endless HOPE…

endless HOPE…


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#24 – Get me through this week a.k.a. Mothers Day/Birthday Double-Whammy Week

Welcome! If this is your first visit to endlesshope.ca, you may want to read Our Story, under the Menu, which has the CBC interview.

Wow it’s been a loooooong time…let’s see, yes one year…yep loooong time. How do I do this again?? Haha. I’ve almost started a dozen times. So many things have gone through my head that I thought “Ooo, gotta remember to write about that…”

Journal Entry May 17, 2017 – At one point I promised to write about Mothers’ Day 2012, after losing our middle son, Brandon, in Sept 2011. Today is the day for that. Today is also the day he was born, 21 years ago. So, may I say, “What a week!?!” As much as a person (like me, for example) may try to ignore or downplay a week like this, or just really try not to get dramatic about it, sometimes you just can’t help how you feel. That’s just gotta be ok. It is what it is.

Thought #1 – Today Woulda Been Brandon’s 21st Birthday

  • I know some could get technical that it’s not his 21st birthday, as he left us all at age 15, but it is technically 21 years since he was born, so I can celebrate that! I will say that I’ve been cautious, trying to avoid any “shoulda, woulda, coulda” and “what if” thinking, ever since his passing. It seems unproductive to let myself go down the path of thinking:
    “He would have been 21 today”
    “What if he was still with us, what would he be doing?”
    And it’s too heartbreaking to wonder:
    “Who would he be dating or marrying right about now, like his older brother did by this age?”
    “What kind of job or schooling would he be in?”
    And imagining his life is kind of fun, but in the end depressing when I realize it’s not to be:
    “Where would he celebrate tonight for his 21st?”
    “Which friends would he still be closest with?”
    And in general:
    “How would our family’s lives be different if he never left?”
    “What would we each be doing, where would we live?”
    And for that matter:
    “If only x maybe this wouldn’t have happened, or we should have known x, or we could have tried x.”

 

  • But we didn’t know, and as the head of Fraser Health Authority said to me in those darkest days of Sept 2011, “If the doctor didn’t catch it, how can you expect that you would have? You simply can’t go there”. It was atypical, he didn’t have all the symptoms, it all happened so fast, it’s nobody’s fault (including the doctor’s), and it is done. We found him passed in his bed, and we didn’t have any clue what from for over 24hrs. Prelim tests came back positive for Meningitis, final tests were inconclusive, best diagnosis Meningitis. Case closed, and that has to be ok. No shoulda, woulda, coulda, ifs, ands, or buts – no blame to anyone. Including me. Can’t take it on. Not productive.

 

Thought #2 – That First Tough Mothers Day Week 2012

  • Friday May 11, 2012 – The day even my banking portfolio confirmed he was gone. Brandon’s education savings fund had been closed a few months before and shared out to those of his older brother & younger sister….but that account continued to sit at zero on my profile. Until that day. For some reason when I opened my banking and saw it gone, it just hit me really hard, like wow, even my banking portfolio confirms he’s no longer around. Deleted. Now, fair enough, that’s just what happens on the banking app, but it really hit me, nonetheless.  That night I emailed myself this very journal entry:
    • Fri May 11, the day my portfolio confirmed I only have 2 kids…the splitting of his RESP between the other 2 is complete, so it has collapsed, disappeared off my list of accounts…just as suddenly as he did…  Now it’s leading up to this weekend…Sun May 13, will be the 19th Bday of the little girl that inspired me to want to be a mother way back then…and the milestone of the “1st” Mothers Day…my heart truly aches, almost dreading the day & wishing it would just maybe pass unnoticed…the loss feels too great to be able to celebrate what I do have.  Next year should be better… And this next week…Thu May 17, will be a very busy day, I’ll be fussing to get all ready for a big conference call at work…have to give my feedback online for my job performance for this year so far……and then there’s the matter of Brandon’s sweet 16 birthday party (?) that night…we’re all stuck to know what to do with it…it’s creeping closer, can’t go unnoticed, we want to get together to do something…but it’s still up in the air…hard for everyone to face the pain…his friends & family alike…                      Throwing it all up in to your hands Lord…only place for it.

(below is how those days actually played out)

  • Sunday May 13, 2012 – Mothers Day in Canada. Fell on the birthday of our god-daughter we were really close with when we lived back in Kamloops – so the date always brings a smile. This day, however, was extremely torturous and I couldn’t control it, couldn’t talk myself down from it. I knew in my mind that I had 2 wonderful children and my husband to celebrate the day with, and they would be ready to shower me with love, much spoiling, and was grateful we could have a wonderful time together. I knew that I could call my mom and wish my mother-in-law a Happy Mothers Day, and that I was so blessed to still have them around in my life, as many other people didn’t.  BUT even with all that, all my soul could compute was LOSS. Although I loved my precious 2 kids, and would never want them to think they weren’t enough, I was just suffering inside.  It was totally irrational, but I literally felt like Motherhood had been entirely stripped from me because I no longer had 3 kids (those were the words going through my head…I remember vividly). We went to church, I cried, got hugged, got comforted, and worried my kids were thinking they weren’t enough. We went for brunch with dear friends, a mom and her boys that are like brothers to our kids. I remember it was soooo nice, and so soothing, seeing all their sweet faces, and hearing the laughter of these dear ones that were like my own sons. Brandon was still missing though, and everyone knew it. They were no strangers to grief, having lost the dad in their family a few short years before. We tried to have some fun, and did accomplish that, and many warm hugs were shared around. BUT my grief was still so overwhelming I’m sure I was a damp blanket on the outing, and was evoking much pity no matter how much I tried not to. My dear friend suggested that her and I steal away afterward to get our nails done. I’m sure she could see my pain, and that I needed to hide it away from my family for a bit, to process and let it out. I sure did. So thankful for all my sweet family and friends above that carried me through that day.

 

  • Thursday May 17, 2012 – Meanwhile I had been pulling together an event.  And WOW, this was a first, a birthday party for Brandon, that he wouldn’t be showing up for. In all our minds this “shoulda” been his 16th birthday. It was surreal that he wasn’t there, wasn’t going to be getting his drivers license the next day, and wasn’t going to be moving forward with all of his plans. His friends and family didn’t know what to do, but to get together for his birthday. There were friends he had known for years, some since kindergarten, that had come every year for things like swimming, hot dogs, cupcakes, pizza, silly games, soccer, sleepovers, you name it. So we invited them all. Many who we hadn’t seen for 8 months since his memorial, and some who had made it a weekly habit of coming home for lunch to hang out at our place (so awesome, thanks boys <3).  There were about 30+ friends & family, pictures of Brandon spread all over the table, an amazingly life-like huge 2’x3′ sketch of him made by his friend, picture boards from his memorial displayed in the band sound room downstairs, and in his bedroom we set his soccer gear, and some  clothes that his friends were welcome to dig through and/or take as a keep sake.  Then we just sat around our large great-room, each sharing a good memory of Brandon. We laughed, we cried, we choked up and couldn’t finish some of our stories. It was hard, but precious, and important to all of our grief processes I’m sure. I really felt like we all needed that chance to open that wound of loss, talk about him a bit, feel the emotions, realize we could survive feeling them, remember some happy memories, and in turn take another step toward healing.

So what’s my point? Not sure, other than to say, sometimes there are tough days, tough weeks, tough moments. You are not alone if you’ve felt or related to anything above. If you can’t relate, that’s ok too, and it’s enough to just be aware of others that may be experiencing tough times. (Thanks N. for being there with a tissue and a nice squishy hug during my unexpected short meltdown at work today – I really thought the unexpected one I had last night at home and the “expected” one I had this morning were going to be the extent of my emotional reactions).   I’m really not looking for pity, just looking to share openly, as it helps my process, especially if it helps someone else who is grieving to feel they are not alone, know they are not crazy, and know they are not going to always feel as bad as they may now.

At some points this past week I have thought to myself, “Just get me through this week, and I’ll be ok”.  I’m happy to report, I’m almost through this day – which should be the end of this day-after-day of triggers – and I’m smilin…and I’m makin it…and so can you. <3

Please…face your grief, take healthy steps forward, talk about it, it will be ok, you won’t actually implode or explode…you may cry, which is good, then you’ll likely take a deep breath, feel more clear again, so keep moving forward step by step, and keep breathing in and out.

There really is endless HOPE…pass it on…
<3
Janine

p.s.  Love you Bran #21yrs

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#23 – Sharing Hope

Welcome to Endless Hope…..
Well here went another 6 months, almost, since writing anything.  Thought I’d just quickly share some thoughts I had replied with to a dear friend tonight. She’s walking through tragedy and tough times with close friends and wrote asking what people did that was helpful for me during our toughest times.
As I just took a quick read of my previous post, there are a lot of similar things mentioned actually….but maybe it’s meant-to-be to share it again.  Different people are now in this place, that weren’t six months ago.
So here was my reply:
I didnt know what i even needed, but great friends fed me (literally), cleaned the bathroom, arranged 3 weeks worth of meals 2-3 times a day…stuck around so we werent alone…listened rather than talked…rode the waves of emotions good & bad without judgement or trying to point out silver lining or giving pat answers. They cried too, letting me know this was impacting them too…which was precious to me…showing their love for my loved one.  They let me talk, even when it was likely not making sense, which allowed me to process my thoughts outloud…part of my grief healing early on…part of making it real, as it was so shocking.

Just be around and put your arms around them, and put your hands to work where you see a need.

My heart breaks 💔 for you and for your friends.  You will make it…but you must go through this dark valley on the way….stick together. ❤

Thanks for letting/asking me to share…driving home tonight it occured to me…”will i ever go there again…talk about or write about it…or shall I hide it away forever now?”  thanks for opening me back up ❤💔❤❤❤

Hugs to you, thinkin of you in your own grief…

J
Sometimes it’s easier to try and ignore tough things i find…but facing it head on from time to time in order to share hope…now that’s really a much better feeling.  A few tears were shed tonight, that hadn’t been for a while, but it’s worth it if any of this helps someone else.
With Endless Hope,
❤ Janine Kurtz


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#22 – Hope Re-Focused

If this is your first visit to Endless Hope, you may want to read Our Story first…either way…welcome to the journey as there is endless hope ❤

This past year has gone so very quickly! I’ve not written for almost a year…have had it in my mind all along..thinking oh man its been a month, 6 mos, almost a year…i have to write before it is a full year!!!

So here goes, starting with few lines typed through my phone….just gotta start somewhere. How can a person avoid it any longer, especially when you’re sitting in your friend’s living room that she’s converted into what she calls the Hope Room….sipping tea 🍵 out of a cup that says Hope on the front….then as you drink reveals more words inside that pierce your heart…”The Best Is Yet To Be”…

So many things on my mind and memory, and on little stashed notes and to do lists…things I’ve not wanted to forget to write about that relate to my grief process. And yet so many great things that have happened this year that certainly can’t go without mention…as life is certainly not all grief…so many wonderful blessings and things to be grateful for…from the marriage of our wonderful son and his amazing bride, to excitement of first job for our daughter and new role at work for me, to beautiful times with my sweet husband, like him taking me to a marriage conference. So many great times and much to be thankful for and to celebrate.

Nov 11/15 – As I awoke this Remembrance Day, I found myself awash with the same thoughts that swirled through my mind the evening before, and had stayed with me until my mind had finally given way to sleep. Last night I attended an “exclusive”, classy event, in a super hip location…definitely a rose amongst thorns spot, downtown eastside Vancouver.  A large group was in attendance as we honoured and celebrated a dynamic, inspiring man…and before I left, the party evolved with some great dance moves on the floor by some pretty cool cats.  Earlier there had been heartwarming speeches by close friends and family that ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in the house…as you see, the man of the evening, the guest of honour, was with us…but only in spirit last night.  A dedicated young husband and father, taken from us all much too soon, was being fondly remembered and celebrated, and yet dearly missed.  Laughter and a feeling of pride in his accomplishments washed over the crowd as hundreds of photos and video clips looped on the big screens during the mix and mingle event…mixed with intermittent tears at the realization and overwhelm of the loss of a fun-loving, true gentleman.

People say the weirdest things sometimes to others during grief: “It was their time”; “Oh don’t cry, it’s supposed to be a celebration of life”…and other things I’m sure you could list off as having annoyed you too!  I loved how this man’s twin sister boldly clarified in her speech that no it WASN’T his time…that he could have had so much more life ahead of him.  I thought to myself, good for you! Crush those stupid clichés before someone unwittingly says it out loud to you!  People don’t mean to be insensitive, but it’s really hard to know what each other really need to hear in these tough moments, and often others just aren’t able to be in tune.

Any phrase that starts with “well at least they…” is definitely in danger of sounding insensitive.  Even if it’s a 97 year old grandma, to say at least they lived a long life, is not often a help to a family member that was really close and enjoying the ongoing positive input of that person in their life…loss is still loss…no matter the age.  The older I get, the more I realize how my perception of “old” changes.  My parents seemed “old” of course when I was a kid, but looking back they were only mid-thirties…and now I would love to rewind a bit and be that age.  And really, I feel no different in my head than when I was 16, just  like some gals I met in their 90’s that have been buddies since teens and still giggle and carry on and say they are the same goofy girls in their minds, nothing’s changed.

When tragedy strikes it’s more dangerous than ever to say weird little clichés, and I’m sure we all wriggle uncomfortably, not knowing what to say or how to help.  Just my opinion, but I think the “well at least they…” and “it was their time” comments should be stifled and left for just the immediate family’s utterance, should they feel it at the moment.  It just seems to me that too often these comments come out a bit flippantly in an effort to brighten the situation or find a silver lining maybe, by someone who is obviously not too immensely crushed by it all.

People don’t say these things, typically, the younger a person is…it’s not said of infants or children, and luckily I don’t think anyone said the like to me about our 15 year old son (lucky for them – I have a nasty dropkick always ready on standby).  I know that everyone ends up having an amount of time that was the sum total of their life lived, and in hind sight their death was the end of “their time” here….but please, let’s not rub that in at the moment of loss, not helpful.

Everyone is different as to what equals comfort in those hard times, and what words may land well on me may not on you, but that is the point…we all grieve differently and that’s ok, so anytime we can clue each other in on what we need during our grief is probably a wise thing.  For me the beautiful moments and most touching words were the phone calls or in person visits where the friend had little to say, and what they did say was not a cliché, but rather heartfelt emotion.  Often it was “I don’t know what to say, I’m just so sorry”, followed by another hug and then their tears mixing with mine.  Precious friends were willing to just sit with me, force feed me lovingly, ride the waves of emotions that came and went, and didn’t seem compelled to have to have all the answers or talk for the sake of hearing their own voice.  There were compassionate souls that just did practical things, like clean the bathroom, and stick around to ensure we literally stayed alive in those early weeks that were extremely dark, when I felt so lost and it all seemed completely surreal.

Some will need to hear you say “You will make it, things will be ok in time”, others will cringe when they hear “it’s gonna be ok”.  I’m not sure if it is the closeness or just being really in tune with people that will help you know what to say & not say, but maybe just being there and finding out where they are at is the best starting point, then lovingly and carefully weighing any words that must be said.

For me it continues to be most meaningful to know that others are affected by my loss, that my son is not forgotten, and that his life and loss of life impacts people that cared about him and us.  To not be alone  in grief is a thing of beauty to me, and to see the emotion of others joined with my own, even 4 years later, is precious to my mother’s heart.  I don’t know how or why that works, but it does.

Let us take the pain of our past, the compassion for others, and the glimpse of better things coming in the future, and then take the time & effort to instil a sense of hope in others…not with plastic clichés, but with genuine shared emotion and care.

I was reminded tonight by my friend with the Hope teacups, that we all seem to have been placed where we are for a purpose,  with a circle of people around us that only we can impact…let it be with endless Hope.

With hope re-focused,

<3 janine


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#21 – Learn to Live Again…Give Again

If this is your first time visiting EndlessHope, you may want to read Our Story and posts 1-20 to catch up on the journey – either way – Welcome, there’s endless hope…

Journal Entry November 14, 2014 – Where to start…or rather where to continue on.  It’s been 6 months since the last post.  Six more months of getting on with the living of life – mostly doing well & thriving – in the back of my mind wondering when, how, and maybe even why, I would should or could continue to write and process through my personal journey.  Tonight is the night.  After 90 minutes of fiddling around tying up loose ends around the house, and knowing I finally have a chunk of time and this on my mind…here I go, with now only an hour to spare.  I’m kind of weird this way (maybe some of you can relate) as it’s like if I don’t have 3-4 full hours and am not sure I can really do this start to finish, pour my heart out, edit and preview, and then publish…I don’t even want to start.  I keep leaving myself reminders to just work on it for “5 minutes”, to just start, knowing it really is about getting “a round tuit” more than anything for me.  Procrastination mixed with Perfectionism?  Hmm, not sure.  But did ask a friend to say a little prayer for me tonight to get motivated to at least try again….even if it turns out short and meaningless.  So apparently more proof that prayer does work…’cause I’m typing.   :)

I wander back into this account, find my way, trouble shoot some password issues, etc, etc.   Totally shocked when I get in, to see that in the past 5 calendar months that have had absolutely no new posts, there have still been over a hundred pages read each month.  And in the last 90 days readers from 37 different countries have read over 300 pages.  Again in total amazement that any of this is making its way through some intricate networking web of friends and contacts, and maybe bringing a bit of hope and encouragement to others.  Ok, that’s enough for me.  A little more writing.  So many topics that have built up in my mind and on lists…

90 day reach ending Nov 14 2014

(click image to enlarge)

Where to start…what to write about… there is still so much to work through in those next moments after post #20…good bad ugly and sparkling moments of hope, what about that first mothers day, this new FB app I can’t figure how to remove that haunts me with photos on my phone, deciding whether should put up Brandon’s picture with the other kids in our new little living room, missing my boys – one in Alberta & one in heaven, all the memorabilia I stumbled on while organizing & purging closets 10 days ago, funny family budgeting moment I remembered, amazing Remembrance Day lecture we heard this week, but maybe first…

Friday October 24/14 – Day of the most recent funeral I attended, for Cody Kehler, 17.  Two grade 12’s from the highschool just down our street were killed in a head-on collision while en route to Thanksgiving Dinner.  Girlfriend and boyfriend for a couple of years, soon to graduate.  We didn’t know them personally, but friends of friends – how devastating.  My daughter didn’t tell me about it for a day or so, as my husband and I were just heading out-of-town and wanted to not upset me…I found out too and did the same with her, not wanting to mention to her until I knew I could be around for sure to talk it through.  Several days later I searched for details of any service that might be published…feeling drawn to attend.  The girl Chantal’s was on a Wednesday, and the boy Cody’s on the Friday.  Both were in the afternoon and 50 km away from work, and was unable to make it on the Wednesday, but as Friday morning came I remembered again, wondering if I could make it work to be there and pay my respects.  Things were so busy and yet I felt this tug to go.  Was there going to be a big opportunity to connect with the family, or with some of our kids friends that would be there – how was it that I was going to be able to help spread hope?

By the time I left work, battled traffic, and rounded the parking lot looking for a spot, I worried that I had missed half of it and wondered if I was really supposed to be doing this, or what.  I slipped into the back door and took a seat in an empty section without disturbing anyone.  I listened to the brave people who gave tributes to this handsome young man.  I listened to the minister give a message of inspiration and comfort – Oh how the Mighty have fallen – calling out how Cody lived and loved so mightily. I had gently glanced around the crowd at certain moments wondering, “who am I here for…who needs me to encourage them or meet them with compassion in their grief?”  As I watched what turned out to be a full 15 minute presentation of photos to music…it started to become clearer.  He was such a precious boy, such a cute little baby and adorable toddler, with endless pictures of him and his brother, casual family moments and action shots, displays of his  athletic talents as a teenager, moments of tenderness with family at all ages of his life.  As I watched I got a feel for what he was like, though I didn’t know him, and also felt the gravity of this family’s loss…and then some of his pictures couldn’t help but remind me of my own brown-haired, brown-eyed son.

I found myself crying for Cody and his family, and then I found other tears added as my loss and grieving for our Brandon was being re-opened.  I hadn’t thought I had closed it up, but in fact there was a realization that I had shoved those feelings and facts down deeper than I knew, as it was too much, too much pain, too much to think about sometimes. When the service was over, I looked for maybe that opportunity that I was really there for, to hug the family, to give a kind word, or shed a tear for the young man with a friend who knew him…but that moment didn’t come.  It just didn’t feel right, so I soon weaved my way through the crowd of hundreds, and headed for the car.

During the ride home I asked, “God, what was that all about?  I’m glad I got to take the time to learn about this remarkable young man and pay respect, but no one even knows I was there, so who was I there for?  It would be a waste without me affecting someone right?”  Silently I felt the answer…it was about Cody, and what if it was also about Cody’s life having the chance to affect little ole me?  What if this was the means to open my heart, or just a part that had become guarded and maybe almost closed, but was not completely healed yet…to open my heart back up to process, to share, to find more purpose through this sharing, to offer inspiration to others and in turn be emblazoned with more of a passion for life.  What an amazing legacy of Cody’s Mighty Life – that it would go on to affect another, even after seemingly ending much too soon.  Thank you Cody and Chantal, your lives will continue to make a difference.  To their families, they will never be forgotten by you, nor their friends, but also by many of us that stand with you in loss, grief and yet celebration & amazement of two young lives lived so well.  I feel inspired to again find another level, in which to increasingly learn to really live again…and give again…

…that’s endless hope…it’s found its way back to me…and now I share it with you…pass it on…

<3

Janine Kurtz


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#20 – The Bad Day…part 2

Just discovered Endless Hope?  Read Our Story on  the top menu, and at least posts #7-12, 15 & 19 to catchup…Welcome, there’s lots of hope…

Today is Friday, May 9th, 2014.  Lots on my mind while driving home from work tonight, reviewing the day, projects, tasks, spreadsheets and working out problems in my mind…you know, unwinding.  As I got closer to home though, someone came to mind that I felt I need to try to connect with, just to say I’m thinking of them…that mom that lost her little girl suddenly back in December (posts #13+16).  Don’t have her contact info, but decided will pass a message through a friend of a friend, for when she’s ready to chat.  Right after I thought of her, I realized I’d have about 3 hours of alone time at home…that means it’s probably time to blog again.  I have lots of pieces mostly done…they’ve been sitting here since February, but how to finish each with enough hope to publish and not depress anyone has been the part that has begged me to procrastinate from it all.  We’ll its been a couple hours since I got home, and am now finally getting to this after working through catching up my Facebook account.  My heart is going out to another mom with a sudden loss of a little one almost exactly a year ago.  My heart bursts with joy for yet another mom with a new baby born this week.  I think I know what I need to write about…after sharing my continuation of our tough story from post #19…

(Journal Entry, Tuesday February 4, 2014 – Deep breath and continue typing…)

Tuesday September 20, 2011 (cont’d)

7:15 am – My husband hopped up on the bed beside Brandon and began CPR immediately.  He had taken charge and innately knew what to do.  Our younger daughter, almost 13, came flying out of her room next door, and older son, 16, ran up from his room 2 stories down, both woken by our screams.  What a horrendous way to be awakened, and even more horrendous…was the reason why, once they saw what was happening.  I asked my daughter to please help me find a phone, and she ran off purposefully.  Our son joined his Dad on the bed, on the other side of Brandon, and took over doing CPR on his younger brother.  (oh, the sobs and tears can’t be held back now as I type)

7:17 am – Our daughter brought the phone and I tried frantically to remember how to dial, as all our voices overlapped with screams and pleadings of “No! Brandon!” alternated with crying out to God desperately for help.  When I went to dial, somehow I pressed 7-1-1… thinking that was logical…and I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working!  In this hysterical state my brain was frozen.  I then realized I had forgotten to press TALK.  After hollering at the phone asking why it still wasn’t working, I finally realized my mistake and instead dialed 9-1-1-talk.  I was panicking that this was taking ever so long! (According to the phone records I found later though, it was all within the same minute).    The first operator came on and asked my phone number in case we got disconnected, which I slowly relayed – my brain in shock. She then asked what city I was in and whether I needed Police, Fire or Ambulance.  I replied with “Ambulance”, though my mind was assuming we were much past that.  It was the most sensible choice of the three, and maybe there was something they could do, maybe those paddles would work, like in the movies…I was absolutely desperate for a fix to this.

Random thoughts….I mentioned “first operator” above, because we had a computer/modem phone at the time, so when you dialed 911 it took you to a central emergency operator, then they patch you through to your own city’s emergency dispatch.  Man I remember it feeling like a very painful process suddenly for the $25 bucks or so we were saving per month!

Deeper thoughts….it just broke my heart imagining what the kids were going through.  People can tend to express so much sympathy to the parents, especially the mom, in situations like these – but what about the siblings?  They have probably spent more time together, shared more deeply, and in our family, the kids were all so close in age, they had never even known life without each other.  Heartbreaking as a mom to know you can’t fix it all, and make the pain go away for everyone you love…or yourself for that matter.

Back to current day, it’s the Friday before Mothers Day (I will write about my first one of those without Brandon maybe next post), but I should catch you up on a special opportunity we had at Easter.  My husband and I were invited to be interviewed and share our story of hope at a local Easter Sunday celebration on Hope.  We had been taped in advance for a little promo video and everything, it was a cool opportunity! (I was going to put “neat”, but does anyone really use that word anymore?  Yikes!)  So anyhow, of course we were a little nervous, and of course hopeful that it would go well and we wouldn’t get tongue-tied or too emotional.  During the interview we chatted back and forth about (and I paraphrase) the “dilemma of keeping hope” because life does really suck at times.  So we were able to share how awesome Brandon was, as well as the hard parts of our story and what we went through.  Then we chatted about “the hope of heaven”,  seeing our son again someday, and sharing some of the glimpses we’ve had of the “otherside”, and why we’re so sure he’s there.  And finally we talked about “redemption hope”, which is how we walk out the rest of our life.  We were able to share how we have functioned after loss, how it feels good to give, how we can redeem what is a sad situation.  We shared about opportunities we’ve had to encourage others individually or in big groups.  Also we talked about getting grief counselling, and marriage counselling, which helped us get out of some destructive ruts.

I felt like even by just sharing our journey with the few hundred people that day, that this was part of that “redemption hope”.  We were taking what is obviously bad and untwisting it’s painful grip on us by talking about it and allowing our experience to turn things for the good.  I remember at least 8 people that stopped to talk at some length afterward – openness breeds openness.  They shared something deep about their own experience with me, or how they were moved by our story and the hope.  Some could relate on the side of grief, recent or long ago.  Some asked for practical advice to help someone they know in the fresh dark moments of grief.  Some just thanked me for being so open about our marriage, so they don’t feel alone in their issues and were encouraged to get help too.  Another relayed a story of meeting a kid ,that lived near our family at the time.  He was apparently  baffled at this unexpected feeling of hope/joy in our home he had noticed when they brought us some baking and we invited them in to our “houseful” somewhere in the first couple days after Brandon’s passing.  Wow, that was such an encouragement to me to hear.  We sorrow, but not as those that have no hope.

Hey we ALL got “stuff”!  What is your stuff?  What pain, loss, abuse have you suffered and/or unconsciously continued on to hurt others with?  Can I compassionately say I’m so sorry, and beg you to go back and deal with the root cause of any unhealed wounds suffered or inflicted?  Could I be so bold?  Yes.  You and I have so much to give, so much that can be healed, forgiven, redeemed.  Get on the path to hope!  Begin to turn the tide on your “Bad Day” in your life if you haven’t already.  Reach out for help.  No one is perfect.  Everyone walking down the street always looks so together, hey?  But stop and talk to anyone, and you’ll find out we’re all in this together.  You are not alone.  BUT, your pain can be healed.  You can have purpose.  You can be effective.  You can have hope.

YOU…can help spread this favorite little thing of mine called…endless HOPE…  (psst, pass it on)

 

<3

Janine Kurtz

 

p.s. Wow, I’m overcome with emotion…full-on sobbing tears…not sadness though…I think it’s gratefulness…thankfulness to feel that purpose surging strong within in me yet again.  And……publish


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#19 – The Bad Day…part 1

If you have just discovered endless HOPE, you will want to read OUR STORY first on the top tab, then maybe posts #1-18.  Welcome…

Today is Sunday April 13, 2014, exactly a week until Easter Sunday.  Exactly 75 days since I’ve had the courage to hit “publish”…even then only on what was just a status update of sorts…having hit 5500 pages viewed on this blog.  Through February I slowly wrote parts about the beginning of the hardest day, but couldn’t find a way to frame it, end it, or publish it that seemed appropriate or right.  In March things were busy, I wrote nothing and we were away for a few weeks, so I mentally gave myself the month off I guess.  Last week I wondered if this was completely over and just a fad, so gave myself permission to let it go and not feel pressured or obligated to continue…maybe that would be better for everyone anyhow.  Then today…an historic moment…I had about 8 free hours alone, staring me in the face.  I enjoyed a very long, well deserved nap, I have my taxes to do next(nerdy girl here still likes to do on paper herself), and some errands on a list, and, and, and….but felt I needed to pop in here and give it another chance.  Mind blown once again with 1000 more pages read since I posted the last blog end of January.  Ok, maybe there is cause to continue.  This hard day is only going to come out in portions, but feeling compelled to continue – it is part of my process,  and sharing it with others is part of redeeming the great loss of this beautiful life lived on earth.  Begging forgiveness from any family this is too hard for…don’t read it if it hurts too much…that’s ok.

(Journal entry Monday February 3, 2014 – Just going to start typing quick before I think too hard and change my mind…here’s the Tuesday…my most life altering day…)

Tuesday September 20, 2011

6:50am – I was up early, determined to go to work early, so I could come home early and be with Brandon.  My husband Cam and I were both supposed to work today, and he wouldn’t be home until midnight maybe, so I wanted to be around as much as possible.  Brandon had taken a couple of doses of antibiotics by now, so would be on the mend, and he was a big guy of 15, but he was still so sick last night.  I was feeling bad to even have to leave him at home this morning, while the other 2 kids would head out to school and just check on him at lunch.  Well that was how I imagined it would go…  (deep breaths Janine, I can feel the anxiety building so high as I finally have to type these horrid words).

About 7:15 – At some point while I was in the shower, my husband went to check on Brandon.  As I stood there, my big mop of hair still full of shampoo…I heard an awful sound.  It was Cam’s voice, I finally figured out after a split second that seemed like forever, (melting down here mentally, and burning up physically) and it was letting out just a horrid sound.  I did a one-second-rinse to get some suds out of my eyes, hopped out frantically, into my robe and started to dash out of the bathroom to see what was wrong.  It was while I was coming out of our ensuite (my heart is just pounding, and uh-oh, here come the tears) I heard him in the hall screaming out “He’s cold!  He’s cold!”  Everything within me froze as I tried to compute what he meant by that…the wishing inside me thought maybe Brandon was really cold and needed another warm blanket (quietly but frantically typing here trying to keep up with the memories), but no, the logic in my mind knew that the horrible tone in my soul mate’s voice meant something unspeakably worse.  With a frantic look, Cam stepped momentarily into the master bedroom then back out into the hall shouting “Someone call 911”, and darted back into Brandon’s room.  I was not far behind him now as I ran the few steps to the threshold of Brandon’s bedroom door to see what the emergency was.  As I caught a glimpse of Brandon, I wailed “No!” and dropped hard to my knees – the immensity of the situation hitting me like a ton of bricks.  Cam had tried to wake him, then had rolled him over from his front to his back…and there Brandon laid stiff and lifeless in his bed.  It was the most frightening scene of our lives.

It’s a surreal memory, it seems like a different life, like someone else’s life maybe.  When the reality hits and I relive this moment, it still takes my breath away, and is often accompanied with a frightened gasp.

Stupid little things I remember too, like the rug burns on my knees from dropping to the floor in that moment of revelation – they lasted for days and days.  The red “eyeliner” that developed on one eye within those first couple days…my doctor friend said it was just an inflamed tear duct, from crying so much.  The mirror in the bathroom on the main floor that day…every time I walked in there I couldn’t look at it or it would mock me.  You see, that morning a billion things flooded through my mind, one of them was those homes you visit where they have pictures of their kids on the wall…one kid’s wedding picture, another’s family photo, another’s university grad pic and yet another one…faded by time, from decades ago, frozen in time…the one they lost.  I desperately didn’t want to be that family.  I hated that whole idea and that there was nothing I could do to change it.  If I dared look up at my reflection in the mirror that day, it would mock me at any chance it got.  “You lost your son” it chided,  to the tune of “na na na na na” we used to tease as kids – so I determined not to stare that in the face…not that day.  It would be a reality to come…later though, in its own time, with what will become our outdated photograph…but not right then.  That day it had to be about getting through the moment, the hour, and maybe the day.

Who would have guessed that horrible day would have led me to a most amazing encounter more than 2 years later.  It was February 28, 2014, and I was meeting up with a stranger, not usually a good idea, but a divine appointment I think in this case.  It was a friend of a friend kind of thing.  At Christmas I had agreed to have my name passed along to another mom who had just lost her son.  After a couple of months we were finally going to meet and talk for the first time.  I was anxious, a mix of excited in case this went well, sober at the thought of finding out her story, uneasy in case this was all really awkward or we didn`t connect.  Though I was willing, and hopeful that our meeting would give even a shred of hope, I was feeling very inadequate.  You see, all I had been told was that he’d had a lengthy battle with cancer…and I had no experience with that kind of long-term pain, exhaustion, and grief.  I could only imagine it, and not well, having read of others’ journeys recently.  The loss of a son was our only common ground it seemed, plus a mutual friend.

Thank God for Starbucks – what a great place to meet, feel relaxed and enjoy the company of a stranger/new-friend over a coffee (or grande no-water Chai Latte in my case).  I told my story of loss and the happenings in the early days, and then she recounted their years of ups and downs leading to a very recent loss.  We shared about all our kids that we love so much, how we’ve tried to show love and attention for our whole family while juggling the emotion and attention naturally centered around our sons.  Though we hadn’t known each other from a hole in the ground, we had a common bond, though of pain, and we had instant credibility with each other.  I was able to share about the last couple years of my life and that there is growth again after total devastation.  Sharing examples of times ranging from a bleak survival, to the budding of life, to moments of thriving…moments like this when you can come alongside someone else and say with compassion and conviction “You’re going to make it”.   Our planned two hour maximum coffee meeting, soon melted away to a three hour speed chat!  Without even realizing it was 10pm and we both had to then rush off to other obligations.  We had an absolutely wonderful time together, despite the tragedy of having to meet, and were both exclaiming our thankfulness for the opportunity.  Sharing our most meaningful and raw thoughts and at the same time the glimmers of hope in the midst of heart-wrenching circumstances, was somehow uplifting to both of us.  Someday I just know there will come a time when she will hear of someone who’s child has just received a diagnosis, and where I could only be genuinely sympathetic at best, she will be able to put her arm of compassion around them.  I imagine she may shed a knowing tear, and tenderly encourage them that no matter how things seem, or what happens, there is hope, and they can make it through, as she has.

Ahhhhh, on that note, I’m finally at peace enough to hit publish…there’s that familiar thing… I like to call it…endless HOPE…

<3

Janine Kurtz

p.s.  At those times I want to “turtle-in”, give up, hide out, and allow myself to wallow, I am reminded of moments like these (sharing with someone else, as well as blogging) when I have felt really alive…like I’m fulfilling a piece of my purpose in life.  I’ve heard that we are at our best when we are giving – that’s felt true for me, for sure.


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#18 – Spread the endless HOPE…

Blog stats weekly Oct 14'13 to Jan 29'14

My mind is blown with the amount of posts that have been read over this past 3 months...and how the endless HOPE has found it's way to many corners of the world!  WOW :)  Awesome My mind is blown with how many time these posts have been read over the past 3.5 months…and how little bits of endless HOPE seem to have found their way around the world! WOW…awesome :)

 

Wednesday January 29, 2014 – It has hit me again tonight how amazing this experience of blogging has been.  To think that 17 posts of sometimes random and scattered thoughts over a 15 week period have been read a total of over 5500 times is totally wild!  Even more astounding to me is how connected we are across the world…now seeing that there have been readers from 23 different countries.  We have so much potential to reach our world, even just over the internet – so the only question is if it will be to air complaints, or for evil purposes, or monetary gain, or to encourage and try to make the world a better place.  I’d like to pick the latter.

Thank you to everyone that continues to read and share these raw entries of the heart.   I haven’t even begun to tell the biggest parts of the story, but am feeling the energy and courage build to get into the next set of details of this very difficult journey.  Once I get through the really hard, ugly parts, I know the invigorated feelings will return as I relive and recount the many blessings and mini-miracles that surrounded the toughest days, weeks and months of my life.  I think I’ll need to start by telling you more about this young man, our handsome middle son…Brandon…yes that’s where I’ll start again…another night.

With endless HOPE…

<3  Janine Kurtz