On January 27th, 2014, my father-in-law passed away at 50-years-old.
My husband and I got the news and traveled to Idaho as soon as we found out.
The last week has been a crazy mix of emotions, memories, and tears. I sort of checked out of the blogging and social media world because I needed time away. I had other plans of the posts I wanted to do last week and today, but they aren’t right now. Before I come back, I wanted to dedicate a special post to share my feelings about my father-in-law. I don’t really feel like I was able to express how much I loved him in the last week, and I want to make sure everyone knows.
My father-in-law was one of the most incredible, selfless, hard-working, loving, and dedicated men I have ever met. The very first thing I noticed about him was his deep voice. The first time we met, my husband’s family was having a family reunion at Aspen Grove, and he wanted me to come up and meet them. I walked into the room where they were staying and I instantly felt welcome there because of the love his family shared. I only knew Steve for four-and-a-half years, but in that short time, I grew close to him. He loved his boys more than anything, and was always trying to do what was best for them. He loved to tell stories and coach sports and give of his time to the Young Men program at church. He took us to so many Utah Jazz basketball games and he loved his grandson so much that most of the pictures on his phone were of little J. Even before I heard all of the amazing acts of service he performed and all the stories from his lifelong friends, before I saw how many lives he had touched, I knew this would be the hardest trial my family has ever gone through. Steve was the kind of guy that knew everyone, never forgot a face, and always went out of his way to say hi to someone he knew. The most important thing that Steve ever did for me was to help my husband’s mother raise him the way they did so that one day, I could meet my best friend and be sealed to him for time and all eternity. I always loved when Steve would call me and he always would answer by saying “Hey Chels” in his deep voice. He told me on several occasions that he loved to look at my blog and see what I was up to. His favorite story to tell me was about how my husband pitched a perfect game in high school. Whenever my husband and I visited he would always offer to take his three boys to go shoot hoops, and the last time we were there for Christmas he beat them all. He loved being outdoors and one time we all went up to their special fishing spot on 4-wheelers where I caught my first fish. He was such a kind, loving man, and his passing has left a void in our family’s lives.
His funeral service was beautiful and more than 1,000 people attended. The Young Men sang “If You Could Hie to Kolob” and the speakers, including my husband, told of his amazing life and the impact he had on so many lives. At the end, boys he coached wore their uniforms in respect and lined the sidewalk all the way to the car as the pallbearers brought down his casket.
The days after someone you love passes away are some of the hardest to endure. You think you have cried all the tears you could possibly spare and then someone says something and it starts all over again. Every time you think you are feeling a little better another friend comes by and you have to feel those emotions again and talk about it again. People just sit there together not talking, thinking, just keeping each other company. You can’t eat anything but people keep bringing food so you try but nothing tastes good.
And then after a few days you feel hope, you feel love, you feel peace. It is still the hardest thing you have ever done, but you are going through it with your family and friends. You feel comforted by the knowledge that you will see them again and that they are happy and even though they miss you, they are thinking of you and doing what they can to help you out. I know that we will see Steve again, and I know that he is “in a better place.”
Steve Johnson has inspired us to live better, love more, and to do what we can to bless the lives of others. We will always miss him, but we will see him again.