Friday, October 03, 2014

TEN


Ten years ago today, Kelly-Anne Drummond was murdered.

October 3, 2004, was a day that none of us will ever forget.  For those of us who loved her, it felt like our hearts were ripped from our chests.  Losing someone you love is never easy, but losing someone you love to a preventable violent act committed by someone who supposedly loved her is unbearable. 

In the days and weeks that followed Kell's death there were many times I thought I wouldn't be able to go on. The pain and sorrow I felt were immense.  There was also a sense of guilt.  Each passing minute, hour, day, and year were a reminder of how lucky I was to be alive--and a reminder of Kelly-Anne being gone.

And so, Kelly-Anne is frozen in my mind at age twenty-four.  I didn't have a chance to see how her life would turn out.  Because it was cut so tragically short.  Sometimes I think about the adventures I know we would have had together.  Sometimes I think of who she would have married, how many kids she would have had, and what she would be doing with her career.  Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have her standing by my side at my wedding, serving as my maid of honor, just like she should have.


I still miss Kelly-Anne as much today as I did ten years ago.  But somehow it is different.  The feelings aren't as raw or intense.  But this kind of tragedy sure can help you figure out who your real friends are.  Who are the people in your life who would go out of their way for you if you experienced a loss, illness, or other difficulty?  Who are the people in your life who would simply fade away because they were unable (or unwilling) to help?

Perhaps most importantly: What kind of person are you?

Coincidentally, this is my 200th post on this blog.  Thank you all for reading along and helping keep Kelly-Anne's memory alive these past ten years.  The photos, stories, tributes, etc. are much appreciated.

Finally, if you have a moment today, please say a prayer for Kelly-Anne.  And please pray for her family as they mark the tenth anniversary of this tragedy. 




Monday, July 28, 2014

Adventure through Travel

I ran across this interesting piece in Thought Catalog about the benefits--and drawbacks--of travel and adventure.  It made me think about Kelly-Anne's San Diego experience.


After completing her coursework for her bachelor's degree, Kell was looking for a change of scenery.  Jobs in her chosen field of communications were hard to come by and things on the home front felt unsettled.  So left Montreal for a few months, traveling to San Diego with her dear friends Caro and Martin to live, work, and adventure.  She loved the experience and had a wonderful time.  While she was there she worked for a catering company, trained for her lifeguarding competitions, and dated a boy she met from England.
  

All in all, it was a pretty big adventure for Kell!


But then it was time to come home.

And reality came crashing down.  Everything Kell had left behind in Montreal was still exactly how she left.  Jobs in her field still weren't plentiful and things on the home front were not as she had imagined.  Good friends were moving into different stages of life (either in jobs, relationships, or school).  Readjusting to life in her hometown was not easy--I can vividly remember talking to Kell during this time period about how she hoped things would change when she was away and how disappointing she was upon her return.

Eventually, it all settled down and Kell was back into the swing of things.  But I definitely think she would have related to article posted in Thought Catalog.  



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Circle of Life

Kelly-Anne loved children.  Before her death she was a teacher at a noted preschool on the West Island.  She taught them to swim.  She taught them to learn.  She taught them to adventure.  She taught them to play air guitar.  She taught them to love life.

She loved all kids--big and small--and they loved her just as much.

I think it is safe to say that there's no kid she would have loved more than her beautiful niece, Paige.

Paige pays a visit to Auntie Kell's grave.  Very sad, of course--but but beautiful as well.  Photo courtesy of Paige's mom.

Paige will grow up knowing all about her beloved Aunt Kelly-Anne.  Her mother, Kim, and her grandparents, John and Doreen, will make sure hears about Kell.  I will show her the messages Kell wrote to our future kids in my yearbook.  We will make sure Paige knows what Kell looked like, what she acted like, what she believed in, what motivated her, and how much she would have loved her beautiful little niece.

They'll tell her stories, show her photos, teach her lessons, and honor her memory.  And that's the way it should be.  It is important to speak of the dead.  They should not be forgotten and it is the duty of the living to make sure that is so.

I believe we should also pray for the dead and I have not forgotten Kelly-Anne in my prayers these last ten years.

If you aren't sure how to pray for the dead.  Here's a pretty good start.  From Catholic Online.

God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.

Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.

In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.

Amen. 




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Lovin'

Kell and Kim after and evening of adventuring in Montreal.

Another summer has rolled around and it is hard to believe we've reached 2014--the tenth anniversary of Kell's death.

So much has changed in all of our lives.  And throughout it all we've missed Kelly-Anne.  She would have rejoiced in the good things and mourned the bad things and been there to support her family and many friends.

We've all found ways--big and small--to keep her memory alive.

As we head toward the tenth anniversary of Kell's death, please stay tuned for a series of posts that try to honor her memory in the best way I know how.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent reflections

I love Christmas and I love the lead up to it as well.  I love the deep and meaningful scripture readings, the carols and hymns, the decorations, the baking, the gingerbread houses, the purple robes at mass, the advent wreaths and candles.  The list goes on. 

I don't love the business, the commercialism, the stress, or the running around.  But frankly it is a small price to pay for a beautiful season. 
2013 Gingerbread Creations--tree by my mommy and house by me

I wish Kell was here to celebrate Advent with me just like old times.  She'd have been game to decorate a gingerbread house, listen to Christmas music, and get some Christmas baking done anytime.  I bet I'd have even been able to get her to come visit me and do all of those activities. 

Miss you, Auntie Kell!





Friday, November 29, 2013

Livin' on a Prayer...


November 28 is Kelly-Anne’s 34th birthday.  Hard to believe this is the tenth birthday we couldn't celebrate with her in person. 

This year, American Thanksgiving also falls on November 28. The last time this happened was in 2002 when Kell turned 23--check out a small sampling of e-mails between Kell and me that day...
Dear Kelly-Anne,
Happy Birthday, I can't believe you are 23 years old. So OLD!! Just kidding. I am so sorry that I can't be with you today, but I miss you and love you. I hope you have a fun day. I will try and give you a call later today, if you want you can call up here too, I heard you called yesterday actually.  Happy Birthday Keddy! This is the 17th birthday I have celebrated with you!!
Love, Raye  

Hey Raye,
I miss ya. Can you tell. I am calling you all over the USA!
It is okay that you are not here. I am really not doing too much. I am just working from 4-10. It kinda sucks, but I don't mind too much.
This weekend I will be shooting the documentary, so I will be occupied, but Monday I will be able to chill with you the whole day.
That is all for now...
Love Keddy--the older one now!

I’m celebrating both of these occasions with family and friends in the States.  If Kell were alive, I’m pretty sure she’d be with us.  She’d have found a way to join this celebration. 

But, since she couldn’t be here in person, I had to find a way to celebrate.  And I’m pretty sure I’ll never top this…

We brought down the house with a rousing karaoke rendition of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer.  And, it wasn’t just any old guy singing with me.  It was Alex Barbieri the lead singer from 1 Wild Night, the NYC area’s premier Bon Jovi Tribute Band.


I introduced Alex for the song and I told everyone that it was my best friend’s birthday and although she couldn’t be here in person, I was pretty confident that there’s nothing she would have loved better than us singing “Livin’ on a Prayer,” one of her very favorite songs from her favorite band, in her honor. 

I love and miss you, Kell.  Happy birthday. 



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Welcoming Paige as a part of God's Holy Church!


Nine years ago on Thanksgiving weekend we buried Kelly-Anne.  Not a day has gone by since that we haven’t thought about her and missed her.  Kell’s funeral was officiated by Rev. Canon Joyce Sanchez, a longtime family friend of the Drummond family.  It was a sad, sad day and it left an indelible mark on all of us, but Joyce did a wonderful job with a difficult situation, somehow leaving us with the hope of a risen Savior. 

Today, nine years later, we celebrated another important Drummond family milestone on Thanksgiving weekend.  We celebrated new life in the baptism of Kim’s beautiful baby, Paige Heather.  The service was once again officiated by Rev. Joyce Sanchez.  She once again did a wonderful job on this happiest of occasions.  The New Testament scripture—Philippians 4:4–9—was especially befitting for today’s occasion.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Paige wore a lovely custom designed baptismal gown.  And she wore her Aunt Kelly-Anne’s gold cross around her neck. 

It was a joy to celebrate with Kim and Joe and to meet Paige for the first time.  She’s a beautiful girl—alert, bright, well mannered, and inquisitive.  She has brought a lot of well-deserved joy to the Drummond family.  I’ve never seen Doreen, John, or Kim looking happier. 

Paige, may God grant you a long and healthy life full of love.  May you come to know our faithful and loving God and trust in Him to direct your paths and meet your needs.



Thursday, October 03, 2013

Nine years


Kelly-Anne was attacked nine years ago today.  Nine years ago someone who supposedly loved her robbed her of her future.  So many others were robbed that day too.  Kelly-Anne's parents, John and Doreen, were robbed of their beloved daughter. Kim, Kelly-Anne's sister, was robbed of her closest confidant and best friend.  Kell's many friends were robbed of their trusted sidekick, adventuring buddy, and teammate.  The world was robbed of a truly good person.  

Nine years.  Or--if you are counting--3,827 days.  

Those 3,827 days have been filled with beautiful memories of Kelly-Anne.  Amazing tributes.  But those memories can't bring her back.  They can only console those of us who remain.  And frankly some days they aren't all that much consolation.  

But we've managed.  Somehow.  Everyone who knew and loved Kelly-Anne put one foot in front of the other and went on.  Because that's what she would have wanted.  Because we couldn't allow this heinous act to destroy any more than it already had.  

And so we've done our best to keep Kelly-Anne with us.  I've got a photo over my desk that reminds me of her every day.  But I don't need that physical reminder.  Because the 20+ years I spent with her as my best friend will stay with me forever.  That's the kind of thing you don't forget no matter what.  

And as long as I'm alive I'll do my part to tell others about Kelly-Anne. About her joie de vivre and her can-do spirit.  About her love of adventure and travel.  About her amazing, amazing curly hair.  About her commitment to athletics.  About her determination and grit.  About how she pushed herself and never gave up.  About how she loved and was loved.  

And I'll never stop telling anyone who will listen about how quickly situations can spiral out of control.  About how volatile people can snap in an instant.  About how the last thing you would have ever expected was for someone as strong willed and confident as Kelly-Anne to end up trapped in an abusive relationship with a violent man.  About how to this day, nine years later, I can't believe Kelly-Anne didn't leave before that fateful night on October 3, 2004.  And about how Kelly-Anne deserved so much more than to be murdered in the blink of an eye. 

I do this because its the only thing I can do.  And because I think its what Kelly-Anne would want.  I hope one day it makes a difference to someone in a similar situation.  I bet it already has.  

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Falling into the fall

Another year has gone by and yet again the tragedy of this time of year has snuck up on me like a thief in the night.  Last week I was offhandedly wondering why I felt a bit down in the dumps.  Then I looked at the calendar and remembered.

The last weekend of September.  The beginning of fall.  The changing of the seasons.  All remind me of Kelly-Anne and her untimely death.  Hard to believe it has been nine years already.

Miss you, Kelly-Anne.  Today, tomorrow, always.


Thursday, December 06, 2012

Sixty

John Drummond, Kell's devoted dad, turned 60 yesterday.  A wonderful milestone birthday.  Hard for me to believe, really.  I remember his 35th birthday, 40th, 50th...

Kell loved her dad SO MUCH.  She would often talk about him in a way that most teenagers and young adults don't talk about their dads.  They would go cross country skiing together in the winter.  They'd barbecue together in the summer (and winter, actually).  And in recent years, they'd pop open a beer together at the end of a hard day.  Kell and John shared a love of sporting events, the Olympics, hard work, and being good to your friends.

I know there's not a day that goes by that John doesn't think of his beautiful daughter Kelly-Anne.  And I know he must have missed her dearly on this milestone birthday.  Since she couldn't be here to celebrate with him, I thought I'd post this great pic of John and Kell many years ago in honor of their special father-daughter relationship.  

Here's to you, John!  Happy sixtieth birthday.  We love you!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

33


Happy birthday, Kell!

Today you would have been 33 years old.  I wonder how you would have spent this day.  Maybe you'd have been too busy at work to celebrate and would have deferred to the weekend.  Maybe you would have had dinner with your husband and children.  Maybe you'd be on the other side of the world in Australia.  Maybe you'd be the television producer you dreamed of becoming.  Maybe you'd have decided to stick with education and become a teacher.

Who knows? I sure wish we could have found out what life had in store for you.

I miss you, Kell.  I wish there was one more birthday celebration to be had together.  I'd give the world to plan another surprise party for you.  Or take you out for dinner.  I'd give the world for you to have had a few more years.  You deserved more than this.

Happy birthday to my dear friend.  Please know that those of us left behind still think of you often and miss you dearly.

Love,
Rachel



Friday, November 09, 2012

Scary Crime Statistics

I just read a chilling and fascinating article in the Washington Post about a man who was accused of killing his identical twin brother.  The lengthy trial ended without a unanimous verdict because of the lack of evidence in the case (the brothers shared DNA).  If you read the article you can acutely feel the young man's pain.  He lost his identical twin brother and then had to suffer the pain of being falsely accused of his murder.

The article offers a chilling illustration of the relationship victims have with their killers.  There were 12,996 murders in the United States in 2010.  In half of these cases (5,724), the relationship of the victim to the killer is unknown.  Of the homicides where the relationship is known, only 1,615 victims were killed by a stranger.  Forty-four percent of these victims were killed by someone they knew.  An acquaintance, a neighbor, a friend, or a family member.  Nineteen percent of these victims were killed by a family member--husband, wife, son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, cousin, aunt, or uncle.

Such a sad, sad statistic.




Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lovely Little Lauren

I've posted before (here and here) about Amanda and Stephen Loughheed and their lovely daughter, Lauren Olivia.  Or, adorably, LOL for short. 



Amanda went to the same high school as Kelly-Anne and me.  She and her husband gave birth to Lauren in January 2011.  The first 8 months of Lauren's life were perfectly normal.  She hit (exceeded, even) her developmental milestones and laughed, cried, and babbled like every other baby. 

Last fall, however, Amanda and Stephen began to feel something had gone horribly wrong in Lauren's development. Suddenly she could no longer sit up on her own and was frequently irritable.  

After a grueling battery of tests at Montreal Children's hospital, Lauren was diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy.  A fatal disease for which there is no cure.  Krabbe is a cruel, cruel illness.  It robs its victims of their ability to see, their ability to eat, their ability to walk or move normally, their ability to smile, and their ability to hear.  It often claims its victims before age two.  


How does one go on after such a devastating diagnosis?  That's the question I asked myself after hearing that little Lauren had been diagnosed with Krabbe disease.  I worried about my friend and wondered how she would cope with caring for her daughter as she slowly slips away. I prayed for the entire family as they came to terms with this diagnosis.  

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting with Amanda and Steve and their beautiful daughter.  It's impossible to convey just how proud I was of them.  They are handling this situation with a grace and peace that exceeds all understanding.  I know they have their hard days, but Amanda has truly risen to the occasion. 

Lauren is an absolutely beautiful child. She radiates peace and is being extremely well cared for.  Amanda has reorganized her entire life to ensure Lauren gets top notch care and can still have as many experiences as possible.  Most importantly, she advocates for her daughter, learning about the latest treatments and insisting that Lauren be given a chance to live what's left of her life without being pumped full of morphine.  

I'm so proud of Amanda.  She is going through the most difficult trial imaginable, yet she is peaceful and even serene.  She has immersed herself in a world she never could have imagined--a world of medical tests, feeding tubes, palliative care, and end of life decisions.  Yet she doesn't complain.  

She simply tries to put one foot in front of the other and get on with living.  She tries to love Lauren and make sure she is as comfortable as possible.  And she prepares for the inevitable.  Trials bring out qualities we didn't even know we had.  Sometimes they break us.  But sometimes--and I think this is the case for Amanda--they shape us into a person we wouldn't have even recognized.

Please keep Amanda, Steve, and Lauren in your prayers.  And if you can think of some way to help this precious family, please don't be shy.  They deserve our support. 


Friday, October 05, 2012

Head on over to Doreen's blog

Doreen, Kelly-Anne's mother, has been doing a great job on her blog the past couple of years.  Please head over and check out her posts.  Leave her a comment so she knows you swung by.

My Daughter, Kelly-Anne

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Today

Today is a somber day in my books.  It's the day Kelly-Anne lost her life in a senseless attack from behind.  It's the day by which I divide my life--the period before Kelly-Anne was killed and the period after.

Those periods are nothing alike.

Before Kelly-Anne was murdered, my life was relatively lighthearted and fun.  I had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances and a handful of friends who I simply knew I would be friends with forever.  I worked hard in school and had tons of part time jobs, but I also thoroughly enjoyed an abundant life. I volunteered at my church. I studied like crazy (usually at the last minute). I went on crazy road trips and adventures.  And I loved entertaining people with my stories and antics.

I once told a professor in grad school when I was in the throes of dealing with a mouse invasion in my ground floor apartment building that having mice was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.

His response? "You're lucky to have had such a wonderful life."

I had no idea how true that was until a few years later when I woke up to an early morning phone call that informed me Kelly-Anne had been stabbed in the head and was in the hospital on life support with injuries that would prove fatal.

After Kelly-Anne was attacked I was more cynical.  Less willing to put myself out there.  Less tolerant of wasted time and energy--because, really, who knows how much time we've got left?  I was also sad.  Sad that Kell was dead and sad that it was completely unnecessary. My grief colored my worldview for a lot longer than I cared to admit. Things that once meant something to me began to be meaningless.

I found it hard to go to church, to participate in the community, to feel joyful.  I knew in my heart I still had much to be grateful for but it was hard to really believe that on a day-to-day basis.

But still, God was with me.

I can see looking back how protected I was.  Do you know that I have never once dreamed about Kelly-Anne since her death?  I am one of those people who often remembers dreams and is occasionally even woken up by them if they are particularly upsetting or exciting.

In the days, months, and years that followed Kell's murder, her parents and our friends would often tell me they were kept up at night by dreams about Kell.  I never was.  It was as if God realized that I needed to sleep in order to be able to even remotely function at my job--which, at the time, was brand new.  I thought about Kell nonstop during the day.  But at night I was able to rest peacefully.

After a little while things became somewhat normal again.  The new normal, I call it.  I began to function at more than a basic level.  I made a couple of new friends.  I showed interest in things I once loved.

But still I deeply felt Kelly-Anne's loss.

It's been one of the themes of my life these past years--a leitmotif, if you will.  I try my hardest to put a positive spin on it (hilarious, really, because there's no positive spin) by drawing attention to the lessons I think we should learn from Kell's life.  And I work really hard to try to make sure Kelly-Anne is remembered, not just for her brutal death, but for how she lived and what she loved.

I think we--and by that I mean everyone who loved Kelly-Anne--have done a pretty good job making sure she's remembered in the community.

Thank you to all of you who take the time each year to tell us you still miss Kelly-Anne and still think of her.  It means the world to us.

Kelly-Anne checking things out in a film studio during her extended trip to California one summer.