endless HOPE…

endless HOPE…

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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)



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


#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…


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.


#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…


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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#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


#9 – I Am Brandon

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

Journal Entry October 28, 2013 – Well it’s late, and again I was going to pack it in for the night, too tired and unsure of how to continue writing. But then I got a little note of encouragement from a sweet girl I know, and I am inspired to continue, even if it’s just a short bit tonight.  We’ll see…ok, so we’re at Saturday…

Saturday September 16, 2011 – Brandon had been home sick for a couple of days, but  today he seemed to be on the mend.  I asked him about his neck, as he had mentioned it being sore Thursday morning and he had wanted to go to the chiropractor with me on Saturday.  I remember being ready to go to my regular monthly appointment and confirming if he was coming, but he declined.  I honestly don’t remember if he said it was totally fine or just that it wasn’t very bad anymore – I urged him to make sure to take care of it, but he was feeling a bit too tired to bother with it on a Saturday morning.  So I went alone.

Later in the day I was sitting in the office with our oldest son working on something, when Brandon came in and said something like “You guys wanna here somethin’ I wrote?”  He had a page in his hand, homework that was due Monday apparently, that he had started working on in his room that day, now that he was feeling a bit better – wouldn’t want to get behind.  He was not the type to want to share his work, or let us read it for that matter.  He always just quietly worked on his projects and handed them in without us even seeing them most of the time.  So when he wanted to read something to us, both his brother and I of course agreed, we wanted to hear it!  He laid down on his back on the carpet, as he was still weak – not energetic by any means, but he was out of bed, which we were glad to see.  Brandon had always liked to lay on bare floors come to think of it…and I would always be telling him to get up, it wasn’t that clean – when he didn’t want to move I’d say “You’re such a floor-layer!”  He liked it down there it seemed, usually because it was cooler, but that wasn’t the reason this day.  Anyhow, Brandon laid on the carpet and read the following  page (typing it right off the rough copy in front of me that is now laminated and in our special “Book of Blessings”).  Of course he kept it from being too serious by acting silly through the entire thing – he had us in stitches!

I am Brandon Kurtz

I am not a foney or an actor.  I don’t drink coffee or need fake energy, and I don’t like spicy food.  I don’t do drugs and am not a hypocrite.

I have friends not amigos.  I have a brother and sister, and not step siblings.  I like to eat and sleep, not pull all-nighters.

I am a proud human that wants to succeed. 

I believe in human rights and equality, not discrimination. 

Justice and democracy, not dictatorship.

And that I can reach my highest goals if I just try.

A great opportunity is worth a million bucks, a good friend is one of the best things in life and people who say I am lousy at all sports are liars.

I am a good sport, I love adventure and exciting activities more than anything and I want to find undiscovered land.

My name is Brandon Kurtz and I can do anything if I put my mind to it.

This write-up was so hilarious the way he presented it, we hardly caught the words…but later it became so impactful as we realized what a precious gift he had left us.  How often do we get to hear what’s going on in the minds of the teenagers in our family?  Pretty cool – such a blessing to us.  This became the final statement on the back page of the program for Brandon’s Celebration of Life – he got the last word about who he was and what he was about.

Ah, I think I just smiled, and breathed again…so thankful…the reminder of this precious gift…again I am filled with endless HOPE…

<3 Janine Kurtz


#8 – Crazy tiny little Special Moments

If you have just started reading, you may want to start with OUR STORY in the top right, then blog posts #1-7…

Journal Entry October 23, 2013 – Well, two days ago I took a deep breath and started telling the hard part of the story.  Maybe I will have to take a day off here and there after all.  Apparently we don’t have to feel guilty about that sort of thing – it’s called self-care…who knew?  When I started typing these blog posts 9 days ago it was so exhilarating I didn’t think I’d ever want to skip a day, but like anything else I guess it’s always easier to start than to follow through.  Well before I over-analyze the process I’m going through and try to explain it…maybe I should just pick up where I left off…I wrote about the Thursday, so next would be:

Friday September 16, 2011 – Brandon woke up the second day feeling much like the day before – still had a temperature and sore throat.  Dr. Mom prescribed the same treatment: stay home from school (for real this time) in bed; meds for the temperature; chicken soup for lunch and plenty of rest.  True to form, he pulled himself together and dragged into school for a science test he didn’t want to miss.  Later he called me at work yet again to let me know he had gone, but was back in bed – forgiveness rather than permission.    Brandon admitted to me he was feeling pretty crappy, and I probably gave him some little talk about not being able to get better if he didn’t take time to rest and to not worry about school work, it would be there when he went back next week.  His friend from school told me later he had seen Brandon one of those two days and walked with him for a while – he said the fever was evident.

Every Friday night without fail our kids would go to a youth group and hang out with friends, play basketball, and such.  This night however Brandon reluctantly stayed home for more chicken soup, while I dropped the others off – he hated missing basketball with his buddies.  I had an appointment that evening, but was feeling torn now because Brandon was home and hadn’t wanted me to leave him for whatever reason.  While I was in the youth group parking lot, trying to figure if I should go home or keep the commitment, my appointment called and cancelled.  She apologized, but I assured her that actually worked better for me too – it really was a relief for both of us.  I happily called Brandon to say I was zooming back home, and would grab him whatever he wanted to eat, just name it (not my usual style to be honest).  He wanted a double big mac, so I went and grabbed us both “dinner” and headed home.  He made it out of bed, happy as a clam to get his heart’s desire at that moment.  We sat and ate together at the kitchen table and then hung out the rest of that evening.  We were both happy to be together and I felt like a good mom without guilt – like I was exactly where I needed to be that night.

A few days after Brandon passed, I remember sadly and lovingly looking through the worldly possessions he had left behind in his room.  On the shelf was his “special box” of things he kept from years gone by.  I gave myself permission to take a peek inside.  I found lots of little things which included things like a key chain from a trip, a special rock collected, a silky handkerchief from grandpa, a couple of phone numbers he had recently collected from friends he maybe wanted to connect with more, and to my surprise somehow there was a receipt from that Friday night.  I don’t know how he ended up with it, but sure enough it listed his double big mac and my mcdouble “to go”…


Things I’m learning…

We just never know the impact of quality time together, for others or ourselves, or what others may view as being quality time.  Sometimes it’s the seemingly small things that can make a difference, or become a special memory – I don’t want to take those moments for granted.

You never truly know what you’ve got till it’s gone – so all the more I want to purpose to be “present” and not miss out on the special moments now.  When I’m with people I care about, I want to be focused on that conversation – really hearing them and connecting – instead of texting, looking for the bigger better deal, or be distracted thinking of things in the past or future.

Though that Friday night is hard to think about in many ways, the beauty of simplicity and being where I was supposed to be does again rekindle within me that endless HOPE…

<3  Janine Kurtz


#7 – At a Loss

If you have just joined the journey, you may want to take a read of OUR STORY in the top right…

Journal Entry, Monday October 21, 2013 – The last 24 hours I’ve been at a loss for words. For the last week since I started to finally put my thoughts into full sentences, it has felt like I could keep typing and never stop. Then I took a day off and now I feel like I have writer’s block already! Am I really at the point where I’m out of words already, not sure what to say next? No, it’s not that. I think the problem is, in fact, the realization that the next thing I need to share is the story, the details of the loss, blow-by-blow. Where do I even start? Do I dare re-live the fright of it by putting it in writing? Can I do justice to the stories of all the small blessings and wonderful people who came to us in our time of need? Also, how in the world do I try to tie off a story like this at blog size lengths, when I feel like recounting those few days and weeks surrounding our loss could fill a whole book? And if I have to just stop and say “to be continued”, I’m not so sure it will have been left at an uplifting part that leaves anyone reading with the feeling that there is endless HOPE. This is where I’m stuck…

Well, literally while I’m sitting here stuck, the sound of a siren is coming blaring down our street – so that’s as good or as frightening a spot to start as any. Sirens never used to bother me a lot, I would notice them and hope the people it was going help would be ok, but then would get on with my life. Now…though I am at peace in my life 90% of the time overall, I do have to admit that sirens do make my heart pound like they never did before 2 years ago.

Tuesday September 20, 2011  – I remember that life-altering morning of Sept 20/11 – I woke up early, (oh boy I’m melting down just a few words in!), went to have a shower early, planned to get to work early, so I could get home early. My husband would be home for the kids in the morning, so I was going to jet out to work sooner than usual – I remember wanting to get work done quick and get back to check on Brandon, who had been home sick from school for a few days.  But I must rewind a few days before that…

Thursday September 15, 2011 – It was September 2011, the first week of school had gone fine, nothing out of the ordinary. All three kids were in high school together now, so there were class schedules, cheques for student fees and yearbooks, the dreaded school pictures on the second day of school – the usual stuff. The second week of school started normally, but on the Thursday morning  all of a sudden Brandon wasn’t feeling well. From what I remember and jotted in my notes, his forehead felt like he had a fever, he mentioned a sore throat and his tonsils looked swollen. He also mentioned his neck was sore, which alarmed me for the moment, as I remembered hearing that was a sign of something bad, but didn’t really know what.  After I questioned him further on that, he rubbed a little spot on his neck that felt like it was “out” and concluded he needed to go to the chiropractor – we agreed he’d go with me Saturday to my regular appointment. He never mentioned his neck bothering him again.  I remember getting him some ibuprofen to bring his temperature down and advising him to stay in bed and just rest for the day. He told me he didn’t want to miss school. I asked what class would he want to go for if he got feeling better later in the day – and said he would only be allowed to go in for one. “Woodwork” was his answer – he didn’t want to get behind on his project. I said forget it, it wasn’t even academic, so just stay in bed and get better – he seemed like he would, and I reluctantly went off to work.  He was a big boy, didn’t need or want mommy staying home and fussing over him – but that day it bothered me and I remember even mentioning to my boss that morning that he was ill.

Later that day he snuck into school for the class, then called me when he got back home to confess and assure me he was back in bed.  What a boy!  So diligent, so hardworking, such a turkey!  Though he loved to goof off and drive us all crazy for fun, he was such a hard worker when it came to his school work.  He had high grades, they didn’t come easy, but he took his homework seriously, budgeted his time and slaved at it to get it right – producing work he could be proud of, so that in his spare time he could just enjoy himself. This day was no exception. Though he felt awful, he was somehow driven to keep his commitments – even if to me it was “just” Grade 10 Woodworking.

That drive to get up again and push on, that determination to keep moving forward – that’s something inspiring.  We won’t always “feel” like it – today I initially didn’t “feel” up to anything at all.  To quote a friend, “Some days are a 2, some are a 10”.  Commitment and faithfulness is key – to do what we are responsible for, to follow through with a loyalty to our family, friends, neighbors and workplaces.  Tomorrow is a fresh new day, I choose to “check my baggage” at the door and dive in.  I know when I get there it will be more exciting than what I dread, and as I apply myself, more fulfilling than if I hide out.  Instead of being at a loss, I will feel I can go on again, with purpose…because within me there is endless HOPE…

<3  Janine Kurtz