Departed: Sunday, June 27, 2010
Certain dates stand out as historic because of the impactful event that happened on that date. September 11 is a significant date for Americans old enough to remember the events that transpired at the World Trades Center, which is now a memorial site. Thousands died. Millions mourned.
Always is it tragic for the death unexpected of loved ones. At least if they are sick or old in age it is in the backs of the minds of their loved ones that death could come at any time. If the person is healthy and young, death almost seems like it is an impossibility, a cheat. Cruel. Evil
Scarred across my mind in flaming sanguine fluid of life is the date of June 27, 2010. A dark day.
Sunday the 27th of June 2010 started out as one of those days where we did not think we would make it to church. The Johnson family attends church each Sunday, so we had to push it through! Zipporah, a 21-month old cherubic princess, was a wild child that morning--so were the other five!
Small stuff, unimportant stuff pitted my wife and me at odds that escalated into the most egregious matter on the planet!
If the world had ended at the time, we would not have known because we were having an all-out battle just getting to the family van to go to church, scowls on our faces.
Putting on the best faux smiles, we walked into the church building to start three hours of forgetting arguments, ignoring health problems. My wife was almost full-term with number seven, looking and behaving as if she had no business out of bed, and she did not.
It caught up with her, which annoyed me to no end. After six other pregnancies reason would dictate that her husband, me, would have a little more compassion. Home she went, Zipporah tagging along with me to drop her off. Her instructions were to take ice from the QuickTrip service station on the way home.
Latter-day Saints don't normally shop on a Sunday, not us anyway. What if church members see me or the kids question, I protested. I had a leadership position to set an example.
As quickly as the words left my lips my wife gave me the pitiful YOU-did-this-to-me-and-the-ox-is-in-the-mire-and-unless-YOU-want-to-be-in-there-too-YOU-better-go-do-this look. I relented.
On the Way Home
Zipporah would not leave nursery with me after we returned to church and meetings ended. The children's Sunday school is called nursery in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for kids 18 months to 3 years old, where my Zipporah was attending. She would not leave.
Zipporah clung to the nursery leader with all her might, not willing to let go of him, a brawny police officer with a heart of gold. He and his wife voluntarily taught the class. With a sick wife at home, a painful body myself, and a whining 21-month old, I was getting impatient.
She ran away from me when I tried to take her hand, crying as if I were a stranger. Being in pain, I did not take kindly to this tantrum of hers. I could tell she was tired and wanted to go to sleep.
My oldest daughter, Naomi usually helped with Zipporah to convince the child to go quietly; but she was not with us that day. So, she went noisily. She went to sleep as soon as we were in the van.
Sariah my second daughter gave me a lectured about purchasing on Sundays when we stopped to get the ice. I told her that Mommy needed the ice and I had to make an exception for this one day. She told me to repent.
It was so hot outside that day that the ice started melting in the bag as soon as I left the Quick Trip. I rushed home to get the ice to my wife. I fell on a leather sofa in the TV room in pain and passed out. I sent all the kids to bed for a nap.
Trial of Faith
I awoke groggily, painfully. My wife asked me to go to the drug store and retrieve a prescription for Zipporah who had been sick the past several days. Grumbling in response that I would, out into the glaring heat I stepped.
What was my surprise when I saw Zipporah in the rearview mirror of the family van. I started laughing and asked her what was she doing in the van, sneaking around.
No response. It was odd that she was in her car seat. Normally she could not do that. Calling her again as I reversed the vehicle into the cul de sac, there was no response. She was not moving or breathing.
Panic! I snatched my baby out of that van leaving it in the cul-de-sac running. I experienced a myriad of emotions that I cannot describe other than sheer horror and incredulity entangled with shock!
A desperate, agonizing cry left me though it seemed that it wrenched from some other grieving person. Zipporah was not breathing. I entered the house crying out to any that would respond, "Call 911!"
Hollow and fragile mentally, I lifted up my hand to bless the child after performing CPR. My wife heard me falling apart and ripped her pregnant body from the sickbed. She called 911 and snatched the baby from my arms administering CPR herself.
Remembering my faith, by the power of the priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ I planned to command that body to receive back its spirit, but the words would not come. That was the beginning of the end for me.
I lamented in the gall of bitterness while my pregnant wife sat numb. I lost my faith--not in God but in myself. I had let my daughter die. I blamed myself and so did the media. I had never been called such horrible things. No one knew my name or my face, but they knew what happened.
The new bishop, sustained that day, received his first assignment, which was to see to my family's health. He held me like a child as I sobbed on his shoulder. All of the comfort in my soul was gone. I refused to be comforted.
Grief and Hope
It took prayer, counseling, meditation, and the power of God for me to say I love myself and I am worth loving after that. Faith that I will see my daughter again in heaven and have her association again for eternity with the rest of my righteous family give me hope. There is nothing like death to test if you really believe in God and the resurrection of Jesus.
God gave me time to heal enough to live. I will ever miss my daughter. Each day the memories of her are less sad and more nostalgic.
© 2012 Rodric Anthony