Mother posts heartbreaking YouTube video before death
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - It's a sad Christmas for two Cape Coral children who lost their mother to a rare heart condition a week ago. But her memory and message live on through a YouTube video she recorded two months before she died.
In a four-minute YouTube video, posted in October, Jennifer Johnson, 30, doesn't say a word but yet says so much.
Using flashcards she tells a story about the heart condition that would take her life two months later, a week before Christmas.
Choking back tears, the 30-year-old mother describes her fear of leaving her two young kids behind calling them her "heartbeats" while making the gesture of a beating heart.
"She had a very big heart," said her husband Robert Johnson.
Johnson proposed to Jennifer last Valentine's Day when she was five months pregnant. The next day, a routine check up revealed she had Hyperthropic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy, where your heart hardens restricting blood flow.
"She was a fighter," said Johnson. "So she was ready to tackle this head on."
Jennifer describes the moment she learned of her condition saying through the flash cards and fighting back tears: "I am too young. I just had 2 beautiful children. Why me?"
Johnson found inspiration from a viral YouTube video posted by Ben Breedlove, 18, who died last Christmas. Breedlove had the same heart condition and recorded a flash card story a week before his death. The video has more than 7 million views online.
"She was very inspired by his story," said Johnson. "And it touched her."
Two months ago Jennifer set up a camera in her apartment bedroom and told her story.
"I think it's more powerful than her actually speaking," said Johnson.
Her emotions are raw as she writes about a series of "bumps in the road" - including having a pacemaker installed and the need for open heart surgery.
"Wow!," she writes holding back tears. "Really?!?"
In the video, she asks for money to help with her care, including the need for serious dental work.She ends smiling, optimistic she would be "fixed" so she could love and care for her other heartbeats.
Jennifer died on Dec. 17 after complications from open heart surgery. It was a week before Christmas Eve.
"I miss her," said Johnson, crying.
In her online blog titled "A heart worth saving," Jennifer wrote on Oct. 29: "I wish it was easier, but nothing worth anything in life is easy. I continue to press on and will continue to do so. My goal is to be in and out of open heart surgery before Christmas. We shall see!"
"What was the last thing she said to you?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"I want to go home," said Johnson.
Johnson now has to raise their 3-year-old daughter Micayla and their 18-month-old son Malykai on his own.
He says he is staying strong for his kids, finding strength from Jennifer and hoping her story can help others.
"Heart disease is serious," said Johnson. "This could be a message to a lot of other people to get your heart checked."
Johnson's family believed Jennifer could survive and described her as a fighter. She used to compete in roller derbies and was shot in the back of the head by a crook 10 years ago and survived.
The family has set up a fund to help with raising her two kids.
Anyone who wants to send a monetary donation (cash or check) can send it to:
Eileen Kordecki (Executor)
c/o Mikayla & Malykai Johnson Trust Fund
4624 SW 25th Ct.
Cape Coral, FL 33914
Checks can be made payable to Eileen Kordecki (Executor)