Rob Delaney: A Heart that Works is a Heart that Hurts

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Comedians have the ability to be unsparingly honest in ways that buck all cultural norms. It’s a truth-telling that so many of us crave.

Cue Rob Delaney.

Rob is a comedian, actor, writer, and director. His memoir, A Heart That Works is an unsparing account of the death of his beautiful son, Henry. Rob lives in London with his family where Kate visited him for this honest and hilarious conversation.

Kate and Rob discuss:

  • The importance of finding people who really understand what you’re feeling
  • What not to say to people whose kids have died
  • How tragic loss exiles you to a planet where only those who understand grief live
  • The ways we hope grief metabolizes in us and transforms us into empathetic, heart-open kinds of people

Rob wants us all to understand that if the unthinkable happens, our hearts still beat so strong in truth and love.

CW: hard-earned explicit language of a bereaved parent, death of parent, Suicide, death of a child

Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here.

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Rob Delaney, Kate Bowler

Kate Bowler  01:51

Hi, I’m Kate bowler, and this is Everything Happens. Okay, confession, some of my very favorite humans in the world have one job and their job is comedian. There is just something about their ability to be unsparingly, sometimes painfully honest, that just destroys the cultural scripts we get about what nice or polite looks like. And it’s the kind of truth telling that I think that so many of us crave. Like, we don’t want the niceties. We don’t want the platitudes. We want honesty, and maybe a second to laugh about how ridiculous our lives have become. We want the kind of truth from people who have the eyes to see, you know, like they get it, they get the joy, they get the absurdity, and they get the kind of tenderness underneath, about what makes us all human. So this episode is really special to me, because I’ve been really hoping to meet this guy. Rob Delaney is one of my very favorite funny people. He’s a comedian, and he’s an actor and writer. So he co created, co starred, this critically acclaimed Emmy nominated BAFTA winning comedy called Catastrophe. And it’s just basically perfect in every way. And if you haven’t seen it, you must and I apologize, it is very spicy. But Rob is also a gorgeous writer. He’s the kind of person that obviously writes to think clearly. And so, his memoir, it’s called A Heart That Works. And it’s an unsparing account of the death of his beautiful son Henry. He lives in London, with his family, and that’s where I sat down with him. He rode his bike there, he’s very tall. And if you want to see video of me just losing my mind, either laughing or crying. We’ve got video clips of this whole interview, if you subscribe to my newsletter, that’s He’s, he’s the kind of person who doesn’t pull punches. He also doesn’t say kind of the typical kosher thing. His response to pain is very guttural and honest and frankly, incredibly funny. And so you’re gonna hear that in our surprisingly intimate chat today. It’s a lot of dark humor so prepare to feel mildly offended, but just know you’re my people. And the great tragicomedy is, is one we all understand. All right, Rob Delaney. Everyone, Rob I, loved your book. And I think the thing that is so striking about it right away, is it doesn’t spare you anything Hang, it’s intense and funny, and right and throat punchy. And it seems like you’re already practiced in unvarnished truth telling. So I wondered if before all of this happened, were you like that?


Rob Delaney  05:19

To adegree, my boy Henry died right before he turned three. So we knew him, you know, it wasn’t a tiny little baby. He was a person with thoughts, feelings, opinions, tastes, you know, idiosyncrasies. And so when we knew he was gonna die, and then when he did die, we were just destroyed. And I thought the best thing that I could do for people who haven’t experienced this is not try to protect them from it, which is a very powerful impulse. You want to like protect people from your crazy story sometimes, or like, ease them into it. And I thought I just had developed I guess, enough of like storytelling instincts from the other stuff that I’ve done that I was like, You know what, maybe I shouldn’t. And maybe I shouldn’t worry about anybody else when I write this. But I was conscious at the same time that if I don’t do that, it’ll probably be the better book. And so I just wanted it to be a disaster. And I wanted it to hurt, because if you read this book, before, something incredibly terrible happened to you, you might be in better shape than if you read something that was like, here are three mantras that you can do. Just even in the in your car before you unbuckle your seatbelt, or any of that stuff. Because if you gave people something real, then they could like hang their hat on it, you know. And then for people who had been through it, I figured it would be like getting into a, you know, the GMC, you know, at sunset. So that was the goal to give them something they recognize and said, Yep, that’s what this is. And then for people who hadn’t been through it to be like, why did you do that to me with your book, you monster than have me say yes, correct.


Kate Bowler  07:12

I found that so refreshing. Because I something someone said to me recently, I was having really debilitating pain. And I didn’t want to finish that part of the story. Because I just thought, because I can keep my voice up here, and look how great it is. When I keep my voice up here, and she said, oh, you clean up quick. And I like yeah, no, I think that is why it’s been. It’s practiced now for me just even to let let people feel the weight of a thing I want to tell them. Because it is it is hard to say like right now I need this to hurt, when I tell you, I want it to land.


Rob Delaney  07:49

And the weird part is, is that if they take it and hear it, and then they might not even have to say anything. But as they sit there and I keep eye contact with you, and they don’t hold their breath, and let it in, then you can move through it. And then you can talk about like, what to order for dinner, or whatever. But if they don’t, and they close off, and they don’t want to hear it, then then there’s going to be like, discomfort there that’s going to sour the rest of your interaction. Because it’s almost like somebody threw a handful of paint at the wall. Your story with cancer or death, or both? And then they’re like, we shan’t look at it but you know, come on, there’s a big crazy orange star pattern dripping, you know, coagulating on the wall. Let’s acknowledge and then then we can do our thing. But if you don’t acknowledge it, then then you go crazy.


Kate Bowler  08:45

Yes, that’s exactly right. I, you can you can tell when someone’s scared of you. You can tell when someone’s like, I’m going to keep a really tight script right now or else you might fall off the edge and talk about something real. And then there’s times I think, I just don’t know how to manage the, like, children’s birthday parties. I feel a part of like something growing inside of me? where I want so much to answer everyone’s question they didn’t ask, like, why do I need to do this here? I do, all of a sudden.


Rob Delaney  09:16

I have almost a hobby, because you mentioned children’s birthday parties. I love it when a child will hear that Henry died and then asked me about it. And this has happened more than a couple times where their parents radar will go up. But unfortunately, they’re about 15 feet away. And in the time, it’ll take them to cover that distance to prevent their child from hearing about deaths. I’ve already told the story to their little child, and they know that my child died. And then they have that knowledge and their shitty parent can do nothing about it. And I’ve given them a gift because that child can handle it. They can handle it like nobody’s business. It’s that friggin brittle adult who thought oh, I can control what type of you know, truth reaches my child. Well, you didn’t count on me coming to the party did you?


Kate Bowler  10:13

We’ll be right back.


Kate Bowler  10:17

There are moments that feel intolerable. I think once you know things like your description of needing to not pretend anymore, that an old person passing away is the same thing. Like playing the game, everything’s the same because everyone wants a moment to relate and like yes, we all have this deep desire to say, me too.


Rob Delaney  13:39



Kate Bowler  13:40

And yet, things are not the same. And being able to parse those differences is sanity.


Rob Delaney  13:46

Yeah, it was interesting, like Tina Turner died. And I think she was 83 if I recall. And when I heard that, I was like, wow, she made it 83 how amazing. And now I’m reminded to listen to Tina Turner, you know, amazing. And, and when I heard people being like, oh my God, Tina Turner has passed away. And I was like, yeah, at 83, after climbing the musical equivalent of a variety of Everest’s, like, if you’re why are you not dancing, you know? And so that’s always strange to me I mean, I get it, you know, but for me, it’s a whole different bag, or that my dad died. Three days after a heart that works came out. And that’s my dad, and he was he was 74. I’d like to live longer than 74 but I’d rather live to 74 then, not quite three, like Henry did, right and also, I didn’t want to be like the guy who if I love you, you die. You know what I mean? So like, I think I did on Morning Joe. They were like in your dad how’s, your dad on live morning TV and I was like, Hans, I hate to tell you this on live TV, but he did, he did sort of die he’s mostly deceased, and I can look, I wish he wasn’t that I love him so much and he, he took such good care of Henry oh my god. And also the one two punch of having the book come out, and then my sweet dad die. My dad Bob, after whom I’m named and who I look like, and who took such beautiful care of my son, you know, he died.


Kate Bowler  15:40

He got the training, I mean, a little.


Rob Delaney  15:43

So amazing.


Kate Bowler  15:44

And processes.


Rob Delaney  15:46

I know and now like, I love that people can read the book and get to know him, but the reason I wanted to talk to you about it is because it’s like Henry’s deaths and the grief for that is like Jupiter, right? So your son dies of cancer and that’s, you know, you barely survived that, you know, and then my dad dying is like, oh, no, Neptune, like, or maybe Earth, let’s go. So it’s but it’s still a celestial body that would take you forever to circumnavigate, but it isn’t as big as the Titan. But it’s like, the the earth of my grief for my dad is like on the other side of the Jupiter. So I’m like with Henry so I’m, I’m having to really consciously talk to myself about my dad, like out loud and talk to him, and think about it, because you got to grieve your dad, you know, but it’s like, the fact that he died at 74. It just fundamentally isn’t as anywhere near as devastating as your two year old son dying, you know, so it’s been really weird, yeah, I guess I just wanted to say that to you that I’m like, trying to, like, force myself to not as necessarily have certain feelings, but allow him to, like, be close to me, and in my thoughts and in my heart, because, like in terms of mental emotional hygiene, you better grieve your parents, regardless of the type of relationship that you had, and we had a good one, you know, so that’s just a weird thing happened.


Kate Bowler  17:28

The front of it, I mean, I have a friend who wrote a gorgeous book about the death of her child. She talks about, like, the front of the out of order madness, and so, like, there’s grief that knows how to follow like A to B and B to C, and C to D. And then when there’s no there’s no discernible alphabet.


Rob Delaney  17:51

I think I said that grandparent and pet deaths are like warm up deaths for when you get like hit really hard those are like all little training wheels smokin grumpy, do you remember, did you know? Did you know? Gonna come back, you know, coming to Christmas good he did, I’m so sorry. Like, raised by their grandparents are calling and being like, you son of a bitch. And then please understand, I don’t care.


Kate Bowler  18:21

There is something that goes to this. It’s funny that like, I mean, because there’s no justice to the way tragedy visits us. I think there’s a bit in there, at least in my experience, where there’s a part in which I want, I want an understanding of what it cost. before I’m even like, that’s the price of admission for for just understanding like, when I got sick, I had a like a little baby and I would have to kiss him on his soft little fuzzy head before going to chemo every time. And every time I  found that the it was it was just so surreal to toggle between like, you know, the kingdom of the living and then the kingdom of the sick. And because there’s you can’t create a bubble around your loves. I don’t know there’s something about all the medical stuff where you can’t really protect everyone from knowing even if you wish you could take a break from it saw your description of like the intimacy of caregiving and the like the privilege and the burden of it was really beautiful to me.


Rob Delaney  19:38

I miss it so much. I want to do it all when I think about him I don’t think about him like pre surgery pre disability, like I want him back with his horrible tracheotomy, which allowed him to breathe, so I also loved it. I wish I was sleep deprived because I was sleeping on the floor of his room. Listening to his breathing and his machines and stuff. And I wish I was changing his tubes and, you know, dealing with the weird like, there’s like permanent infections you can get like, if you have stoma like holes that aren’t natural in your body. There are bacterias and stuff that can come and live there and you kind of can’t get rid of them. So you have to, you know, I want to be doing all that because you learn all that stuff. And now I can’t do it now I’m like, whenever I hear like a car crash, I’m not like, oh, scary I’m like, oh, I hope it can help someone. I hope you know, I was on a plane not too long ago. And they were like, is there a doctor on board? And I went up to the flight attendant was like, I’m not a doctor. But like, if there’s blood, I don’t care, look how big I am, I can lift your biggest passenger, like use me, and they were like, alright, weirdo. I mean, that was like in the first year after Henry stuff, but I’m constantly like, if I’m weren’t exactly as busy I am was a career that I’m really lucky to love. I would absolutely be like a part time, overqualified paramedic,


Kate Bowler  21:03

You describe a feeling that I had not ever heard anyone say about suffering, the aftermath of suffering was you were like, I don’t know how to describe it, it’s this like you, you know how to dig in really fast. Like there’s something about like a long term relationship with fear and then having and being like, I love you, I am rising to this, that you’re like, I have a higher pain threshold. Because I have this feeling like I could kill a man, because I do now have a really, really big threshold. Even though there’s so much Little House on the Prairie content here. I have like a like a murderous ability to manage impossible situations and get it done like I would happily volunteer to perform field medicine.


Rob Delaney  21:56

Oh, yeah, and then when I hear like, well, you would if you died in the emergency scenario describing well, then I would be dead. Like that doesn’t even faze me you know, I’m like, well, yeah, you get to do you might die. I’m not saying you’re not gonna die or like when I hear about a problem out in the world, I’m like, well, okay, yeah, sure so totally people died, but also things will, you know, life will continue. So, it’s so weird, what happens to your kind of.


Kate Bowler  22:20

Yes, frame of reference.


Rob Delaney  22:22

Emotional triage and everything you’re like, well, okay, how do we get through this, no.


Kate Bowler  22:27

I do feel that way, when I meet people, that you see it in behind their eyes, and you’re like, oh, you and you and you. And we are we have been handed a passport. And I like being around those people. I seek it out. And I sometimes that’s the only thing that makes me relax.


Rob Delaney  22:49

Yeah, I love hanging out with my fellow bereaved parents so much. Yeah, but I’m always calling texting, hanging out with my bereaved parent friends, because we can just chill around each other and get it and it’s just easier.


Kate Bowler  23:10

We’ll be right back.


Kate Bowler  23:17

In the before times, of you, it seems like you were kind of on a big upswing, there’s a feeling I get some times where things are busy and things are wonderful, and they kind of have competing loves, and they take up a lot of space, that I can almost overwork or overdo something, I think I’ll just pay it back later life is so full, was that the season you were in?


Rob Delaney  25:40

When we moved here to London from Los Angeles, nine years ago, I started doing the sitcom Catastrophe, and we did to the first two seasons back to back. And it didn’t occur to me, because I was going through kind of what you’re talking about that I could say like, what if? What if we took six weeks off between the two seasons of television that we both write, executive produce and star in? What if we like, and so I just dove right in, and that was a very bad idea. And my wife said, towards the end, when we’re editing season two, she said, so do you have a second? I said, yeah, she said this last year and a half has been a waking nightmare. You have not been present, you moved me here with a three year old and a one year old and I was pregnant. And I am incredibly unhappy. And I’m going to divorce you unless you change the way that you work immediately. And I thought about it for a second. And I said, okay, and began to set about to do that. And then days after that, you know, not even a month, Henry became sick, and then we found his tumor. And then of course, you know, another thing we haven’t mentioned yet is that my beautiful young brother in law died by suicide one year before Henry died, right? So Henry’s getting chemo in the hospital at Great Ormond Street Hospital. And I’m on the double decker bus with my older boys. And when I say older, I do mean three and five. And my lieutenants you know, I’m heading home from the hospital, and my wife has tapped me out and is at the hospital, and I’m on the top of the bus with my boys. And my sister calls and tells me that her husband, my beautiful brother in law has jumped off a bridge in Boston, and is dead. And so all these things happening, we’re, you know, just staggering. And my sister and I are, are the only two in our family. And I’m five years older, and she’s a girl. I’m a boy. So like we never really, there’s never rivalry or really fighting. We’re just always like super pals, you know? And so it was so weird to in the space of 15 months have those things happen?


Kate Bowler  28:17

You both have unspeakable problems to people who don’t speak about it. And then you’re both […] cast out into outer darkness together.


Rob Delaney  28:27

Like you wish you’d wish just one of those things that happens, you know, if you got to pick like, do you want both to happen? Or just one? You would pick one, but that isn’t what happened, they both happened yeah and so now she and I have a means of communication that is, you know, deep, insane. And then our poor mom, it took me a minute to extend for the, I don’t know, shockwaves or mushroom cloud of, of sympathy to reach and include my mom because she’s like one step removed but because it’s both her kids that happen. That’s so incredibly awful, you know, so that she’s still trucking. And it’s been so amazing for both of us, I would really like to salute her resilience and beauty of spirit.


Kate Bowler  29:20

When we think about the shape that our families and our friends in our lives become, I mean they’ve done a lot of Mother’s Day cards that are like as the years go on together, we will find a trying to think of a lot of rhymes for together just on the fly, tears will different kinds. I mean, I’m just thinking of the, the kind of ways we all have to change, learn to change roles over the course of each other’s lives and loves to be like, I know how to be. I know how to be your mom, I know how to take care of these function. Until a primary needs and then it’s like, oh, I need to learn to be your friends so I can let you go to college. Oh, wait, I need to learn to let you have a career that is, Oh wait, no, I need to learn how to be around catastrophic grief I cannot possibly solve in a way that is not annoying.


Rob Delaney  30:16

My mom told me about someone that she knew not terribly well was sort of a, there was like a dinner party, where there were people who weren’t like, best friends or whatever. But you know, whatever. Yeah, a dinner party and one woman was asked, hey, yeah, how are you doing? Because she kind of seemed down. And her answer was, well, my daughter is in the fucking ground, so I’m not really doing that well and my mom being like, and this was before, like, my mom wasn’t in the blast zone. So she didn’t have to immediate she wasn’t, but she overheard that and she knew that that woman’s daughter had died. And was this like, I’m really glad or wasn’t the one who had to respond to that because who would be right? I mean, me, I’d be like, yeah, what the fuck? You know? I’d be like, why don’t we go out? Let’s just get you know, instead of like, shooting BB guns at beer bottles. Let’s go through other beer bottles that beer bottle this is your beer bottles of cars let’s that will make us beer, but feel better. And so, but then my mom recently told me she was like, yeah, I remember that. You know? And then, and then everything that happened to our family did and I was like, oh, yeah, she’s fantastic. Yeah, it was in the ground not doing not doing too good, how are you? How’s your evening going? Do you like to Rice pee loss?


Kate Bowler  31:43

That Tig Notaro opening in her, like, I have cancer? How are you? How’s everyone doing? I cancer, I thought that cheerfulness of that just, lead me when I think about it.


Rob Delaney  31:56

Yeah, she’s so wonderful takeout lover.


Kate Bowler  31:59

I’m thinking about all the responses to terrible things that I did not love. I wonder if we get things to say things not to say for a bit, things to say I really like it when someone says some version of like, I’m so sorry that happened to you yeah, like the to you kind of gets me very emotional. Because it’s not like I’m some generic person in the world. I do really like when someone sorry for this specific reason.


Rob Delaney  32:31

Yeah, I mean, and questions I love, if my son died at the age of two years, nine months, and you learn that you are, I promise, wondering why wondering how wondering the circumstances. What was his name? You know? I’m happy to answer those questions. You know, and to people who are like, well, I didn’t want to bring it up, you’re not bringing it up? You think I’m not thinking about my son? Who died? Whose dead body I held. Might you think I’m not think you think he’s not here with me? Right, and you think because he’s dead, I have four sons. One of them’s dead, but he’s still receiving a quarter ish, or my parenting energy. I mean, I’m sure the percentages change between kids every day.


Kate Bowler  33:22

That’s a lovely image.


Rob Delaney  33:23

He’s my son, I’m his dad. That’ll never change. Where is he? I don’t know. That, that I don’t know. Which is good. I wouldn’t want to know, you know, I want wonder for when we die. You know, the idea like, oh, you know, I know what’s I know what’s gonna happen? Come on.


Kate Bowler  33:41

I’m an answer factory. If you ever want to know, I’ll just kind of slip in the secrets of I think you probably like bossy people who just don’t ask random crap and show up with lovely things. I hated it when people said, is there anything I can do? Oh I mean, you could come up with something to do show up and then do it.


Rob Delaney  34:00

Or you could not give me a job but you asked me that question.


Kate Bowler  34:03

Yeah, to fit you into my life exactly now disappeared like.


Rob Delaney  34:07

Just bring a mediocre slash not even good casserole, and you put it in my fridge. I mean, you come over you say you’re gonna be here with my children for a couple hours, will you go for a run or go walk in the park or whatever, go find a weird corner in the park and lie down, face down and cry into the soil and have snails drink or tears, you know, that’s much better also kids again, a nice parent with their kid, a good friend of mine was sitting there and their and their daughter asked about my you know, about my son, Henry, and who’s Henry, and I said, who’s my son? And he died, and she just went, what? He died, and I was like, yeah, and she said, and he’s, he died and he’s dead? And I was like, yeah, oh, don’t know why, you know, the being like he got he had a brain tumor, which is like cancer in your brain. And like, that’s so much better. Because every adult is that curious, you know? And so I’m gonna ask you know, or people who were like are you are like Jesus Christ, I can’t even fucking them out. You know what I mean profanity, that’s it.


Kate Bowler  35:29

I mean I feel a deep calm yeah this weird response to I was just starting I was starting cancer and I was starting lint, and that was my like 40 days of 40 days of F bombs. I work in a very religious context. And I was like this is the new me. The new me felt very it was I mean, they have those studies of like if you put your hand in cold freezing cold water and you’re allowed a million expletives. The people who are swearing the whole time can keep their hands over for longer. And that feels right, and the worst things that people say.


Rob Delaney  36:02

I’m just like, the question was, how are things? Things are very bad, we’ve recently learned that Henry’s cancer has come back and he’s gonna die. Oh, yeah my grandfather had a brain tumor. He got better, but yeah, and so that’s bad. Another one, somebody said, how are you doing? Not great, you know, first Christmas without Henry’s coming up and I would prefer to just go into a medically induced coma just for six weeks, and skip it. But then our new son had been born because my wife I mean, that’s this is not even one podcast, this is a series, my wife was pregnant when Henry died, right? I mean, if you can even imagine that and so we had a new son who arrived for Christmas, and this person said, Yeah, but you know, first Christmas with the new guy, like as if like it like deflecting the fact. And for me, that thing is so weird, because like, the arrival of our new son, in no way addressed Henry’s absence. By the same token, Henry’s death did not lessen our joy at this beautiful new fella who entered the scene. So it was almost like when you see like an estuary where like freshwater and saltwater and like one is blurry, and one is clear, you’re like, they’re not they aren’t intermingling. You know what I mean? Like they’re right next to each other and you might feel them at the same time, but they don’t like the arrival of number four did not bless them the nightmare horror of losing Henry, nor did Henry dying, make this little nugget any less delicious. And you know, and I was very worried. I thought, well, I don’t love anymore because it’s all my heart is destroyed so I’ll know I’ll go through the motions with him, like, I’ll tell him I love him I’ll dress him and feed him but it’s his experience is gonna suck, you know, and then the second he came out I was you know, just wanted like, rubbing him all over my face and head and licking and biting his ears. I still bite my the amount of time that my kids spend my house.


Rob Delaney  37:14

We had to make rules like we signed contracts my son and I about like, need to make we have so many biting roles. If the only sort of like, constitution of that relationship is like number one. Under these conditions, I will eat you. When you think about what cause Henry’s pain, I imagine was always on your mind. But then his absurd, gorgeous joy and personality. It feels like you’ve got a lot of strong feelings about joy and puppies and what makes life really beautiful and good. In the middle of suffering.


Rob Delaney  39:16

Well, they, it’s they all you can happen and coexist and stuff, you know, so we were having a lot of fun often, when Henry was in the hospital, you know, there were a lot of terrible there are many terrible things, too many lists. When you have a tumor, next to your brainstem, your cranial nerves, it messes up a lot of stuff. But, um, like frontal lobe, totally undisturbed so, like just, you know, minutia and finer things and tastes you know, and foibles and stuff were razor sharp and him so he was very fun, he was very funny. He’s very curious. He was very mischievous.


Kate Bowler  39:58

He was like stealing things all the time.


Rob Delaney  40:00

Oh, yeah, I mean, nurses would be like, me be hiding under his pillow, you know, or. And he, you know, he would come out and climb up and sit on the desk of like the ward nurse head and help them answer calls and stuff you know, I mean, he was ridiculous. And also, he was sort of a combination of like, third boy in a very short space of time. I mean, his oldest brother was four when he was born, and then there was one more in the middle, so we’ve got three boys under the age of five. So since he showed up third, he, you know, kind of wisely was like, okay, I’ll be very magnetic and sweet and smiley and lovely, you know, not like screaming for attention, but just like being such that you couldn’t ignore him, you know? So he like a little cutie pie conniver drew you towards him. And then after his, they found the tumor and he had a surgery, then he had to be like, you know, Evander Holyfield of just for Roche’s aspiration and drive to learn and relearn sayings. So he was just like, I mean, it was like, in the minds of unbelievable hard work, you know, learning to use his body under these new circumstances. So he was this like, he was like, the sweetest and most driven. He really made a lot of other kids look like shit.


Kate Bowler  41:32

Yeah, those garbage cans. You gotta just feel sorry for them.


Rob Delaney  41:36

Yeah, not my other kids, though, because they were so amazing with them I mean, the things that they learned are other little gentlemen. You know, I mean, they could set up a feed, you know, like a through the stomach tube, and they could do you know, basic tracheotomy maintenance and care, and always in his hospital beds and playing and like the, the number of pictures we have of our three kids in one hospital bed, having a very good time is just so yeah, they’re, they were amazing and are amazing.


Kate Bowler  42:16

Because I often wonder, I mean, the things you can’t ever know, but like, as a parent, I always wonder like, who’s gonna make you?


Rob Delaney  42:23

Yeah, my 10 year old is I sometimes call our 10 year old and he’s the second one, the mayor of the family, because he’s just, he’s just a smiley go getter, you know, and likes to be in charge and is loud and it makes friends easily and all that and, and sometimes can be really annoying and awful. And, you know, physically attack both older and younger brother and things like that. You know, he’s a human being right? And anyway, so not too long ago, he was playing football. That’s what they call baseball here.


Kate Bowler  42:56

And that’s what they call ping pong, they call cricket.


Rob Delaney  43:02

And the grandmother of another kid that he was playing football with, came up to me and say, I just want to let you know, he’s being so kind to my grandson, Timothy when he plays football. And not all those kids are and you know, he just moved to town what you were San Diego thing. By the way, I love that name, Diego, which is real. Yes, just being really encouraging to him, you know, and he’s so appreciate that and he’s come home and told me that and I’m like, okay, so I immediately start crying to this woman I don’t know […] You know, and then I’m like, I’m furiously texting my wife you like you’re never gonna believe what I desert. Diego. So encouraging a good boy, good boy, the other boy and freaking out and then Diego came over, and he’s I didn’t know he came up, like behind me and saw me sending the text. I was like, you weren’t supposed to know that like, I was gonna use that later as ammunition when you made me upset, look at it and think, you know, just all the weird intro family dynamics you know, I was like, but now you know, I’m so proud of you. It was the craziest thing.


Kate Bowler  44:16

We’re all just looking for signs.


Rob Delaney  44:18

You know what I mean? Like, he was doing a type of kindness that like you don’t have to do as a 10 year old boy, you know, and I was just so happy to hear that. And so yeah, so I don’t know did you know what do you do when you’ve done that? Otherwise? Who knows? But I do know that he when he was four, you know, knew how to feed his brother with a machine you know, through a tube and a stomach and set up all the weird controls for it so it parcels that out properly through the night and stuff, and.


Kate Bowler  44:49

Yeah. It’s always the hope right is not just for change. We’re all going to change regardless but for some kind of a this is like the this is one of my favorite theological terms which I actually find useful, which is just like there’s nothing redemptive about suffering period. But there is, I think, a hope of, like, sanctification is like when you love, and it’s, and you love and you love, and then you do all the hard work of loving. That just the act of loving makes you into a person.


Rob Delaney  45:27

Yeah, it’s just things happen that are hard. And you like, metabolize them and try not to hate them, then. And you acknowledge, yeah, that really happened. You know, it hurt terribly, it hurts right now thinking about it. But it did happen. Yeah, I did acquire some hard won skills that I would give away in a second immediately. I can’t, so I might as well use them.


Kate Bowler  45:58

You’re that is, in religious words, we will be like that as a testimony. And I am, I’m so grateful to have met you, I enjoyed that so much.


Rob Delaney  46:06

Thank you.


Kate Bowler  46:14

I used to imagine that life was a series of choices, you know, by my sheer grit and charisma, and advanced degrees, that I’d be able to get through life unscathed. You know, and then, I wrote about that feeling in no care for being human. And it’s, it’s always such a gift, then when I get to meet other people who have the same feeling like they were suddenly exiled from a world that they loved. And they wonder, well, then how do you live? I think that’s one of my very favorite parts about this listening community is that you all get it. You are people who understand that things happen, that just unmake us, unmake all of our well laid plans, and all of our best intentions and our greatest hopes. And no matter how hard we try, we can’t put life together the way it once was. But we have to find a way to live now. Forever changed, maybe with love and courage and joy and hope, because what other choice do we have, except to move forward with a life we didn’t choose? And Rob gets that he has been unmade by the death of his precious precious Henry. And I feel so lucky that he shared a bit of him and his grief, and his razor sharp wit with us today. So before we go, you know, my friends that I love to bless the crap out of you. So here’s a blessing for those spaces of deep hope, and unchangeable reality. And the who am I now? So, here’s the blessing for when you’ve lost someone far too soon. And hey, that includes grandparents, you’re allowed to be very sad about grandparents. And I do like it when people are funny about everything. Alright, love, here we go. God, this, this is impossible. This grief is too much to bear. If there was a tight order to the world that you made, it’s come unspooled and no one will wind it up again. God I feel it coming. That ache for the stories that will never be told. And an anger rising when I remember what never should have been worst of all, God could anything be worse. It is so beautiful, the way this grief is a language of love. I am love sick with this much sorrow. Teach me to speak this new mother tongue. Show me how to memorize so I can never forget what they gave and what is gone and what we were owed by a world robbed of their presence and hold me by the edges for I am coming apart and nothing but love will find me bless you, my dears have a lovely week.


Kate Bowler  49:58

Hey, so this is the part where I get to thank everyone which is my favorite because I have a lot of people to think. I have really generous partners. I’ve got the folks at the Lilly Endowment and the Duke Endowment who loves supporting storytelling about faith and life. And I’ve got an incredible academic home at Duke Divinity School, and a new podcast network called Lemonada. Their slogan is, when life gives you lemons, listen to Lemonada. So yeah, big fan. And I have the most incredible team and it includes the ever Everly is now my new favorite word. Wonderful. Jessica Ricci, Harriet Putman, Keith Weston, Glen Higginbotham, Brenda Thompson, hope Anderson, Kristen Bowser, Jeb Burt, and Catherine Smith. We planned some really fun things for this fall, and I really don’t want you to miss it. If you go to Kate You can get my free weekly newsletter and it’s got all kinds of stuff, insider information, video clips from these episodes. And these are fun because this is like me and them in person crying into every possible sleeve. It’s got Discussion Questions must read books printables all kinds of bonus footage like this one with videos of me and Rob. Also, if you could take a minute, it helps the podcast so much if you don’t mind leaving us a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify. It just takes a couple minutes, but it makes a huge difference to the success of the podcast. And if you’re there if you click on the subscribe button, I’m making a Mashie the button finger gesture right now. You can subscribe to the podcast and then it automatically gives you all new episodes when they air every Tuesday. We really love hearing your voice too. So if you want to leave us a voicemail, we might even be able to use it on the air. So give us a call at 919-322-8731. Okay, lovelies, next week I’m going to be talking with the wise and gentle parenting expert Lisa Demore. Seriously, you’re going to want to take notes on this one. She’s got it going on. But in the meantime, come find me online at Kate Bowler This is Everything Happens With Me Kate Bowler.

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