Wednesday, August 15, 2007

We Love You Keith

Parent’s Note – August 15, 2007

Keith’s year-long journey has had many twists and turns, leading to a place we had hoped would return him to a normal childhood again, but instead we have been led to the one place we hoped we would never go. Sometimes we can’t choose the paths we take and so we find ourselves where we are not by lack of skill by medical teams, or by lack of family and community support and certainly not by lack of courage, character and determination on Keith’s part.

On Saturday evening, as the Perseid meteor showers rained overhead, Keith suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and slipped into a deep coma with no hope for recovery. His final conscious hours were happy and enjoyable, Scott by his side the entire day. He even had an animated phone conversation with Annie discussing all of the interesting and unusual things that Keith enjoys. Mercifully, the event was quick, Keith probably wasn’t aware of what was happening and most importantly we don’t think he suffered greatly.

We are no longer able to care for Keith at home with assistance from the Comfort for Kids hospice program. This is where we had hoped he would spend his last days - in the comforting setting of a familiar environment with Kirby nearby to curl up with him. It was unimaginably difficult to watch the medical transport van take Keith from our home knowing he wouldn't physically return, but we decided to move him to George Mark Children's House, a facility that provides end-of-life transition care along with family support for kids in situations like Keith’s. It seeks to replicate the comforts of home in a nurturing setting while providing the nursing care that Keith needs now (more on this incredible place at some later date). It is the right place for us to be given the situation.

We have decided not to try to extend his life artificially and will withhold any further active medical intervention other than what is needed to keep him comfortable – he’s been through more than enough already. He is in a peaceful state and we are with him at his side, as has been the case throughout his journey, to the point where his path and ours must ultimately part. His physical life will soon pass and that moment will come at any time now.

It is so sad that it has come to this point; especially after all he has endured. He never let go of the idea that he was going to get better and that comfort stayed with him and buoyed him through all of the incredibly difficult treatments he faced. We have struggled with our emotions for days now and needless to say already miss him so much. The poem I penned below about Keith and his journey past and forthcoming is my inadequate attempt to begin to deal with it.


Fresh on our faces
Soothing and replenishing
Among nature’s forces so diminutive
Yet able to coax quiet waters
To sparkle to attention
Reflecting back shimmering
Cool appreciation
Filling sails and uplifting
With unyielding but gentle sway

On small shoulders ride life's simple offerings
Delivering fragrance to our souls
Pollinating our consciousness until we too
Take notice of unrecognized beauty
Like seeds from a dandelion
The smallest of nature's works
Are moved at its urging

In its short life it tussled our hair
With sharp and bracing presence
Refreshing our spirits and
Filling our lungs with its gift
Yet cleverly knowing when to vane shift
Pushing gently from behind
Ephemeral though it would be

Slowly it stilled without reason
As if some unseen thief
Realizing its unique endowment
Crept in under night’s cloak
And stole breath by breath
Its very essence until motion ceased
And the breeze was no more

Left stunned in stifling absence
Disoriented and confused
We gasped for air -
Grasping for any satisfactory measure
To explain why something so benign
Something so beautiful should ever leave us

And yet what seems may not be

Imperceptibly at first
A faint shift of light hints its presence
And a leafy chorus softly gathers its visual voice
Awakening branches to new life
Swaying in profound relief
The welcome return of the breeze

From a new source it flows
Urging fescued hills to wave their greetings
In familiar but singular patterns
Altering the spirals of red-tails as they climb
Buoyed by ether strings
To lofty points where the spreading vista
Exposes our very small place

In rhythmic earth breaths
The breeze passes its soft reminder
To all who might pause and consider
The wonder of something so small
Something so gentle and pure
Leaving such indelible impact
Living large within its time -

Touching all who care to notice


Anonymous said...




Allison N. said...

A boy so deeply loved, a life journey so fabulously lived, a spirit so joyfully remembered always by all of us touched by the wonder that is Keith. Our hearts and love are with you, Allison and Kerry

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
The Mottier family

Anonymous said...

Steve, Josie, Scott and Keith,

You have been so generous in sharing this very difficult time with all of us. We have appreciated your grace and dignity, and yes, your sense of humor in facing this ordeal.
We wish you strength, comfort and peace.
You are in our thoughts.

Catherine & Ken Jordan

Anonymous said...

Wow. We will lift your entire family up in prayer before the Lord. May He grant you His peace.
Steve & Small Group

Anonymous said...

My heart is broken and filled at the same time. I am just so sad that Heaven needed such a fun, creative spirit and called on our Keith. The journey was tough, funny, sad, scary and truly bonding. Through the thoughtful words of Steve and Josie, we were all able to join forces and come together like I have never seen before. They welcomed thousands of adopted "family" members who cared about their little boy. I have learned so many lessons of generosity, strength and courage. The entire Kelley family is in my heart forever.
Julie Whitsitt

Tomi said...

You did everything in your power to heal what could not be healed. Now a new pair of wings are being prepared for a sweet angle so he may soar with those who have gone before us. While we will ache and miss him, he will be bounding about with a new kind of love,joy and peace that we will not understand until it is our turn.

Anonymous said...

Wherever any of us are, we need but look to the night sky to see the latest star in the firmament. It will be a constant reminder of bravery, grace, humor, and a life well-lived and generously shared. We are humbled by your bravery and your honesty, and we are indebted to you for sharing this incredible journey. Our love to each of you and our thanks for a year with Keith. It has meant the world to all of us.
With love,
The Hunting Family

Anonymous said...

It is my wish that in the sadness of this time, you know that the lessons Keith and your family taught all of us about love, strength, family and community will never be forgotten. Thank you for selflessly sharing his journey with us. Know that his spirit and courage will be with us always.

You are all in my thoughts and prayers. May God grant you comfort and peace in knowing how many lives he touched in such a short time.

Laura Barsetti

Anonymous said...

We have all been touched by Keith's journey and saddened by the ending. Your family has shown all of us what real, unconditional love is all about. We will forever remember Keith and the life/love/family lessons we have all learned through him. You are in our prayers and thoughts.
Suzanne, Jim, Molly and Erin Schoenfeld

Anonymous said...

dear keith,

i know you wont be reading this

i knoww i hardly knew you

but that just makes it all the more sad

i wish i would have gotten to know you more

and i wishh it could have been anyone but you

i know your life was a great one, nomatter the length

but i just wanted to let you know

that youve given me a whole new perspective on life, i'm probably not the only one

and i will always remember you

we all will

Jamie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamie said...

Keith, we all love you so much and your life could not have been lived more perfectly. Your sense of humor, perseverence, and courage through this ordeal has been so helpful to not only your loved ones and those who followed your story, but you will live on in the hearts of others through our admiration and love for you. You will be a source of inspiration for other kids who will, unfortunatley, have to face similar dilemmas in the future. Our prayers are with you always, and our hearts go out you and your family during this time. Love forever, Jamie Fiero

Susan said...

My heart goes out to you. I just walked a similar path - I lost my son to NB just over two weeks ago. There are no words.

Anonymous said...

Keith - you will always be loved and you have touched so many people in so many ways. Earth has been blessed by your presence.

Anonymous said...

We send all of the Kelley family our love and our thanks for all you have shared with us. We know that all of you are in God's hands right now.

Our prayers are with you always,

Barbie and Billy Claggett

Anonymous said...

Like so many of your friends and family, I have held you in my thoughts and my prayers every single day over this past year.

Cancer is such a cruel disease and Keith waged such a heroic battle against it, as did your whole family and his medical team.

I continue to keep you and your precious son in my prayers.

Love, Marilyn Stoddard

Valerie Srein said...

I have never met you. That matters not, because you let us into your hearts and lives. I helped to care for my mother through a terminal disease, and there is a place you enter when dealing with the courage it takes every day. If that place can be shared, I don't know if you ever know the power it holds, but you must know that you are living it all well, and showing the rest of us just how important family is to living it right. You all astound me. In some ways I feel as if I shouldn't intrude on your moment. Yet you shared these moments with us, and made us all the better for them. For that, for Keith and his own spirit and humor and quirky ways, I thank you. Blessings on you all.

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

the Martins

Anonymous said...

An extraordinary boy from an extraordinary family.........

No family asks for what you have experienced this past year, and yet you have literally written the manual for others to learn from.

So many of us have been with you on this journey. We are all better for knowing you and your story.

Keith lives on in our collective hearts.

Much love to you.

The McColloms

Ginnie Grant said...

Our complete and total heartfelt sympathies to all of you and to all who have been touched by the amazing life of Keith Kelley.

I've been in Michigan most of the summer and thought of Keith and all of you so often. I've just heard the sad turn of events and can't tell you how devistated Dylan, Piper and I all are.

Steve, thank you for your courage and for sharing all that you have this past year. You're an inspiration and you've allowed all of us from afar to get to know (and love!!) Keith. What a treasure that has been!

Dylan and Piper join me in sending,

Our Love and Many Prayers,


Anonymous said...

Steve, Josie & Scott,

We have all been greatly moved by your family's courage and compassion through Keith's long battle with cancer. Please know that our hearts and prayers are with you.

The Mead Family

karen said...

Steve, Josie, Scott, and Kirby,
I wish that we knew what to say. I wish that there were words adequate to espress our sorrow and pain. But there are not. We have hoped and prayed for your precious boy. What a truly amazing soul. Though his life was short, his impact on us will be eternal. His courage, humor, and grace we will never forget. We send our love and prayers. We will never forget the example that Keith set for us. So young but so wise, Keith knew how to enjoy the little things in life, even when the big things were not cooperating. Our hearts are broken, yet we give thanks for the lessons your sweet son taught us. Courage, love, joy -- these shine through Keith's soul. And we will never, ever forget his lessons. We love you, Keith, and we love you Steve, Josie, Scott, amd Kirby.
The Goores

Anonymous said...

Your entire family has been in my thoughts throughout the year and I am so sad that this day has come. Peace and love for Keith.
Katherine McIntyre