Clarissa's Story About Her Dad

Dear Friends & Family,

A weekend at the desert, with snow filled mountains, riding motorcycles with 27 friends....priceless. Curt had a great time this past weekend, on an all guys trip with the greatest friends a person could ask for! I was home, blessed with many girlfriends and family over the weekend helping to prepare for Curt's Big Birthday Bash in February. Curt & I feel so lucky to have so many awesome friends!

I have not said much about the kid's personal feelings and how they are dealing with Curt's diagnosis in these updates. They are each on their own private journey. They confide in family and close friends, as well as trusted adults and teachers. Last night Clarissa wrote a reflective essay for her English class. It is about her dad, his diagnosis and her feelings. I asked her if I could share it with everyone and she said yes. Here it is:

Clarissa Ziemke
Mr. Kerns
Per 5
January 26, 2010

I once heard a story of an amazing baseball player who had his career, love, and life taken away. Lou Gehrig was struck with a terrible disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS. This is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. I never thought something so tragic could happen to someone so close to me. My dad was discovered to have ALS around September of last year.

I will never forget that Wednesday night, my family sitting around the dinner table making jokes and laughing like we always do. The table was cleared and my mom said there’s something we need to tell you. I knew in that moment that our lives would never be the same. I had, for a while, had a feeling that something was wrong. My dad had been going to the doctor quite often over the summer, and when I asked my mom if he was okay, she told me he was going for ‘muscle twitching’. But I knew there really was something wrong. I figured she just wasn’t ready to tell us yet. My dad kept his eyes down while my mom started to explain. Silent tears ran down my face as my mom told me the estimated life expectancy was 2-5 years. I couldn’t look at my dad, and he didn’t look up. My youngest brother Corbin ran to his room before my mom was done explaining and my middle brother Cayden started crying softly to himself. When she was done talking, Cayden went to his room and my mom went to go check on Corbin. I sat at the table with my dad, and for the first time in my whole life; I didn’t know what to say.

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” I’ve started living by this quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt. I interpreted it two different ways. When I’m having a bad day and want to give up trying to put on a good face, I think of it and smile. I think of what my dad is going through, and I know I need to stay strong for him and my family. The second way I think about it is like an actual rope swing. My dad used to push me on one we had up at our lake house. It was on a hillside and we really did have to hang on. It was fun, scary, painful, and exciting but it was worth it; just like my life is going to be now. I believe this happened to my family for a reason. God has a plan for our lives and he’s going to use to my dad to do great things. (More than he already has). I realize now how much I take for granted and how truly amazing my life is. I’m learning to make the most of what I have and enjoy every little moment while I can. I look forward to every moment we have together, and the fun memories we’re making every day.

........we are so proud of her!


Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

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