Kelly, Rest In Peace

Filed in Personal, ReligionTags: Christianity, Friends

As most of you know, this summer I moved in with a friend of mine to help be a caretaker for her, her house, and (most importantly) her kids (all her animals, and especially her two dogs). This friend, at 28 years old, was facing a third bout with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). After undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy and finding a suitable donor for a marrow transplant, she was one week away from having the transplant procedure.

A week ago yesterday, she was admitted into the hospital, complaining of difficulty breathing. The doctors discovered damage to her heart, due to the chemo. Apparently as the week progressed, her condition worsened. She developed an infection that the doctors could not find. I got a call from her mom last night, that her liver and kidneys were failing, and that her heart was operating at only 20% of capacity. This morning, her brother called to tell me that she passed away during the night.

The words of her mom on Kelly's Caring Bridge site journal from last night are an appropriate eulogy:

We are blessed to have a daughter as strong and bright as Kelly. She drives you crazy one second and has you laughing the next. She is always looking out for everyone and every animal. Even the mice that found their way into Kelly’s house were captured in live traps and released into the park. She loves life and animals. No matter what the animal. She is even trying to get over her fear of snakes by getting to know them.

Kelly took over our family once she was diagnosed the first time with ALL. By that I mean that she took care of us. She is the one who taught us how to fight and how to think only good things and not act terrified but to have a sense of humor. Not that she doesn’t get down from time to time but she always tries to show that she is doing well.

The last 10 years have been filled with all kinds of unknowns. Kelly never shows how scared she really is during these times. She puts on a brave face and finds something to occupy her mind. Terry and I had a difficult time during her transplant; we tried to protect Kelly from dirt, viruses, and people. But she jumped back into life full steam by buying a house of her own. She was determined to live her life, her way. We are so proud of how determined she can be and how much she can accomplish when she sets her mind to something. I should take a lesson from her because I always stick my toe into the water first; you know just to test it.

Kelly is always learning. She can’t have enough knowledge. There is always something new to learn. And she never turns down an opportunity to help someone with a pet. Whether that is advice on a certain problem or toenail clippings or someone to take care of them while they went out of town. She enjoys caring. It is a part of her.

There are not enough words to describe Kelly. I am finding it difficult to put everything down in this space. There are so many stories of Kelly and her animals, of Kelly and her brother and family, of Kelly and her friends, of Kelly and her work…..I could go on forever. But then again why do I have to put it into words, you already know Kelly because you have been there for her and helped not only her but us get through these past years.

Thank you to friends and family, for your support during this time. Thank you, especially, to Steph and her family for their words of support. As with her family, loved ones, and friends, I take comfort in knowing that she is no longer suffering. I pray that in some small way I was able to help her get the most out of the last few months of her life - and I pray for forgiveness for any ways in which I may have failed to do so.

Always remember: life is precious, and it is a gift - but also, life is meant to be lived. Kelly exemplified this truth; she made the most of every moment. These are the situations that compel in us a changed perspective. Perhaps I missed opportunities; perhaps at times I took a too-short-term perspective. Yet perhaps, in the future, I will miss fewer opportunities; perhaps I will choose to see each moment not through the lens of the present but through the lens of eternity.

"Carpe diem: sieze the day... make your lives extraordinary."