100 Days

A while back our sister-in-law Becky told us how in the Chinese culture they celebrate their lost loved ones 100 days out from their death.  I can’t say how invaluable Becky and Josh’s brother Andy are to our family in helping us navigate the Chinese culture and how important they were to Shuai.  He deeply loved them and one of our most favorite things was watching and listening to them communicate in Mandarin once he arrived home.  I specifically remember facetiming with Becky and our niece Meiya when Shuai was in the hospital.  They wanted to see him and talk to him and I pretty much sobbed my way through the phone call.  And when we realized Everett was brain dead and the only way he was coming home was by way of a miracle Andy facetimed us from China so he could see Everett one last time.  It was the most holy of moments listening to Andy sing happy birthday to Everett in his loved Chinese language.  It makes me teary every time the memory comes to mind.

So we marked our calendars for this 100 day mark and I remember distinctly thinking, “At least we still have some time.”  And now here we are.  100 days.  We had no real plans for the actual day, but when we woke up it was the first thing on my mind.  I laid next to Josh in the dark of this early morning and said out loud, “100 days.  100 days.”  It felt incredibly heavy and it caught me off guard at how heavy it actually felt.  100 days feels like a lot and 100 days means we are closing in on the calendar day that marks him being gone from us longer than the days he was actually with us and that is really hard to process.  We miss him so much…far more than I will ever be able to put into words.  I long for him with every fiber of my being.

I always want to be really honest in my thoughts and feelings and emotions and truthfully I have a lot of mistrust for Jesus right now, but no matter my current feelings for Him, I do know He is good.  I do know He loves us immensely.  And I do know He deserves our praise no matter what.  I hope and pray as we move through this dreaded process of grieving the loss of our 3-year-old that I never, ever lose that.  God please help me to hold on to those 3 truths.  I know no matter what God is still right beside us walking with us, carrying us, moving us from place-to-place, healing us even though we don’t feel it yet.  I know it.  I have to.  If I do not hold onto these hopes, I’m just not sure what I will have left.

I found myself up and moving through the day.  Regular morning routine things…fixing lunches, helping Amon find socks, making oatmeal for our littlest.  Hudson came down and sat on the couch with the saddest look.  I asked him what was the matter, but I already knew.  He voiced how sad he felt this morning.  I am always amazed at our bodies and how even when our mind might not know something,  our bodies can still feel things heavily.

Our littlest and I went to get some mid-week groceries.  And when we returned home I decided I wanted to have lunch at Everett’s grave.  His burial marker isn’t in yet, but I just felt like I needed to go.  I know he’s not there, but it’s nice to have a place to actually go that’s outside our home.  I decided to get some balloons to help celebrate this day in some way and I remembered we brought home from the hospital the balloon weight we used to weigh down the colorful balloons and one minion balloon we bought in Ann Arbor, MI. We used those balloons to celebrate Everett’s 4th birthday with our family beside his hospital bed just days before he died.

I always wonder if he knew we we’re celebrating him.  I pulled the weight out and instantly remembered how Josh Kelley wanted to get a red star for China and how I wanted to get a red heart…we went with the red star.  I pulled it from the drawer and saw the leftover cut off strings from his birthday balloons and cried.  No one should have to rush to throw together a birthday party to celebrate their son’s life one more time before he is no longer living.  No one should have to rush to throw together a birthday party to help their other children process the loss of their brother.  It was so important to Harper we have this first birthday celebration with Everett since we had not been with him for his 3 previous birthdays.

After I dropped our littlest off at preschool I headed to get balloons.  I saw our local flower store ahead and wondered if they had chrysanthemums and daisies…like the traditional Henan province flowers Becky had told us about for Shuai’s burial…the flowers that adorned his little casket.  I stopped and bought one package of white daisies and one package of yellow chrysanthemums.  These will forever be his flowers and I deeply love that.  I also picked up some balloons and headed home.  I packed a lunch and Ashley called to check in.  I cried on the phone to her and she encouraged me to just sit with the pain.  Josh Kelley came home and we talked about the heaviness of the day and actually the whole week really.  We’re just tired.  Really really tired.  We desperately long for how things use to be and we miss that time, we miss Everett and we miss the relationships we use to have.

I packed everything up and headed to the cemetery.  I ate lunch and even talked out loud some to Everett.  Even though I know he’s not there, it felt good to talk to him.  With every thing in me I long to hold him in my arms again.  I have never felt anything as painful as this.  He was so full of life and joy and love.  He was so active and funny and my brain still struggles to understand how his little body is in a box deep beneath the earth.

I ate lunch and drew some.  I’m still filling up the notebook I bought before we left for Mott and I use it to commemorate big moments and 100 days definitely qualified.  Now I’m sitting hear typing away on my computer.  There’s another burial here today and I can hear bagpipes in the distance.  I watched a long line of traffic form when a police officer stopped traffic to let cars in and out.  I said a quick prayer for the people who are affected by this loss and immediately wondered if it was someone’s child.  I thought about the family and how today they will likely go home after everyone else does and they will begin their new, unwanted normal.  I thought about how some people will disappear because they won’t know quite what to do with this suffering family.  I thought about how some people will stick around and those people will be life giving to this family who is grieving so hard.  I thought how they might question everything they’ve ever believed and long for the days when things we’re easier and far less complicated.


100 days.  It feels absolutely insane and what we wouldn’t give to go back in an instant.  I listened to Hillsong’s So Will I song and the line that resonated with me the day Shuai died as this song played in his hospital room resonated yet again with my heart today “If the rocks cry out in silence, so will I.”  I just cannot let go of the hope…the praise God so rightly deserves, I just can’t.  No matter how absurd it feels or sounds when I say it out loud to myself, I just cannot let go of these truths.  There is good in our every day no matter how maddening the grief feels…no matter how physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually exhausted we are.  There are 5 other beautiful children in our home who are all healthy and alive.  Josh Kelley is still by my side and there is not another soul on this planet I’d rather walk this road with.  I’m sitting on a lovely, worn quilt under a gorgeous canopied tree on the perfect fall day in Tennessee and I must choose to believe God is still right here beside us…loving on us, grieving with us and holding our boy ever so close.  100 days.  Easily the worst 100 days of our lives and yet 100 days closer to holding our FuShuai again.


  1. You said a couple of times that you knew he wasn’t at the cemetery except that he was. He was there with you my dear. He is always with you. Wherever you go, whatever you are doing, he is with you. All the time. Call upon him to show you, to give you signs and he will. Your beautiful boy is just waiting to show you that he is still with you. Always and forever.

  2. Laura, there are no words for me to offer. Yours are so beautiful and honoring to Everett’s life and every time you write I feel like I know him a little bit better. Thank you so much for letting us all get to know him.

  3. Mary Kulp says:

    This is the psalm I keep praying for you. 100 days. You are loved.


  4. Heather Herman says:

    I cannot tell you enough how sorry I am you Kelly’s are living this hell. I’m so sorry for your pain. I think of you & Everett every day. You guys are so loved & prayed for.

  5. Ugh. Praying over you and just it’s so hard. It’s not fair it’s not right! he was a light and a beautiful sweet boy… seeing his face is a punch to the gut every time. Hold onto the thread of hope and faith in Gods character even when it all does not make sense. Hold each other tight, walk through the pain, much much love your way.

  6. Kimberlee Jost says:

    I still don’t have words, so I won’t pretend to know your grief, friend. You are very much loved by me and so many…and so was Everett.

  7. Laura,
    Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you and your family and lift you up in prayer. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It is so full of truth and so encouraging and I am so grateful for your transparency. Genesis 50:20

  8. I think of how fiercely you and your family loved Everett. I am so thankful that God brought him to you to be loved so well in his too short life.

  9. Andrew Marsh says:

    I cried when I thought about you and Shuai being together again. I too long for Heaven – at the right time – when I will embrace all those that’ve gone before.

  10. Still praying for you and heartbroken for you. Thank you also for continuing to let us know how we can love others in this same situation. Thank you for reminding us to be there even when it’s so hard.

  11. My son is 4.5, and he’s also adopted (domestically). Thinking of my life without him makes it hard to breathe. I’m so sorry that you have to wait to see your precious boy again. Praying for your peace, your comfort, your strength, and your continued faith that God is always, always, always good.

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