Monthly Archives: December 2009

If They Say the Moon is Blue, We Must Believe It’s True


Dear Jack,

One year ago tonight I gave you one last kiss and bid you goodbye. The doctors rushed us into your room and told us that time was quickly running out, so I gave you a kiss and told you how grateful I was to be your mother. Then you were gone. My whole world changed in the blink of an eye, as your heart beat one last time.

I have missed you so much this past year as I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to put the puzzle of my life back together. You have added many pieces, and therefore some other pieces just had to go. Still others had to be reshaped and resized. The puzzle is still incomplete, and will probably remain that way for quite some time…but the image is not as abstract as it once was.

I am looking forward to this next year….for a fresh start…filled with new hope and new beginnings and a new me. Please don’t interpret for a second that this newness means that my broken heart has mended or that anyone or anything will ever take your place therein. I know that your memory will continue to bring tears to my eyes as I both miss you and think about you with fondness. I know that children “your” age will bring a twinge of pain to my heart, and since I only got to be with you while you were a baby, new babies will always fill me with a mixture of emotion.

But I am exhausted: physically and mentally, from the longing…the regrets, jealousy, the confusion…and the CONSTANT pain. I am hoping that this next year will bring with it some renewed strength and happiness.

You know the saying: “once in a ‘blue moon'”…which is a common way of saying “not very often”?? Well, a ‘blue moon’ (by definition) is the second full moon in one calendar month. Each month typically has one full moon, but every once in a while…(and not very often) a second full moon occurs within a calendar month. This year on New Year’s Eve we will have a “blue moon”.

It is my hope that my most recent visit to the valley of sorrow might be drawing to an end. And that I might be happy; if but for a short while…until my next ‘blue moon’ unavoidably dawns. I hope to be stronger then, when I must take another turn at the wheel of misfortune. I hope I have your strength in addition to my own.

I love you, Jack. So much. I wish I could have raised you in this lifetime. In fact, I would have been happy to have had a few more years with you, weeks, or even days. But I am grateful for the time I did have with you, and that I now have my very OWN guardian angel and support from the other side. I am optimistic about this next year, and anxious to see what the Lord has in store for me.

Come visit us,

Birthday Balloon


I bought about fifteen alluminium-foil-helium-balloons for Jack’s birthday celebration.

I was afraid that Megan would get upset if we released ALL the balloons without keeping one for her, so we held onto one and left it at the house.

For an entire evening, all the children LOVED playing with that balloon. At the end of the night, the balloon’s string became detached and the balloon floated up to the high ceiling and there has remained since Jack’s birthday on Novemeber 18th.

For a while it was just silly that the balloon was still up there, but as the days and then weeks passed, it became more symbolic. Each time I saw that balloon hoovering overhead, I thought about our angel Jack. I began to believe that the balloon would surely fall on his deathdate (Decemeber 29th), symbolizing his 41 short days on this earth.

Tonight is Christmas Eve. Not only has Jack’s balloon stayed afloat, but it now moves across the ceiling from location to location throughout the day. Tonight during our Christmas Eve program, Jack’s balloon hoovered nearby, and I felt his sweet presence as we marveled on the birth of our Savior and discussed how that singular and extraodinary event paved the way for our eventual family reunion.

I don’t really know if Jack’s birthday balloon is hanging around on purpose, and I think I will be surprised if it ends up falling on his deathdate, but this entire Christmas season, it has been a sweet reminder to me that my son is not dead, but he lives. And he lives because Christ was born. And this Christmas I celebrate that birth with more gusto and more hope than all my past Christmases combined!

I wish I had a great gift to give the Savior this year…the year when his birth has impacted me more than ever before. But….

“What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him:

give my heart.”

Angel Tree


This year, via the “Angel Tree” program, we were able to supply Christmas gifts for about ten children in honor of our angel Jack. Personally speaking, I had So.Much.Fun. shopping for these little children – who probably will receive no gifts other than the ones “we” provided.

I certainly did not singlehandedly provide gifts for those sweet children. Much thanks to all those who were involved specifically with our project; and a special thanks to those who joined us from a distance and had to go the extra mile by either mailing me the gifts or sending me a gift card. I wish you could have been with me as I dropped off the gifts, and handed over parcel after parcel…after parcel. I walked away empty-handed and anonymous, but feeling more fulfilled than I have felt in a long time.

I hope that I will remember to take a moment on Christmas morning to imagine the looks on the children’s faces as they open their presents: I know that I haven’t forgotten our joy last year when we were the recipients.

And I know that I will remember to take a moment tonight to pray for these dear children; that they will feel the love of Christ through those who have been His hands this Christmas.

Again, a deep heart-felt “thank you” to all who participated in honor of Jack. I feel much peace when I am reminded of the impact our son’s life had on so many people.

Broken Hearts Like Mine


Several weeks back, a sweet friend from Iowa sent me the lyrics to a song that was so very applicable to the feelings I was facing as we approaced the Christmas season:

Broken Hearts Like Mine
It was right around this time of year, not too long ago;
That was when I heard the news that he wasn’t coming home.
Now there’s just something about this holiday that just tears me up inside,
But Jesus was born, and He lived, and He died –
For broken hearts like mine.

I see the gifts and the Christmas trees,
and I don’t think these things are wrong –
I just don’t want to break down under all these lights,
so I still can’t sing the songs.
Because the melodies turn to memories,
and the only peace on earth I find –
Is knowing Jesus was born, and He lived, and He died –
For broken hearts like mine.

I can feel the tenderness of friends who care,
I can see the children playing everywhere –
I just try to fade into the scenery;
‘Cause everyone is meant to be Christmasing.
I am not homeless or alone or poor,
Sometimes I’m content to be ignored,
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe –
Believing is what saves me in times like these.

Jesus was born in a stable, so He must know how it can be.
Sometimes I feel like this holiday doesn’t have a place for me.
But when it’s all I can do just to make it through –
this bitter-sweet Christmastime –
I remember Jesus was born, and He lived, and He died –
For broken hearts like mine.

I’ll be singing once again, I just need a little time…

I’m thankful that Jesus was born, and He lived, and He died –
For broken hearts like mine.

My heart really is broken this Christmas, as I not only remember the sorrow of last Christmas, but also as I imagine what this Christmas might be like if Jack were with us. As we work hard to make this Christmas a special one, I know that next Christmas will be better. We are trying to find many opportunities to serve others, and are focusing on making this Christmas especially wonderful for Megan; because it is important to me that all her Christmas memories be happy ones.

The main thing, however, that will help mend this broken heart of mine is remembering (just like the song suggests) that Jesus was born.

And He lived…and He died…

For broken hearts like mine.

Move Over Rockefeller


Since 1983, Fashion Island in Newport Beach, California has boasted the United State’s largest Christmas tree. In March of this year, the M Resort opened right down the street from us in Henderson, Nevada. AND, this Christmas, the M Resort beat out Fashion Island, and is now home to the Nation’s Largest Christmas tree.

Last night for Family Home Evening we all took a trip to see the Christmas Tree. It really was beautiful and HUGE! It is 109 feet tall, and decorated with beautiful lights and ornaments from top to bottom. They told us that they are going to try to go bigger and better every year.

The children and adults alike loved seeing the beautiful Christmas Tree. I have always LOVED Christmas Trees, so it was an especially enjoyable activity for me.

Christmas is getting closer! Only TEN more days! I hope you all are enjoying the magic of the season.

Candles Lit


This past Sunday we paticipated in the Worldwide Candle Lighting, honoring young children who have died. We were right in the middle of our big Sunday family dinner when 7:00 rolled around, so we lit four candles: one for each family that was present (the Eric Marshall family, the Anthony Vidal family, the Cecily Marshall family, and our little Johanson family).

Thanks to all who participated with us and who took a moment out of their day to think about our baby and so many others. We hope you felt their angelic peace in your home.

Mary, Did You Know?


Today as I was working on a very taxing and very time consuming Christmas project, my thoughts were very appropriately focused on the birth of Jesus Christ, which we will be celebrating in just two short weeks. I have spent much of this past year pondering the birth and death of our Savior, and His ultimate Atonement as it applies to my small family. Great reverence and gratitude fill my heart this Christmas Season, but today, my thoughts were not focused so much on Christ himself, but instead on His mother, Mary.

I think I can imagine Mary on that first Christmas night…over 2000 years ago. I know how she must have felt when her child was placed in her arms…when she saw His face for the first time, and touched His soft skin. I can imagine his little fist clenched around her youthful finger, and I can see the serene smile on her face as she gazes at her new baby, Jesus, who was not only her Savior, but was also her Son; her very own little boy. I am sure, that as she held Him in her arms, that every molecule in her body screamed vows of protection: and that mentally she was pleading to do whatever it took to spare her pure and beloved child: even if it meant taking His place throughout all life’s sorrow, even unto death.

I can feel her heartache as she watched her Son suffer pain and anguish, through no fault of His own. I am familiar with the desires of her heart as she wishes that there were some other way that Heavenly Father’s plan might be fulfilled, and am similarly familiar with her accepting that there is no other way. Mary knew early on that Her son was born to die. Did that make it any easier to bid him goodbye? I think not.

Yes, in many ways I can relate to Mary. I know the love of a mother for her son. I also know what it is like to watch your perfect and pure son suffer. And I know what it is like to watch your son die. I know what it’s like to wish there was some other way, and to wish that you could take all your son’s pain upon yourself…if only you could.

Of course there are many ways in which I can’t even imagine the heartache she had to endure.

I did not have to standby and watch my son be publicly humiliated. Beaten, disrespected, and scorned; wrongfully accused of all sorts of blasphemies, spit upon, mocked, and ultimately executed.

So today my heart is bursting with love for Mary. I am so very grateful for the connection that I have with the mother of God, and so humbled by her strength and purity. She accepted her role in the plan that required her Son to die for my son. I hope to one day meet Mary…so that I might throw my arms around her neck and thank her for her strength and her sacrifice.

Four days after the celebration of the birth of her Son, we will arrive on the date of death of my son. I know that Mary will be a source of comfort to me during that difficult time as I think about the love that she must have felt for the Son that she watched die: for me…

for all of us.