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NieNie Lovers: Stephanie Nielson's Marriage Before the Crash

Stopping By the NieNie Dialogues

This Journal Entry - The NieNie Dialogues: New Connections in a Digital World gives you the background of the Nielson family story . .. if you don’t know it.

It’s about seven months since the plane crash, and Stephanie Nielson is on my mind. Simply stated, Stephanie Nielson is alive.

Actually, I’m a little emotional now …more than a little … thinking about the fragility of life.

Life Giveth and then Taketh Away

I’ve gone back to the NieNie Dialogues, intrigued with their powerful marriage. So much is written about why marriages fail; how couples become bored with each other; how he doesn’t measure up to expectations and neither does she.

Out of nowhere, the Internet brings us a story, not only of extraordinary bravery, suffering and resilience, but also a great love affair between Mr. and Mrs. Nielson.

What’s intrigued me about this story from the first day, is that Stephanie managed to have four young children, her sense of humor and also great passion for her husband.

While I’m very inspired by the loving support of Stephanie Nielson’s family and her unbelievable fortitude about living, I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of the love story, that’s the bedrock of Stephanie Nielson’s recovery and journey to her newly old self.

Here’s a few glimpses of life in the Nielson household before the crash:

Monday, May 19, 2008: Treasure


Mr. Nielson recently got home from a business trip to San Fransisco.
When the car pulled in the garage 4 happy little children ran out to greet the families breadwinner. Daddy was home. I was in the kitchen, preparing dinner. Perfect timing.
Mr. Nielson bounded through the door with the children practically stuck to his body.
In his hands were a dozen deep red roses wrapped in newspaper.
It was a sweet welcome home gift.
We pondered over the weekend what pulls our time. Work, yoga, airplanes,travel, blogging, and school. It was another vivid reminder that what matters most is what is non of the above, but rather what abides with us in our humble home.
Our Marriage + Our Children = Treasure.
Claire, Jane Bronwyn, Oliver and of course our little critter the gigs Nicholas.
Our marriage matters most, and our church activity.
With the right perspective, life is actually very wonderful. Really it is.
I saw a funny bumper sticker yesterday on a beat-up jalopy. It read:
“Don’t be fooled by my car, my treasure is really in heaven.”
Is my treasure in heaven? I believe it is, and I believe my home is heaven on earth.

 A Whole Lot of Sensual Pleasure

When the NYTimes wrote about the NieNie Dialogues after the plane crash, it was clear that there was genuine heat between these two people.

Mrs. Nielson openly admired Mr. Nielson’s body on her blog.

I think it’s safe to say that their four children were born in deep love and lust, and not a sense of wifely obligation. This is way “it” should be … the sex thing. Mrs. Nielson was clearly not “put out” over the idea of any obligations in the matrimonial bed.

This next post was written by Mrs. Nielson, just weeks before her life was turned upside down.

Wed. May 21, 2008: This is why Mr. Nielson is going to fly airplanes

We all jumped in the car prepared for a fun family outing.
That “Fun” turned into Gigs’ own personal back seat Hallelujah chorus.
He screamed about the time we got onto the 202 and
didn’t stop until we reached our destination.
All I could think about was this summer.
Summer. Vacations. Cars. (dun dun dunnnn)
Oh boy.
Then Mr. Nielson reminded me as we sunk our teeth into some delectable pizza from
LGO that he was for that very reason getting his pilots license.

It was true! Utah would only be a 2 hour trip than a 9 hour trip plus good quality screaming.

Strap some headphones on the kids, and we will be in Utah before you know it.
I’m going to have a bitchin’ summer.
(did anyone write that in your yearbook?)


Reading new articles about the crash, it seems that Mr. Nielson was flying the plane in which the flight instructor Doug Kinneard died. Mrs. Nielson gave Mr. Nielson the flying lessons as a birthday gift. He always wanted to fly.

I found this very touching news feature from Oct. 26, 2008, on Shephanie and her sisters, and how sister Page, 11 years older, climbs into the hospital bed with Stephanie and holds her.

The prognosis for Christian (Mr. Nielson) is more optimistic than for Stephanie. His body was burned 35 percent; hers 83 percent. It is a true miracle that Stephanie Nielson is still alive.

Touch is another powerful, healing, redemptive Pleasure in life. And sister Page makes certain that Stephanie, remaining heavily sedated, gets plenty of touch and holding.

The Power of Unions

After fiery plane crash, a sister is held even closer.

My purpose is not to sober us all up today. My desire is to celebrate the Pleasure of love and sensuality, of passion and caring. Life is very fragile … a message that permeates this essay …not because I say so … but because of the people who live on in these words.

They are the ones speaking to you. I am only the secretary.

I want to add that marriage and relationships are not easy. I know that, having lived through a few. It is so easy to dismiss Stephanie Nielson and SaraLeeAnn as the “lucky ones” with love notes pasted on their walls.

For certain there are married couples and life partners who never should have gotten together in the first place. And many men never write more than five words at a time. And they hog the remote control. And… and … and …

Plentiful Excuses

I can’t help but wonder, though, how many of us fail to nurture our marriages for … “lack of time” … that long To Do list that seems to dominate the lives of modern women.

These two couples found the time and actually “practiced loving” every day. Has it come naturally every moment?

I seriously doubt it.

Mr. and Mrs. Nielson in the late spring before the plane crashIn fact, I’ve often wondered if “practice makes perfect” on this topic. If one’s heart and mind are in a truly generous place; if we’re not checking off demerits on the “Honey Do” list; if the grass isn’t always greener on the other side . .  .in someone else’s bedroom … well, where would we be then?

We don’t live in a culture that inspires us to look for our partner’s good points. Imagine that! With love, Anne

The original post:

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