It was early August of 2015 when I purchased my first Giving Key. I was shopping in the downtown area of Springfield, MO, when I came across one of my favorite boutiques called 5 Pound Apparel.
The back of the store held the jewelry section, where Giving Keys of different colors and lengths were displayed. A longer gold chain and key caught my eye. The word was Faith.
A few days later, my serious boyfriend broke up with me. I felt so lost and hurt. And I know it's so cliche, but my key was a simple reminder that God had a plan for me even if I didn't understand. One thing that nobody could ever take from me was my faith.
I wore my key every day. Sometimes under my clothing if it didn't match my outfit. It easily became my favorite accessory.
Mid October of that year, I found myself in the same section of 5 Pound Apparel. Two keys caught my eye. A gold bracelet that said Believe and a copper chain-like necklace that read Courage. On impulse, I bought them right there. I knew I didn't need them, but I couldn't help myself. Something was drawing me in.
February of 2016, I walked by the window of the store and a shiny silver necklace engraved with Strength jumped out at me.
This necklace became my everyday necklace. And little did I know that a month later by Dad would be diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer.
Dad was diagnosed on March 8, 2016. He was scheduled to meet with doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on the 13th. The night before his departure, I placed the key engraved with Courage into his wallet with a note that quoted what he had told me my entire life, "Johnson's aren't quitters."
I gave my Mom the bracelet that said Believe.
My Dad passed away February 15, 2017.
The Courage chain is still in his wallet.
Mom still wears her bracelet. And every day when I look down, I am reminded that I am strong.
Dad, you're still the most courageous man I have ever known. I'll see you again someday. I love you. I miss you.