Everett’s Tree

When Christmas came around it kind of totally sucked.  We really wanted no part of any celebrating and we wanted to sleep through the whole hope-soaked, joyful season.  We weren’t feeling it and all we could think about is Everett…what he would have loved about the whole holiday, how crappy it feels carrying on without him, how we missed out on celebrating Christmas with him.  It all was heavy and weighted and when the season was done with, we breathed a little easier.

It’s interesting how everyone processes grief and loss differently.  For us, it’s important to visit his grave…Everett’s special corner of this earth.  We know he’s not there, but we still feel connected to him there.  It was the place we said our final goodbyes and laid his small body deep within the earth.  It’s where we hung strands of paper hearts cut out by his siblings and cousin and the Chinese lanterns we bought on our trip to China when we became each others…when we saw his sweet face in person for the first time.  This cemetery holds so much of us now and even though all of me loathes that so very much, I also don’t ever want to lose it.

Our dreams and hopes for Everett immediately dissipated the day he died…they died along with him.  They would not come to fruition because our boy wasn’t physically with us anymore.  We we’re left with our memories, the hope of heaven and a grassy spot under a big tree.  We find it important to go there and to decorate and leave little mementos and to talk to him while were there.  For Christmas we decided to buy a tree for Everett’s grave, but it couldn’t be decorated just any old way.  It needed to be special.  It needed to be For Everett, From Us.

I searched the internet over and found the perfect sparkly, rainbow solar lights.  Harper wanted to make ornaments and how appropriate.  Of course his tree needed handmade ornaments by his family.  Josh Kelley talked about how each year from now we’ll pull out his box of ornaments for his graveside tree and my eyes glossed over with tears.

We bought small pinecones and mini pompoms.  We used twine to make hangers and colorful straws to make a big star for the top of his tree.  We also bought cheapo plastic beads and melted them down inside of cookie cutters to make beautiful, glassy color-filled ornaments.  We all might have lost a few brain cells in the process…those fumes we’re legit…but it was well worth it.

The kids loved every minute of it.  It was therapeutic making something for our boy…our FuShuai…our Everett.  It was a mix of deep sadness and deep honor stringing those colorful lights and placing each ornament on his tree just so.  I kept thinking, “How is this our reality?  A Christmas tree for our 3-year-old’s grave.” but I know this is our life now.  The moments of sheer shock are still there, but they are lessening because the longer we are without Everett, the longer reality sinks in deep and cutting.  Even though I’m straight up pissed off our celebrating with Everett now looks like this, I still want to do a really good job at it.


As our littlest says all the time, “He’s our boy for always.”  Indeed he is.  I will always include him in the number of children I have.  I will always say his name when asked about my kids’ names.  I will always notice him missing in photos.  I will always hang his stocking up each Christmas.  I will never pass up the opportunity to talk about him.  And I will always celebrate him every chance I get.  My arms and heart will always long for him this side of heaven.  Until then, we will carry on and celebrate and honor his memory any way we can, but especially with all the handmade, rainbow colored goodness.


  1. Precious thoughts. I think about your family and pray for healing.

  2. Andrew Marsh says:

    I don’t know if you want to hear this, Laura, but there’s a small amount of new living coming in. And that’s good. Doesn’t mean you’ll ever forget FuShuai but you’ll live a little brighter together and for him. You’ll shine brighter for our loving Father. I say that, not knowing if you’re even talking to God now. I know you’ve every reason, speaking as a fellow human, who’s had to be able to react to loss, to want to walk away from Him. Don’t worry if you do. He never moves. Always waits for you too. Much, much love to all you Kelleys! Andrew

  3. Death just really sucks. I’m thankful for the promise we will see our loved ones again but man, it sucks. I love the things your family does to honor and remember him. I went on a bachelorette trip a few weeks ago and it was fiesta themed. They had cookies that were rainbow pinatas but obviously, I called it a fiesta donkey from reading your posts. My friends thought I was crazy but I got to share y’alls story and we just sat and prayed for each day to be a little bit better than before.

  4. Even though we’ve never meet, I pray for you and your family. Let your heart feel deeply, and do what you need to each day. Don’t rush yourself to feel normal. You will find a new normal. Those baby steps through grief will create memories & help each of you to treasure these hard days later. Draw near to the Lord, because He is right there with you. He doesn’t change. For He is our comforter. I pray you will have His peace as you cry those tears of loss and sadness. For He IS our God. He loves Everett, & He loves you.

  5. Uffda… I just love you and your family. Praying for you all daily.

  6. Heather Bednar says:

    Read my devotional this morning and it just pointed back to you as I read. Total stranger to you but you and your crew are often on my heart and in my prayers.


    I would love to take a walk with you and hear you share your burdens and maybe just maybe you could feel just a little lighter for a moment. But since I can’t I know ONE who can and praise the Lord you know the same ONE. Hold tight to your precious Everett and walk with Jesus daily and tell Him all about ALL of it. He is strong enough. And maybe just maybe for a moment you’ll feel just a little lighter. BIG hugs

  7. He 100% is your boy for always.

    Thank you for sharing this – you are a gem. I remember back when you started the kindness advent and it struck such a chord with me. I didn’t yet have a kiddo, but I knew that the way you were modeling for your kiddos was something I wanted to aspire to. This post reminds me of that…”Even though I’m straight up pissed off our celebrating with Everett now looks like this, I still want to do a really good job at it.” You might not see if right now, but you are such an inspiration to your kids (and me!).

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