Friday, October 29, 2010

Special Birthday

They say the years pass by fast as you get older. When I was a child, for example, the schoolyear seemed to take forever. As I've aged, a year can fly by in a blink of an eye. It is seriously hard to believe that Kimmy is celebrating such a big birthday this year. Seems like just yesterday that she was an adorable elementary school student. Given that you only have a milestone birthday such as this once in life, I wanted to post a birthday tribute to Kimberly Drummond, Kelly-Anne's little sister.

Kimmy is fiercly independant--but she's also very loyal. She has a "can do" spirit and a good heart. She is adventerous and loves to travel. Unlike her big sister and me, she's actually been to Australia and Europe, and has lived and worked in many different parts of Canada.

Kimmy loves beer, boys, barbeque, and icecream. (Sometimes in that order!) Kimmy is also passionate about her family and her cats. She loves them beyond measure.

She loves all kinds of physical excercise--she plays squash, swims, lifeguards, and much more. She is strong. Intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Kimmy has had to endure more than her fair share of struggles in life. Like many of us, she's had very high ups, but she's also had very low lows. She lost her best friend and big sister but has carried herself through this grief with
more grace and strength than most of could have if we were in her shoes. And she hasn't let that grief and loss define her, either.

Kimmy has so much to offer the world--more than she gives herself credit for at times. She's kind, compassionate, beautiful, intelligent, empathetic, and self-reliant. She has a heart for children with special needs, and works tirelessley to help them realize their potential.

So, join me in wishing Kimmy a happy birthday on this first day of a new decade in her life. Cheers to it being her best one yet!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A letter I wrote to Kell on August 28, 2000

Monday, August 28, 2000

Dear Kelly-Anne,

I thought it might be fun to send you some mail using good old Canada Post. How are you? I am doing fine, I am at work today, and I am typing this letter using a very neat typewriter whcih means it is a lot more difficult because I can't delete anything once it is down on the page.

Kelly-Anne, I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your amazing friendship. I am so pleased to be able to call you my best friend. You have been here for me since I was a little girl and I value that deeply. I can not tell you how much it means to me to have you aroudn. I know that I can always call you or see you and I can tell you anything at all. Thank you, Kell. I love you so much.

You and Kimmy are like the sisters I never had and that is invaluable. I know that we will be friends forever and my children will call you Auntie Kell.

Kelly-Anne, you are a very special and talented young woman. You are smart, beautiful, athletic, caring, kind, compassionate, friendly, funny, and so much more. You are very blessed. I know you will make an excellent mother one day.

Kell, I want you to know that I will ALWAYS be there for you. You are my best firend and you always will be. I can't wait to see how the rest of our lives turn out but I know we will both be successful and happy people. Kell, have a great day and smile because you are a wonderful person and you are very much loved.

Love you always,

This letter makes me SO sad. It makes me sad that Kell's journey was cut short. That she never got to accomplish all the things she wanted to in life. But it also makes me happy that at least I took the time (although not nearly often enough!) to tell Kell what a great friend she was.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The ways people have helped me...

I've experienced the full range of human emotion from others since Kelly-Anne died. I've seen it all--the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Here are some of the kindest, sweetest, most loving gestures I've experienced since Kell died.

--When I returned to work (a job I had held for only 2 months) after Kelly-Anne died, my boss at the time had a lovely vase of flowers with a short note waiting for me. She was an incredibly reserved, understated woman. But she made sure I knew she was thinking of me and that she was deeply touched by this experience.

--There were a couple of friends of mine who--despite being at far distance--made it clear that they wanted to support me and that they would do anything that was necessary. I can vividly remember one friend, in particular, who would listen for HOURS at a time to me talk on the phone about Kelly-Anne as I tried to work through my grief.

--My parents--who knew Kelly-Anne for just as long as I did--returned with me to Washington after her funeral and helped me get back into a routine. I can't remember how long they stayed (I'm pretty sure it must have been a few weeks) but they demonstrated how much they cared by helping me get settled.

--Friends of Kelly-Anne's whom I didn't even know before her death reach out to me all the time. Sometimes they write to tell me a story about Kell or send me a photo. Other times they just mention how much they miss her. I love that! It reminds me how much Kelly-Anne was loved and how she is still missed by more than her family and closest friends.

--One friend at work found out about Kelly-Anne's death and brought me the most amazing bouquet of flowers for my desk on the third anniversary of her death. I was SO touched I couldn't even speak for several minutes after she dropped these off. The gesture was grand and incredibly well timed and it helped carry me through a rough patch.

--My friend, Nic Wright, stayed up with me and my husband basically all night on the evening before Kell's wake to produce the tribute video that we played at the funeral home. It was SO, SO important for us to remember Kell's life, not just the tragic way she died. Nic gave so generously of his time and his equipment to help create a memory that is still one of my most treasured posessions.

--Countless strangers and new friends have happened upon this blog and taken the time to read Kell's story and right a note or comment about how it touched them. It means the world to us to know that Kelly-Anne's memory lives on in people who didnt' even know her when she was alive.

--There have been lots of lasting memorials erected to Kelly-Anne all over the West Island. There is a room with her name on it at the DDO Aquatic Center, a tree planted out front of Greendale school, the Kelly-Anne Drummond memorial cup awarded to either McGill or Concordia after a rugby match, and a marble bench in a park in Pierrefonds, among others. Each of these things gives me a boost when I need it most.

All of the above examples illustrate that there are numerous ways to reach and support a friend--or even a stranger--during a time of trial. It is essential to realize that people going through a crisis need to know they are loved and supported.

Many fear that their words or remarks may upset someone who is grieving so they don't say anything at all. Don't be that person. Know that with or without your words, the person's loved one is never far from their mind or their thoughts. Being the person who ignores the tragedy and constantly changes the subject or clams up if it comes up is very hurtful. Showing you care helps the grief stricken person realize he or she is not alone. And that is invaluable.

A mother's grief

I came across this beautiful poem on Kristy's wondeful website, Waiting for Happy. I encourage you to check it out--she writes about her experience as a young mom of five children, two of whom are already in heaven.

I'm not a mother and I've never lost a child, but I thought this poem was beautiful and it certainly sums up how I feel about Kelly-Anne. I never, ever mind talking about her. In fact, I wish I had more chances to talk about her!

People just don't know what to do when someone has experienced such an enormous loss. I can't tell you how many times someone has looked at me stunned when they find out about Kell and quickly changed the subject to something more comfortable. I know Doreen has experienced this as well.

I'm not suggesting that we should spend all day talking about our grief and loss, but I am suggesting that when it comes up naturally in the course of conversation it is important not to stifle those feelings. Next time you are interacting with someone who has survived a tragedy, remember that they could always use your love and support and that changing the subject and moving on quickly doesn't seem particularly loving.

Go ahead and mention my child,
The one that died, you know.
Don't worry about hurting me further.
The depth of my pain doesn't show.
Don't worry about making me cry.
I'm already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing
The tears that I try to hide.
I'm hurt when you just keep silent,
Pretending she didn't exist.
I'd rather you mention my child,
Knowing that she has been missed.
You asked me how I was doing.
I say "pretty good" or "fine".
But healing is something ongoing
I feel it will take a lifetime.
~ Elizabeth Dent ~

In my next post, I will discuss some of the most lovely gestures that I've experienced since Kelly-Anne died.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Raising a glass

I often get asked how one learns to cope with such epic tragedy. How does life ever get back to normal? The answer is that it doesn't. But you do learn to cope with the new reality of life without your loved one.

One of the best ways I've found of doing that is by doing something your loved one loved. In a small but real way it helps you feel connected. It lifts your spirits to know that you are doing something your friend would have enjoyed.

Tonight I am celebrating a good friend's new job. I had no idea we were going to an Irish Pub. Once I realized what kind of joint it was I couldn't help but smile. Kell would have LOVED this. We've laughed, raised a pint, ate a good meal, and played pub trivia. This would have made her so happy. It has made me happy too.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I will never forget you

There are raindrops falling steadily in Northern Virginia. And for the first time this year there's a chill in the autumn air. I'm wearing cute jeans with even cuter LL Bean flip flops. Kell would approve.

As I watch the clock tick toward 8 o'clock on this most horrid of days, my mind races with thoughts of Kell's last moments. I can't think of anything else even six long years later.

I wonder what how Kell felt on this evening. I hope she never gained enough consciousness to realize what had happened after she was attacked from behind. But I can't help but hope she knew how loved and adored she was...

I know she did. And I think she knows she still is loved and adored by those of us still here.

I will never, ever forget you, Kelly-Anne Drummond. Thank you for 20 years of laughter, smiles, crazy antics, joy, high school drama, neighborhood bonding, funny nicknames, unsolicited advice, and endless adventures. You were a class act and I'm lucky to have had you as a best friend and as close to a sister as I'll ever have.

Honoring Kelly-Anne's memory

Today is about honoring the memory of my best friend. Today is about remembering what made Kelly-Anne special and unique. I hope you will join today in paying tribute to Kelly-Anne Drummond. Here's what I will do today to remember Kell:

Pray for the repose of Kelly-Anne's soul and for strength, peace, and grace for all those who loved her.

Tell my family and friends how grateful I am for their love and support.

Watch the tribute video we created for her wake.

Look through my photos and remember some of my favorite stories about Kell.

Reread her letters and postcards and laugh at her silly antics.

Light a candle and listen to some of the Ashley MacIssac music Kell loved so much.

How are you remembering Kelly-Anne?

On a Sunday just like this one...

Today is the sixth anniversary of the attack that claimed Kelly-Anne's life.

On October 3, 2004, Kelly-Anne had just returned from a trip to Italy. She seemed in good spirits outwardly, but her thoughts must have been consumed with the dark situation in which she found herself. Kell was in a relationship that had turned sour. She believed she could handle it, that she and Marty could break up "like adults."

From what we know, Kell's last day alive was rather ordinary. She was recovering from jet lag from her trip and resting after a busy week at work. She was probably doing laundry and getting her things unpacked. Knowing Kell, she was looking through a craft magazine or website, thinking about some autumnal Martha Stewart projects she would tackle. She was probably also plotting how she could save money--Kell was extremely thrifty with her resources and I bet she was planning on being even thriftier than usual after her expensive trip abroad... Kell was cooking dinner (porkchops) for her and Marty.

Sometime that evening, Kelly-Anne and Marty's landlord knocked at the door to ask after their rent. Apparently, some portion of the rent hadn't been paid despite the fact that Kelly-Anne had left it for Marty before she went away. Apparently, Marty had decided to "hold back" some of the rent money instead of giving it to their landlord.

I'm sure Kelly-Anne was upset when the landlord left their apartment. That kind of irresponsible behavior didn't sit well with her (not even when we were children or teenagers!). According to Marty, they began to argue.

That fall Sunday, only a few weeks before her 25th birthday, was Kelly-Anne's last day on earth. For reasons that escape reason, Marty attacked Kelly-Anne on that fateful night. Her injuries were fatal.

Kell's death was tragic. And it was senseless. By all rights, Kelly-Anne should have lived a long and happy life. Instead, her infectious joy and spirit were snuffed out by a selfish, violent, and volatile individual.

For Kelly-Anne's family and friends, the world became a colder, darker place on October 3, 2004.

Nice memories from Kelly-Anne's dad

Here are some nice memories from Kell's father, John. He posted these on Kelly-Anne's mom, Doreen's blog... Read her post here.

Thank-you Doreen for your postings about Kell on your blog. I have just finished a one hour & twenty minute phone call with Val Ayerst. We did alot of remembering of our beautiful daughter. As you know this year is the first year that everything coincides to the day. This is especially very hard for me. Adrienne and I layed flowers today at her graveside. There was alot of water covering many markers but none at Kell's. This was strange to see. I had expected to see water covering her marker but it was dry. Being such a swimmer Kell would have basked at the moment. As I write this I am listening to some music from The Trans Siberian Orchestra, who are known for Christmas Music. There is one song in particular that Kell liked, Christmas Canon. I can play this now or in December or July, I will always think of Kell.Not exactly East coast music, but she liked it.
This Saturday night brings back many memories to me. Kell was here telling us about her recent trip to Italy. We laughed until we were almost crying about her adventures. When I drove her back to her apartment, I did not know that I would not see her again. This will be with me for the rest of my life. But the moments that we had that night will be embedded in my memory forever.
Kell is gone in body, but her spirit and memory will be with us and many others for ever.