Sunday, September 30, 2012

Things can go wrong in an instant

Here we are--the last weekend of September. The last weekend that Kelly-Anne was alive so many years ago.

Kell had just returned from Italy. I'm sure she was trying to get used to eastern time again. Packing. Doing laundry. Getting ready for a work week.

Kell was also in the process of figuring out how to disentangle herself from a relationship with Marty. She had decided that they just didn't work and it was time to break up. They had just moved in together just a few months before, however, so it was a lot more involved than a break up might otherwise be.

Kell was very self sufficient. Didn't really want people's help with a lot of things. She thought she could handle the situation she was in. As she told me on the phone that Saturday: "we're going to handle it like adults."

Very few people knew just how bad things had gotten. Kell had told a friend in Italy that she was being abused. But she didn't tell anyone in Montreal. She didn't tell anyone who could have taken immediate action and helped show her the danger she was in. Instead, she soldiered on and tried to be mature and grown up. Just because they were breaking up, didn't mean it had to be a disaster.

She couldn't have been more wrong.

Kelly-Anne's soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend was volatile and angry. He had a dangerous track record of violence--especially against women he was in relationships with.

So, that final Sunday of Kelly-Anne's life--October 3, 2004--she cooked dinner for herself and Marty. Pork chops and noodles. At some point the landlord knocked on the door asking for the rest of their rent money. Kelly-Anne had left the full amount for Marty when she went to Italy but he kept a few bucks--$20, $40? I can't remember--as spending money for himself.

I can't imagine how embarrassed she was when the landlord told her the rent hadn't been fully paid. She took her financial obligations very seriously. The landlord left and--by Marty's own testimony--they began to argue.

Kelly-Anne ended up on the floor in a pool of blood, stabbed in the back of the head and not breathing when paramedics arrived. Marty called them himself. No one knows how long he waited before he finally decided to call.

That was how her beautiful life came to an end. Her family and friends gathered around her bedside in intensive care the next day to say their goodbyes before she was removed from life support. It was heartbreaking for everyone involved.

It is too late for Kelly-Anne. But it isn't too late for the rest of us.

What do you need to learn from Kelly-Anne's story?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Kelly-Anne in Pictures

When I think about Kell's life I can't help but be struck by just how much she DID in 24 short years. She was always moving. Always engaged in something. Usually something athletic. Rugby, synchro, lifeguarding, waterpolo. Kell couldn't really sit still. And she loved an adventure more than anyone I know. Above I've compiled a collage of Kell on some of her most noteworthy adventures over the years.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Anne of Green Gables

Most of you probably know that Kelly-Anne has a quote from Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic Anne of Green Gables on her grave stone. It's a beautiful quote and one that was dear to her heart--in fact, she used if for years in her e-mail signature! The quote comes from a dialogue Anne is having with her adopted mother:
"Marilla, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
It's a beautiful sentiment and I'm so glad it's been preserved on Kell's gravestone for eternity. This summer I decided to sit down and read through the Anne of Green Gables books again. It's been a long, long time since I've read them. They were beautiful. Reading as an adult, I was struck by so many things that never occurred to me earlier. So many beautiful and poignant passages. One, in particular, struck me deeply. After Anne's adopted father, Matthew, passes away. She goes to speak with her trusted confidante Mrs. Allan about her grief. Here is their dialogue:
"It seems like disloyalty to Matthew, somehow, to find pleasure in these things now that he has gone," she said wistfully to Mrs. Allan one evening when they were together in the manse garden. "I miss him so much--all the time-- and yet, Mrs. Allan, the world and life seem very beautiful and interesting to me for all. Today Diana said something funny and I found myself laughing. I thought when it happened I could never laugh again. And it somehow seems as if I oughtn't to." "When Matthew was here he liked to hear you laugh and he liked to know that you found pleasure in the pleasant things around you," said Mrs. Allan gently. "He is just away now; and he likes to know it just the same. I am sure we should not shut our hearts against the healing influences that nature offers us. But I can understand your feeling. I think we all experience the same thing. We resent the thought that anything can please us when someone we love is no longer here to share the pleasure with us, and we almost feel as if we were unfaithful to our sorrow when we find our interest in life returning to us."
It's that last bit that really got to me. It was a perfect encapsulation of how I felt for months--years, even--after Kelly-Anne died. "We resent the thought that anything can please us when someone we love is no longer here to share the pleasure with us, and we almost feel as if we were unfaithful to our sorrow when we find our interest in life returning to us."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sometimes I wish that life were still as simple as a couple of matching outfits on the first day of school. I love this photo. It brings me such joy to remember a childhood of fun, laughter, adventure, and learning. What more could we ask for in life?

Fall 2012

I'm not sure I've ever gone this long without writing on the blog. I'd have to check the archives to be sure, but I doubt it. I don't know why, either. Kelly-Anne is as real and vivid to me in memory as she has been since that terrible day eight years ago. But I don't spend as much time engaged in the day-to-day fog of mourning as I used to. It is not as if I don't miss her--because I miss her something fierce. And it isn't as if I don't think of her--I have photos of her at home and at the office and I think of her nearly every day. But somehow it is different. Maybe it is all the change that makes it seem different--I'm so much older now. It's hard to rememeber exactly what it was like to be 24 and just starting out in the world. Kell's dear sister, Kim, has moved to Alberta with the love her life and is busy building a life there. Kell's mom, Doreen, is married and now a small business owner. Kell's Dad is also doing well and keeping very busy in the community and at his job. Somehow the first signs of fall have arrived without me thinking of what this time of year means and the loss it represents. I can't believe it snuck up on me! I'll be posting with regularity over the coming weeks, as I always do, to mark the anniversary of Kelly-Anne's death and the passing of another year. Please join me and share your own memories about Kelly-Anne in the comments section.