expected that immediately to follow was a talk even more specifically aimed at healing my heart. As Elder Scott began to speak, I confessed to Adam that he had always been one of my favorites. I have always felt such a sweet testimony about him and have always known in my heart that he loves the Lord and serves him with his whole being.

Yesterday, he began his talk by saying that he would like to speak to us “heart to heart.” He intimately spoke of the Temple. He tenderly spoke of what a blessing the ordinances are, and how important it is to visit it regularly and tried to impress upon us how wonderful is the gift of Temple covenants.

He then spoke of his children. He told of how he and his wife welcomed a baby girl into their family, and how that little girl lived only a few moments after birth. The tears filled my eyes as I felt his pain and sorrow for that little girl. But then he told about a son. A son born with a serious heart defect. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought of Jack’s little heart. Medicine at that time was not nearly advanced as it is today, but they went ahead with a surgery that might repair the damaged heart. The tears continued to flow as they told of how they received the word that the surgery was successful. They were so elated, and revealed in the hope that their son would have a strong body. My heart immediately began to pound as the familiarity of this story hit me, the memory of the times when I received good news about Jack’s heart, and the hope that followed that there was a good chance he would be okay…

And I knew, before the story even continued, that Elder Scott’s story would end the same way mine did. I knew that he knew how I felt and that he was really reaching out “heart to heart” to me. And his words following this tragic story penetrated my heart and reminded me of what I already know:

“You don’t need to worry. Because your children were born in the covenant. You have the assurance that you’ll have them with you in the future. Now you have reason to live extremely well. You have a son who is qualified to go to the celestial kingdom.”

I am so grateful for these and so many other words that reminded me to “live extremely well.” To work hard, to live righteously, and to uphold all the covenants I have made.

I echo our newly called apostle, Elder Neil L. Anderson who said:

“I know that I am not what I must become. I pray that I might be willing and moldable to the Lord’s tutoring and correction. I take comfort from the words of President Monson last night in the Priesthood season, that ‘The Lord will shape the back to fit the burden placed upon it.'”

JackI know that by adhering to the words of the prophet and apostles and following their guidance, which is direct guidance from our Father in Heaven, that we will be blessed with our ultimate happiness. Which for me, entails being with little Jack. I am so grateful for the gift of general conference. That twice a year we can have our cups filled with guidance and revelation to give us strength and push us along the path to exaltation.