The insidious intruder that never leaves is cancer.  It is pesky, sneaky, invisible, and it works aimlessly to kill and bankrupt you.  The strangle of cancer (never to be capitalized in my mind and heart) invaded him and tackled me and dumped us in the cancer club, and we daily paddle to embrace joy in a disheartening world that is vastly different than it used to be.  We call it Living Next to Normal.

Always wondering, waiting and semi-ready for the next curve, I have discovered a durability.  I live the unthinkable, attempt to rest with the unforgettable, and acknowledge the hideous reality that my husband is living with an unpredictable disease.

So- I Breathe.

I dance to a beat, collapse to the carpet with sobs, drum, sit, lounge on my grief bench, make thankful lists, draw things I miss, prioritize our hopes and dreams, and never miss a sunset.  And, I am O.K.

 I ask my Hunk, “How are you holding up?”And he asks “How’s my Girl?”

And we Breathe.

We wrote and read our wedding vows 36 years ago, and now with bone-deep love for my Man, and a sizzling joy, I know I truly meant them.  Untangling the web of grief in my heart is a tiring and demanding task.  Plagued by uncertainty, lifted by an anchored soul of Hope, and a mile-deep awareness of Gratitude for earthly and heavenly angels that lift my wings when exhaustion abounds and despair devours,

 I Breathe.

The great irony of life is that which brings us the

greatest  pleasure brings us the greatest pain.  Relationships are sacred.         

  Anne Tyler

 Karen O. Johnson   2012

Karen Johnson

Karen O. Johnson, M.Ed. began grief group counseling in 1981 with ten teens experiencing the death of a parent. Since then, she has worked with a large population of youth, families, and adults coping with loss as an individual and group counselor. Over the span of 35 years in the education industry, she has held various positions in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education including: teacher, counselor, principal, crisis team member and director and crisis line counselor and director in the Jordan, Murray, and Salt Lake School Districts in Utah, and the Texas Independent School District. Currently, Karen is the Area Chair, Lead Faculty in the Social Sciences Human Services Program at the University of Phoenix. Karen is also the founder of EveryDayGrief, LLC, a company offering seminars for helping professionals, where innovative techniques are shared to positively impact the grief journey of youth and adults. Along with counselor trainings, she runs grief support groups.

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