endless HOPE…

endless HOPE…


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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

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#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


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#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