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.


3 Comments

#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


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#17 – Meltdown, Cleanse, Heal, Repeat

If you have just discovered Endless HOPE…you may want to start by reading OUR STORY up top, and posts 1-16. Welcome…

Tuesday January 28, 2014 – Wow today was a long, busy, crazy day! Ten hours straight of spreadsheets & formulas, writing/editing communications and giving presentations…all at a neck-breaking speed, plus 2.5 hours of commuting. Totally exhausting, but at the same time somehow I’m feeling very thankful to even be able to make it through a day like that again, when needed. A couple of years ago after suffering tragedy, I found the wind taken out of my sails and simple things that I would usually breeze through in 20 minutes were taking me 2 hours and were still a total fail! I’m here as living proof that time, and purposeful processing through tough wounds, does heal. Everyday now I feel like a healed woman, some moments within each day I’m faced with the harsh reality that it’s still a work in progress, but most times I feel “okay” again. So thankful. There will continue to be ups and downs. There will always be tough situations that will come and will have to be worked through, but I know that healing is possible, so I go forward with life – life and routine does somehow keep happening in spite of everything.

At home, I have about a hundred things on my to do list (actually there are several lists, a binder of to do’s and a whole basket of miscellaneous paper and projects! gulp! lots to catch up at home). One item I’ve highlighted this week is to get the cell phone I share with my daughter replaced. The glass on the screen has been pretty badly smashed (like about 25 cracks of different sizes), and the screen itself has blacked-out across the top eighth screen and along the side a bit…pretty challenging for seeing what & who you’re texting, so that has caused a few hilarious situations, etc. Well, I can’t say all that damage happened recently – no, it’s been at least a year in that condition. We have coverage to get a replacement…but I’ve been dragging my feet on it. It was all the memories tied up in it. I finally managed to get the pictures and videos downloaded now…but then there were still these voice note recordings that I couldn’t transfer over.  I have known I needed to transcribe them – but they’re just unedited, scrambled and precious thoughts in the moment – bits of processing that came out as I drove to work, the few times I hit record. I haven’t listened to them since –  wasn’t sure I wanted to hear what may be my bleak, teary voice – but tonight is the night.  Maybe you have heard or felt similar things through your hard times?  Raw as these recordings may be, we’re all in this thing called life together, so read if you wish…

Sept 20/12 – Thoughts at 1 Year After
“This morning is one year…and it still feels like…Why did this happen? So horrified that this has happened. It feels so strange that it was even our life that it happened in. It feels surreal that he was even ever in our life….and that we saw what we saw that day…”

Oct 18/12 – 13 month meltdown
“Today is uh…Thursday…October 18th, 2012 and I’m just driving to work, and (sigh) just having a meltdown today. It’s been really hard – I just uh…can’t seem to get that bad picture out of my mind.  And oh, the groan that came out of me today as I drove – missing Brandon so much, and even though I know there was nothing that we could do…just the wishing…wishing that it hadn’t gone that way I guess.”

Oct 18/12 a few minutes later…Part 2 – Advice for meltdowns
“And also just now, I thought, ughhh, it’s just so hard God. I don’t even know what to think about (as in positive things).  Well I know for sure some verses of encouragement from the Letter to the Phillipians…but even that was having a hard time coming to my mind.  My dear friends, you would do best by thinking on things that are good, noble, true, pure, of good report, things that are beautiful not ugly…things that are…oh I forget now…ya, stuff like that…the best not the worst, things that are of good report, if anything is praise-worthy, think on these thingsSo I know what to think about, but man, my mind can sure go blank on the stuff that I know.  Though I know that I know that I know, it can sure go blank when you’re in a tough moment.  Today, when I think of things that are pure, I think of just a white sheet flowing in the wind, or maybe on a beach or somewhere beautiful, a white waterfall, something so pure looking.  Then thinking about noble – I remember glancing over and seeing Sam (our oldest son) just giving his girlfriend a rose, and sitting next to her, so gentlemanly.  Then thinking of good report – I recall Amy (our youngest daughter) saying the other day that she had the “epic-est” day ever – it was so good to hear.  Then when I think of the best, not the worst, I think of  Cam’s (my husband) dream he had, where Brandon was so healthy and happy and ripped with muscles, up in heaven building houses for us – that’s the best picture, instead of the worst I usually think of –  I have to focus on the best.  If anything is praiseworthy – well that makes me think of God, and how amazing He is – and think about the amazing-ness of Him I feel, when I am in tune with Him – and I need to go to that place.  Think on these things, and then the God of peace will bring you into His most excellent harmonies. I do know what to think about, God remind me to go there when I’m stuck.”

(Note:  Whether we each believe in God, or like Him or not, most humans seem to talk to Him in very tough situations…whether shaking a fist, or asking why/how, or begging to help us get out of trouble.  For me I have experienced God to be like a good father, who cares, protects, guides, can see the troubles ahead that I may not, and wants to bring comfort when I’m sad.  If you’re hung up and turned off by anything that sounds like “religious talk”, it’s over now, so just keep reading :)

For me, I’m thankful that even in the dark moments, there still are positive things to focus on and be grateful for.  Meltdowns are now rare and shorter, but I don’t want to avoid or shut out the difficult emotions or feelings that bubble up.  There is something healthy about bringing things to the surface and dealing with them.  It’s just like our physical body – when we have a wound, we have to get in there and do the cleaning and disinfecting, even though it makes it sting more in the process.  We must let the infection or foreign object causing the issue to come up to the top and be removed – we can’t let it fester and expect quick painless healing with no scars.  Ok that analogy just grossed me out, but you get what I mean.  I can’t bottle up my issues, I do need to allow moments to face things head on, think about it, realize it – clean that laceration that is still healing.  But I also can’t stay stuck in my issues 24/7 either, so must then turn my attention back to the present and the good – dress my wound, leave it for a bit, allow it to heal some more.

Through ups and downs, realizing I have so much to be grateful for…this is a life lived with ever-increasing purpose, determination, resolve…to at the very least pass on to others some of this endless HOPE…    pass it on…

<3

Janine Kurtz


1 Comment

#16 – Dreams, Time and Hope

If you have just joined us, you may want to first read OUR STORY, then posts #1-15…

Monday January 20, 2014 – I have been busy, stalled, and unsure again how to continue writing for the past 17 days…knowing the next post should be the one to detail the most difficult moments…moments I’m not sure I can bear to re-live, as I know will happen when beginning to write of that day…

It’s strange how it seems like that was such a different chapter of life, so distant, so surreal, like it wasn’t my life at all. So much has changed, so much has stayed the same, time has gone ahead so quickly and somehow time has stood still. It’s like a bad dream, unsure at times if it really even happened or if I can still pinch myself and wake up. That reminds me of some things that happened recently…here’s the most recent two pages of my journal…I’ll save the tough stuff for another day:

Wed Nov 20/13 – We were in the dining room of our Claytonbrook house.  The three kids and I were sitting at the table, a table we had when we got married, up until about 2006 – shoulda been my first clue.  The kids were about 8, 10 and 11 – next clue.  It was a happy moment, all three kids and I grinning around the table…the boys were on my left by the window, their little sister on my right.  We were all so glad Brandon was here with us.  I got up and leaned over to hug him…Brandon was a beaming and handsome 10-year-old.  I was saying something about being “so grateful you’re here with us” and that “we almost lost you”.  We all smiled – you see, all of us were so excited to have him around, as we knew he had been close to death, or beyond it, but had miraculously come back to us.  I was beyond elated, so grateful, so filled with joy at this wonderful gift.  We didn’t take each other for granted and his big brother and little sister had the biggest happy grins to have him home. 

I thought and felt it was real…then I woke up…still sure this was true…smiling, so relieved that everything had worked out, that all had been undone.  Do you know those few fleeting seconds between sleep and wakefulness?  Moments when anything is possible and logical.  In that moment my mind was so convinced and ecstatic that the sad event had been undone – a couple of years after the fact he had come alive again, and all was back to normal, better in fact because we fully appreciated each other.  My mind had not yet comprehended the pieces that didn’t make sense…. like that we moved out of that house 4 months ago, we got rid of that table years ago and the kids are now 7 years older than in my dream.  Saddest of all, Brandon in fact had not come back to us…my mind had played a hopeful but cruel trick…maybe wishful thinking turned into a dream.  I racked my brain to figure out…where am I, and what day is it?  It was the 20th…of November…2013…exactly 2 years and 2 months after his passing…yet there was still so much hope in me that this dream could be true, it took a while to fully wake from it.

Sat Dec 14/13 – Today was Saturday, the day of Sophie Haines’ funeral.  She was a 5-year-old girl from our city of Surrey who passed away from a form of meningitis/pneumonia I was told.  It was non-contagious, so she had been kept on life support and her organs were able to be donated – wow, what a beautiful legacy and what loving generosity shown by her family in their darkest hour. 

Just 4 days earlier, a Tuesday evening, I was driving home from work listening to traffic radio when I heard the 10 second report of a little girl’s passing.  My heart broke for the family and I cried bitterly as I drove…wishing somehow I could help, or know their names, or reach them and be sure they were going to be okay.  Late that night as I dropped into bed I noticed a message from my friend, dated Sunday, 2 days earlier.  She told briefly of the sad situation, that the girl was on life support at the time, and that my friend’s mom and the girl’s grandma were neighbors. My friend asked if she could give my contact info to this family – it was like an answer to a prayer I hadn’t even breathed out loud, just a thought and a wish that passed through my mind – and the answer was already there…sitting waiting for 2 days for me to see it. 

On the following Friday night, 3 days later, again miraculously I feel, this situation came back into my mind, and I wondered if there would be a public funeral.  I googled her name now that I knew it, and quickly found the details of the service, to be held only about 14 hours in the future.   When I mentioned it to my husband, he said he had a meeting but he’d leave in time to meet me there – we were both drawn to show support and be able to know who this little girl was.    It was to take place at the all-too-familiar funeral home we had dealt with after our son’s death.  Though I had a dread about that place, it just felt “meant to be” to go there. 

But now as it was Saturday and I was preparing to go to the funeral, 1000 things and emotions were swirling through my mind.   In the shower I wondered if it would come up in conversation with a stranger today, that we had also lost a child, and if they asked how long ago it was – what would I tell them?  I calculated how long it had been since we lost Brandon.  It feels too long ago to say it has been over 2 years, but can’t say it’s been 27 months, that’s like those annoying toddler ages.  Who says 27 months anyways?  Only new parents talking to other new parents…no one else cares to hear the details.  Just round it to half-years once they hit 2 right?  Except when you are the one with the precious babe – then every day, week, and month counts and must be mentioned.  This is how I felt this morning, I had to count the months.  Over 2 years sounded too far away – it didn’t properly express the freshness of the loss in my heart – so I counted up the 27 months, but that seemed like a long time ago too.  Next I got really nerdy and started calculating in my head how many weeks it had been…119 Saturdays much like this one had come and gone since I had seen his sweet face.  Since 119 weeks sounded even worse I decided on 27 months after all.  When something’s so precious you just feel you wanna be specific.

The funeral home was packed that day with families with small children, many of which were her kindergarten classmates, and neighborhood friends.   Many tributes and poems were read, one 5 year old girl even spoke at the podium, and many tears flowed.  It was a heart wrenching and inspirational day as we learned of this vibrant, strong-willed girl, full of vinegar and spirit.  I felt so blessed to be introduced to the parents afterward, be able to give a hug to the mother, shake the hand of the father, and express my heartbreak for them, though I was a total stranger.  Amazingly they remembered reading an email just the night before offering my contact information, so recognized my name.  I don’t know when or if we will get in contact – but even if that quick connection was all it was about, it felt like a divine appointment to me. 

If you listened closely that day there was a beautiful thread woven through all that was said, through every smile with a tear at the mention of Sophie’s vitality, through the sound of many children in the room, and it was a lovely sound.  I recognized it for sure…and that sound reassured me that this family, mom, dad and brother, would be ok in time…it was unmistakable, undeniable…it was that little glimmer of a wonderful thing I know to be…endless HOPE…

<3

Janine Kurtz


4 Comments

#15 – Your Sleep Will Be Sweet

If you’ve just joined us, you may want to read “Our Story” first, then posts #1-14.      Welcome, there’s endless HOPE…

Journal Entry Thursday January 2, 2014 – Ok, here goes, back to the tough story.  Pulled out my old little journal from 2 years ago and gonna just start typing where I left off, almost 8 weeks ago, where I wrote about the Sunday.  On Sunday (post#12) Brandon was quite sick, and truth be told, all afternoon while I was out with “important obligations” instead of home with him, I was feeling horrid about it.  I was in torture, somehow knowing I was in the “wrong” place, unlike Friday night (post#8) when I managed to be exactly where I needed to be.  But moving on…now Monday…

Monday September 19, 2011 –   A bunch of our family was still in Whistler, 2+ hours away, for a long weekend celebrating my brother-in-law’s birthday.  It had been planned for months, but we hadn’t planned to join, for some reason we just didn’t feel we should go.  As it turned out Brandon was pretty sick, so it seemed for the best we had stayed home.  My husband had the day off work so the night before we had planned he would take Brandon to the clinic first thing Monday morning.  At lunch time I called home to see how it went, but they hadn’t gone yet as Brandon wasn’t really feeling up to it.  That made me feel even more urgent about it, cause if he doesn’t feel well enough to go, then he’s very sick and needs to go!  I went online to use the trusty symptom checker, and it advised to see doctor.  They made it to the doctor, who did their best  I’m sure, with the info given and symptoms present, and he was diagnosed with an ear infection & throat infection.  He was prescribed an antibiotic, something for anti-nausea, and ear drops – made sense to us, would deal with the infection, the vomiting from last night and the headache from just being sick.   I heard later that after the doctor visit he had to be practically carried up the stairs to his room, that was pretty unusual, but still didn’t seem like “911” material, because we had antibiotics now – kids always spring back after 24-48 hours of antibiotics.  So, we continued with the usual practice of the “B.R.A.T. diet” after nausea…bananas, rice, aeroroot, toast. 

By the time I got home from work that evening he’d had digestive cookies, 1/2 a Gatorade for electrolytes, 2 doses of antibiotics and 2 doses of ibuprofen…but the headache and fever were still there.  I spelled off my husband and began pouring a cool bath just like when the kids were little.  I told Brandon to get his swimming shorts on cause he was going in the bath and I was going into the bathroom with him to make sure we got that fever down.  Our daughter had mentioned to me that she thought he looked really skinny that day – and as he lay weak in the bath I noticed his stomach was very thin too, but he was a very slender/athletic build on any good day, and hadn’t been eating much the last while as he was sick.  I fed him some crushed ice as he sat in the cool water, and kept a cool cloth on his forehead.  At first he was too tired to eat ice and I remember saying something about “if you don’t get eating this so we can get this fever down, I’m gonna have to take you to the hospital!”  I don’t remember exactly what he said, whether he wanted to go to the hospital or he really didn’t want to go, or that he just wanted to die, he felt so crappy – sounds morbid, but that was just how he had talked when he felt really sick, for as long as I could remember.  He ended up coming around, the fever was gone and I helped him out of the bath so he could crawl back in bed.  Probably in my mind it was all logically under control – I had done my job, good old-fashioned fever break, he’s on the brat diet, 2 doses of antibiotics, he’ll be on the mend this time tomorrow night – no need for concern even though he still seems pretty weak and sick.  Brandon was feeling hopeful again and, true to form, was talking about how he sure hoped he could go to school in the morning…silly guy, so worried about missing stuff and getting behind.

His heart was so soft that evening, all the defenses were down.  We had previously had some tense months where, when I was pushing him to do things he didn’t want to, it would sometimes come down to “you have to because you’re part of the family team”, he would comeback with “family doesn’t matter” and we would argue that stubbornly – and it hurt.  When I was tucking him into bed that night tho, wiping his brow again with a cool cloth, I quietly said “This is when family matters, when we take care of each other, right?”  He replied “Yes, family matters mom, you were right”.  As well, for sometime now when we would say we loved him, he wouldn’t reply – it was awkward I suppose.  This night when his little sister popped in to say “Goodnight, I love you” and when I told him I loved him, he replied “I love you”.  It was a rare and beautiful thing to hear, it meant so much to us that night, and means the world to us now. 

Once he was tucked into bed I just sat with him for a bit, then decided to read him a proverb I used to read to the kids.  I couldn’t exactly remember where that verse was in the book of proverbs so just started reading aloud at chapter 1.  Eventually I read to chapter 3, and came to the section of verses that I would read when they were little, to bring peace when they were upset at night or couldn’t sleep.  He was still patiently listening, so I took the opportunity to keep reading.  This seemed to be a teachable moment, because reading wise proverbs to a teenage son about living a good and pure life, written by the wisest man who ever lived, is a rare opportunity that must be seized, right?  I paused every couple of chapters to make sure he wasn’t sick of me reading or being in his room – cause you know how 15-year-old boys are, they like their space and independence.  Whenever I paused, he’d ask “Are ya done?”  Then I’d ask “Do you want me to be?”  Each time he just shrugged or said “I dunno”….which I knew was direct translation to “keep going”.  That night I ended up reading him 10 chapters of the Book of Proverbs, it felt like such a special time.  Finally, when my voice was tired and my eyes weary from reading with just the hallway light shining in a bit, I asked “Do you want me to go now?” but he replied “You can stay”.  I curled up by his right foot, wrapped in my fuzzy blanky…then a while later, about midnight, I went to bed…but left his door and our door open a bit…just like when they were little…to keep an ear open for him in the night…

Even though we never dreamed that would be our last night on earth with him, it felt to me like the things we had struggled with had melted away and been resolved with forgiveness and realization of a genuine care and love for each other. 

I have no more words, so let me leave you with the verses I had looked for…I would always be sure to read 21+24 together to the kids.  I just realized as I’m writing this tonight, more than 2 years later, that maybe the rest of those words below were for me to understand…a reassurance just before the storm, or sudden disaster, that there would be…endless HOPE…

<3

Janine Kurtz

Book of Proverbs – Chapter 3

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.


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#14 – Angels in the Storm

If you’ve just started reading, you may want to read “Our Story”, then posts #1-13. Welcome, there’s endless HOPE…

Journal Entry Tues Dec 31, 2013 – Hmmm, interesting, finally making it to post #14, just as we’re about to ring in the New Year 2014!  Heading out to a late night movie after hubby gets home from late shift…that will be our family’s big excitement tonight. 2014 – so many possibilities, so much potential, so many options, so many things I could do, say, accomplish…or avoid, procrastinate from, or miss out on…in my laziness. I must get focused and “seize the year”! If I could do anything at all right now, I’d love to take a month off, stay home and battle through the ups and downs of writing this story out, to catch it up to current day.  Ya, probably not going to get to do that, so will just continue here by rattling off whatever random thoughts come out…a few things will come together…hopefully…

Even if I do somehow catch up by writing about the last 2 years, there will still be much to learn and much that will unfold every week – more triggers, more memories, but also more opportunities to help others, more chances to see the redemption that is coming from persevering through. It has been miraculous to me, and I’ve felt so honored to have been put in contact with several newly grieving parents, whether directly, or them being referred to my blog. I was relaying this to someone the other day and they brought to my attention that it is special – a ministry of sorts that is emerging maybe – that I’m able to relate to others with loss, to have a different level of compassion that has developed through my loss. There is a connection that comes, aside from our regular compassion we would have for any sad situation, when we can actually relate. Even though our circumstances are different and I can’t truly say “I understand how you feel”, there is credibility that seems to be formed in shared pain – or rather in the survival of it, the healing from it, and the increasing occurrences of thriving after it.

This is the mystery of good coming from bad – or “all things working together for good”. It seems baffling, mind-blowing, ridiculous at best, doesn’t it? How can it be that ALL things work for good? How can something horrific like loss, abuse, or crime work together for good? In the middle of the storm or nightmare we most often cannot see it. In that moment it’s not the regular human reaction to say, “wow, now I can help someone else survive or recover from this same kind of pain in the future”. If we are stuck in the middle of a huge and deadly tornado, we can’t see our way out, we can’t see how big it is, and we don’t know if we will survive. After making it through however, later in life when we see our neighbor just getting overtaken by the same type of tornado, we can be there for them when they come out from the worst of it, and reassure them that they can rebuild their life – we are credible, living proof, that it’s possible! Is the rotten circumstance or “storm of life” good in itself? Absolutely not! Would we wish it to happen if we could do it all over again? No, never! But…since it has happened, what can we find, take, learn, create?  What is that something – something positive that in turn is almost like taking revenge (if you feel the need for that) on tragedy, evil, disappointment itself?  There is always at least one thing to be gained, in spite of a loss.  Depending on whether the glass is looking half full or half empty at the moment may impact if we can see the thing to be gained…but it is there.  When I cannot see it, someone a few steps ahead of me in their journey often can.  Then, when it becomes clearer to me, I then can show that small speck of beauty to someone else…turns out there is a miniscule diamond hiding in the glass.

That reminds me of a remarkable interaction two years ago…just a month after our son Brandon passed.  I was speaking at a women’s conference, being interviewed in front of a few hundred people…it was about Life’s Journey…and I had the honor of telling a bit of our story so far at that time.  It had been the darkest month of my life to date, by a million miles, and yet even within minutes after the emergency personnel told us there was nothing more they could do, there were the tiniest little shimmers, fleeting maybe, but they felt like blessings nonetheless.  At that conference I told of those first recollections, things like the compassion and emotion I felt from those personnel, the personal connection, their sadness with us, their tears…it was so very precious to me in my greatest time of need to have these “angels” there and to not feel like our son was just a number, or that dealing with us was just business.  (Tears well up now thinking of it all).  At the end of the conference session, several people approached me to chat, hug, share briefly of their loss, and I was just there to connect and to encourage them, best I knew how so far, still in my numb state.  Later however another woman approached me, to this day I don’t really know who she is, but I think she said her name was Wendy.  She smiled at me knowingly, with genuine compassion, and recounted that she had been through something similar many, many years ago, when they lost a son just a bit older.  The part that impacted me so heavily from our very short conversation was her wonderous statement, after a disclaimer not to take this wrong or think she is minimizing the greatness of their loss.  She said something like “I want to let you know we have had such an exciting life”, and her eyes twinkled.  Wow, that blew my mind at that moment, but I have thought of it often and am seeing more and more how it could be true, I don’t think she was fibbing.  Thank you Wendy, whoever you are…I think it was in your eye’s twinkle that I saw a glimpse, assurance even, living proof that there really can be endless HOPE…and that I have lots of time ahead to make the most of.

Happy New Year – that might feel like a stretch from where you are sitting right now, but be encouraged that it is possible to survive, heal, begin to thrive again, and share the reflection off the gem you’ve found…to help light someone else’s way who’s following behind you in the journey.  We all have the ability to be an angel in someone else’s storm…it doesn’t take much light to glow in utter darkness, when we have even just a flicker of…endless HOPE…

<3

Janine Kurtz


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#13 – Grief & Gratitude

If you have just found this blog, Welcome to Endless Hope…you may want to begin by reading “Our Story” in the top right…

Journal Entry Tues Dec 17,2013 – Well, it’s been 5 weeks since I’ve even ventured in here…so busy and so many things swirling in my head that I have hardly known where to pickup again. First shock is another 400 pages read on this blog in the past month…even with no new posts…so thank you to whoever is out there sharing the hope while I’ve been bogged down. :)

Tonight I’m letting myself off the hook, not pressuring myself to write the next part of our story…but rather just what might be a short musing…compilation of some thoughts during my drive home from work tonight.  (Hmmm, post #13…lucky #13 :)

On Saturday I had the honor of attending the memorial for a little 5-year-old girl from our city that passed away from a form of meningitis last weekend. I didn’t know the family, but felt drawn to the situation after hearing a 10 second mention of it on the traffic radio station. I’ll tell you more about that amazing and divine appointment later, but suffice it to say it was such a sad yet inspiring event to be a part of. It again reminded me of the incredible strength of the human spirit, the unfathomable losses in life, and the power and beauty of community support. A gathering of people, with such great and tragic loss…yet there is a feeling of hope and life in the room…like healthy grief…and it gives me great relief and just that little hint that these folks will come out ok…with time.

I don’t know how to express it, but will just ramble and it may become clear…
As I drove tonight, I wondered what these thoughts could be best recapped as…
Is it Grief & Gratefulness?
Is it Gratefulness in Grief?
Is it The Bitter Sweet of Grief & Gratitude?

How is it that in everyday life sometimes I (had to edit out “we” and remember to only speak for myself) can be grateful and can see the positive everywhere, but more often in my life I have found myself with a complaining attitude…dissatisfied and ungrateful. Why is it hard to recognize the good and be thankful for it at times? How is it that there can be two completely different perspectives on the same situation? How is it that we can “choose” our attitude or perspective?

So far it seems to me that experiences really can shape perspective. If a completely carefree life is lived, with no problems of any kind, then the first little hangnail encountered is a BIG DEAL! If a leg is then broken, suddenly it becomes the worst circumstance to date, so the next time a hangnail comes around hopefully it’s put in perspective: “hey this is nothing compared to that broken leg”. On the flip side maybe no more perspective has been gained yet, and instead out comes: “oh man, bad things just keep happening to me, first that hangnail, then the leg, now ANOTHER hangnail.” It seems ridiculous, but I suppose it’s true at times. I know I can get pretty upset about truly trivial things when I’m caught up – how about you?

Another example… Maybe before fully realizing there are people living in true poverty, the phrase “I’m starving” could be loosely used after feeling a 3rd hunger pang in 10 minutes. After being heavily affected by a documentary or going to work locally or overseas with those less fortunate, likely that phrase would lose its appeal or be quickly corrected after popping out by default.

Maybe it IS all about perspective. Until something negative is experienced, maybe another positive experience can’t be fully understood. So with circumstances of life, maybe “good” things can’t be recognized and appreciated as much until there is “bad” to compare it to.

Ok enough of the blah-blah-blah, impersonal theory…for me, as far as physical pain, my “ultimate” perspective and benchmark is childbirth (sorry for those that don’t want to hear about that – no further details coming I assure you).  If ever I have pain and the doctor or chiropractor is trying to get me to gauge it 1-10 or mild/moderate/severe, I tend to default to using my old benchmark, which is pretty drastic, so I tend to downplay all current pain.  They end up clarifying with me and tell me I’m not allowed to compare it to childbirth or we won’t get anywhere! If they had asked me about that same pain pre-kids though, I would have automatically scored it much higher on their scale because, compared to what I’d experienced so far, that pain was probably truly “painful”. (hey kids I love you and it was all worth it of course!)

Questions: How is perspective gained, how is it changed, how is maturity of perspective attained?
Why is it that so much is demanded of this thing called “Life”? Why is it expected to be good, perfect, and better “forever”…right after this current “thing/problem” blows over…never to present problems again?

I know for me as I look back on my life, I have always had much to be grateful for, but spent little time feeling that gratitude, and much more time whining with either my inside or outside voice.  I spent too much time waiting to skip ahead to the next day, week, event or phase of life, instead of being “in the moment”, appreciating the bits of rare beauty hidden in it. Is it only deep tragedy and loss that can smack me upside the head and make me realize what I have, or had? Maybe sometimes it is.

Does tragedy and grief have a silver lining? That might be a stretch or utterly ridiculous, but maybe rather it is shaping my perspective and correcting my vision…not rose colored glasses, but the ability to see the positive in small happenings and circumstances that I would have never taken notice of before.

Like that memorial on Saturday, unconsciously I think my mind compared it to a few others I had attended in the past 2 years…including our Brandon’s. I had felt a range of atmosphere’s over that time frame, from hope, support, and celebration of a life, to darkness, anger, despair and justice seeking. Neither are right or wrong reactions to death, they just are the natural outpourings of humanity in crisis. At the same time it can feel promising when you see someone with hope, and sometimes very worrisome when all hope seems absent. I am feeling grateful that this young family with the fresh loss is surrounded by a close-knit bunch of school & neighborhood friends – I am grateful for their openness – it inspires me and gives me hope that they’ll be ok.

My husband is reading this book he was given “The Gift of Pain” – pretty incredible. So here’s another facet that comes to mind…Gratitude that we do Grieve. Pain is there to let us know something is wrong, missing, lost. Pain or grief is a sign that we have feelings, strong feelings…feelings that need to be felt and gone through in the process to healing. If we have no sense or feeling, we can end up damaging the wounded spot even more because we are not taking care to protect that place and let it mend. Emotions and feelings are natural and fine…it’s important to draw them out and deal with them…to talk about things. Bring wounds out in the open, in a safe place with wise protection around them, but then let the cleaning and healing process take place. The fear of the pain and the pain itself while dealing with issues will be tough at times, but in the long run the avoidance of pain, or desensitization to it is not the answer to healing. It’s strange to say that pain is a gift, but I think I’m starting to understand that it somehow is.

Final thoughts:
Grief is because we love, care, miss a relationship – it’s ok and healthy. We don’t grieve things we care nothing about.
Let’s be wise and be avid learners of healthy perspective, through the circumstances of our lives and others.
Personally, I want to have an attitude of gratitude, even in the midst of the grievances in life, big and small

My desire more and more is to be “present” or “in the moment”, taking time to stop and smell the roses.  Even if it seems there are none…sometimes there might actually be one rose hidden among the thorns when we tap into that little thing called…endless Hope…

<3
Janine Kurtz

p.s. that was NOT a short musing after all…thanks to any of you who stuck it out with me to the end :)


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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


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#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…

<3

Janine Kurtz