endless HOPE…

endless HOPE…

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#12 – The Weekend Feast

Journal Entry, Tuesday November 12, 2013 – My mind has been totally blown the last couple days, since coming back after almost 2 weeks of not writing (out of 4 weeks since started).  The website stats said 2200 pages viewed two nights ago, and tonight over 3000!  A few days ago a couple of people asked my daughter or me if I had stopped writing, cause they were waiting for the next post, or hoping I hadn’t quit completely.  I had no idea so many people were reading and finding it helpful.  I guess once the novelty is over, you can’t really tell who is reading or how much effect it’s having, as the comments and feedback become more occasional – which is understandable and fine.  Well next baby step into the story of the weekend…

Sunday September 18, 2011 – Sunday mornings we always went to church, all 5 of us, but this morning Brandon was feeling quite sick and lethargic again, so he stayed home.  At church a friend prayed for her son that was sick, and in turn my husband and I prayed passionately for Brandon on our own, feeling an urgency somehow, though his illness didn’t really seem serious.  That afternoon we were supposed to help host some out-of-town guests for lunch, so we were out at a restaurant with friends while both families’ kids were at our house hanging out. We had put 3 chickens in the oven that morning, so our oldest son (16) and younger daughter (12) were having fun preparing the fixings for a nice lunch for their friends – all the teenage boys were looking forward to a feast!  But I understand Brandon didn’t make it out of bed to join them (which is probably for the best knowing what we know now), but was a sign he was definitely sick – he’d never miss out on a feast.  His siblings took him a plate in his room.

By the afternoon the clinics were over capacity and closed for the day…and it still didn’t seem like a hospital thing. The fever was back, he’d had it Thursday and Friday.  He also had a swollen gland on the left side of his neck under his chin, and the weird (but not alarming) thing was his ear canals were a bit swollen, so smaller than usual.  We were definitely going to take him to the doctor the next day though, cause this just wasn’t getting better.  In my journal for that day I noted that in the evening he started to vomit and so I jimmy’d the lock on the bathroom to get in and help him.  Didn’t like this at all – now he was going straight to the clinic in the morning!

I really can’t think of anything uplifting to segwey into from the way that day ended…but some times maybe the silver lining is not as easy to see…I have to look harder – how about you?  If I look at that day and find the positive, it is that I have totally awesome kids that I’m so proud of and they have some of the most wonderful friends.  May I take a moment to brag on my kids?  Ok, I will then.  Our kids have always had to help out at home, as part of the family team – they learned to cook, bake, do laundry, clean.  Chores are rarely “fun” I suppose, but from time to time our family would all agree and joke that these were skills they’d be happy they had, and would keep them from being a “useless young adult” later.  They helped with little things as they were able – our oldest at 16 months liked to stand at the dishwasher and hand me stuff to put away.  We’d all play “laundry stations” with the clean clothes, sitting in a circle as I tossed the things that belonged to them to fold up…we’d go fast, and be laughing in the chaos with socks flying.  A previous boss joked one time that I needed to lend him one of my kids to teach his younger (adult) brother how to do his own laundry, as in primary grades they learned to run the washer – soon after they each were able to do their own laundry.

Before they were teenagers they each learned to cook basic meals, so could make pasta and such.  A few times they surprised me, like when as kids they made a whole dinner for our anniversary (with dad’s oversight), dressed to the nines, complete with the towel over the arm and fake French accent – it was hilarious.  Also the time they were about 11-14, and we didn’t have any plans for Thanksgiving.  They decided the morning-of that they wanted to cook Turkey dinner – we quickly bought the stuff, and watched over them, but they totally pulled it off!  So the 3-chicken-dinner mentioned above on that Sunday afternoon, may sound like a big feat for 2 teenagers, but it was no biggie for them.  So proud of them for pulling it off, hosting their friends, and making sure to serve their brother.  Sweet kids I have to say!

I love you Sam & Amy  <3  You’re so precious to me and dad <3  When I look at you I feel more of that endless HOPE…

<3  Mom

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#11 – A Proud Canadian

If you are new to endless HOPE, you may want to first read OUR STORY in the top right…

Journal Entry Monday November 11, 2013 – It’s been exactly 4 weeks since I started this blog.  The first week I wrote almost everyday, then it became more sporadic as it proved challenging, as I treaded into tougher moments, creeping ever closer to having to tell the hardest part of the story.  I started to take, 1, 2, 3 days off, then almost two weeks off, just so busy and tired burning the candle at 5 ends right now!  Last night writing about Remembrance Day was important and a reprieve from the details of the impending story of loss…but today it’s time to continue, if only a little.  I have written about the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Brandon’s passing, so let’s pickup at Saturday night and see how far we make it…

Saturday evening, September 17, 2011 – Brandon had been feeling better this day, still a little sluggish but out of bed most of the day, doing his homework (post#9), being a terd teasing a bit – his sense of humor was back.  We all had dinner together, it seems to me, and I remember after dinner he was laying on the couch.  From his relaxed, sprawled position I remember him asking his sister for a drink or snack.  He asked in kind of a weak voice, hoping she’d comply…and she was in the middle of running to retrieve when we saw a twinkle in his eye.  I asked “are you just milkin’ this sick thing now? I thought you were feeling better!”  He wasn’t feeling great, but he was certainly on the mend and well enough to walk 10 steps to the kitchen.  Brandon just grinned knowingly and glanced over hoping his sis was still unaware.  We all had a good laugh for the moment as his mischievous nature was back in full force it seemed.

Brandon was a hilarious guy – his main goal it seemed was to get a laugh or a rise out of the family when he was home.  At school though, he was so quiet and the report card often said things like “would appreciate if Brandon would speak up and participate more in class” or “would love to hear Brandon’s input, please try to put up your hand to answer questions in class.”  This was always baffling to me, as at home I’d be having to request the opposite often to keep the peace!  Haha.  None of those teachers would believe their eyes if they could have been a fly on the wall at home.  He would get us howling watching his mini stand-up acts, impersonations of dances, and physical comedy – all impromptu to lighten the mood, keep things from being boring, or see mom or sister squirm if the humor was at our expense or in the wrong place & time!  All hilarious now.

The cool thing those teachers did get to see however was the deep thinker part of Brandon.  So many assignments that we never saw or read.  We began to find a few in his binder and saved on the computer which are now so precious for us to get to read.  My mom reminded me of this one writing today, so thought would dig it out and share.  Quite fitting I suppose, as we remember and thank the soldiers that put their lives on the line, and many that gave it completely, so that we could have the freedoms we enjoy today.  I will warn you, he was apparently very proud to be Canadian, and thinks it’s the one and only best place to live.  I’m sure all of you reading have a fairly good country to live in as well, that you are proud of too – so no offense.  :)      I have taken the liberty to edit some out due to length…and international diplomatic relations…haha.

Why I’m Lucky to be Canadian                                        (by Brandon Kurtz June 2011 – age 15)

In my opinion, Canada is the most peaceful productive country that is ruled by a democracy.  Being Canadian has so many advantages to it.  When I think about how many great things we get in Canada I am so grateful that I live in this country.  Canada is made great by: having a democracy, having different living and better rights than other countries, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  These things are what make Canada a fantastic place to live.

Having a democracy in Canada allows so many minds and ideas to be put into the government and they help to make Canada a better place.  To some people the government is their main focus in life, where they wait for the right person to be voted in.  This is also why Canada is great, because we vote for who we want to be in power.  Because of our amazing government we are able to have schools, hospitals, Medicare, roads, bridges and many other great things, all of these we get from just paying taxes.  Along with the great democracy we also have a peaceful change of power.  Instead of having a war over who is going to be in control, it is up to us to pick a reliable ruler who we want to be in power.  Canada’s democracy is a great system.  I am so glad we have it instead of other control systems in other countries.

Countries all around the world are corrupt with Dictators, Religious Rulers, Tyrants, and other terrible people – there are loads of other countries that are corrupted by insane leaders.  I am so lucky that I was born in this country.  If I were to live in one of those other countries I would probably end up in the army right now or would be living in a little run down shack, where if I went outside I would be shot.  Crimes, like murder and rape, are enforced on here in Canada, but in some countries these crimes are socially acceptable.  I am so grateful that I do not have to be forced to believe in anything or follow anyone, because I have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protecting me.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is what protects every single Canadian, and I am so happy that we have something this assuring to live under.  This Charter assures protection, equality, and freedoms.  We also are protected from false arrest and we get a fair trial after being arrested.  So no matter what, every Canadian can live happily, as long as you live by the law.  The Charter, I think, beats out any law system in the world because it protects everyone fairly and will let you live independently.  My favourite law in Canada is probably freedom of speech.  I love this law so much because it allows absolutely every Canadian to speak what is on their mind and their opinion on what is happening.  This Charter is definitely the best trait about Canada, and it always will be.

In conclusion, Canada is one of the best places in the world to live.  What makes this country so great is Canada’s government, how we have a lot better laws and rights than most countries, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  I am so proud that I am a Canadian, and I will pass on this Canadian heritage to the next generations to come.

<3 Janine Kurtz


#10 – Remembrance

If you are just joining our journey, you may want to read OUR STORY in the top right…

Journal Entry November 10, 2013 – It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve had the time/energy to write anything, but again tonight I feel inspired to continue – both with a memory of a past Remembrance Day on my mind, as well as a chat with family on the phone, as they share they keep bumping into folks that are reading these blogs and finding encouragement in it.  Though life and tasks can seem insignificant, maybe the significance comes from the sharing of the journey – for us all to feel like we’re not alone in it – in the joy, the struggles, the pain, and the rewarding moments.

I’m not quite ready to continue the story of those immediate days of loss, but with Remembrance Day this weekend, I am reminded of the first November 11th after Brandon’s passing…and that’s what I feel I am to share…

Friday November 11, 2011 –  Interesting, the date was “11-11-11”.   It was almost 8 weeks after Brandon had passed away.  We went to a Remembrance Day Ceremony in our community – it was chilly, rainy, solemn.  We sat outside in bleachers as the cadets, officers, children, and dignitaries performed a reverent tribute to those that had fallen in the Great War and all wars since.  It has always been important to me to try to instill in our kids the seriousness of this occasion, to educate them, and ensure they don’t forget.  Since they were little I’d try to make sure we’d at least watch a ceremony on tv, or in person, after marching with local legion members.  Some years I didn’t manage to follow through, but this year, 2011, we were there, with any family that were able to join.  In my mind I really was there for the soldiers and their families, trying to realize and fathom that immense sacrifice, loss, and gift of freedom to us.  We can be so frivolous, as we whine about what we don’t have, and snivel about what we’re entitled to that we “deserve” – Really??!  We are human, we get caught up, we get distracted, off-track, and petty.  I knew my loss was big and tragic for me and my family, but also understood that this day was about so much more tragedy than we can fathom, so was not focused on myself, I had put it in perspective going in.  At some point in the program however, they read the famous excerpt from the poem “For The Fallen” – I had probably heard this poem dozens of times before, but it hit me differently that day…

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.                                                                                        

(It was written by  Laurence Binyon, who celebrated his 70th birthday on 10 August 1939, and he said of writing it: “I can’t recall the exact date beyond that it was shortly after the retreat. I was set down, out of doors, on a cliff in Polzeath, Cornwall.  The stanza “They Shall Grow Not Old” was written first and dictated the rhythmical movement of the whole poem.”            © Robert Laurence Binyon.  All rights reserved)

In a split second after hearing the first words, “They shall grow not old”…so many thoughts went flashing through my mind.  Imagining those young soldiers, so full of life, vigor, determination and seeming invincibility – as is standard for young, brave guys.  In the same moment thoughts of Brandon crept in, as his life and vitality became intertwined, instantly and lovingly woven by my mind, into a tapestry with the stories and lives of the many lost.  Bitter tears suddenly welled up – tears unexpected, without permission – not just for those other boys, but for my own – for all of their lives cut so very short.

It was the first time I remember being upset, in the bitter sense, and it was in that moment.  I honestly hadn’t been mad, or shaken my fist at God, or been upset about it being “unfair”, so far.  At that moment though, there was a bitter sadness, and that was the day I did say “why” in my mind.  I remember it was when I looked over and there, way off in the crowd, was another boy his age that I recognized.  In that dreadful second my mind relayed “Why? Why was it my son and not him?”  If this was just a fluke type of loss, how did it happen in our home?  As soon as my mind “thought it out-loud” though I was mortified and retracted with “No, I couldn’t bear it to happen to that boy either!”   I couldn’t put in on anyone else – saintly or sickly, not sure which – somehow I’d rather our family bear this tragedy since we were already here.  Don’t get me wrong, I had been desperate to undo this tragedy and if I could have I would have.  Being so helpless with no control was part of what was so hard…there was nothing I could do to force this to be “fixed” – even if I used by most stubborn, Type A, controlling, influencing, driven abilities.  However, if undoing it for us would have resulted in this fate falling on someone else, that too was unthinkable.

 As soon as I realized I was asking “Why” I felt the answer…it was “Why not”.  How is it that this came upon Brandon and upon us?  It always happens to someone else, right?  But why should it be anyone else?  Why do they deserve heartache more than we do?  Is life really all about getting what we “deserving” anyhow?  I don’t believe it is.  There are things we do that have consequences – good and bad – that stuff we pretty much deserve.  Then there are things that come to us because of others’ goodness and mistakes alike – most of which we certainly don’t deserve.  There are also many things that come about as indirect effects of everyone’s freedom to choose, of our world, and of our fallible humanity – I call all that Life.  Life happens.  Life is not “fair”, so what do we do with it?  We can get so hung up on false expectations of Life, and spend too much time bemoaning our short end of the stick, and waiting for things to turn around and go our way…permanently – we’d be happy with nothing less it seems.

It was all harsh, cold reasoning maybe – my mind was in preservation mode.  Logic seemed to have been one of the things that had helped save my sanity so far in the journey of those weeks.  Mind over matter – I guess that is putting your mind in charge of a matter, instead of your emotions.  After our son passed away, my husband and I quickly determined we must NOT allow ourselves to be tortured by entertaining those popular but cruel friends…woulda, shoulda, coulda.  We knew we would have to work hard to shove those haunting thoughts out, or they would eat us alive – the misplaced guilt, the blaming, the regrets – they were all luxuries we could not afford if our family was going to survive this.

In the following few seconds of that Remembrance Day ceremony the next words rang out to me “…As we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them…”  Again a flood of emotion swept over me as I thought of all “our” precious boys lost, and that bitter-sweet beauty of them being frozen in time…never aging, never growing weary, never to face any more stress or pain or disappointment…protected forever from the trouble that is Life.  We would never witness them winding down with time, giving up, becoming weak, frail or being a damp blanket on others by providing an unsolicited reality check.  As much as we all wanted them to live on, there was a flicker of appreciation within me that they have all been preserved forever in our memories – intact, young, strong, muscular, handsome – with a vision for their future that was stronger than their fears, a faith that they would go on and do great things, and an unstoppable drive to succeed.

That day I cried, more than the simpler tears I may have shed on past Remembrance Days.  It was a mix of bitter and sweet tears that flowed in those moments, as they do now – feeling the gravity of the loss, and yet the beauty of the look in our boys’ eyes…that spark of excitement, adventure and wonder that is the essence of…endless HOPE…


Janine Kurtz