6 Years

It’s in the 3am hour and I can’t sleep.  Our littlest woke up about 2 hours ago throwing a fit which she does often now.  Josh Kelley got up first with her like he always does and then it was my turn the next go around.  She finally went back to sleep, but then my mind took off.  I laid there thinking about Everett of course and then my mind ran.  I whispered to Josh, “Are you awake?”  After several asks he finally responded and I could put my burning question to rest, “What was the name of Everett’s respiratory therapist at Mott who we loved so much?”  It was driving me crazy sitting there in the dark.  “Mike.”  His name was Mike.  Thanks Josh for being on it even at 3:22am.

The 20th marked 6 years since my mom died suddenly.  She was sick with brain cancer for a total of 10 days and then she was gone.  It was crazy and still is.  She was my parent and so many things died with her when she died.  I still think about her everyday and would give most anything to crawl up in the bed with her, have her wrap her arms around me and hear her amazing laugh.

I think about the day she died a lot especially after watching our son die.  I can get really angry about the day she died because no one treated us with care at the hospital…minus her nurse on her regular floor.  The doctors who worked on her and who talked with us afterwards we’re aholes…or at least that’s how they presented themselves.  We we’re given all of about zero time with her and ushered out as quickly as possible.  And then the immediate paperwork while her body literally laid within looking distance.  Yep, it still makes my blood boil, but I had never experienced death so personally before and had no clue…zero expectations on how all this was suppose to go down.  It feels quite insane thinking through it all.

Our experience at Mott with Everett could not have been more drastically different.  Maybe because it was a children’s hospital, but I like to think it has more to do with the people who work in that children’s hospital.  I remember vividly standing in the hallway by myself looking in through the big glass doors while Everett’s room filled with people…several who had become like family to us…and they worked on him as he had coded for the second time…this time having to be put on life support.  I remember the shock and terror and the immediate indescribable sadness.  At Mott when something goes wrong you immediately have a social worker by your side.  Out of no where one of their social workers just appeared…our normal lady was busy at the time.  This social worker immediately started asking questions…would you like to sit down…do you want to go somewhere else…maybe we should step inside this room…do you need anything…would you like some water…can I call someone for you?  I didn’t want to go anywhere…I wanted to stay as close to Everett as humanly possible.  I did not want water…I did not want to sit down…I didn’t want to go anywhere except out of that hospital with our son and back home…and I had already called Josh and he was rushing to find and get on a flight.  I just couldn’t stop crying and all I knew was I wanted out of this hellish moment with Everett in my arms.

Then this sweet woman, who wanted to do nothing but help, in her last-ditch effort to help in some way asked, “Do you want me to call your mom?”  I turned in all my panicked mother glory, sobbing I might add, and said, “You can’t.  She’s dead.”  YOU GUYS!!!!  This poor poor woman.  And then I busted into laughter while the tears streamed and I apologized.  I mean, what is the likeliness.  She walked right into that one and I just instinctively responded.  I felt so bad for her and she was so shocked/horrified/crazy apologetic/weirded out-relived I was laughing.  This is my Mom…still providing laughter in those insane moments even after she’s gone onto glory.  She totally loved to laugh and her laugh was my favorite.

In our first parental grief group I thought about Mom a lot because there we’re a few grandparents at the meeting.  To start off each meeting they pass around a microphone and each person is given the chance to say their child’s name, how old they we’re when they died and how they died.  Not one person passed up this opportunity.  Not one.  It was so hard and yet so nice to be in a place and with other people where the first thing we did was talk about Everett.  It’s a heartbreakingly, beautiful thing.  On the day we buried Everett we immediately began to feel the isolation and loneliness.  Most places we go and people we are around rarely mention his name…it’s like people just don’t know what to do with us or our kids…so to be in a place and around other people and the first thing we do is say Everett’s name and acknowledge his death and our pain from it is, well, like breathing a giant breath of air into our emptied out lungs.

I have wondered about how Mom would have handled Everett’s death a 1000 times over.  I said one time how if she hadn’t already died, this would have surely killed her. 🙂   I talked to my Mom almost every single day.  She came by our house multiple times during the week just to see the kids and snag some hugs from them.  I often wonder if this would have pushed her away, but my head knows better because during big change for us in the past she never checked out, but more so, checked in.  She would have worried about us and Jesus.  She would have wanted every last gritty, ugly, hard detail of how the kids we’re processing it all.  She would have wanted to know how Josh and I we’re doing and how our sex life was 🙂  Nothing was off limits to Sandra Hall.  She would have done our laundry.  She would have brought food.  She would have stocked our cabinets with all the best snacks.  She would have watched the kids for us so we could have some time just me and Josh.  She would have dropped by or had us swing by her bank so she could smother the kids in hugs and kisses and give them small treats and gifts just to relieve the pain for even a moment.  I like to think she would have just kept doing what she always had done.  And that makes me miss her the most because I know she wouldn’t have run for the hills or hid away…she would have walked this messy journey with us and for us.  She would have been all in.

6 years.   This year was maybe my saddest death anniversary because 6 years feels like way too long.  After 6 years people have far moved on and likely forgotten and rightly so, I mean, do you know how much life happens in 6 years?!?!  A lot.  But this year was especially hard because it made me think about Everett and what 6 years without him will look like.  Will anyone really remember?!?!  People will have far moved on and likely forgotten and rightly so, but as his mama, gah, it just makes my heart want to jump out of my chest and demand the world to stop moving.  I know it’s life.  I know death happens.  I know my Mom and Everett are both in heaven with Jesus, but that knowledge does not make this any less painful.

This past week was a tough one.  Everyone felt it extremely heavy, but I feel like this week might be better.  As I sit here in the dark of our warm little home, filled with all these precious people I get the honor to call mine, I can’t help but be extremely grateful.  I’ve got a lot of hangups with Jesus right now…we’re working through some things to say the least…but His goodness, so far I’m still holding on crazy tight to it.  I know His goodness brought Everett into our lives and allowed me to be born to one of the greatest women I’ve ever met.  His goodness, well, so far I’m still a believer. 🙂


  1. Crying all the tears this morning, thank you for sharing. Wow, God really is good and I hope I would still believe that in your situation. You and your people are beautiful.

  2. Robin Y Faulks says:

    I just can’t imagine in 6 years not remembering Everett! He touched my heart and that will never disappear…. He is forever part of my heart!

  3. I know you don’t know me, but I too lost my daughter..every single thing you describe ..well,
    I can relate.

    I remember looking out and seeing life moving and swirling around us and feeling frozen in the moment she breathed her last..and finding it incredulous that life was going on without her.

    Mine didn’t …not in the way it had..never in the way it had..would never in the way it had.

    A big chunk of my heart felt carved out and palpably raw and bleeding .

    It has been many years now, and the grief still lives inside of me..it might not be the messy, gaping bloody way it once was..but there is a Madison-shaped hole right in the center of it and always will be.

    You are not alone

    • Andrew Marsh says:

      Aww, Amy, you got right to my heart. I wept with your silent heart. Bless you and yours. God bless and keep and cherish you.

  4. I lost my Mom too soon and very quickly. It will be six years on December 29th. I need her every day. I can’t imagine your pain of losing Everett as well. My prayers are with you.

  5. Thank you for sharing your mom and Everett. Yesterday was my 66th birthday. I missed my mom and dad so much. I wanted to ask them so many questions. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it is hard bing an orphan.

    • Andrew Marsh says:

      aww, Ginny, Ivso agree with you. I’m 67 and my mum died in 1993, my dad in 2001. Though it’s so long since, I still sometimes think about picking up the phone and ringing her and I have to stop myself. Crazy, isn’t it? And, yes, it’s not nice being orphaned. I want to be adopted!!

  6. While I cannot relate to your deep, indescribable pain of losing sweet Everett, I so relate to your words about your mom. My dad has been gone 8 years now and I think about him all the time. Especially at big, pivotal family moments. Two of my siblings had their first babies this year and I just kept thinking, “He would have loved to be a grandpa!” Every time someone tells me a story about him, it makes my day because I know he is remembered even now, 8 years later, by the people whose lives he touched. Thank you for sharing this…I weep with you and wish that your mama was there to hold you in your grief.

  7. Still heartbroken for all of you and knowing this Thanksgiving had to be a hard one. Praying for you in your deep pain. Keep talking about Everett and your mom and all the loveliness that they are.

  8. Two things I wanted to share with you through my tears…
    When I was in college, a friend of ours died in a car accident. The entire campus was devastated. So many of us drove hours to his funeral and to hug his mom and dad and tell them how much we were going to miss Luke.
    That was 14 years ago this past week. He died over Thanksgiving break.
    We still remember.
    I’m Facebook friends with his mom.
    We still talk about him.
    My college classmates still comment on her posts and talk about Luke and share stories about him.
    Because we remember.
    Everett will not ever be forgotten.
    He can’t possibly be.

    And secondly about Mott — I’m almost recovered from my surgery enough to deliver all the books from the book drive! They’re all stickered with the drawing of Fiesta and his name and ready to go — but that’s not what I wanted to say.

    What I wanted to say is this: I was there on that awful day. I was there with my 4 year old, dropping of leggings and books for your family.
    I had such hope on that day of the weekend you were about to spend together.
    They gave us ID badges and sent us up to Everett’s floor and at the front desk when I gave his name, I saw it in the person’s face at the desk. I knew something was going horribly wrong.
    She said “Um, did you want to go in…because…um…they’re doing a procedure…”
    “No, no, I just want to leave these with you and you can give them to his mom for me.”

    I turned and left holding my 4 year old tight and he saw it too. “Mommy, is he okay?” “I don’t know, buddy.”

    At every stoplight on my way home, I refreshed your FB page until I saw the update and I sobbed in traffic, because, oh, Laura, it just wasn’t supposed to be this way.
    It effing sucks.
    It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

    And I tell you that story, because I wanted you to know that I was there that day because I want you to know even more people than you even know were there and caring and that love and care that you saw in so many people…I saw it in that woman’s face at the front desk. She loved him too.

  9. Lisa gilliam says:

    My heart sends you a big huge hug. It may not help but it’s what I have to give and pray for peace for today. This has been my first of everything this year since mom died. Tough year because we were not real close till I took care of her in the last year. I think not only do we grieve what we are missing but what we missed. So many life’s moments not fulfilled with Everett your are also grieving along with your mom. Grief sucks but part of life. Still sucks love u

  10. Caroline Millette says:

    Love your description of your Mom. Sounds like she was amazing, right down to her laugh!
    I will think of Everett every Feb/March…when we were in China. Such precious and sacred memories.
    Hugs to you today!

  11. Clarissa Urbina says:

    He died on my birthday, I’ll never forget him. All day I hoped/dreaded news as I checked your Instagram every few hours. I didn’t find out until the day after that he was gone and my birthday was over but I thought about you guys and prayed for Everett so hard on my birthday that I know that thinking of you will be part of my birthday forever.

  12. So much love to you….no one loves like a Mom. No one. My mom went to heaven one year ago…I hope she knows your Mom. They would be besties…

  13. Andrew Marsh says:

    Hi Laura, Josh, little Kelleys!
    Laura, I love your honesty, openness, frankness, anger, wondering. But I hate your loss. I know neither of us could do anything about Everett’s passing. That was in our Father’s hands. And it’s something we not get, until we get to Glory. But, it’s rubbish, being in your place. Rats! How can I even say that, cos I still have my four children here?? But my eyes weep with you, my heart too cos I get your pain via your honest words. I cry lots these days. I never did cos I hated my noisy sobs. Now, God is melting my feelings somewhat and I cry so easily. Your posts always get me, always bring me to tears. I see your pics of oh so sweet, smiley Everett and I’m gone. I see Everett, asleep or unconscious, in your arms and I weep for what was lost, Everett’s young life and what was expected to be a long future here. Who knows what he escaped, by being transferred to Glory so soon after hitting earth? Years of deterioration, pain, lust hope maybe? I don’t know. But this I DO know – Everett has no pain, either now, or in his future! He’s got his heavenly body, like Christ’s. He’s got it all in spades and that kinda makes me jealous! It’ll not be that long, in the grand scheme of things, before I get my new body. If it’s in my power, if I still have my memories of this place, I’ll seek out your Everett and go hug him big style!! I’m looking forward to that. If I can, am allowed, I’ll take care of him, till you Kelleys get there!! Meanwhile, I send you all my best love, from widdle wet High Crompton in the UK!! Don’t lose your faith, any of you. Thats not part of our Heavenly Father’s plan. God wanted your boy, he’d been here his time. He’d impacted thousands and made thousands think of, turn to God. That’s a brilliant testimony for a nearly four year old sweet bundle! Keep on keeping on, Laura! I’m here if you need an old man to listen.

  14. Your mom sounds so awesome. You honor her so well! I am reading a really challenging and encouraging book right now and it makes me think of you in every single chapter. I am sure someone has already tried to push a Nancy Guthrie book in your hands by now, because she speaks so tenderly and truly and biblically into grief and sorrow from her own experience, but just in case, this book is one among a NUMBER of hers. Such a good word. https://www.amazon.com/Hearing-Jesus-Speak-into-Sorrow/dp/1414325487/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1511816899&sr=8-8&keywords=nancy+guthrie+books

  15. I can’t believe it’s been 6 years. I remember so vividly reading your heart during that time and being in complete shock and sadness for you and your family. Even from wayyyy over here in California, I haven’t forgotten about your mom or you. And I remember all of the ways that that sadness shaped you into an even stronger, more giving person. It’s probably too soon for you to think about that with Everett, but I have no doubt God is doing some monumental work on your heart and the hearts of your entire family. As I prepped for my kindness advent (year 3 for me, thanks to you!), I put a wish into the universe that the advent acts would help heal you and your family this year as I recall them doing to you at the beginning. Hugs, as always to you, and a thank you for being your real, honest self <3

  16. I know you don’t know me (I am a friend of your aunt Linda), but I pray for “Everett’s family” every night. I’m probably old enough to be your mom, but when I was much younger, I lost my husband – my best friend. People still speak about him and it blesses my heart. I know people will speak about and think of Everett the same way. Hugs and prayers to you and your family.

  17. In 6 years I will still be talking about Everett with my sister and my daughter and we will smile and cry and be thankful that we got to share in his little life. And we will still be loving the Kelley family, so thank you for sharing yourselves with us.

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  19. Prayers for you and your sweet family as you navigate each day without Everett. And with your Mom in heaven instead of hear to give you a hug. I can’t imagine you heartbreak. I lost my Dad 11 years ago and I still miss him, especially at the holidays. I know he is watching over me and my family. I know Jesus is walking through this pain and loss with you and all of your kiddos and I will continue to pray for your healing every day. ❤️

  20. Carrie Corrigan says:

    My mom died when I was 2 years old, so I’ve sadly had a couple experiences like where someone asks me if they can call my mom & I’ve lost it on them. It happens.

    Hang in there, Kelley family. Sending love from Wisconsin.

  21. I love your phrase: “hangups with Jesus.” Though mine came from different circumstances than yours, I’ve endured the searing questions that never find answers in easy, Christiany phrases. For a long time, I saw him as the perpetrator of my pain, as if he willfully picked it (cancer, sexual assault) just for me. How could I possibly trust that kind of monster, let alone depend on him? Elijah’s story finally got me thinking straight. All storms is not God-inflicted–and when they rage, he whispers. My thoughts: http://michelephoenix.com/2017/09/god-wasnt-in-the-storm/

  22. I’ve read you for all these years. I haven’t forgotten your mother. I won’t forget your Everett. I’ll rejoice meeting them in heaven. In the meantime your words are indeed a sweet reminder of them and a testament of your faith to us. Thank you.

  23. Six years from now I KNOW that I will not have forgotten Everett. Please know that.

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