When I started this blog, I had thought that it would only be about what is currently happening in my life. With this entry, that is not true. While showing my blog to someone at work, they commented that I was lucky to have two nieces and two nephews. I quickly responded that I have three nephews, though only two are currently living. After much thought on that comment, I would like to write a blog about the nephew that has only been briefly mentioned on this blog, Caleb.
Caleb Noel was born on May 5th, 2004 in Provo, Utah. Despite being taken by emergency c-section, he was a seemingly healthy and happy baby. Both my brother and his wife continued in their schooling at BYU after he was born. I, along with my mother, went down to visit. As you can see by the picture of the two of us, he was a cuddly baby. (Also, I used to be a little skinnier :) This little college family was poor but happy in their student housing. After a few months, Caleb's head seemed a little big for his body size. We, in true Johnsen fashion, just laughed it off. (We tend to make jokes about each others differences.)
But by October, Alison was noticing other things that worried her. She took Caleb to the clinic doctor at BYU, who told her not to worry. She took Caleb to another doctor who gave her the advice to go to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. A CT scan revealed a brain tumor that was blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. On October 27, 2004, our little man had surgery to remove the tumor. The cells were found to be malignant (a dreaded word that mean cancer.) In the beginning of November of 2004, the doctors put in a Broviac line into his chest for the administration of drugs and such, and a shunt in his skull to drain off fluid. In the middle of November chemotherapy began. It was given to him through the central line in his chest. While Caleb was in the hospital, the Johnsen/Lowe/Roberts families rallied. Determined to not let Caleb spend a night alone in the hospital, we took turns sleeping in the converting sleeper-chair in his room. Jordan and Alison became exhausted, eventually withdrawing from their classes to spend time with their baby boy. Through it all, they were pillars of grace. Their strength became our own. I stayed the night with Caleb a few times and visited him when I could. I even made a shirt that read "Aunt" so that the hospital staff would be able to know who I was when I slept over. When he would awaken in the night or when he finally awoke in the morning, I would sing to him. I always felt that it was a bond between us. He would look into my eyes and I would smile and sing. Eventually, a feeding tube was inserted into his nose. He required a transfusion. In the beginning of December, he began having seizures. His parents decided that it would be best to move up with my parents. Our family, along with Alison's, moved them up after repainting and carpeting the basement. We managed to get the entire basement painted in a few days after members of the ward showed up to help. Caleb got to come home for a little while at Christmas but was soon back in the hospital. After another surgery and a stay in the intensive care unit, my sweet nephew past into the next life. He died on December 31, 2004.
I was at work at the time. I was sitting there, annoyed that I had to work on New Years Eve instead of being with my family or friends. I was worried about Caleb, so I called the hospital. I moved into a room so that I could talk alone without bothering my co-workers. Jordan answered the phone and told me that Caleb had died. After hanging up, I cried like I have never cried before. I had always thought that when people cried outloud and in an almost yelling way that they werejust beinging dramatic. I was wrong. My pain came pouring out of me and I couldn't have cried softly if my life had depended upon it. I sobbed on the floor of the library and thought my heart would break. I went home, then to the hospital to say goodbye. To this day, there are still songs I cannot sing outloud because they remind me of him. Caleb's funeral was a few days later.
I was angry with my Heavenly Father for a long while after that. How dare he take my beautiful nephew and leave the rest of us to grieve his passing. After a while I realized that it was not God's will to hurt me. Bad things happen that cannot be changed. It is no one's fault. As hard as it was, I wouldn't take away one moment of knowing Caleb. He taught me about love, patience, service, Christ-like attitudes, suffering, and the strength of people in times of great adversity. He would have been two years old this past May. I still think of him often, especially with the birth of the newest members of our family. If love could have saved him, he would have lived forever.