An Alien, A Professor, and a Womanizing Motorcyclist

(*I’m not a celebrity stalker, but the death of Robin Williams so close to my Mom’s makes it all raw and real and I’m moved to share…)

We moved from Ohio to Arizona in 1978 and shortly thereafter I became a “latch-key” kid. Part of the transition included my Mom going to work once we got settled into our “master-planned” suburban neighborhood. So, for about two hours every day after school, before my older sister got home, I was alone. Incidentally this is when I became a closet eater, but that’s another blog and another story. On the days I wasn’t riding my bike over to my best friend’s house to play Atari, choreograph endless dance routines, or swim in her pool, I was at home, acting brave, but really actually quite scared and alone.

But the truth is, in the midst of being alone I never felt lonely. It’s a funny thing what food and television can do to one’s mind to believe in a false sense of comfort, community, and protection.

With packages of Saltine’s in hand, along with freshly sliced rounds of cheese and copious scoops of Nestle Quik powder in my 2% milk, I would sit on our Chevron striped couch and watch “Mork and Mindy”, “Gilligan’s Island”, and “Happy Days.” And as I did, the alone-ness disappeared. Sure He-Man, Tom and Jerry, and Jonny Quest helped pass the time, but somehow Mork and his innocent wonder, Professor and his brilliant discoveries, and the Fonz and his simple-minded strength and confidence made this at-home-alone-kid feel very much protected.

photo courtesy of:

photo courtesy of:


It’s frightening to look back and think about how much TV I watched while unattended. It’s a wonder my brain didn’t turn to mush as my Dad always declared. I had it down to a science, knowing when to turn it off so the tube wasn’t hot to the touch when he got home from work. Though we watched TV sometimes as a family (I remember Masterpiece Theatre, NOVA, The Muppet Show, Little House, The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, and mini-series like The Thorn Birds and Shogun…), the statistics of children watching extended amounts of media isn’t from this day and age…it started way back when I was little, and yes, I did ride my bike and explore for hours on end without a care in the world, but many days, I vedged in front of the boob-tube.

I had a crush on that alien, Mork from Ork. My friends and I used to shake Na-nu Na-nu style. I mean, I actually wore rainbow suspenders, people. I didn’t love Mindy because she seemed slow to notice the treasure that was Mork right in front of her, but she eventually came around, smart cookie.

I know Mork was just one of many heart-warming characters Robin Williams played over the years (did you know the producers allowed him ad-lib time while taping because he was just that brilliantly funny to come up with stuff on the fly?), the others with lasting impact in my memory and so many of yours, too, but to an elementary school girl who was alone, trying to feel “at home” in a big empty house, his quirky innocence, hand wringing, and calls with Orson at the close of each show, honest heart-felt calls laced with authenticity, questions, curiosity, and growth, that down-to-earth alien sure helped my alone heart feel right at home.

Shazbot, Robin Williams! I’m so sad you are gone!  I pray blessings over Robin and his family, healing and comfort…continued laughter. He was designed with many a gift, but one in particular that impacted much of the world was the gift of healing through laughter. What a profound and beautiful thing to know one’s gifts and walk in them! Oh, the ripple effects! Lord, thank You for making Robin Williams and introducing him to the world at the same time I have been on Earth. Lord, You know that sense of humor is something my family cherishes greatly, especially in the midst of trial and grief. What a gift his life was! What. A. Gift! Thanks, again, God! You are an AWESOME CREATOR!

On Weddings and Funerals

In preparation for my Mom’s memorial (funeral) service, I wrote out more than a dozen pieces, trying to figure out just what to say. Once it was determined I was the one who would be sharing the message, I prayed and pondered how to sum up 42 years of MY memories with a woman who lived 26 full years of life even before my arrival to this earth. My Dad said he wanted me to share but with one stipulation: I couldn’t say “pissed off”. I asked, Where have you EVER heard me say that?” He informed me that it wasn’t only my Mom who had listened to my radio show several years ago, but he did, too, and he heard me say it. I assured him, “Dad, don’t worry…I won’t say ‘pissed off’ at Mom’s service…but I’ll probably drop an ‘eff’ bomb…” (*if you could only be a fly on the wall of our family’s inappropriate sense of humor…at all the inappropriate times…hey, laughter is good medicine.)

Except I didn’t drop an ‘eff bomb. The problem is, whenever I speak publicly, no matter how many hours of preparation and rehearsal are poured into it, I still get nervous out of the gates, then warm up after a few minutes. And my Dad said I couldn’t cuss, and it wasn’t a wedding where I had already had half a glass of wine to relax, so my usual alternative is a joke to lighten people up… (*Hello!? remember WHY people have asked me to speak publicly over the past 8 years…because my son died…and people always think it’s going to be sad, even though it’s not…I need a new platform…just sayin’…) But it was my Mom’s memorial service, so without cussing, wine, or a good joke, I awkwardly fumbled and barely scratched the surface to only ONE of the angles I wanted to go in sharing about my Mom and her impact on my life.

Then, of freaking course, I left my computer in the other room with all of my notes and ended up winging it…but whatever.

After I worked out my nervous kinks, I was so glad to be sharing at my Mom’s service. I’m very comfortable not only sharing my heart candidly but sharing about death. I think funerals, (and talking about dying and death) are kind of important, I mean, especially since everybody dies and all. Yet we avoid the topic like the plague, as if that keeps it at bay, and don’t even plan services until a person has died.

You see, I don’t think weddings and funerals are really all that different. In both cases we celebrate a sacred love shared between two key players. Weddings are a blissful time where there is all the time in the world, seemingly. Funeral are the bittersweet reminder that God holds the number of our days in His hands…life is short this side of eternity, living with intention is key, and that even though those of us left over will be sad, it’s momentary, and the gathering of people to celebrate the one who has died is truly an opportunity to share joy! And, baby, my Mom loved a good party, especially the pretty decorations! Music, stories, food, and tears are present in both scenarios…and if it’s a funeral, there is most certainly dancing going on, too, though we just aren’t able to see it.

Some of our Mom's blue and white china on display at the party...

Some of our Mom’s blue and white china on display at the party…

Some of our Mom's blue and white china on display at the party...a friend made the "It is well with my soul" placard for my birthday earlier this year...

Some of our Mom’s blue and white china on display at the party…a friend made the “It is well with my soul” placard for my birthday earlier this year…

Anyway…I can honestly say, I’m not sad for her. I don’t grieve without hope. There is a vast difference between grief and despair. Grief is a true emotion meant to be expressed over great loss, and for me, the loss of my Mom’s physical presence in my life is great because I loved her dearly and was loved unconditionally by her, but I’m not sitting in the corner of my closet, hopeless and in despair. I know it’ll hit me in the thighs in a few weeks when things “wind down”, I realize I can’t carb-load anymore, and the reality hits that she’s not on a trip with my Dad, out of cellular range, so that’s why she isn’t calling…believe me, I’ve already wanted to ask her something specific and the answer is gone, with her.

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The little Dutch house is part of a canister set she put flour, sugar, tea, and coffee in over the years.

These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn't pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.

These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn’t pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.

God gave me a vision of my Mom while she was alive but on her last full day of life, and this as I sat behind her ailing body, rubbing her back as she tried to breathe…she was sitting on the edge of something and had her head turned, looking back at me over her shoulder. She was alive and young and vibrant and her smile was one so wide and beaming, I had never seen one quite like it captured in any photograph. Her eyes were bright and so alive and the look on her face was that of anticipation and excitement for what was before her, more glory than she had ever known…and then she danced with all of her might, and I could no longer see her…

Because apparently dancing takes place not only at weddings, but also in the midst of sacred encounters…

Time: My Love Language

6/15/14, taken by Vanessa Kruse Photography

My number one love language is time…and I think that’s why this grief is so incredibly profound. My Mom was too young to be as old as she was when she died. She wasn’t an “old” soul. She was wise and discerning beyond her years, basically with enough God-discernment to qualify for a lifetime, but […]

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A Matter of Obedience

Here’s what obedience looks like…

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Bedside with Bebe, Literally

This is a hand I've held for 42 years...

(*I started writing this the morning of June 19th) It’s all surreal, carpet burns on my knees as I position myself to be helpful to my Mom, rubbing her back while playing worship songs in her ears, reading Scripture over her, telling her how very grateful I am that she would call me her own, […]

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Why Wait?

“I’ll run a marathon when I lose 50 lbs.” “We’ll travel when the kids are out of the house.” “I’ll go back to school once my kids are through school.” “When I’m feeling better I’ll do such and such…” “When I have more money I’ll be able to do (whatever ‘it’ is…)” You and I could sit […]

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How do I Pray?

Sometimes I pray like this: (*closing my eyes as I type so it’s prayer and not prose…excuse typos…) Father, I love you! You are good and holy and lovely! You are BIG and I’m NOT! I’m grateful for Your grace each day, thankful for Your love, in awe of Your mercies, humbled by Your constant […]

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Have you ever been disobedient? It’s a word we like to throw around with our children, not even throw it around but use it with firm voices and wish for it with all of our hearts. We camouflage it with cooperator, team, make a good choice, blah, blah, blah. We think it’s worse at: toddler age, preschool […]

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Bucket List

Bebe & Bobby in Fiji, YWAM, renewing their vows, 2007

This entire post is prefaced with this truth: God is good, He knows the number of our days, death is nothing to be feared when we trust God’s love and word over us, the only ones hurt by death are the ‘leftovers’ aka, us, the Devil really does exist and his whole purpose is to steal, […]

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Update on My Mom

There is cancer in my mom’s body. Though I am her daughter and will/would fight for her to make it go away, over the past 3 years I’ve been spending much time in prayer and observation, watching helpless at times, sharing tears, laughing when the very thing may seem disrespectful and out of place…but I’ve […]

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