entries from the Journal of Jamie Johnson
as he grieves his father's passing

2010: June | July | Aug. | Sept. | Oct. | Nov. | Dec.
2011: Jan. | Feb. | April | May | Aug. | Oct.
2012: Jan. | April | Nov. | Dec.
2013: April | June | July | Dec.
2014: Jan. | Sept.
2015: Sept. | Oct.
2016: July | August | Sept. | Oct.
2017-2022: May 2020 | April 2021 | March 2022

June 26, 2010


Dad, I miss you. It's been over 6 weeks since you went to be with Jesus on May 11.

I dream. You show up at times. In one dream you said there will be challenges. And there have been.

In other dreams, you say it will be OK and it is. I miss you.

In one dream a couple nights ago, I was with you at your kitchen table. You were younger and dressed, wearing your glasses. You weren't sitting in your usual seat at the head of the table. It was empty. I noticed that Pippin, your dear black cat and an orange cat were coming in and out of the kitchen pantry (which was behind your chair). You seemed a little annoyed by the orange cat (just like you were with Shadow a gray/white cat when you were here; you seemed to like Simba the orange one when you were here), but you said, "It's all going to be OK."

The morning of your last day here, you said, "Well folks, it's been a hoot!" Yet, I recall your patriarchal blessings to each of us the day before -- your deep gentle blue eyes looking into and beyond us and your saying, "Bless you!" And I remember your saying, "We have enjoyed life and you will enjoy life." I have and I will, but I miss you.

May the LORD Jesus send you our love.

I love you, Dad!

July 7, 2010


Sometimes, the grief of losing Dad makes me ask if I can be sure that something is beyond the grave. Then, I remember your faithfulness. I see the Creation and how its order points to you. I see man's predicament and your grace, life, and Resurrection. I remember the words I spoke the night Dad died as my brother said he didn't know and that he was trying to get his mind around it -- believing and having faith in this time of death and loss -- my words were "Show me a better way." LORD, there is no better way. LORD Jesus, You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I trust that. I trust You and I look forward to the day when I see Dad standing with You! "What a day of rejoicing that will be!" Your Spirit within me testifies to my spirit of You LORD Jesus. I love you LORD. Send Dad my love.

July 8, 2010


It's hard to believe that Dad is no longer among the ranks of the living this side of Heaven, but I must remind myself that he is living more now than he ever did before.

July 13, 2010

What I Miss

Dad, I dreamed of you again last night. I was at your house. You were younger -- had more hair with some black in it. You were wearing glasses, a light blue shirt, a dark blue tie and dark blue suit pants. You were heading out to work. I walked with you down the front yard toward your blue van. I put my arm around you. We walked. We both choked up as I said, "This is something I'm really going to miss." I wailed, "Oh Daddy!" and began to cry. I woke up in tears.

July 14, 2010


This morning, I was having breakfast with the kids and we were talking about eye colors, how Leona's hazel eyes favor Louise's and how Arthur's blue eyes favor mine. I mentioned to the kids that I got my blue eyes from Pop Pop. Arthur mentioned how I had walked with Pop Pop (I had shared the dream I had the other night). I told him that yes I had walked with Pop Pop in my dream. He asked, "Our Pop Pop?" and I said, "Yes, our Pop Pop." Arthur then said, "He doesn't have cancer anymore." I said, "That's right. He's in Heaven with Jesus." Arthur and I talked a little bit about Heaven and then he asked, "Is it light or dark in Heaven?" I told him that it was light. He asked if there were lamps there. I said that God was so bright that there was no need for lamps and you don't even need a sun. Arthur said, "Wow!" I know Pop Pop is saying that, too.

August 5, 2010


This morning, Arthur asked when Pop Pop was coming back. I told him that Pop Pop wasn't coming back. Arthur asked if Pop Pop was dead. I told him that his body was dead, but that Pop Pop is alive in Heaven with Jesus. Indeed, Pop Pop is more alive now than he has ever been.

August 17, 2010

Not Alone

One year ago, I took you out to eat at Red Lobster for your birthday. Today, I eat alone. I miss you, but I must realize that I am not alone. I am not alone in loss. And the God with Whom you live is with me and lives in me. I miss you Dad. Happy birthday! I love you.


"When everything is broken,
There's a door wide open
You'll find me running through
More than just emotion
My broken heart has chosen,
Jesus I'm running to You
I'm running to You"

~ Newsboys, "Running To You"

September 3, 2010


This evening, Arthur said, "I liked it when Pop Pop was here."

I said, "I did, too. I miss him."

We talked about it for a bit.

Later, I overheard him talking to Leona and he said, "When we get to Heaven, we'll see Pop Pop."

When I rejoined them, he told me, "When I get to Heaven, I'm going to go to Pop Pop....Pop Pop's my buddy and that's why I will go to him. You can go to Pop Pop, too, Dad."

Yes, I can...and will. I will joyfully greet my earthly father. And more so, we will go to the Heavenly Father in Whose Presence our dear Pop Pop basks.

"When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing it will be!
When we all see Jesus, we will sing and shout the Victory!"

October 2-3, 2010

Singing for Pop Pop

Oct. 2: Arthur said, "I'll sing a slow song for Pop Pop, not a fast one."

Oct. 3: Arthur said, "I'll sing a song Pop Pop likes in Heaven."

November 11, 2010

The Voice of Many Angels

It's been 6 months since you left this world and entered into the next. I miss you. I think of the song "Worthy is the Lamb":

I hear the voice of
a thousand angels sing,
"Worthy is the Lamb."

You have heard it and have seen it. I wish we could talk about it. I love you, Dad.

"I love you, too, son."

NOTE: the song that I was thinking of when I wrote that was the song "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin. When I saw him in concert and sang the lyrics, I cried and thought of my father entering Heaven. Here are the lyrics:

There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
"Worthy is the Lamb"

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

November 24, 2010


"Lord, I wish I could see Dad and know he is alright."

"Do you trust Me?"

"Yes, Lord, you know I do."

"Trust Me in everything."

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:18

December 2010


Arthur was singing: "I imagine Jesus" and it was his own version of "I Can Only Imagine." He requested the song so I pulled it up on iTunes. He said, "It makes me think of Pop Pop." I told him that it makes me think of Pop Pop, too.

December 31, 2010


Multiple times Arthur has pointed at a star in the sky and said, "That's Pop-Pop's star."

January 6, 2011

Seeing You Again

Dad, I saw a man in my dream that looked like you. I told him that he looked like you and he said I reminded him of his son. When I asked his name, he said, "Bill Johnson" -- your name. The man was you. You were younger in the dream than when I last saw you here. In the dream, you were wearing a green polo shirt and khaki shorts. We were in our old church and I kept looking diagonally over my right shoulder behind me to notice you were watching me, too, before I went to talk with you. It was good seeing you again.

January 12, 2011


Lord, I wish I could see Dad or hear his voice, but I do not in this world (outside of a dream). To do so would require a dependence on my senses - a dependence on self - something humanity already does too much of. Lord, you desire faith. Your Word says that anything not done in faith is sin. You set it up so that I would - we all would - have to have the gift of faith from your Holy Spirit, not a fleshly sensory experience that requires no faith at all. By faith, I must trust that Dad is having the best time of his life and that I will see him again because YOU - not I - have accomplished it!

January 14, 2011

A Simple Sweet Memory

Leona shared this morning that she remembered when she was "little" when Mom Mom and Pop Pop came over for supper and she was watching a Viking VeggieTale and Pop Pop came over to the courch and asked her if he could watch the movie. She said that he could and he watched it with her.

February 3, 2011

A Long Time

Arthur said, "I haven't seen Pop Pop in a long time." I told him that I hadn't either. Leona asked about his spirit. We talked about how he is with Jesus and though we won't see him this side of Heaven, he is in Heaven where we will see him again.

But, it's been a long time.

April 10, 2011

Glide in the Clouds

Arthur was swinging on his glider and said, "Daddy, do you know why I swing on the glider?"

I asked him, "Why?"

He said, "So I can get Pop Pop from the clouds."

May 11, 2011

One Year

It's been a year since you left this world and went to the next. Today is Wednesday - our typical lunch day when you were here. I passed Panera Bread today and thought about you. I decided to have lunch with you - or come as close to it as I can this side of Heaven. How I miss our conversations! There are blue flowers I put on your grave. I know you are seeing even more beautiful colors now and clearer than ever before! I know you are in utter joy, but this side of Heaven we miss you. I swept grass off your marker. The kids are getting big. The world and time seemed to stop when you died. My mind tries to catalog all that's happened in the past year. You are with Jesus. Save a place for me. I long for when we can dine and converse again. I love you, Dad.


August 16, 2011

Tears for Pop Pop

I've thought about you much today as tomorrow would be your 82nd birthday. Arthur told me he cried today. I asked him why. He said, "I cried for Pop Pop." He then showed me a "book" that he made - a pad of paper where he drew cars and wrote his name on just about every sheet. On one he pointed out, "Look, I drew hearts for Pop Pop." The grief has a little less of a sting as time marches on and it gives me peace to know that you are celebrating another birthday in Heaven. I am learning how to let go as hard as it is to say it, but I must entrust you to God and have faith that I will one day be celebrating with you again. I love you, Dad.


October 13, 2011

Passion Lost, Quality Joy

I lost some of my passion for life when Dad died, but I thank God that He is in my life, that I have my wife, children, and the childlikeness and playfulness and humor as I am able to find joy once again. These were qualities of Dad and I miss him so.

Save A Place For Me

by Matthew West
Album: Something to Say

Don't be mad
If I cry
It just hurts so bad, sometimes
'Cause everyday it's sinking in
And I have to say goodbye all over again

You know I bet it feels good to have the weight of this world off your shoulders now
I'm dreaming of the day when I'm finally there with you

Save a place for me
Save a place for me
I'll be there soon
I'll be there soon
Save a place for me
Save some grace for me
I'll be there soon
I'll be there soon

I have asked the questions why
But I guess the answers for another time
So instead I pray, with every tear
And be thankful for the time I had you here

Save a place for me
Save a place for me
I'll be there soon
I'll be there soon
Save a place for me
Save some grace for me
I'll be there soon
I'll be there soon

I wanna live my life Just like you did
Make the most of my time Just like you did
And I want to make my home up in the sky Just like you did
Oh, but until I get there…
Until I get there…

Save a place for me
Save a place for me
I'll be there soon
I'll be there soon
Save a place for me
Save some grace for me
I'll be there soon
I'll be there soon

October 24, 2011

Saddest Day

The other week, Arthur asked me what the saddest day in my life has been and I told him it was when Pop Pop died. A week or so later, we were driving through the country and he said, "Dad, I know what the saddest day in my life is." I asked him what that was and he said, "When Pop Pop died. When you die, it will be a saddest day, too. Maybe it will be a sadder day." Lord, may we be the generation that meets you in the clouds.

January 7, 2012

One Day

Yesterday, I had a meeting in a building that used to be the hospital. It was the same building where Pop spent his final moments here. It was my first time back since his passing on from this world to the next. After my meeting, I went up to the 6th floor where I last saw Pop. I looked at the last two rooms he was in - 628 and 631. All other floors had JMU people and departments in them, but not the 6th floor. All floors were being worked on, but not the 6th. I was the only one there. I placed my hand on the door of the very last room where he stayed. I held my hand there. I couldn't go in as all the doors had locks placed on them. I went to the end of the hallway where we had our last family meeting, where Pop looked at each of us and like a patriarch of old, blessed us. Though the door was locked, it was cracked a couple inches. I could see the window where I sat and heard Dad say, "Bless you" as he looked at me with a gentle smile. I placed my hand on the door and said, "Bless you." I walked back to the room where he spent his final moments, recalling sitting with Mom in the hallway there. I again placed my hand on the door and wept. I wiped away my tears and quietly departed as I said, "I miss you Dad."

The grave is like that room. It is locked and no one can get in. And despite Pop's body being in the grave, like the room, there is no one there. Pop is on the streets of gold. The old hospital is slowy being transformed into an office building. Pop has been transformed and his earthly body will be transformed as he receives his new body in glory. One day, the rooms on the 6th floor will be unlocked. One day - the Day - the grave will be unlocked. One day, the 6th floor will teem with people and life. One day there will be teeming life and no more death. One Day.

April 3, 2012

Still in my Dreams

Last night, I had a dream. During part of it, I was with Mom and my oldest brother. Mom was describing how she used to take walks with Dad and then she began to weep. My brother and I reached across a table and put our hands on one another's shoulders and we wept. Dad, I haven't been crying much like I used to, but I still do in my dreams. I miss you, but over time, it gets better.

November 23, 2012

A Pumpkin with Ears / It's Good to Hear His Voice Again

About a month ago, we did something we have not ever done with a pumpking. In addition to carving a face, I carved ears where they pop-out hinge-like. I explained to the kids how I learned this from Pop Pop when I was a boy. Thank you Pop Pop.

A dream the day after Thanksgiving: I am at Ma-Ma's house in the middle room listening to my Dad sing. It is good to hear his voice again. My siblings are talking with one another in the living room. I listen very intently to the voice of my father as it makes music. Reality begins to set in. I walk into Ma-Ma's bedroom at the foot of the bed. I bury my face into the bed and my mother comes in. She asks if I am sad. I nod in the affirmative, bury my face and weep. She rubs my back. I awake.

December 7, 2012

How Can I Keep From Singing

Ever since I had the dream in November in which Dad sang, I have had the tune in my head. Multiple times, I have played it by ear on the piano or have hummed it. And as the last couple of weeks have gone by, it has sounded familiar. After asking about the tune at Worship Team practice last night, I found out that the song is How Can I Keep From Singing by Chris Tomlin.

In that dream, Pop sang the exact tune of the second verse. Here are the lyrics of that verse:

I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives

And I will walk with You
Knowing You'll
see me through
And sing the songs You give

My father was singing in my dream about our Savior, that Jesus will walk with me as He walks with my father, that I can know Jesus will see me through as He did for my father. Though I sing here as I await Heaven, one day I will sing as my father does to our Savior in Heaven. Praise the Lord!

April 22, 2013

...But Pop is With Me

Part of a dream I had last night:

Pop is with me in the van. We are taking backroads to get somewhere. There is a lot of construction, which makes finding roads difficult. And we have to dodge some of the equipment. We find a secluded intersection in the country. I'm not sure where I am, but Pop is with me.

June 3, 2013

With Dad

Part of a dream I had last night:

I don't recall much of my dream besides being at a house that is Mom & Dad's. ... Dad was at the table. I am considering taking a nap. ... Dad says he is, too, as he goes into a hallway bathroom to fix a shower rod. We both wear only sweatpants. I go help him with the shower rod by holding it up as it slides down when he works on it.

I am similar to Dad and it is good to be with him.

July 7, 2013

Coffee Maker

Part of a dream I had last night:

I am trying to get a coffee maker to work, but the plug doesn't fit in the wall at Mom and Dad's. My late father tells me to come with him to help me get it to work. We walk to what seems like a rest area snack breezeway enclosed in glass doors. He directs me to the outlets and the coffee maker works!

It seems like a little thing, but I get to see him and he helps me.

December 21, 2013

Miss Seeing You

I was able to grasp one part of my dream before the rest slipped from memory:

I was exiting a house from its front porch. I heard a voice to my right. I looked and through evergreen trees, I could see Dad approaching the house. I ran through the trees towards him. As he saw me, he held his arms out. I held my arms up. We embraced. He was taller and younger and I was shorter and younger. I said tearfully, but smiling, "I miss seeing you." He said, "I miss seeing you, too."

January 13, 2014

No Tears

It's been awhile, but today I went to my father's grave. I miss him, but there are no tears. The Lord, time and knowing that Dad is in a place where there are no more tears all bring peace.

September 22, 2014

I Miss You

I went for a haircut today at the usual place. And as my tradition goes, I went to a surplus outlet store to poke around. As I exited the store, I had this feeling of loss and I missed you. I then remembered how you got your hair cut at the same barber shop and you also enjoyed the surplus outlet store where I poked around. I decided to drive by the old house (We have sold yours and Mom's house since your passing). It still looks the same. So many good memories were there. I thought to myself what life was like 30 years ago when I was a boy living there. How simple life was! As I ventured back onto the highway and called my dear bride, I told her that I was missing you. As tears came to my eyes, she said she wished she could give me a hug. The grief doesn't totally go away. I miss you, Dad. There's so much that has happened -- so much I want to share with you.

September 25, 2015

The Bowl

I had a dream that one of the glass bowls -- that I frequently eat breakfast from -- broke. It upset me as they were from Mom and Pop's. Perhaps it represents transition or loss. Maybe it's a pointer back to Dad. He ate from those bowls.

October 14, 2015


This past weekend, we watched the Superman movie. In one scene, Superman watches a hologram of his deceased father. He reaches out to hug his father only for the image to disappear. I mentioned to the family, "I wish I could hug my Dad again." Avery would tell Mom-Mom who shared how he shared that with her and echoing she wished the same.

July 20, 2016


Just over a month ago (June 13, 2016) as I walked on the beach, I took pictures. Two of them were of my shadow. I've gotten in the habit of wearing a hat in the sun these days. When I looked at my shadow, it was as if I was seeing a shadow of Dad. I posted the pictures and wrote online, "In my shadow, I cannot help but see my Dad."

James "Jamie" Arthur JohnsonDadJames "Jamie" Arthur Johnson
James "Jamie" Arthur Johnson (Me)
Me again

During these days, I only see you in dreams, in memories, in pictures and in shadows. Yet, at times, I also see you in me, in some of my mannerisms, words and ways. Yet, I look forward to a day when I can see you.

August 9, 2016


In my dream: Dad, we were playing football in the yard with some youth. They were impressed at my passes and kicks, but when you passed it, it went further than any passes -- across several yards -- hitting a utility pole in the distance. Later, you and I were sitting together and you mentioned your arm hurting. I asked if you took Lipitor, knowing how it can affect musculature. You said you didn't want to talk about it. And I came to the realization that you no longer have to worry about it.

September 24, 2016

How the Father Sees the Son

My earthly father saw the potential in me and the best in me and it shapes who I am. Yet, there are some days where I don't feel like I am that man he saw. However, that is how my father saw me. How does God see you? How does God see His Son? Are you in Christ? Read more at my sermonette How the Father Sees the Son.

October 5, 2016

May 11, 2020

My father departed this world 10 years ago. I remember some of the last words I said to him: "I'll see you at the wedding feast of the Lamb." His response was a gleam in his eye followed by, "Yeah boy!" and a smile. I love you, Dad.

April 1, 2021

March 4, 2022

I had a dream within a dream. I was in a dream looking at a picture of family visiting Dad as he lay in bed. I sat in a chair at his bedside.. He was alive. He removed the covers and stood up. And I stood up and hugged him. I then saw it as a picture and thought, "Awwww" -- a bittersweet feeling.