By Chris Henry
In February, 2007, Lisa Johnson of Manchester was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, an invasive form of the disease in which malignant cells had spread to other organs in her body. Despite aggressive treatment over the past two years, the cancer has progressed. Lisa is now receiving Hospice care for comfort and pursuing quality of life, to the best of her ability, in each day, according to her mother Sharon Ewing of Bremerton.
When Lisa and her husband Steve were first married, they had a low-key, low-budget ceremony. On Valentine’s Day, 2009, family, friends and coworkers helped Lisa and Steve celebrate 20 years of marriage with the “dream” wedding they’d always wanted. Daughters Amanda, 20, Kayla, 19, and Judy, 16 were bridesmaids.
Now those same folks are pulling together to help raise funds for funeral arrangements Lisa has requested.
A spaghetti dinner and auction to benefit the Lisa Marie Johnson Funeral Fund is planned for 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 11 at Seabeck Conference Center, 15395 NW Seabeck Highway. This family-style, sit-down dinner features music by Swing Fever and pictures with Santa.
Many local businesses have pitched in to help with supplies and auction items, such as wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres for 10 from Hoodsport Winery and a necklace from Chrey’s Jewelers of Bremerton.
When I wrote about Lisa and Steve in February, I was struck by their love for each other, which I described as a palpable presence. The other remarkable layers of the story were their girls, who have risen to the family’s challenge with grace and maturity, and the community response, a group effort that went and continues to go above and beyond.
On a recent night, I was driving back from Oregon after dropping my daughter at college. Scanning the radio dial for some diversion, I heard an Oregon Public Radio Broadcast about a woman who is a chaplain to the Maine Game Warden Service. Kate Braestrup, who lost her own husband in a tragic accident, “is called in when children disappear in the woods or when snowmobilers disappear under the ice.”
Braestrup talked about our inclination to try and reconcile the most excruciating experiences life dishes out with the exquisite beauty of human interaction in times of crisis. Through her experiences with tragedy, she has learned to let them coexist, side by side, without explanation or moral. As host Krista Tippett said, Braestrup is, “a doer whose sense of God emerges from what happens between and among people.”
Our thoughts are with the Johnson family, with a special shout out to Lisa whose 42nd birthday is Friday (Dec. 4).
Tickets to the dinner-auction are $10 per person, $5 for children under 12, $25 per family of four and $5 for each additional family member.
A benevolent fund has been established at Kitsap Bank; designate donations to the Lisa M. Johnson Fund.