Sunday, January 6, 2013

Letters from Darren {#1} My Favorite

In reading the letters from my brother Darren I have had some realizations that I never expected.  I think the biggest one being that I just forgot that my brother was a teenage boy when he became so sick.  A teenager!!  He was barely out of high school, in fact those were his last healthy years.   I always thought of my brother as so much older, because he was older than me, but now I can look back and see how truly young he was when he was stricken with a brain tumor.  Now I can see how truly amazing his strength was especially for being so young.

Let me set the scene slightly.  Darren was in our home when he was sick, not a hospital.  He was under hospice and my mom's care.  The brain tumor first affected the movement of the right side of his body, and he slowly deteriorated more and more and just basic movements became impossible, basic human function, such as going to the restroom and eating.  He was not well, a baby, an invalid as a 19 & 20 year old.  I remember him not even being able to roll over in his own bed and desperately moaning for my mom all night long, "momm, momm, momm" just so he could simply turn over. I am not sure why, but this is one of my most vivid memories and I just remember feeling so helpless.
this photo is hard to post, because this is not who my brothers was, but what the illness did to him
So by the time the "pen pal" friendship started, Darren was unable to write the letters, so others did the writing for him.  He could still speak, although as time progressed he became harder to understand, and eventually his only form of communication was blinking his eyes since he lost all movement in his limbs and the capability to speak.

I will start with my favorite letter that I have read from Darren.  I am not sure why it is my favorite, possibly because it was written by my brother Jordan (who was around 12).  So the words are truly Darren's words, because as a 12 year old I am sure Jordan didn't know how to elaborate or add his own thoughts and opinions in a note to someone else.

So in Darren's words:

"Dear Friend,
It sounds like you had a nice snow. With all of the rain we get here I think we should get some snow.  Everyday I look out the window and see the rain....  Every day I have several of my friends stop by just to say hi sometimes. 

My sister Candice is doing pretty good, she calls about once a week.  The other day Candice saw someone get run over by a car.  It shook her up pretty good.  Whenever I hear Candice's voice I feel better.. She is always encouraging me.  She is a supervisor at Longs and she is younger than everyone else working under her.

I am taking some new medicine that seems to be working a little bit.  My right side is still pretty weak.  I am getting and MRI on Wednesday January 29th to see if my tumor is getting smaller.  Pray for me on Wednesday.

Dave is my puppet.  He come over every day trying to keep my Spirits up.

My little brother Jordan wrote this letter.  I am so proud of him!  Jordan plays basketball on the Jr. High basketball Team and Jenni plays on the High School team.  I have been feeling pretty good lately.   Tell everyone in Rosamond I said "HI!" I would like to visit if I get well enough.  Pray for my grandpa he is pretty sick now, His name is Pop Pop.  We have been calling him that since we were little.  Write back if you get the chance, tell other people to write to me too, I have my little brothers and sisters read them to me.

Today the Lord gave me peace, He let me  see the joy in everything.  If you get a chance watch the Ken Davis video " A twisted mind"  It has encouraged me to just look around and have joy.  Hope to hear from you soon!
You friend in Christ,

 My favorite party of the whole letter is when Darren says, "Whenever I hear Candice's voice I feel better...she is always encouraging me" 

I had no idea hearing Candice's voice was so encouraging to him, but they were close, very close growing up.  This part of the letter just touches my soul in a very meaningful way.

Can you see a bit of who he was?  That he is still praying for others, that he is joyful despite his circumstance, that he wants and needs others to be around him.  Can you just see for a second why as a teenage girl watching this I wanted to be just like him? Can you start to see why he changed my life?


  1. i can see it all. he had strength beyond his years. he had unbelievable character. he had care for others always.
    he was so strong, while being so young.

  2. totally gives me goosebumps. you are the strongest person i know jenni!

  3. What an inspiration he was. Through your writing, Jenni, his legacy will carry on and his life will continue to bless others. I know he is in heaven right now, looking down on you and smiling. :)

    Thanks for sharing something so personal. You amaze me.

  4. Reading your narrative brings tears to my eyes and my heart. What a hard road all of you traveled during those years. Thank you for sharing.


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