The Other End of the Line

Did you ever have to make a hard phone call? Maybe you were going to let someone down, quit a job, or end a relationship and for whatever reason, the phone was your medium of choice. You likely picked up the receiver to practice a few times before you actually dialed the number – rehearsing lines and contemplating potential reactions. These things almost never go as planned.

I remember a difficult middle school conversation. I found myself in a frustrating relationship with Meg Sutter and decided to make the ultimatum call – him or me! Of course, you don’t do these things in person, this was middle school!

After memorizing what I planned to say, I steeled my nerves and dialed her number only to get a busy signal. This was before call-waiting and that annoying tone mocked me for hours. Just when I gave up, the phone rang. It was her! I was so glad to hear her voice that I forgot my plan – which didn’t matter anyway because she dashed my heart beneath her feet in two seconds flat. She chose the other side of the ultimatum without even knowing about my ultimatum… Ah, middle school love.

That wasn’t anywhere near the most difficult phone call I have made, but it seemed so at the time.

No, the most difficult phone calls I have ever made came two years ago as Kylie’s health descended. When she realized she was going to die, she asked me to call her closest friends and tell them before making the news public. Eight friends… eight calls.

I steeled my nerves. I thought about how hard these conversations would be from my side of the line. I wept a little before each one, but dialed every number in turn. I spoke to parents and gave them the terrible news, considering only how hard it was on my side. I never truly considered what would follow on the other end of the line.

One by one, eight parents had to digest the news and figure out the best way to tell their thirteen-year-old daughter that one of her closest friends was soon to die. I sometimes get so wrapped up in my own loss that I forget that besides her immediate family, there are grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, classmates, friends, and eight girls who lost someone special to them when Kylie died.


I am always delighted to flip the calendar to March. February contains the anniversary of her birth and death within 11 days of each other. This past Friday should have been her fifteenth birthday. Instead we huddled together and ended the day at her favorite hibachi place. Saturday held the third Smiley for Kylie Cabaret which raised over $10,000 for pediatric cancer research – the mission she gave us. You would think we would rest on Sunday. But instead, we did something very special.

We invited those eight girls – all now freshmen in high school – to dinner at a local restaurant without telling them why. We had a nice meal together before I finally drummed my fingers together and said, “I supposed you’re wondering why I’ve called you here tonight.” (I’ve always wanted to do that.)

I would like to introduce to you Smiley For Kylie’s Junior Board of Directors:


While our course is uncertain, we are dedicated to funding safer and more effective treatments for childhood cancer. These beautiful young ladies are vested, valued, and will have a great deal of say in what happens in the future.

They were chosen personally by Kylie on February 11, 2015 and will be engaged as long as they desire.

Jeander Equality

Sitting with my daughter at church, I watched with amusement as she set her phone on her lap. In a matter of minutes, the inevitable happened and it slid off onto the floor. This is why I insist on Otterboxes. All of my girls drop their phones constantly… Constantly!

While she blushed and picked it up, three questions came to mind.

  • Why did you have to bring your phone into church?
  • Why did you act surprised?
  • Why didn’t you just put it in your pocket?


My phone was safely nestled in the fold of my pants pocket. It couldn’t go far and there was no chance of dropping it. That answers one question but doesn’t answer the question of why I felt the need to bring it into the building. I certainly wouldn’t risk angering God by looking at it during the sermon and pretending that I had opened a Bible app – He knows you’re checking Facebook! The social media gurus debate why posts from 9 to noon on Sunday get no traction. The answer is easy – they are cursed by God because you are either in church or should be. Read More