Tag Archives: Joey

my shards, on resting after a child’s death ..,

20 Jan

first, on a Godly King’s death from 2nd Kings 23…

29 ‘ While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Necho faced him and killed him at Megiddo. 30 Josiah’s servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb.’

oh lovely servants, who hold their master’s body … and bless it… care for their King Josiah, who loved Jehovah with all his heart, ( second Kings 23 verse 3 ) and then ….

…then, on to our Lord Jesus, after his crucifixion, after his death… who loved us all to, with, his death, … Jesus, loved by his servants, …

as women who combined their resources to anoint the broken body of Jesus – Luke 23 …

55 ‘The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.’

They, the women, ‘saw the tomb and how his body ( Jesus’ body ) was laid in it.’ They saw a militated, tortured, whipped body. Flesh flayed , peeling away…bloody and almost unrecognisable. A broken body, yet…

and yet, ‘they rested on the Sabbath.’ After seeing their master’s brokenness, they rested.

When my son Joey died in a car mishap in North Carolina, I flew from NYC to Fort Bragg, to pick up his body to return home to NYC.

I went to the funeral home by myself as my wife and Joey’s estranged wife did want to see Joey if, if his body was badly torn. Joey’s commanding officer drove me to the funeral home.

The director was a woman, a mid aged woman, who led me to Joey. The Captain was to wait outside as she, the director and I went in. Before entering I stopped. I was moved to ask a question;

I asked the Director how she had came this profession, this place of solace. In a sense, a tomb. She was the only woman I had ever seen in such a place, as comforter.

She told me how her baby son died in her arms after his birth. She would not be comforted by any. She could stand loud noises, even worship songs at church. Yet, one day in a Roman Catholic Church, as she sat quiet in meditation, she felt God telling her to go and provide comfort to others.

And so she did. One who could not be comforted became a resting place, a comfort for others. She became a giver of peace to the unresting.

And then she grabbed my right arm, not softly, not in strength. Just to stop me. Capturing my eyes in hers, she said,

‘as I was fixing your son’s body, I felt an anger, a hurting leave him. I felt his life’s hurts leaving him…he is at peace.’

I thanked her. And walked in alone. Joey was in a dark wooden coffin. He did not have a mark on his face or any part of his body. The car he was driving too fast could not manage a turn and went down a gulley to a river stream. Knocked unconscious he drowned.

Joey was at rest.

Josiah’s servants, the anointing women at Jesus’ death, the NC Funeral Director, were, are, hands of comfort, hands of healing, a touch of peace.

My shards are moments given to my life. They are memories that cannot leave. yet, they are also hands of thought and comfort.

With me always, my shards will never leave my heart,

I was pieced, but not to a death. I rest as they serve with their touches

My shards are life, my life. And they speak and heal. That which began in pain, ends with memories of meaning.

My shards renew; they love.

They are mine.

remembrance, Joey

31 May

Joey always wanted to be a soldier, a Green Beret. When we adopted him in his 14th year, we heard his desire to graduate high school; enlist as soon as possible and grow into a USA army officer.


But we talked him into trying college, Houghton College in Upstate New York, for a year. He met his wife, Rachel, there; marries at 20 and they separated at 21.
Called up to a formation exercise while station at Fort Bragg, NC, Joey drove in the 5 am deep darkness of 10 May 1996, took a turn on a curve road by a creek in a borrowed car, overturned into the creek’s waters and drowned.
He was almost 22.


He never fought in a conflict for his country; he owned a home in North Carolina that was two weeks from foreclosure; nor did he have many male army friends. He was truly alone.


When I met with Joey’s commanding officer, it was to pick up his body. I was in North Carolina with his mother Priscilla, my wife, and Rachel, the wife he was separated from. His commander told me, ‘Corporal Johansen was just young and angry. He would have grown out of it in time.’
Time, the one gift that might assist in Joey’s life, I could not give him. I gave him what I thought would heal, at least help in healing, of his physical hurts, his sexual abuse, his life addictions and pains.
A car; ( a prime condition Cutlass Supreme ) and a home; a leather jacket and a college education; a wedding and 3 adoring younger sisters ( one of them, Deirdra, named her second son ‘Johansen’ in Hero’s middle name ).

Hero Johansen.


When I reached the Funeral Home to retrieve Joey’s body to return to his NYC home, I was alone with his Commander. Priscilla and Rachel did not go with us as they were unsure what Joey’s body would look like.
They were hurting.

So was I. Unsure of the damages.


The Funeral Director greeted us. A woman of about 30, she lead us to Joey’s room. Before I entered, she paused and said ‘You can go in by yourself first if you like, to have a private, personal moment.’

I paused. The Commander nodded agreeing with her suggestion. Moving toward the closed door, I stopped and turned to the Director, and asked,

‘Pardon, but have have never met a woman Funeral Director before. How did you come to this profession?’

She smiled, ‘I know it is unusual. Three years ago by baby girl, Sara, died suddenly, unexpectedly. I could find no peace. Not in church or in counselling; not with friends or family. The worship at my church was beautiful but loud. I couldn’t sit still. I needed quiet. I started attending a Roman Catholic service, the Mass. I found the quiet helpful. Peaceful. And I felt God speaking to me one day in church,

“‘ Now you can help others to rest.’“


‘And so I opened this Funeral home. A home for the hurting….can I tell you something? I never do this, but I feel I need to tell you. When I was fixing your son’s body, I felt as though there was a lot of anger, hate, in him. But as I moved him, I felt his hurts, his angers, leaving him. And that he was at piece.’

I said thank you and went in alone. His body had not a scratch on him. He was knocked unconscious and drowned in the waters. He felt at rest. Peace.

Some soldiers fight in both outside and internal wars. But all struggle with the internal. All.

This Memorial Day I remember Joey. He struggled; he fought; he lost and won. But at the end, his very end, God gifted him peace, release. Healing. I had not adopted Joey; I could not give him peace. God did. Jesus did.

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” 1 John 5: 11