Hello Friends!! It has been a while since my last post. I lost my cousin this summer. Brandice Dawson DuPree lost her battle with brain cancer on July 11th. She spent the last weeks of her life surrounded by all of the people that meant the most to her. She was surrounded by more love than anyone could ever hope for; and even though she couldn’t communicate, she felt it! The following is an excerpt from a little labor of love I am working on…I hope you enjoy it!
In the dedication of this book you read about my dear cousin, Brandice who lost her battle with brain cancer. Many days after I wrote that tribute, I was seated in my den with laptop in lap and my attention was drawn to my bookshelf on the opposing wall. My eye immediately went to one book. The binding of the book is not as interesting as some of the other leather bound classics that my husband has collected over the years. It is certainly not the book that your eyes would be drawn to if you walked into my home. Curious, I put the laptop down and walked over to grab the book that had literally jumped out at me. As I got close enough to read the title, my eyes welled up with tears. “God’s Little Devotional Book for Moms” was a gift that I had received when pregnant with my daughter, Laney. You have probably guessed by now who lovingly gave me that gift…Brandice. I turned to the inside cover hoping desperately that she had written a note on it; but she did not. (I guess I thought that if I had her signature there I would feel closer to her. The truth is she is always with me…signature or not.)
I closed the book and for a moment disappointment washed over me. Then, I felt this wave of peace as if she was tapping me on the shoulder and I turned to a random page in the book. This is the story I found (quoted directly from the book):
“A Good Laugh is Sunshine in the House.”
Business consultant C.W. Metcalf tells how he once signed up for a hospice training program to work with terminally ill patients. He was assigned to Roy, an elderly man with colon cancer. Offering to assist Roy one day, Metcalf said, “Maybe you want me to help you out of those Mickey Mouse pajamas and into something more respectable.” Roy whispered back, even in his great pain, “I like these pj’s. Mickey reminds me that I can still laugh a little, which is more than the doctor has ever done. Maybe you should get some pj’s with Goofy on them.” Roy laughed, but Metcalf didn’t. “Young man,” he continued, “you’re one of the most depressing people I’ve ever met. I’m sure you’re a nice person, but if you’re here to help, it ain’t working.” Metcalf was angered to hear the truth put so bluntly.
On the last day of his training, Metcalf learned that Roy had died. His instructor handed him a paper bag that Roy had left for him. Inside, he found a T-shirt with the grinning face of Goofy. A note read, “Put on this shirt at the first sign you’re taking yourself too seriously. In other words, wear it all the time.” Metcalf laughed! Roy had taught him one of the best lessons he ever learned: humor isn’t an occasional joke. It’s a basic survival tool for living life to the fullest!
The light in the eyes [of him whose heart is joyful] rejoices the hearts of others. Proverbs 15:30″
Now, most of you don’t know my cousin; but, she is hilarious. There is no question in my mind that there is more laughter in heaven with her in it that it was the day before she arrived. She is quick witted and sarcastic and being around her usually renders people in stitches. So, even though I knew the truth (that death of the physical body is not the end of the spirit and the soul); it sure was nice to have the proof from someone that I hold so dear.
Ironically, I had just had a conversation with my 5 year old the previous day. Laney is quite a night owl and often has a hard time going to sleep at night. I must say she came about the trait quite honestly…both her father and I stay up until all hours of the night ourselves. Anyway, back to the track, Laney has to be prodded to wake up in the mornings. The first words out of her mouth are typically, “I don’t want to go to school!” Then the tears begin. While brushing her teeth she is usually crying. I have often responded to this by getting a little irritated. The irritation has been highly ineffective, by the way.
Yesterday, though, I changed my mind. As Laney began the tearful teeth brushing session, I started to talk about how much I love her laugh. I told her that I really thought we needed more laughter in the morning to which she wailed, “I can’t. I’m tired.” I kept going as if I had gotten the answer I was wishing for and I could see her little wheels turning. She stepped down from her little blue stool and we started dressing. The giggles started to come. She does have an infectious laugh. You know those little kid laughs…the uncontrollable belly laughs. She literally laughed at everything I said and did. She laughed when I tucked her little polo shirt into her khaki skort. She laughed when I accidently gave her a wedgie when pulling up her pants. She laughed when I said, “Put your socks on.”. It was magic and I couldn’t stop laughing either.
We continued the raucousness of it all on the ride to work. Some really cool dance song came on (the title escapes me at the moment) and we both started to dance. We laughed so hard we cried. Then this morning as I raised the dead, I was met with the most brilliant smile and a tired little chuckle. Hmmm, I think I’m on to something here. We spent the next 5 minutes brushing our teeth with our eyes closed. Yes, blind tooth brushing is hilarious…try it!
As we made our way to school this morning, I looked in the rear view mirror and I said, “Laney, I am so glad we have decided to laugh in the mornings, aren’t you?” She answered affirmatively and then I said, “You know, I never did that in the morning when I was a kid and I should have.” She looked up with the most endearing face and said, “Never?”. I said, “No, we never did.” For a brief moment, she looked sad that I had not experienced this pleasant morning ritual and then I saw this unmistakable look. It was a cross between utter gratitude and pride. In her mind, she thought, aren’t we lucky? And in my mind, I thought, “That’s what I’m talking about!” Don’t you love those moments when you realize you really are a legend in your child’s eyes?
PS: I want to thank all of our family and friends who have been there for us this summer. In the midst of this painful tragedy, I have witnessed the most compelling outpouring of love and support. Even now as I write this, I am filled with such warmth, gratitude, and love. I am truly overwhelmed. I would mention all of your names; but I am afraid I would miss someone…you know who you are, though.
PPS: Not to be too preachy, but for all of you parents reading this, please make sure to remember what a blessing it is to have children. Life is so precious and sometimes it is too short. You have this moment right now…..make the most of it!
And to you, Brandice, I know James Taylor was one of your faves (& mine too). This ones for you….I love you!! From the first moment I laid eyes on you (at birth) I loved you. I have so enjoyed being a part of your life. I cherish all the memories and I miss you; but, I know it’s not goodbye……it’s see you later!! And, my promise to you is this…once I am over the hump whenever I think of you, I will laugh!! I know that is what you would want.