Connected to Kayleigh Keeble

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Written words have always been my method of choice for communicating. I use them to defend, soothe, convince, agitate, explain, define, beautify, announce or (as is most often my way) find the funny angle in whatever person, place, event, action or thought that happens to have my attention, my hope being to help others (and me) to see deeper, think differently and perhaps feel better.

But sometimes words don’t work and they don’t make me or anyone else feel better. And sometimes things just aren’t funny.

On Thursday, a beautiful thirteen year old girl, whom I did not know of ten days ago, died from an aggressive, fast moving form of cancer. I’d have never known about her (her name is Kayleigh Maria Keeble) were it not for an email from a dear friend asking me and others to consider helping the family of this little girl, who was in the hospital fighting for her life while doctors tried to get her stable enough to deal with a large tumor between her heart and lungs. He asked for our prayers and if possible, financial contribution to an online website fund set up to help the family. All of us who were sent that email became right then and there, part of this family, connected to their nightmare, to their hopes, to their desperate plea to God “Please not our baby.”

I and an exponential number of others through the beautiful side of the not always beautiful social media united all our good mojo with conviction and rich optimism. No matter that many of us didn’t know Kayleigh. Someone WE loved knew and loved her so therefore we loved Kayleigh too and so then did the people who love us, and so on. And these beautiful, golden threads connecting us all were woven into an intricate quilt of love and wrapped protectively around Kayleigh and her family and there was no way God wasn’t gonna notice.

But within days of her diagnosis, she was taken from her family and from the world.

And it feels like God didn’t listen.

Because while we whisper knowingly in our hearts (and beg our brains to catch up) that Kayleigh is for sure in a better place where she no longer has to “fight like a girl”, the family she left behind is NOT in a better place right now.

There are some strong souls who are unwavering in their hearts and actions despite the dark, lonely space that death creates. These people are soothing saints who keep that quilt of woven love in place while the rest of us rage, curse, wail and shake our fists and try and see one tiny glimpse of understanding as to why a beautiful girl would be ripped from her family so ruthlessly.

Rage is not comfortable. Selfish, blasphemous questions are certainly circling in my own head. From the perspective of someone floating helplessly far outside the circle of Kayleigh’s family and friends, I ask: “Why did I have to know about this? It hurts so badly! It brings me fear and worry and uncertainty! Why God, did you involve so many people in this if you had no intentions of listening? With so many people wrapped up in this, wouldn’t it have been a great time to show us what you can do? How do I explain to my kids why you didn’t help Kayleigh the way we all asked you to? How do I explain to them why prayers don’t always fix things or make us feel better? What the HELL God?”

But pause for a moment (as I am) and think on this: rage is a form of love. The ever eternal words of poet Dylan Thomas sing a bitter sweet song. He raged in prayer for his father to fight to the end: “Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

That we (all of us here, feeling robbed and abandoned by God and by death) would hold desperately to the light of another human being, that we would rage and wail and curse at the idea of Kayleigh’s light being extinguished puts value on what is most important in the world: love. And this fuels and stokes Kayleigh’s flame, helping it to burn more brightly so that she not only shines forever “into that good night” but also continues to burn with infinite and comforting love upon her family.

So let us rage and stoke the light, and be glad to be a small part of one family’s journey (you as a reader of this are now on the journey with them too) knowing that it somehow, through some kind of cosmic, interconnected, angry beauty does indeed give us a glimpse of a plan that has been mapped out with such passionate love that while we don’t know much, we know we have been brought together, regardless of our degree of separation, to lessen this family’s pain by embracing the sorrowful rage that keeps the flame burning.

6 thoughts on “Connected to Kayleigh Keeble

  1. Lori Brennan

    Thank you for these beautiful words! As Kayleigh’s (great) aunt her loss is something that neither I nor our family can fathom. We will mourn her and celebrate her for the rest of our lives. I am thankful that God allowed me to know this beautiful girl and be a part of her life, how I will miss those words “Hi, Auntie”. Kayleigh in her very short time with us, was able to accomplish so much and she touched so many people on her journey. It was a tragic loss and yet our love for her willl continue to grow as she shines her light upon us. Kayleigh is and will always be very much loved and missing her is now a part of our daily lives as we push forward. Thank you again.

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    • Lori

      My family and I are all deeply attached to Kayleigh and feel very involved in your family’s great loss even though we never met her (we will someday!) I can not imagine the pain you all must be going through. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have seen her bracelets on people quite a bit the last couple of days: Kayleigh continues to connect people to each other and I am so very grateful to be a small part of that connection and to know some of her sad but beautiful story. Thanks you so much Lori. Much peace to you and your wonderful family.

      -Heather

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  2. Dan

    H- thank you! This is not just a sad story but rather complete and total heart break that leaves many of us questioning everything we thought to be true. Why would God, who has so many angels already, have to take this one from a dear friend, and a family whom has lived their entire lives with integrity, honesty, and fairness? There is no doubt this horrendous injustice has shown this wonderful family just how loved they are in this area, but the price for this is entirely to high. My hope is that with time gods plan will become clear to me, but at this point I can not believe it will.
    I want to thank you for falling in love with this little angel. She was (and forever will be) the sweetest, polite, and inquisitive little girl you could meet. Bless you Kayleigh, bless the entire Keeble clan, and bless all children who hold all of their parents dreams.

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      • Laura

        Thank you Heather. Kayleigh’s life was a short, beautiful one, that ended too soon. I wrapped my heart and brain around your words. Your anger (having not even known this child) and passion is touching. I am so touched by your words, you were able to pull all of our thoughts and make them a beautiful, angry, passionate thing that I have not yet been able to do. Kayleigh’s parents still fight (to breath and get out of bed mostly) but also to pay her HUGE medical bills and funeral costs. If you could make your readers aware, they are still trying to raise money by selling the “fight like a girl” bracelets. Thank you for your blog.

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      • Oh Laura,

        Thank you for your wonderful words. My family and I have been so deeply affected by Kayleigh even though we never knew her. The pain that we feel for her family is agonizing, so I can’t even fathom the depth or breadth of knee buckling emotions they are experiencing. If there were a way to physically take away some of that agony, I know many of us would gladly carry the load for them, even if it were for just a little while. I wish the world worked that way. I am going to post the “Fight Like a Girl” bracelet information on my personal Facebook page where it will probably get more attention. This blog site is very new, so I don’t have a ton of readers (maybe some day!) I hope you will pass on to the family (at some point) that people they don’t even know (like The Siwinski Family) love them and love Kayleigh. Many blessings to you.

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