Wonky & Hard

I’ve thought about stopping in and writing time and time again.  In fact I’ve written what feels like a 1000 posts in my head, but haven’t taken any of them to my keyboard.  Things are just wonky and hard around our house and in our heads and in our hearts and putting those feelings down are just harder than imagined some days.  We’re all struggling to figure out who we are now and what this supposed joyful and hope filled time is suppose to look like.  Josh Kelley and I we’re talking the other night about how we feel like we can’t win right now.  Everett’s death shadows most everything right now.  We try and plan fun things to take our minds off of our loss and get us out of the house, but right now missing Everett always comes back around.  Example:  We we’re all so excited about the new Star Wars movie.  We planned, we went, we watched and snacked on all the fun movie snacks.  And by the time we got home 3 out of 5 kiddos we’re sad and crying and missing their brother.  Our grief just over shadows everything right now.

We are not lost to the fact that things could be so much worse though.  We are blessed and grateful for so many things.  We have each other and we’re mama and daddy to 6 beautiful children.  We can feed our children and we have a warm, safe home to live in each day and sleep in each night.  We are all healthy and strong.  God is still God and He reigns always supreme.  We have some dear people who have chosen to walk this grief road with us.  We see joy on the horizon, but getting there is sometimes a hard road.  I’m white knuckling hope for myself, Josh, our kids and our future as a family.

The kids officially began winter break on Monday.  It’s hard all being home with all of our grief all the time.  We convince ourselves we should go and do and then we all just end up wanting to be home.  A neverending catch 22.  Right now the littles are sleeping, the bigs and I are watching a movie, Solomon is putting in some microwave popcorn and I’m typing away.  I find myself thinking daily how are we going to keep trudging along day-in and day-out while so deeply longing for our boy.  How do we balance living here while craving heaven?  How do we do however many more years like this…without Everett?  How does this all work and how do we thrive again?

For now we just keep putting our feet on the floor each morning and as my friend Shannan said, “”Feel what you feel.” This is allowed, friends. Even in December.””  We’re feeling what we feel.  We’re living grief full on and honestly and ugly and truly and deeply.  There’s no hiding from grief.  It finds us from the minute we wake up until the moment our minds drift off to sleep and often it wakes us in the middle of the night.  And instead of pushing it all down, we’re treading in it often afraid it’s going to drown us, but, as shocking as it is to us, we’re still afloat.

The holidays look so different for us now and likely for a lot of you too.  We’re still doing our kindness advent, but I don’t love it as much as I usually do.  I haven’t documented it like I typically do.  Sadness has sucked a lot of joy from the things we normally find joy in.  Josh Kelley’s house lights keep skitzing out on him.  Our pre-lit tree is only half lit and Josh hasn’t found the energy to pull all the lights off…for a second time…and replace them.  We’ve baked less, but are trying to still share as much.  The kids have bounced from the high-of-highs to the low-of-lows and so have Josh and I.  This season is riddled with hard questions for Jesus and lots of truth filled hurts spoken out loud.  We are feeling the weight of our pain and the loneliness of losing our Shuai.  What we wouldn’t give to have him with us.  I still catch myself looking at his sweet face and finding myself still in disbelief.  How could this lively, life loving, laughter filled, ball of joy little boy not be here with us…his family??!  How?!?!

So we trudge on.  We love hard and cry every day.  We try and share our pain with one another and give lots of hugs and comfort when someone is so far down.  We also fight and yell and hurt each other’s feelings. We get lots of things wrong, but by the grace of Jesus I feel like we’re getting some things right.  We bought Everett a little Christmas tree and made ornaments and bought the perfect rainbow solar powered lights.  We decorated his tree and placed it on his grave to help us feel like we’re still celebrating our first Christmas as a family of 8…like we’re still celebrating our first Christmas with Everett.

Like I said, things are wonky and hard and like we never imagined, but we’re trusting He understands our pain and suffering and that He certainly understands what it’s like to watch His son die.  Trusting we serve an unendingly empathetic, loving and merciful Father.


  1. Andrew marsh says:

    Hi Laura, Josh, beautiful little Kelleys, too!
    Laura, you’ve hit the nail, spot on the head, when you said, “He certainly understands what it’s like to watch His son die”. And so do you, and I say that lovingly, not as a stupid man that doesn’t know the back-story. When you’re ready, and in the appropriate circumstance, you have a story to tell, to someone seeking, that few have. You too know what that that certain loss is like. I know that Shuai isn’t going to resurrect before your eyes but I definitely believe that you’ll all meet again. God isn’t heartless. He won’t leave you, as you are, in your current grief. He will meet you individually where you individually all are! This post sounds so trite but I hope you know me well enough by now, to realise that I’m not posting it to be trite or light hearted but to be supportive and encouraging. May you welcome our Great Christmas Baby once more this Advent season and may He be your reason for being. Just being. You don’t have to strive to be anything more than you’re feeling at this moment. You can all just be. Just be. And my prayer is that you’d all be sponge-like, to soak up His love and mystery and peace and comfort. May our Great Spirit be present in each of you individually and in the Kelley Family especially! I love you guys! With lots and lots of love to you all, today and in our Father’s Kingdom, to come!!! I can’t wait to be there! Excited or what??

  2. Thank you for the update. Continuing to pray for your family throughout this difficult time.

  3. Hugs and hugs and hugs to you and the whole family.

  4. I listened to this podcast the other day and thought of you. Its only a few minutes long. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/solid-joys-daily-devotional/id1315817340?mt=2&i=1000397402931

  5. I have a close friend who lost a child suddenly and unexpectedly. This was five years ago. The first months were so incredibly hard. As you described, she said the same: I feel like we are drowning. Her other children’s grief. Her grief. Her husband’s grief. The people they thought would be their support Network who said incredibly hurtful things or said nothing at all.
    She will still text me some days now five years later and say “Grief comes out of nowhere with no warning.” Sometimes she can attribute to the body remembering and realizing it’s an anniversary related to her child. When her birthday approaches, she knows the wave is coming once again. But sometimes it just hits out of nowhere when she least expects it…and it’s never ever completely gone.
    How could it possibly be?
    She texted me the day before the anniversary of her death this year and said “Today marks the last time I felt completely whole.” I don’t say that to discourage you. I say it because I know you know. And she goes through her daily life now these many years later, and she’s not daily drowning in it…but there are days she is and the undercurrent of the loss is always there, because again how could it not be so? When you love someone so desperately of course you will miss them so desperately.

    I will do my best to keep saying Everett’s name as I keep saying my friend’s daughter’s name, because I know I’m not reminding either of you of them. I know I’m not reminding you of your grief. I know I’m not reminding you of your pain and how much you miss them.
    I’m reminding you that he continues to be so loved by so many, and that you and he are never forgotten. He was here. He mattered. He was loved. And sweet Everett deserves to be talked about over and over and over again by the people surrounding you.
    So much love to you all…

  6. gee, how my heart literally stops ( or really slows down) when I read your words, Laura. I literally feel the heaviness of your heart. Know that you and Josh and Everett and your the Babes are so, so often in my thoughts and prayers. I miss Shuai. I miss his Big ol’ smile! I wish, and I know that wishes don’t really come true, that all of the pain and grief would be gone. I wish that Shuai was still here with his family.

    Prayers, He DOES answers my prayers. He hears every one of them. So, I Pray for a great dose of Healing Peace comes over everyone in your home. And, that an enormous abundance of Joy will be present in the hearts and souls of each one of you. I love you, so very much, Laura! You and your family have touched my life in so many ways. Keep on keeping’ on! Hugs to All – Jo

  7. I’m not Catholic, but I watched much of the Christmas Eve Mass from Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican tonight. At one point, they sang Silent Night and the translator invited us to pray especially for those who are hurting in this season – I prayed for all you Kelleys by name. Prayed for moments of joy among the hard moments; for moments free of guilt and stress; for grace and peace overflowing. I know you’re only human and this is rough, but I pray there will be moments of clear beauty among the mess, and that those are the moments that stay with you.
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us, hard and wonky as it is, and letting us come alongside you. Because you have shared the way you have, I have three times now borrowed from your story to do what I can for people going through hard things. Thank you for helping me have the words (even when the words were “I don’t know what to say, but I know you don’t need useless advice. So I’m going to shuttup instead of blathering on, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care.”)
    This comment got longer than I had intended, but I mean all of it. Thank you and I’m thinking of you and Merry Christmas.

  8. Cheryl haRtman says:

    I don’t know what to say except that it 3:09 AM in the morning and I felt like checking in on Pitter Patter. I am still thinking of you and your family and your grief. Your words are so meaningful. Thank you for being so brave and articulate and continuing to share. Love to you and your family.

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