April 7, 2011

April 5, 2011

Reviving a Broken Heart


Lance Cpl. Raymon L.A. Johnson

As you can see, the Exclusive Remedies Studio news blog has not been updated recently. I apologize if you have been trying to keep up with our latest endeavors but I assure you that it was intentional. Due to a series of events that have occurred in my personal life, for the past few months I did not feel that there has been any good news to share. As the author of this blog and co-owner of Exclusive Remedies Studio, I feel inclined to share my personal story of illness, loss and sacrafice. Before I share this story I would ask that you would not prejudge the main topic discussed. Everyone has their own opinion towards war, but I am sure deep down inside we all wish conflicts between nations did not occur.

I remember that beautiful day on October 13, 2010 like it was yesterday. I travel quite frequently so if I am not in my office making calls, I'm running errands, filming, or meeting with prospective and current clients. Well, this day I just happened to be taking some "me time" and starting my day a little later. My father's sister (Jean) had been battling breast cancer for nearly two years. Though she had a successful mastectomy before, the cancer had now spread to her brain causing a brain tumor. She had the tumor removed back in February 2010 but there it was eight months later and it had grown back. She was now preparing to go into her second procedure. The doctors forewarned us that if they removed it again and the tumor comes back, there would be nothing else they could do for her. 

It was 1:21pm and my father was calling. He asked me if I was sitting down. I knew instantly that something was wrong. It was either my aunt Gwen (my mom's twin sister) who had surgery just two days prior, or my aunt Jean. I took a deep breath and heard him breakdown into tears as he said, "Raymon was killed today."

"WHAT? Raymon? No no no no no no no please tell me you're lying. Not Raymon. He just left for Afghanistan a few weeks ago. He just got there!" I cried. We were both crying hysterically. Not my baby cousin. Oh my gosh - my poor aunt Gwen and uncle Greg - and Ramon! (his twin brother) I thought. Aunt Gwen just had surgery, how is she supposed to heal properly under this kind of stress? Raymon was a good young man who loved his family. He wasn't involved in illegal drugs and had just turned twenty-two in August. Reality slapped me in the face; this moment was real.

I come from a military family. Raymon's twin brother (Ramon) is in the National Guard. His father served in the Army,  along with my uncle who retired Lt. Colonel, and my cousin Wendy who is currently a Captain. My father served as a Captain in the Marine Corps. Raymon had always wanted to follow in his footsteps. Despite the pleas from family members for him to finish college first, he insisted that he wanted to go enlisted. He couldn't wait to become Marine. We had never lost a family member to war. So when we received the news my immediate family dropped everything and rushed to their aide. Our hearts were broken...shattered, and wishing the void wasn't filled with so much pain.

I confess, I am a workaholic. Since the launch of our company my partner and I have been pounding the pavement to get everything up and running, day in and day out. Anyone who has ever had the experience of starting a company from the ground up understands the long hours, financial sacrifices and dedication one must have. Unfortunately for years, I have put my personal pursuit of a fulfilling career before my family. The last time I spoke to Raymon, he asked me if I would come visit him before he deployed. He would only be home for two weeks and he really wanted to see me. I simply told him I would try. As I type this (in tears) I wish I had tried harder. At the time I was working on a feature film, two haunted attractions, and had just started producing a motivational audio cd for one of our clients.  

When my aunt Gwen called asking if I wanted to go with her to see him off at Camp Lejeune I still refused to tear myself away from my work. Now there I was, sitting in my living room in disbelief that my little cousin had stepped on an IED during combat operations and was now dead. He was only twenty-two. He is seated to the far left in the photograph below. I miss him so much. We was such a fun person to be around.


In no way am I writing to say that I am in support of the war on terror; however, I am in support and grateful for the men and women who have served our country bravely. I finally understand the saying "freedom isn't free." Countries have been at war for centuries and millions of lives have been lost to grant freedom to so many who don't truly understand the sacrifice. So though you may not be in support of the war, please respect our US Armed Forces. When they pledge their allegiance to serve in the military, it is no longer a choice - it is their duty.  Soldiers put their lives on the line everyday. The following link will direct you to other fallen heroes

 Patriot Guards came to honor Raymon's life and show appreciation for
his service to our country. I had no idea such an organization even existed.
We couldn't thank them enough.  http://www.patriotguard.org/
I found this photo on the Internet and intentionally wanted
to share this specific image with you. If you have any compassion
in your heart, please be sure to say "thank you" to the men and
women who serve our country.  Her grief represents what we experienced. 

Some may consider this "unprofessional" to share on a company's website. However, this war affects each and every one of us. We are human. This war affects our livelihood, our businesses, the economy, and the families of the soldiers who are on the front lines serving this nation. My aunt and uncle lost their son, his siblings lost a brother, our country lost a heroe, and I gained a greater appreciation for spending time with those who matter most - family. Two days before my cousin's funeral, my mother was re-diagnosed with colon cancer after being in remission for over ten years. I have spent four months by her side along with my two sisters and mourning father. We almost lost her, but I am glad to say she is halfway through her chemotherapy treatments. My aunt Jean had a successful surgery, however the tumor returned for a third time and the doctors have told us that only time will tell her fate. 

Ramon (left) and Raymon (right) walking with  their niece.
This would be the last time she would see her uncle alive. 


In two weeks I will finally take the trip to Camp Lejeune to welcome home the troops from the 1st battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Regiment, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Though our tears will be full of sadness, we look forward to showing gratitude to those who will return home to their families.

Time is the one thing you can never get back. Please remember, business is important - but FAMILY it what truly matters. 
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