Our Unexpected Summer of Independence

Life is interesting.

In my mind, I purposed that this was going to be a very organized, educational and experience-filled summer. I assigned different “lessons” to each day of the week where I could pass on knowledge I know to my kids (tennis, French, piano, cooking, etc). I wanted to re-instate our “learning time” (what I used to do with the kids before they were in school) to review school concepts over the summer. And most importantly, we prayed and came up with an overall ‘theme’ that would permeate everything we did this summer: Peace, Patience & Positivity.

But instead, thus far, our summer has been anything but organized and expected.

First of all, we moved. Four days after we moved, my family accompanied me on a work trip that took us away for 9 days. Immediately upon coming back, we were thrown into VBS, gymnastics and other commitments that literally kept us out of the house all day.

The first day I was finally able to be at home with the kids to connect with them, clean and unpack, we received news that my Father-in-Law had been taken to the hospital with an in-operable brain tumor and the doctors had asked all family to gather by his side.

What? How could this have happened?

So as fast as we had unpacked, we re-packed and jumped in the car down to Florida. Now here we sit, with my 58 year old Father-in-law who’s been given just weeks to live after being diagnosed with one of the most ravaging brain conditions known to man.

This was not in our plans.

In many ways, we have peace:
-There is tremendous peace in knowing our lives are not our own. Isaiah says, “My ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts…” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Realizing that God’s plans are much bigger and better than ours has helped us release the need for control over this mind-boggling situation…and further serves as a reminder that we cannot hold on to anything to tightly, regardless of whether it’s as meaningful as a relationship and as inconsequential as our own schedule.

-Though we have never been extremely close to my Father-in-Law, my husband has experienced great conversations and reconciliation over the past few months when it comes to their past & present relationship.

-We see the time we have been given with him as a gift. The majority of us will have no clue as to when our time comes to leave this earth. My FIL has been given a glimpse into that gift; it is a gift that has allowed him the opportunity to make his heart right with others, but most importantly, his Heavenly Father.

At the same time, these past few days have been incredibly heavy and painful. We have been in and out of the hospital, learning the ins & outs of Hospice care, making very complicated life-altering decisions, comforting family from in & out of town and finally, what’s been most difficult for me, walking my own children through this process.


Driving down here, they only knew that we were going on a ‘surprise’ road-trip to Florida and we told them their Pappy was in the hospital. But yesterday, as I tried to distract them with cartoons & hot dogs while case managers & nurses discussed the reality of dying with my Father in Law, I knew the task before me was much more involved than I’d previously believed.

At a certain point, my husband motioned for me to remove them from the trailer. As I tried to push them past the visitors, the Hospice nurse asked if they knew what was going on. Tears welled in my eyes and she took over.
“It’s ok for his grandkids to know that he’s dying. It’s part of life. It’s not an easy part, but that doesn’t mean you should shield them from the inevitable. Talk with them, involved them in the process and most importantly, let them enjoy him while he’s still here.”

So this morning I sat my two kids down on the bed in front of me and started with, “Pappy’s really sick.”
Before I could continue on with my rehearsed speech, my 7 year old quickly retorted, “We know; he’s dying.”
I wasn’t quite sure where to go from there. I asked how they knew and they said they had overheard us talking, so we proceeded to talk as candidly as possible without invoking fear or unnecessary worry into their little heads.

I brought back out the book, Heaven is for Real for Kids, to remind them what heaven is like and most importantly, who God is. What I love about the book is that it captures the frankness and honesty of a young child dealing with some very adult concepts…and paints a beautiful picture for children to learn and grow from in the process.

As parents, we desperately try to protect our children from any hurt, yet we often grossly underestimate their minds and capabilities. By not being honest, I was actually creating more stress and tension in my daughter (who is already quick to internalize pain), instead of opening the door for her to feel free enough to come talk to me at any point about all she’s experiencing and how it relates to her life.

In an effort to protect our kids, we too often prevent them from letting them discover some of the most important qualities of life. So as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, I was curious: When do you think it’s ok to let kids become more independent? Your answer may vary from what age you let your kids stay home by themselves to how young is too young to start talking about some more sensitive subjects.

Whatever path you take with your answer, I know it will be interesting to listen to and learn from each other.

With a passion for teaching and mentoring others as her inspiration, Sami Cone began blogging in 2009 to encourage others to live their dream life and pursue their passions. A published author and seminar speaker, she draws on her experiences as a writer, editor, university professor, performer, professional athlete, and pageant winner to help women realize their full potential in life. Sami appears regularly on TV & Radio as a Frugal Expert and has been blogging for Tommy Nelson since 2010. Sami and her husband of seven years, Rick, thrive in Nashville with their two children.