Let’s Talk Spinal Cords

Our Journey to Healing April 30th

photo (27)
photo (27)

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heartand lean not on your own understanding;6 in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight.

Today is Derek's birthday. And although he is usually not much of a "birthday person" (whatever that means), I am forcing celebration on him. This handsome, smart, kind, witty, hard working man is officially 30.

Derek was born on April 30th to a set of amazing parents (Jay & Joy). He was a happy little guy with blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes, and a mischievous smile.  He grew up loving to tinker around the garage with his grandpa and playing with his older sister Courtney.  His mom remembers him always creating some type of contraption and from an early age, she knew he would make a great engineer. Eventually, his parents were forced to create a rule where Derek had to ask before taking anything apart because he  he hadn't gained the skilled he needed to actually put items back together.

Along with his mad handy skills, Derek has a huge heart. While working on his engineering degree, he volunteered with an organization that built handicap ramps for families. He will be the first person to drop ANYTHING to help someone out. Obviously, I could go on and on about the man I got to marry, but I wanted to hear from others. So, here are some things his friends say about him:

  • Derek has never been too embarrassed or too old to hug me. His heart is tender and compassionate even if he would act like he wasn't...On the flip side he has been known to play inside  a dog cage for an afternoon! - Joy (Derek's mom)
  • Although Derek is an extremely intellectual lawyer type... don't be fooled. He has an extremely goofy side as well. That may be one of my favorite things about him! One of my more recent favorite memories of him is reading "The Book with No Pictures" to his nephews. Derek's sound effects & facial expressions had the boys laughing harder than I've ever seen (& maybe me too)! You should also ask him about his childhood performances to the songs "Runaway" & "Leader of the Pack". - Courtney (Derek's sister)
  • My favorite thing about Derek is his creative spirit. He knows so much about how to make things work, as shown by his awesome job remodeling Bunker --- I'm still confused about how he took out the rafters and the ceiling didn't fall down! I know he's probably got awesome plans for the Quarry! -Adam
  • I love his new wheelchair & playing games with Uncle Dizzle. -H (nephew- age 3)
  • He is really good at helping me with Legos. My favorite was the Batmobile. -T (nephew- age 5)
  • Derek has this unique self-confidence to be, well, Derek. Rudyard Kipling has a quote about “keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs”. I don’t know what it is or how he does it, but Derek has always seemed to keep this level head about him. He just does what is right, and with lots of humor in between.I first met Derek when I was in junior high and have since looked up to him. It’s weird having a hero of yours also be your friend. I often feel this pressure to impress Derek because I always know he’s up to something interesting and cerebral! I have been able to observe Derek throughout the years I’ve know him; being his teammate on high school sports teams, hanging out with friends, and also hanging out one-on-one, and I can say that Derek is himself in all those arenas. There is no pretense or acting differently just because he’s with a different crowd. He’s funny, insightful, and always down for being quirky. Always.So I guess my favorite thing about Derek is that he is just himself. And doesn’t try to be like anyone else. That’s very hard to do. Ironically, and this is no hyperbole, I will often think about what Derek would do in a given situation because his answer would be the closest thing to a thoughtful/simple solution. I guess you could say it’s #mcm with Derek every day of the week. -Joel
  • Over the course of a year or two Derek successfully died his hair nearly every color in the visible spectrum. It was weird, and edgy. -Kevin
  •  When I was very pregnant with ten pounder Kevin, two year old Derek came up to me, pointed to my belly and asked, "Auntie Jill, whatcha got in your pocket?" -Jill
  •  The title to one of my favorite country songs, describes my very fine son-in-law. "Humble and Kind". -Dave
  •  As Derek's mother-in-law, I appreciate him as a man of integrity and perseverance. Derek has a soft spot in his heart for animals. His escapade with rescuing a skunk whose head was stuck in a yogurt container didn't work out too well for him! He always thinks before he speaks and has impeccable manners!  We love having Derek as part of our family! -Donna
  •  Some of our favorite times spent with Derek (and LeAnne) are around the table with a little wine and lots of card games. He and LeAnne take great pride in beating us in a little game called Euchre. It's pretty rare that we win, so Derek often comments "keep the gravy train rolling" when he's feeling pretty happy with his skills. Derek, you're one of a kind and we're so thankful for your friendship. Looking forward to 30 more years of memories with you! Happy dirty thirty buddy! -Nate & Liz
  •  Derek doesn't say much but when he has an opinion on something, you know he is right. -Ryan

They say the first year after any tragedy is always the most difficult. Every holiday or celebration seems to be marred with the reminder that things were different the year before.  We know we are lucky.  There are many of you out there that have been handed a much worse deck of cards. Many are hurting, struggling, and trying so hard to put together answers for what you have been given. On the other side, I do not want to downplay all the tears, frustrations, work, and adaption we have worked through as well. Today, more than any other day this year, I am so thankful for Derek and his life. He means the world to me and I am so proud of who he is.

I had tears streaming down my face in the middle of Silver in the City as I read the following card. It really expresses how I feel about this beautiful day:

Why do I look forward to your birthday every year?It's not the cake, the kazoos, the stretchy paper streamers, or the shiny balloons. It's not the hugs, the candles, the sparklers, or the awkward singing. No, I look forward to your birthday because it's a chance to celebrate one more year of you in my life. With cake!

Here's to another year with you in my life. Let's not cut it so close next year. Deal?

With Love,

The Lavenders