Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Are we human or are we dancer?"

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Anyone who knows where the phrase in the blog title comes from is obviously a fan of The Killers, Oliver's favorite band! We've been listening to them for the past several years after Ed had seen them play on a late night talk show. He was telling me that the lead singer had one of the best voices he'd ever heard. We started listening to them and Oliver started liking them as well as all of the other kids. During Oliver's radiation we would drive an hour and a half to the hospital in Iowa City for the 15 - 20 minute radiation treatment and then drive the hour and a half back again. We would do this every weekday for six weeks. Needless to say, we listened to lots of comedy routines (Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan) and music in the van and the majority was the music of The Killers.

Also, when Ollie shaved his head after he started losing his hair, we bought him a Wii and one of the games, 'Karaoke Revolution' features their song, 'Human', which is a favorite of most of my kids. I think I have Ollie and Jaren singing on video somewhere. This is a song that makes me tear up as it brings me back to the time of his radiation. The emotions I had then as well as some of the lyrics just made me lose it at times. I really got to know this song well after singing it a thousand times on the Wii.

I was interested in learning more about the band and realized the lead singer, Brandon Flowers, is LDS. (Latter-day Saint/Mormon) I didn't know if he was still an active member of the church, but later found a video piece he did that tells more about his faith. Our family are members of the church and it's rare to find famous people that share our faith. (I was baptized a member when I was 18 years old and then met my husband, Ed and was sealed in the St. Louis Missouri temple in 2000).

I was saddened to realize something else we have in common, that a loved one had a brain tumor. Oddly enough Brandon's mother passed away on Oliver's last day of radiation, in February of 2010. She, too, battled her brain tumor for two years, I believe. I was sickened to hear this and my stomach dropped. Even though people are famous, they still have to go through the same trials we all do. I think Brandon looked a lot like his mom from the picture I saw. I've been thinking of him and his family ever since.

Sometime in the beginning of November, after we got the news that Oliver's tumor was growing, we got an email which was forwarded to us from our local newspaper. It was actually from Shane Flowers, Brandon's brother! He had a number for us to call and Ed immediately called him back. He said that he and his brother had seen Oliver's blog (I guess Shane found out about it from someone at church) and read about how much Oliver liked The Killers. (I'd been trying to find a concert to go to forever, but couldn't find one nearby). He told us that Brandon said he wanted to come and meet Oliver!!! Yeah... pause... breathe... I still can't believe it quite yet. A few days and a few phone calls later we had it set up that they would meet us here at our house on December 3rd. He just wanted it to be a small gathering which was fine by me, but it was really hard to keep it a secret!! :O) One sad thing was... I couldn't take photos of him while he was singing or take any video. I joked with Ed that we should set up a 'Nanny Cam' somewhere! "Um... why is your poinsettia blinking and moving???" Ahhh... but we didn't. We'll have it locked away in our minds forever! :O)

So on Saturday, my mom and two brothers, who were also fans, came over with a bunch of snacks and goodies to share. My brother made some homemade hummus as he knew that was a favorite of Brandon's. We wanted to make them feel welcome and at home here in Iowa. Anyways... we were getting things ready and then we heard the car outside. I swear we were like a bunch of dogs stopping and looking for the 'squirrel'! Eden (age 8) was peeking out the window and then fell down and said, "I think they saw my head popping up!!" We answered the door and Brandon, his brother, Shane, and Jake (a guitarist that accompanied Brandon on his solo tour) came walking in. They were all so nice. We all sat and they got right into singing a few songs. They started out with 'Human' and of course we were all pretty much in tears by the end of it. I have to say... I was AMAZED with how strong and clear Brandon's voice was. UNBELIEVABLE. I couldn't believe he was sitting on our couch, singing to Oliver. I had to get a picture of Oliver's face while he was singing 'Human'.

It was a hugely special moment for us that he sang the song we'd heard so many times on this journey. I feel like I'm going to cry just typing about it and thinking back to it. Seriously... what famous people do this?! I just can't get over it. (***flash forward -- during Christmastime we had some carolers come and sing at our house and they asked for any requests. Jaren doesn't miss a beat and says, "Sing, HUMAN!")

The second song they sang was 'Don't Shoot Me Santa', which is one of Oliver's favorite songs. (***flash forward -- Christmas Day this year, Oliver playing a Wii hunting game WITH a Killers shirt and Santa hat on... I couldn't help but take a picture! hehehe)

Jake, the guitarist, was 'Santa' for the time being and had a few speaking parts throughout the song which we all busted up laughing at. I was surprised Jaren didn't sing along as he knows all the words. After that, we all sang 'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer'. I'll never think of that song the same way again! Too cool. He also gave Ollie the jingle bell wreath he used while singing. Finn later wore it on his head as a halo. I couldn't help but think what it would be like to be one of Brandon's kids and have him sing church hymns or primary songs to them. I wanted to ask him to sing, "I Am A Child of God", but restrained myself.

My mom asked them to sing two more songs, 'Spaceman' which had been in my head all week, and 'Read My Mind' which they graciously agreed to even though Jake didn't know the guitar parts. Yeah... he did unbelievably well anyways. Seriously... these are some amazingly talented people sitting in front of us. Eden really likes 'Spaceman' so it was nice they sang that one as well and they are two that I really like as well. And... then they were done. Boo. I could have listened to them all afternoon. I would have LOVED to take Oliver to a concert, but man... who gets to experience it in your own house?! Unreal. After they sang, they gave Oliver a huge gift bag with some chocolates, red cream filled oreos and lots of other goodies including several black Killers t-shirts. (as seen on Oliver in above photo.)

We all talked in the dining room for a bit while we ate some goodies. It was funny because at first Finn, who just turned 2, was afraid of Jake because of his beard. That kid is scared of Mascots, Whoopie cushions and fake mustaches so it wasn't a surprise he'd be afraid of a bearded man. He did eventually warm up to him. It was also neat to see Oliver play the piano for them. He played 'Joy to the World' and bits and pieces of some other songs that he's taught himself how to play. After they were here for an hour and a half, they needed to head back, so we got some group pictures.

Jake, Brandon, Oliver

Oliver is handing Brandon a marker for an autograph. They signed the papers with the words to one of the songs. I wish I would have thought to grab a cd cover or something.

Finn is the ghost of Christmas Present wearing the bells like that!

Finny rockin' Uncle Chad's sweet kickers.

It was an afternoon to remember that is for sure. They were all so nice and easy to talk to. I just can't get over the fact that they wanted to come here for Oliver and meet him. I must admit, he is an amazing kid. The bravest kid I've ever known. Again... THANK YOU to Brandon, Shane and Jake. It means more than you'll probably ever know. I know that the spirit must have prompted you and you were moved to action and for that I am truly grateful. We were blessed today.


meghan said...

Still so amazing! That was just awesome!

Carie said...

This. Is. Amazing. I cannot believe this happened! (Of course, I can! But you get my excitement!) What a blessed boy Oliver is! SO, SO lucky! I just love the Killers and I heard Brandon and his brother stopped by (via facebook) and I am excited that I can now read about Oliver's amazing experience again and again! It brought me to tears! Lucky boy! :)

Shar said...

i LOVE the picture of oliver playing the piano for brandon. :)

Barb said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! What a wonderful day it must have been for your family, Ollie!

The Peacock family said...

WOW this is so great. I know Brandon and Shane personally. Me and their sister are life long friends. What a special day this must have been and wonderful memories. It brings tears to my eyes reading about your son. The Flowers family is such a loving bunch and I know they miss their spunky Mom everyday :) Good luck to you and your son and your family. I will share your story with friends and family and you will be in our prayers.

Anonymous said...

That's a great story, thank you for sharing. I'm a huge killers fan and now I'm a huge Ollie fan!

Anonymous said...

i found this story accidentally and just want to say that i am really sorry for your loss, much love to all of your family

Anonymous said...

I'm here following a link about Brandon but now I've got new feelings inside. I'm so sorry for your loss, I cant even imagine the pain, but I think you have to be proud of you for everything and for giving to Ollie a fantastic day with his hero.

a lot of love from italy,

Carol said...

I just find this post now, in december 2013, but I'm really happy with all the love and emotion in this words. I Wish with all my heart that Oliver has been strong, joyful and with a great music taste. A big hug from a brazilian friend! Merry Xmas!

Carol (:

Rachel said...

Thinking about you, I'm sure you miss your son every day, I'm glad he had such a good day and a little dream of his came true. x

S Daigle said...

God Bless you and your family. As a parent I cannot imagine the devastation of losing a child. Words cannot describe how I am feeling for you at this moment. As a huge Brandon Flowers fan I was so happy to learn that he visited Oliver. I know first hand that Brandon is a sweetheart and I am not surprised that he did this. I hope you don't mind but I would like to post a story on my Instagram account as a tribute to Oliver. Also, is there anywhere we could make a donation in his honor. You can reach me at We will keep Oliver,you and your family in our prayers.