Hi my friends,
It seems as if I’ve been delaying this post for a while now. Uncertainty of what to say and how to express my emotions has set in. It’s taken me a while to find the courage to open up about our recent loss, wedding, and honeymoon. I’m going to try to cover a little bit of it all. You’re probably wondering why I chose to post our wedding video, with this long life update, but it felt right. While this post may be a difficult one to read, I feel like we need celebration in it. Celebration of my father-in-laws life and celebration of Clint and I’s marriage.
Let me start off this post by saying that, from the beginning I’ve always tried to be transparent, open, and honest with my followers. I’ve shared my life on this platform over the past 3 years and so many of you have taken interest. It doesn’t feel right to only share the good times, happy moments, fabulous outfits, joyful vacations, and life events on here. That stuff is only half the story. It’s mostly what you all don’t see that completes the other half. However, the things you don’t see, take part in, or read about, are the things that truly shape us. It’s the things that tear at our heartstrings, test our faith, and make us stop motionless in our tracks, that make us question everything.
I’m currently sitting on the plane, in route from Paris to JFK. I just turned the last page on my book and I’m in tears. I feel compelled to write this now, while it’s fresh on my heart. I read, the new Nicholas Sparks novel, “Every Breath”, and as I tucked it in the back seat of my airplane chair, I whispered underneath my breath “F*** ALS” (mom, dad, kids, sorry for my language). There’s just no polite way to say it. Every where I’ve looked the last 2 weeks, I see ALS flashing in the back of my head. Including the book I just finished. (there’s a review coming laster this week on it). The main character lost her father to ALS. Coincidence that I read this book at the end of my honeymoon and we are going through the exact thing? Maybe it’s God sharing another story of heartache and love with me, so I can relate.
To give you all more of a background, let’s go back to the beginning of our, ‘Wedding Week’. I feel like that’s where I need to start. I’ve been quite absent on here since then. I just needed a break… to digest and let my blog not be the worry in my mind.
For those of you that are new to here, my father-in law was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. He died three days before Clint and I’s wedding.
Monday, October 15th was busy. I remember starting off my morning by sending pictures of my rehearsal dinner dress to my bridesmaid group message. That afternoon I was running around getting wedding stuff together and prepping my house for guest. Tuesday, October 16th I woke up early and prepped for the day. Clint scheduled a surprise massage for me that afternoon at 1:30 PM… I feel like this was when it all truly began. For some reason I forgot to turn my off on in the massage (which never happens). It was on vibrate and the entire hour and a half it never stopped with notifications. I actually started to get on edge wondering, “is something wrong with dexter? who would call me this many times? maybe something has gone wrong with the wedding?” It was a very unrelaxed massage to say the least because all I did was worry. When I finished I immediately checked my phone and had 14 missed calls. Funny thing was none of them were really that important. I let out a sigh of a relief. Was I worrying for nothing? I continued my day, went to pick my dogs up from the groomer, and stopped my in-laws house on the way home to drop something off. I was so scattered brain that I just ran in the house, said hello to my mother-in-law, and turned to leave. She stopped me and said, “Dexter isn’t doing too well.” I said, “Is it bad?” Looking back I know she kind of played it down because she could tell I was overwhelmed with wedding stuff. I told her I had to run home but then I would come back and see everyone. About an hour later, as I stood in my kitchen, making quinoa salad, Clint called me. I’ll leave out the details of that conversation, but that’s when we knew it was bad. The emotions brought forth in my massage were slowly becoming my reality.
Tuesday night Clint, Oslo, Charlie, and I spent the night at my in-laws. Our hearts didn’t want to leave the house.
Wednesday seems like a blur. I remember running on 4.5 hours of sleep, anxiously awaiting for my parents to get to Paducah, and admiring how beautiful the day was. We got news that morning that my father-in-law wasn’t going to make it. That afternoon he passed away, surrounded by family and friends. There were some brief moments where Stacy (my mother-in- law), Clint, and I just looked at each other and let our eyes do the talking. How were we going to get through this?
I want you all to know something. Stacy, my mom, and I are planners. We always have been and always will be. We dissect every possibility and plan for every one of them. Months ago we planned for a wedding, where Dexter was there. We planned for one where we hasn’t. Then we planned for one where the funeral might/might not happen right before the wedding or right after. As morbid as it sounds, that was our life. It was the hand we were dealt with. Never in a million years did the latter seem like it even had a 1% chance of happening. Even the week of the wedding week Stacy told Dexter, “we made it to wedding week.”
That’s what is funny about all of this. GOD WAS and IS IN CONTROL. His plans were greater than ours. and like they always say, “he never gives you more than you can handle.” I’m telling you right now if anyone could handle this, it’s Clint, Stacy, and me. We had a motto that week, “one foot in front of the other”, and that’s how we live.
In a short 48 hours, I married the love of my life and celebrated the life of my truly amazing father-in-law. Dexter loved chocolate ice cream out of the tub as much as I did. His eyes lit up when I talked about Clint. He always told me, “never miss an opportunity to be happy.” He encouraged me to always forgive. Saturday nights he always asked Clint “y’all going to church tomorrow?” He wanted us to have a strong faith. Dexter showed me what it’s like to fight. What it’s like to love. and what it’s like to live.
This spring I spent some time living with Dexter and Stacy while our house was getting remodeled and Clint was at school. Dexter and I bonded on levels I never imagined possible. We took interest in each others interests. Every time I pulled in the driveway he was on the side porch ready to greet me (gosh I’m going to miss that). He aided me with decisions about our house. He dropped extra treats for Oslo (which always made me smile). He always offered morning coffee, just like Stacy. He helped me sort through my worries, Clint’s fish obsession (haha), and was always there to listen. Stacy and I bonded on levels I never imagined possible. We shared stories, lost sleep over wedding/house plans, ran daily errands together, and took too many golf carts rides to count around the farm. In the 5 years I dated Clint I never had an opportunity like that to truly get to know and understand my in-laws. So for that I’ll be forever thankful.
Looking back those might be some of my most treasured memories. God put me right where I needed to be those months. Little did I know that God was laying the foundation for our family. The strong, faithful, reliable, loving foundation that we need right now, during the hardest season of life.
As we close on this chapter, the days ahead are unpredictable. Returning from our honeymoon is going to be hard, but I’m so glad we are doing it together, as the Johnson family.
Clint said to me right after all this happened, “we might not understand all this right now, but we will in the years to come.” I’ve found peace in that.
From this here’s what I’ve learned:
- Life’s too short (who am I kidding, we all know that. It’s not until something tragic happens that you truly feel it).
- You need family. You need friends. You need God. – Without mine and faith, I would’ve have never made it through October 17th-October 21st.
- “Congratulations”, followed by, “I’m sorry” is never a combination you want to experience. If you do, it’ll only make you stronger.
- I married the strongest man. Clint’s handled it all surprisingly well. Even better than me at times. I’ve never been more proud to call him my husband.
- Your happiness is your own responsibility.
- Value what you give your time and energy to
- There may be no single that can teach us more about life than death.
- Where there is love, there is life.
For everyone who has reached out to me, Clint, and our families, we thank you! We read every message, heard the thoughts, and felt the prayers. Thank you being so understanding, appreciative, thoughtful, and most of all, kind.
Looking back I feel like I don’t remember a lot from that week. Some of the details have faded for the best, others are as vivid as the clover fields (dexter’s favorite spot). These pictures and videos are what we have now. Snapshots of our special day and emotional journey. Clint and I watched this video endlessly while we were in Europe. It kept us smiling, lost in the happiest moment of our life. I hope you all find magic in it, like we did. Enjoy!
Torunn Stuen Johnson
Huge Thank You to Scott Film Company for being apart of our wedding day and creating this special treasure!