endless HOPE…

endless HOPE…


#10 – Remembrance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Janine Kurtz



#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


#6 – Appreciating the Mess

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

October 19, 2013 Journal Entry – Today I’m seizing the moment and writing a fresh entry versus rewriting old notes from another day. I have mentioned the BB story to a few people in passing, and if you had read the post called Endless Hope, Oct 13th Journal entry, I alluded to it.  Here it is.

About 8 weeks ago we moved from our house into a beautiful little 600 sqft apartment.  We have 1 teen at home, 1 graduated and living out-of-town, and 1 in heaven – so our previously-chaotic household of 5 is all of a sudden down to 3, and it just made sense to move to a small place – we do love it here!  (I’ll save the bit about the freedom we’ve found by ditching debt and enjoying simple living for another night though).  My creative friends that helped unpack the kitchen decided to place out a set of 3 little square ceramic dishes on a matching plate as décor and catch-all for keys, etc.  It’s a great idea and looks pretty neat – I never would have thought of it personally.  I’m more of a push-all-the-furniture-symmetrically-against-the-wall kind of person, and my idea of decorating or staging a house ends up looking like I’ve stripped it bare.  Ha-ha, that’s why we need each other I guess hey?  Well if you look close in the 3rd ceramic dish on the right….you’ll notice a tiny white ball of plastic…kind of dirty looking maybe…but if you’re ever over and helping tidy the kitchen, please don’t chuck it in the garbage!!!  I’d probably cry if I ever noticed it was missing!

Generally I don’t care about “things”, it’s all just stuff that is replaceable.  I do however get sentimental about a very few things, because of the deeper meaning they have however.  Take the piano in our little living room, it is a family keepsake that reminds me of my young uncle that passed when I was about 5 and he was about 21.  The hope chest my parents gave me is in our storage room at the moment, too big for our bedroom, but was a very special gift and when I was a teen I filled it with precious things like dishes I was collecting for when I got married, dried flowers and hundreds of letters from my sweetheart that I hoped to marry (and did).  Later I added to that cedar lined chest tiny clothing from when our kids were babies.  Other than that the only things that seem irreplaceable to me are the photo albums, external hard drive backup of digital photos, home videos, and maybe my wedding dress & cake topper.  Ok, yes there’s also the scrap books of kids projects, and a few heirloom dishes of course, can’t forget those.  I’m not a hoarder of material things, I have purged it all over the last 3-4 years, but I certainly am a sentimental I guess.  Life has been so busy for so long and I realized early on in our family life that there was no way I’d remember all the precious details and moments without some of these prompts.  I’d try to get the kids to write a little page each day if we ever went on a holiday, so they could remember a few special details from each day that we would have otherwise forgotten by the end of the week.  Life just does get to be a blur.

I found myself so busy trying to keep things organized the past 19 years since we started having kids, (well at least organized chaos), while juggling working outside the home and extra involvement with music especially when the kids were younger.  Then they had soccer and birthday parties, and then youth activities – the list of to do’s was never-ending.  There was never a spare hour where I’d say to myself “oh, what should I do now?” but rather was always scrambling to keep some semblance of order, tidiness and clean laundry.  The family team was what I liked to call it, as we tried to teach our kids the skills on how to do their parts of these chores along the way to keep things going.  Everyday it was about working together to make food, ensure homework is on track, and my constant reminders to “please clean up after yourself” and not leave a path of destruction.  (and all the mom’s reading say “AMEN”).

As a teenager Brandon was pretty tidy most of the time, no toys any longer left strewn around of course by age 15.  He liked to pull his damp laundry out of the dryer after only about 10 minutes and hang it all up, so the clothes were now meticulously cared for as well.  In the summer of 2011, less than three months before his sudden passing, we had downsized a bit and moved into a different house in the neighborhood.  He had a nice big room, and set it up with the bed against the wall so it ooked clear and open.  He and his friends had been into airsoft BB  guns that year and would go out in a near by forest and chase around with them, having the time of their lives.  When he needed to restock on those little plastic BB’s for the first time that summer , I was surprised to find out they came in boxes of 5000!  I was even more surprised to come upstairs one day to find him sitting on the floor of his “tidy” new room with all 5000 of those blasted BB’s dumped out on the floor! He was happily swirling them around on the carpet and they were rolling around the whole room – coulda made snow angels in them!  Of course in my shock I said something like “what in the world are you doing?!” and “you better clean these up Bran” and “do you realize I’ll be finding those things around the house forever?!”  He just shrugged, and with a twinkle in his eye just continued almost swimming in them.  (ha – makes me giggle now).  It was a moment when his organized mind gave into the fun-loving kid inside him.  The next day I noticed he had put them all away and at the time I was relieved and thanked him.

About eleven weeks later he was gone. At the end of the viewing at the funeral home, I think I recall for some reason those bb’s were there with a bunch of his stuff on display, and I seem to remember pouring the whole box into the casket just before we left.  Sometime in the next months I was in cleaning his room, and pulled out his bed, night table and shelf, vacuuming all the edges by the base boards – time for a detailed job. It wasn’t until then that I found one of those crazy little plastic balls tucked in by one of the wheels/casters of his bed.  Then over in the corner behind the door, another one, and against another baseboard one last one.  I melted into tears (much like now) realizing again how much I missed him…how much I missed his presence, how much I missed his teasing, how much I missed any previous mess he had made.  In that moment I was so glad I was finding them around the house forever!   


I’d give absolutely anything to enjoy that crazy moment again – discovering the 5000 bb’s all over on the floor.  Today I’d probably dive in, toss them in the air and spread them around with him until we got tired of it or he decided to kick me out for being too immature – haha!  So I didn’t vacuum up those last few bb’s, I kept them in his room, tucked safely in corners I knew were pretty safe from being cleaned…and when we moved just a few weeks ago I took them with us to our new apartment. 

It’s amazing how loss affects our perspective.  Things we couldn’t see before are clear and bright and glaring at times – like the need to enjoy the moments together and enjoy the mess.  If you discover crayon drawing on the walls, ok clean up most of it, but maybe keep a bit and put some furniture in front of it – or at least take a picture.  The clothes and books and backpacks and chunks that continue to creep back around the house after being put in their place – don’t get too crazy about it, yes teach tidiness, but somehow we have to savour that time when we have youngsters in the house to have stuff to even spread around!  When life was too crazy I couldn’t appreciate these things either and longed for a future state of utopia where cleanliness prevailed at times.  But now with the few hours and days I’ve had with no kids in the house off and on, it doesn’t get more fulfilling just because things stay in the place I put them.

Appreciate the mess – it means something is going on that you will likely miss later! 

Appreciate the moment – every one of them passes and is gone, so seize this one!

With endless Hope,

<3 Janine Kurtz

p.s. Speaking of which, I just signed off suddenly to go be with my sweet husband right now.  Can’t stay in the past and future, must be present, tho I do love my new late night blogging.  So, forgive any rough sentences and lengthiness, the editing will happen tomorrow…if it’s a priority. :)


#5 – Burn Out Bright

If you’ve just tuned in, you may want to read the page called “Our Story” by clicking up in the top right…

Journal Entry October 18, 2013 – Burn Out Bright…I just love this song by Switchfoot!  It’s pretty rockin’, so if you don’t like that sorta thing, don’t bother looking it up (haha).  We played it at Brandon’s Celebration of Life as part of a slide show.  Two days before we had a more solemn gathering for the viewing, but we played lots of upbeat music at his memorial/Celebration of Life cause that’s what Brandon would have liked!  Keep in mind he was 15 – and disliked things that were dull.  :)

We usually listen to the kind of music our kids like…and so songs like this bring back lots of memories of a few years ago.  I always thought this band was pretty awesome – we even managed to fluke out and catch a concert several years ago when we were out-of-town without the kids for a rare time away.  That was pretty cruel for the “parents” to go see one of the kids favorite bands and then tell them about it – but we did bring back t-shirts!

This song and many others seemed like catchy tunes to me…but when we were searching for songs to use after Brandon’s passing, this one really hit me.  I thought, “oh man, if I ever write a book, I should ask these guys if I could by any chance, pretty please, use this same title!”  We’ll see about that.

But anyway this song brings up so many things inside of me.  It’s a picture of how Brandon lived, full-out!  He gave things his all – diligently working hard and playing hard.  In some homework he had done just a few days before his passing, he had written a line about “I love adventure and exciting activities – and I want to find undiscovered land.”  He passionately played soccer, and gave 110% as striker, scoring lots of goals with his team, even when he played up one year with older guys.  He always bounded down the stairs, never walked.  He was constantly entertaining or teasing at the table – just to get a laugh and keep things fun.  If I reminded him of some table manners, he would get a rise out of me by doing something off the wall (opposite of the table manners I had taught him) – how could you expect the rest of us to NOT burst out laughing?!  Haha!  Good memories.  He was cautious and wise in many things, taking only calculated risks, budgeting his time and saving money, but he was definitely free-spirited in the way he loved the out doors, spontaneity and fun!  He lived for fun!

I won’t write much else tonight, just leave you with the song lyrics.  Brandon’s life has re-lit what was a waning ember in me, and reinforced that I too want to Burn Out Bright!  I don’t want to be a light that dims with time, a flame that slowly stops dancing. I don’t want to make a mess of my life, or let my hope be snuffed out by the damp blanket of the reality that life is hard.  No, I want to shine brightly, give my all, be effective and productive until the day I die.  THERE’S STILL FIRE IN ME YET!

Fueled by this endless HOPE…

<3 Janine Kurtz

Burn Out Bright

by Switchfoot  
Does it have to start with a broken heart – Broken dreams and bleeding parts?
We were young and the world was clear – Young ambition, it disappears
I swore it would never come to this – The average, the obvious
I’m still discontented down here – I’m so discontented
If we’ve only got one try – If we’ve only got one life
If time was never on our side – Well, before I die I wanna burn out bright
So a spark ignites in time and space – To make it through this human race
You fight and crawl your way back home  – But you’re running the wrong way
The future is a question mark – With kerosene and electric sparks
There’s still fire in you yet – Yeah, there’s still fire in you
If we’ve only got one try – If we’ve only got one life
If time was never on our side – Well, before I die I wanna burn out bright
I can’t clean up the mess I’ve made – I can’t clean up the mess I’ve made
I can’t sleep in the bed I’ve made – I can’t sleep in the bed I’ve made
If we’ve only got one try – If we’ve only got one life
If time was never on our side – Well before I die I wanna burn out
Before I die I wanna burn out bright
If time was never on our side
Well before I die I wanna burn out bright
Songwriters:   Jonathan Foreman;Timothy Foreman
Album: Oh Gravity! by Switchfoot


#4 – A Blog is Born

If you’ve just tuned in, you may want to read the page called “Our Story” by clicking up in the top right…

Sat Sept 28, 2013It was a wonderful Saturday morning coffee date with my friend Dr. Susan Biali (thanks for letting me use your name here Susan).  We had planned it a couple of months in advance I think, cause our lives had been so busy…ok her life more than mine!  (Checkout her FB page – author, speaker, life coach, medical doctor…oh ya, and flamenco dancer!).  Near the end of our couple hours together, she encouraged me again as she has the past two years to write a book.  I told her it just seems so daunting and though she has walked me through the steps it’s just so hard to start!  She suggested to maybe start with a blog, write in small chunks to just get the words out, and then it will be easier later to pull into a book.  She told me what website to start with and voilà that’s what inspired me to get going on this project just a couple of weeks later.  Thank you Susan!  It’s already felt so therapeutic and rewarding.

She had also told me over a year earlier that a book doesn’t have to happen right away, sometimes it takes up to 7 or 10 years from the time of its inspiration.  It makes sense I suppose, as we discussed the fact that it is often years of experiences, the aftermath, or rather the further story of redemption – all things continuing to work together for good – that finally culminates into something to share.  

This was all a relief to hear, as back within the first few days it had felt like there was so much to say already that I needed to get my act together and be sure to get documenting.  By the time of Brandon’s Celebration of Life service, 11 days after his passing, three people had said the word “book” to me, and inside I had already intended to do it.  Deep down I acknowledged that the idea was outlandish at best – it was outside my scope, I had no training, no degree, no artsy-fartsy or creative side to me whatsoever, I thought.  Gosh, I had only ever read 1 or 2 novels all the way through (in my adult life), and then some work courses and the Bible.  Life had been so busy the last 20 years that all my self-improvement books on marriage and parenting had a book mark in them at either page 7, or about page 40.  Although I knew I was completely unaccredited and a delinquent in the eyes of the literary world, to me our experiences so far seemed like a story.  To me it was so much tragedy, swaddled in so many tiny miracles, in such a short time, and it just had to be shared. 

Only a few days after it happened, my sister-in-law helped me record those early details on her phone app.  It was a valuable chance to capture that incredible day of loss and the 5 days leading up to it while it was still fresh.   Then I started to make notes a few days after his service – fully intending to turn it all into something.  Within a couple of months it felt like I was taking too long – was I going to get this done?

Sure enough, two years later I sat there with no book started, just catching up with my friend on seemingly small everyday events.  Susan told me she felt it was all so inspirational, however, and we realized so much would have been missed if the book had been done immediately (without “procrastination” as I would have guilted myself about in the past, before she explained book writing to me). 

Our first raw thoughts and experiences are valuable, but with time they simmer, settle out, grow and mature into wisdom, as we find out about “the rest of the story”.  Our whole life is a continuing saga, where in the world can you cut it off?!  When I was originally typing this paragraph in my journal on Word, I hit the 600 word mark and second page of my document …and I wondered and wrote “Hmmm, how long will this end up, and how long will it take for me to be satisfied that I could ever even put “The End” on the last page of a book?  There’s so much life left to live, and so much effect Brandon’s life will continue to have on mine….so maybe instead… (and I had goose bumps at the thought)…the last page will simply beg me to type the words “To Be Continued…”  

Now that feels exciting, kinda like there truly is endless HOPE…

<3  Janine Kurtz