This weekend was long. Extremely long. Looking forward to a Baby Shower in honor of my new little cousin on the way, I worked busily on making a little pink baby blanket. It was the next morning that I was asked to attend a funeral with my dad in Ohio. Strange that I could fly to Columbus, try to comfort a lonely widower and then fly home in time for the celebration of a new baby. All in the same weekend.
Elaine Johnson passed away December 8th. She came home sick from work November 12th, was diagnosed with stomach cancer that had rapidly spread throughout her body and took her life in less than a month after symptoms had set in. She was the wife of Lance j, the director of The Batten Disease Support & Research Assoc. Obviously extremely important people to the Allio home along with hundreds of others accross the nation. Scary when half of the foundation of the organization passes away. Lance & Elaine were parents to two children. Lee and Lorena. Lorena suffered from Juvenile Batten Disease, just like Catie & Annie. In 1991 Lee, their healthy child, graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Wildlife. A huge fan of birds. Later that year he was killed in a car accident. Two years later in 1993 Lorena passed away from sickness with battens. I can't even imagine the pain of losing both of your children. all of your children. You could imagine how the loss of Elaine would seem to send Lance over the top. I was heartbroken just at the thought. Of coarse there was no way I wouldn't go support Lance at the Funeral with my dad. Just a little rescheduling this and that and My bags were packed. Perfect. A funeral. A reaccuring nightmare that wakes me up at night on a regular basis. Now a nightmare that i can't wash away with cold water. Dont forget about the cemetary and burial. I'm not sure that I've ever stood on cemetary grounds without crying. another huge fear. don't ask me why. I guess I should say anxiety rather than fear. The kind that tightens your chest until you feel like you can't take a breathe.
We got on the road at 3:45am Thursday and flew out of sac. Landed in Columbus at 5something that night and drove straight to the viewing. Lance was so happy to see us. He gave both of us tight hugs, so thankful that we flew out for him. The service was the following morning followed by the burial. Its amazing how a cloudy day, 22 degree winds and snow falling from the sky can make it an even more gloomy experience than it already is. After the service everyone met for lunch. It was there that Lance filled us in on Elaine's situation and how quickly everything happend. He looked like normal Lance. Maybe it hadn't hit him yet, maybe he IS just a remarkable person. Still too busy carrying for other people even after the loss of his children and wife to let it drag him down.
After Lunch it was off to Lance's home. There I found multiple christmas trees in his family room, all completely covered in ornaments. One was ALL birds. Lee LOVED birds. That was his tree. One was ALL teddy bears, in honor of Lorena and the other ALL angels. Elaine LOVED angels, especially after her children had passed away. I sat surrounded by trees quite overwhelmed as he shared stories about his children like they were just there yesterday. He also shared stories that give you goose bumps and like he said, prove that God really cares. As I sat listening I couldn't help but notice all of the old toys, school certificates, trophies and even Christmas stockings that had once belonged to his children. I also noticed Elaines shoes tucked under the table. Her nail files and magazines sitting next to her chair and her jar of her favorite candies, hershy kisses, sitting on the table, not quite empty yet. What do you do after your soulmate passes away?? Knowing lance all of her things will be donated to help someone in need.
I often took a break from sitting in that room as it was very overwhelming. I was drawn to the front room. There was something about it, it was quiet and more peaceful. A large family portrait sat on the wall. Pretty cool to finally see what his two kids looked like. The picture faced the open window and window seat. I love windows and LOVE window seats. I was so drawn to this window that I took the picture that I have posted. There was heavy snow falling outside, I could see Lee's bird feeder and plants that Lance was obviously very fond of. (he has plants all over their house.) Later after starring out that window multiple times, dad called me in to that same room. Lance then explained that the two plants in the window seat, the ones I had taken pictures of a few hours before were from Lee's funeral in '91 (large plant on right)and Lorena's in '93.(smaller plant in center.) He has kept them alive this whole time. Theres just something about that picture even more so now, that I absolutely love.
Lance was so greatful to have us there. We left saturday morning at 130am CA time and got home just in time for saturday night events. I'm still pretty emotional at the thought of all Lance has gone through. I've been thinking and praying for him constantly, wondering how he'll be after everyone has gone home. I'm sure after time he will be busy again. Elaine, knowing how determined her husband is, made Lance promise to find a cure before he himself dies.
ew. I feel so bla just thinking about it all.