In Loving Memory

Mark Andrew Johnson

Born April 18, 1970 - Died December 17, 2009

Last Thursday night, Jakes uncle Mark was killed in a car accident on his way home from the airport. We got the call the next morning pretty early, and I woke up to find Jake in tears. His mom had just called and told him that his uncle (her brother) had passed away late the night before. It was a complete shock to everyone in the family and the many friends that Mark and his wife Colette had. He was only 39, and left behind his wife and 5 beautiful children - Nate 11, Jesse 9, Gavin 3, and twins Zach & Luke 10 months.

Today was the funeral - it was beautiful but really difficult. It is hard to watch so much pain and heartache and not know how to fix it. As I was sitting in the room with the family during the viewing, I couldn't help but be sad and question "why?". I watched Mark's wife Colette through most of the viewing and service and I wanted to just hug her and make all this weight and sadness go away. I couldn't stop myself from crying each time i watched her hug someone and try not to break down in their arms. She is an amazing, strong woman and after all of this, I look up to her so much. I can't imagine the fear and worry she has knowing that she has to keep strong and move forward alone with her 5 young children. I was also very sad throughout the day because I never got the chance to really get to know Mark. I have 2 solid memories of him - and while they are positive and I am grateful for them, I never got to meet the "real" him. I feel like I got a good understanding of him today, and it makes me question why such a funny, strong, positive, uplifting, and genuine person had to leave so soon. This has definitely taught me that you shouldn't wait for a better time to get to know someone.. you never know when is the last time you will have the chance, and being on this end of things, it is so hard to know what you have missed out on.

Through all the crying, laughing, praying and hugging today, I realized a few things. the first is that there is no stronger bond, and no greater importance than family and close friends. I am so grateful for the family I was born into, and also the family I married into. My parents and siblings have always been there for me and I love spending time with them every chance I get. I realize also really what an amazing family I married into and I am so grateful for the time I have with them. They each immediately loved me and accepted me when I started dating Jake and I have never felt unwelcome or out of place. I hope I never take for granted the time I have with each member of my family, including my husband who is an amazing example to me of what it means to love someone. He loves me unconditionally and I couldn't ask for a better guy. I truly am a very blessed person and I don't express it enough.

Another thing I realized today is the power of a hug. I never really paid attention to it before, but I saw today just what it can do. It shows love, kindness, understanding, and support. As I watched Colette hug certain people that she was close to, it seemed as though for a moment, there was weight taken off her shoulders and that other person was helping her through. Never ever miss a chance to hug someone who is hurting or is in need - it may be exactly what they need.

The last thing that I was thinking about today was my Heavenly Father. There are so many questions I have and things I wish I knew. But I have so much faith that Heavenly Father knows everything that goes on here on earth and he is always there to hold us and keep us strong. There was the strongest and sweetest spirit in the church during the viewing and funeral, and I know there were people there from the other side. I don't know where I would be without the knowledge of the gospel and Christ's atonement for each one of us. It has brought so much peace into my life and I am grateful that I was raised in a family who instilled in me, at a young age, an unwaivering faith.

Even though Mark went home much too soon, I know he will always be with his family and be watching out for them through everything they do. And even though I only barely knew him, I am grateful for the example he left for me to try and follow: Keep others laughing, love unconditionally, make family and Christ the center of your life, and leave behind you a legacy that is worth of following.

1 comment:

Seth & Carlie said...

I am so sorry for your loss danica and jake. I love you both and will keep you and your family in my prayers.