Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Sadness and Humor Paradox

I recently attended the funeral of my friend's 43 year old brother who died of ALS. He was diagnosed only six months ago. Normal prognosis for ALS is 3 to 10 years so this was a particularly agressive form. He left behind his wife and three beautiful daughters.

There were many wonderful moments at Kirk’s funeral but these two will stick with me a long time.

His brother Kasey told this story:
His wife, Angie was evidently quite distraught one evening before he died and crying, saying she did not know how she would make it without him. She depended on him for everything. Kirk’s response was: "Angie, I don’t want you to grieve forever. I know you will have to sometimes. But when you do, please picture me holding your face gently in my hands, looking deep into your eyes, and saying to you, ‘Get over it!’”

Another story Kasey told:
Kirk’s mom was telling Kirk that she knew he would be so much better in heaven and would not miss them at all but how much they would miss him and it would be so hard to go on living without him. He replied, “I can understand that. I wouldn’t want to live without me either. I’m glad I won’t have to.”

What a gift, that in the midst of such suffering and pain, to have a sense of humor so developed that it can’t help but continue to come out. What a trust one must have in Jesus to allow it to. May we all find much humor in 2008!

Three weeks before he died, Kirk and his wife, Angie, spoke to their church in Olathe. It is recorded and posted at the church's web site. It is powerful.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I can't believe how fast time goes between these entries. I had to stop today and commerate a huge developmental milestone in Grant's life. Anyone who is not Grant's mother probably won't realize how huge this moment was, but believe me, it has been long awaited.

Grant has always been VERY verbal. So verbal, in fact, that as his mother, I find myself saying, uh-hmm, okay, ah, mmm, periodically without much conscious comprehension of what I am hearing. When he was little I used to say he didn't have a thought he didn't express. After awhile, you can't listen to every thought that comes into a 3-5 year old brain. You just can't! As he's gotten older, he doesn't express every thought but he loves to replay his day or a book he's been reading. The only problem is that he gets very bogged down in the details. I think he wants you to feel like you are there, so he spends a great deal of time describing small tidbits of information in the scene to the point you can't remember who he was talking about or what the plot is.

Two weeks or so ago, he was immersed in describing the details of his most recently read novel. Finally, after a twenty minute description (and we had yet to establish a plot) I bravely said for the first time, "Grant, stop. You have completely lost me. You need to give me the back of the book cover version, hit the high points. I know you want me to feel like I've read the book but that will only happen if I read the book. Give me the big picture." I could tell he was hurt and I felt like a terrible mother. But at nine years old, I felt like it was time he started to learn to summarize!

Well tonight, he was telling me about another book they read in class and he started down a rabbit trail but stopped himself and said, "But that isn't important to the story so I don't need to tell you about that." Yeah! And I actually stayed engaged in the story and I understood the plot and we moved on to another topic in less than five minutes! My premenapausal brain was happy. And just as important, Grant was happy because his mom was able to say at the end of his explanation, "That sounds like a really good story."

Like I said, this may not sound that momentous to all of you but it is a huge step for the relationship between this 40-something mother trying to juggle too many thoughts and tasks and her 9 year old son. To give 20 minutes of undivided attention to anything is difficult at best, impossible on average. I'm so excited to be able to meet this need Grant has to be connected in this way without feeling like I am so obviously not up to the task. And I'm so proud of Grant for taking to heart what I said, even when he didn't like it, and adjusting his communication style to accomodate his brain-weary mother.