Happy Birthday Kelly

Dear Kelly,

You’ve been on my mind this past week. You would be 31 today and that is so strange. In my mind you are frozen at the 17 year old stage you were when you died. Death is funny that way, often you come to my mind as the 17 year old but every now and then I think of you strictly as that goofy little girl who wore a bucket on her head for an entire day as a hat. I wonder what you would be like as a 31 year old and where life would have taken you. The longer time passes the more I have trouble thinking of you as an adult. I’m not sure why and sometimes it drives me crazy. Even when I dream of you, you look exactly like you did the last time I saw you before the accident. Your long curly hair was down with part of it back at the top. You were wearing a t-shirt and jeans (pretty much your standard wardrobe.) You might of even had on that blue hoodie, the one in the graduation picture with me. I can’t remember exactly. I wish I had a picture from that day.


I was looking back through old photos of you and I am glad that we have the ones we do, but man do I wish we had more. I have those same thoughts every time I look through them. Really I think that is the source of my desire to photograph everything relating to my own kids. I remember mom being distraught over not having more pictures of her and you after you died. It was a deep source of pain for her and I some how try to counteract that with my own kids by trying to document the crap out of them and me with them. It’s one of the positives I choose to see out of your death.


I was talking to someone about our childhood the other day and it struck me again that more people know me separate of you than with you now. It has been long enough that often people just don’t realize that I have a sister. That was quite a shocking thought to me since I see you as part of me. A big part. Our relationship and closeness makes me a lot of who I am. How I deal with other women, what I want for my daughters, how i talk to girls and women who are younger than me. Countless ways that I interact with women of all ages are affected by how I remember us. I sure hope that Lucy and Norah end up with something similar. It would be really hard for me to watch to see them not value each other. But in the same breath, part of it will still make me sad to see them love and enjoy each other because I know it will make me miss you terribly. It’s a double edged sword really.

I often wonder what you would think of me as a mom. I remember how excited you were about Bryan and Erin’s kids. You LOVED being an aunt. I wish my kids knew that and got to experience you. I have made sure that they know about you. We talk about you a lot. One day out of the blue, Eli announced “Man mom, I bet you miss your sister a lot.” It makes me happy that they know that you are so so important to me. And it makes me glad that one day, they’ll get to know you. I can’t help but think that you would absolutely delight in the little trouble maker Eli is. You would just eat him up. And I think that your delight would help me to enjoy him more, just like I should do more often. You would have loved that Lucy likes to do crafts (really obsessed with them) and her love of reading. And man you would love that she is learning to play the cello. I can imagine you building lego with Alden and drawing with him. He loves the art we have left from you. The two littles are so small that you would still be enjoying their littleness. And I can’t help but think that you’d love my kids and treat them like a second mom.


Every time I take pictures of flowers, I think of you. I have amassed quite the collection of them now. Piles and piles of shots that I can’t seem to stop taking. I have no idea what I will ever do with them. You’d know the names of them, but I’m just capturing them. It’s another thing I’ve tried to learn from you. I feel happy in nature and I feel close to you and to Heavenly Father. I am grateful that you loved nature so much. I sure haven’t learned to grow anything like you though. Maybe one day. Maybe not.


I try to think of you in life more than dwell on your death. To celebrate who you were and are. Maybe this year we’ll have a cake with the kids and I’ll tell them some funny stories about you. Inside jokes that probably won’t sound all that funny to them. There are a few that they know well, Like you and your cat boots. That story has been a favorite around here for a while. That and how I thought that I prayed you into our family. I thought that for years.

Today I am grateful I had you for 17 years and especially grateful that I can have you in the eternities too.

I miss you.


You can read my other writing about grief and loss here and more about my sister here and here.



16 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Kelly

  1. Rhonda,

    Thanks for the lovely post. I knew Kelly in High School and she was such an amazing person. I can’t believe how much time has past since that day when she passed away. I remember like it was yesterday. She was one of those girls that everyone wanted to be friends with. She was always so happy and never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything. I loved being around her. Before the funeral your mom came into the Value Drug Mart in Cardston and had a bunch of Kelly’s drawings printed. (my Parents own the Value Drug Mart) We bought a bunch of them and my mom had them framed and put them in her house. I loved looking at them and remember who drew them and the talent that she had. I also remember the picture of Christ that she drew, they gave that to us when we graduated from Seminary. It meant so much to have a piece of her with us when we graduated.

    Thanks again for the post. I miss her as well.

  2. That is so beautiful Rhonda. Heart touching inspiring and made me cry we just never know in this life when our time is up, I to {though by far am not near what you are in the picture department} But I think of that all the time in cherishing every minute so there are no regrets. She is a beautiful person, to those who knew her she influenced their lives more than she knows and still lives on. Death thankfully isn’t the end but it feels like an eternity to wait:( Beautiful post. Love ya.

  3. I think about her often. Always wondering where she would be now in her life. I have a lot of great memories of all the things we had done growing up. She truly was a AMAZING person with so much talent. And I know she idolized you and looked up to you so much. She was so excited about your wedding she was telling us all about how your husband asked your dad with a bucket of ice cream if he could marry you. And that she was going to be a bridesmaid. Still drive by your parent to see her garden.

  4. Loved this all Rhonda.
    I’ll always have a distinct image of her drawing the hair on her pencil drawing of Nelson Mandela in the art class I had with her. Her great personalities was one of the (many!) reasons I knew I wanted to get to know you better. I loved you imagining how she’d be with your kids. You’re right I think she woulda just Eli;) I can’t imagine not knowing we will see out loved ones again.

  5. She was always so fun, tagging along with us. Such a memory of love and life!! I’ve found a few pics I’ll have to get for you. She truly was and is an amazing daughter of god! Everyone was blessed to know her!

  6. Thanks for letting us into such a personal part of your life. Kelly is beautiful – just like her big sister.
    This was beautifully written.

  7. This is so beautiful! I am sad for your loss in ways I can’t even try to imagine especially as I think of my sisters — I have no doubt that my heart would partially die with any one of them if I were in the same situation. You are just as amazing as she is and I know she is beyond proud of the woman you are today!

  8. What a beautiful post Rhonda! I was lucky enough to know you as sisters and how hard the loss was for your family. Like you said though, those we lose here are never really gone, they are always in our hearts and I am sure they watch over us every day. My love to you and your family.

  9. Rhonda,
    Thanks for sharing your precious feelings and thoughts. You made me cry. I have Kelly’s beautiful art hanging in my home. She was a wonderful and lovely young woman. She was kind and thoughtful and a really neat person. I always loved the calm and sweetness that was our Kelly. I feel honoured to say that she is my cousin. You are so wonderful Rhonda, my thoughts are with you and your family. Love you!

  10. She sounds like a lovely person…just like her big sister 🙂
    I am grateful for you and the example you are to me. I’m sure she would be in awe at the wonderful mother you are and who couldn’t love those adorable little people that call you mom!
    I just love ya!

  11. Loved the post. Made me cry. I can just imagine her wrapping her arms around you and thanking you for the letter and telling you how much she loves you. One day you will have the best reunion ever. Love ya.

  12. Ronda,

    I only knew Kelly for a short amount of time, but she’s the kind of person who you makes you want to be good so you can hang out with them on the other side. I remeber being so impressed how you included Kelly in your life with everything you did friendships included, she talked of you often and what you did together. People where magnetized to her, she was a truly Christlike person in all ways. She had her mothers talents and her Dad’s sense of humour. She once said she wanted her drawings to hang on the walls of the Banff Hotel, I have no doubt in my mind they would have eventually. I’m one of the many who still miss and love her, because she loved us first.
    I’m sure she’s still making tons of friends, and having a good laugh. I bet she looks down on you often, and misses you too. There is nothing that can replace such a sister, especially one who was such a good friend.

    Love to you,


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