Monday, December 26, 2011

He Still Lives

I hope that's not an inappropriately trite title for a blog post, given Patrick's situation. But I know that thousands of you are checking (and re-checking) the blog to see what his status is, and I just want you to know: he's still with us.

We've had a WONDERFUL last few days with him, since he's been on high-dose steroids, and has regained some of his strength, alertness and an ability to feel and understand. He can't speak, but he knows what is being said to him. His mild facial expressions, slow nods of his biopsy-scarred head, and surprisingly strong grips of his hand tell us he loves us, he's with us, and that he will miss us when he leaves.

Thank you for all of your constant prayers for us, especially for Saturday's harrowing day of goodbyes. It was a day that was equally sweet and profound; both sad and joyful. PK's dad arrived from China and was able to connect with him, share his tender fatherly love and sweet memories of their family life growing up. Slowly our families began trickling in, and then my sister Amy brought Cecilia into see her Daddy, for the last time. She was far more brave and joyful than any of us expected her to be. Dressed in a shortened yellow hospital gown, she looked like a little angel, coming to bring some sort of cheer on Christmas Eve. She climbed up on his bed, gave him kisses and hugs, and (much to our delight and astonishment) he was able to kiss her back and squeeze her hand. We also brought in some gifts for him to give her, so that she'd always have something tangible to remember him by, in the dark days ahead. Heath, our new brother-in-law and filmmaker extraordinaire, taped the whole thing so that we'll be able to remember their parting moments, when she begins to forget or ask questions about her daddy.

We were joined by our two current priests, David and Erin, and also by John Yates, who is the Rector of The Falls Church and a longtime family friend of the Kellys. David led us in a tender service of last rites and Holy Communion. Although we cried through most of it, we were also reminded that there is much joy in the life to come. I am so thankful that God is greater than all of us, and that He will be remain with us through the challenging days ahead. Patrick's sterile hospital room was momentarily transformed into a seemingly hallowed space where, as family and friends surrounding his bed, we prayed for him, sang to him, and together remembered the life and death of our Savior, in whose strong arms Patrick will soon rest. Patrick's presence and involvement was such a blessing to all of us, (he even mouthed "Amen" at an appropriate time in the liturgy!)

It has been such a gift and answer to prayer to have him "back" with us these past few days, but of course we all dread the day when he will leave us for good. My heart is breaking, over and over with each new day, as I anticipate my life without him. And yet I know he is going to a much better place, where there will be no more mysterious cancers, no more hospital beds or IVs, no more tears, and no more death. We're not really certain how long he will hang on for; it could be hours, days or weeks. 

For those of you wondering about a funeral service, or worrying about it interrupting your holiday vacation, I just wanted to give you a little heads-up on what we're "planning".  Patrick has told me that he'd like his body to be given to NIH when he dies, so that they can do further research on his brain, and thus hopefully save other lives through what they learn, even though they couldn't ultimately save his. (His courage and generosity will extend even into his death.) So, depending on when he does pass, I would think we would wait until after the new year to have his memorial service. It will be held at The Falls Church, here in Northern Virginia. (Obviously, more info will be posted regarding that, but I wanted to pass that initial info along to you, in case you were curious/wondering/trying to make plans, etc.)

For now, I hope to spend as much time with him as I can, reminding him how much I love him, and how loved he is by so many others - all around the world. Thanks for your prayers, all of the food that has shown up on our doorstep over the past few days, the cards, presents, and endless words of encouragement. It's been such a blessing to be surrounded by such a huge, growing community during this time of such intense sorrow.

Peace be with you this Christmas season.
Julie

50 comments:

  1. We continue to pray for all of you. I have never before felt so tangibly and powerfully the presence of angels as when I visited Patrick last week.... real ones not just representations... and the sense of Jesus not just holding Patrick but being so close that it feel as as if he is even breathing in time with him. There are times when the reality of what we believe is almost overwhelming .... we will be praying ...

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  2. continuing to pray and pray and pray that God's hand be on patrick, holding tight to the fact that our God can do miracles. thanks for keeping us updated and we will keep having faith and praying for that miracle until we hear otherwise. we love you deeply and have thought of you constantly over the past weekend. so glad that patrick could give cecilia a kiss. what a precious gift.

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  3. Grateful to read this news.
    Weeping still.


    Praying for peace amidst-

    Robyn Beckley Vining

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  4. Thank you, Julie,
    We are still praying! Everyone at St Paul's is praying. We dedicated our celebration of the Eucharist to you three Christmas Eve.
    Cheryl and I were so touched to be with you guys Friday.
    Tim and Cheryl

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  5. I am simultaneously happy and heartbroken as I read this. May our Lord's overwhelming peace be with you today, and in the days to come.
    A sister in Christ,
    Trish Stevens
    Waynesboro, PA

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  6. Thank you for sharing this with us...
    Praying for peace and comfort

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  7. Julie:
    We pray for you often. Thanks so much for sharing this most uncomfortable part of life with us. We love you and we love Patrick and we love Ceci. Most of all, Christ loves you all, tangibly through his church and silently through our prayers.

    We're always with you!

    John

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  8. Oh thank you Lord Jesus for bringing Patrick's awareness back to this reality even if for a short while. What an amzing miracle that he was able to kiss CeCi!!! Keep believing and seeing.

    Love,
    Cindy and Bill Evans

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  9. I am still praying for a miracle. Thank you for sharing your amazing faith with us all.

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  10. Praise God! Praying for a miracle...and so thankful for your blessed few days.

    Love,
    Julie, Michael and Annabelle Wright

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  11. I have been following your story & even though I don't know you, you are definitely in my prayers. I am a member of Third Pres. in Richmond & my daughter was in youth group about the same time as Patrick. So glad you have been able to communicate with him even if it is for a only few days & that he was able to interact with Cecilia. Blessings & prayers for all of you & strength to you, too.

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  12. What an answer to prayer! So thankful you, Cecelia, and the entire family have been able to have these precious days with Patrick...and that our hope is eternal thanks to our Savior.

    Elizabeth Brill

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  13. You are all such remarkable people. Tim and Claire were the ones who witnessed to me in 1976 and have been my friends since. Julie, you write such wonderful posts. Joanne and Christine and of course Patrick....you've all enriched my life more than even I realize.

    God has blessed everyone of you , just with being who you are, and your effect on others.

    I know He will continue to bless all of you. I hope to know you all in the coming years, more than I have.

    WanderinPat

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  14. Patrick and the rest of your family are in my prayers. It wonderful to hear of the Eucharist and Christmas tidings in middle of troubled times, remembering our true hope. May the peace that surpasses human understanding surround your whole family.

    Kevin

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  15. stacy fletcher gunterDecember 26, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    julie, patrick and cece- we're praying and crying with you through each day. so thankful for that man of yours and all that he has given! what a constant source of encouragement he has been to many.

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  16. Julie,
    Thank you so much for sharing your posts with all of us. So sweet and tender, and so full of generosity of spirit and peace. What good news that Patrick was able to waken some for the holiday, and for some visits. Our family has been praying and praying for yours these past few days-- we offered our Christmas Eve mass here in Knoxville for you and Cecilia and Patrick.
    God bless you.
    Many thanks for allowing us to participate in your journey with you. You have taught me so very much.
    In Christ's Love,
    Grace McWhirter Lawley
    (Megan Medley's friend)
    Knoxville, TN

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  17. Thanks for the update, Julie. You are an amazing woman; we love you and have thought about you all this weekend and have been with you in spirit. Aunt Jennifer

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  18. God Bless you, Julie. I cry every time I read your words of reflection. I hope you can feel the burden spread among strangers and friends as we all try to help lift you and your family up from afar...

    A prayer I've been praying for Patrick over the last few days:

    Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
    our life, our sweetness and our hope.
    To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
    to thee do we send up our sighs,
    mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
    Turn then, most gracious advocate,
    thine eyes of mercy toward us;
    and after this our exile,
    show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
    O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

    V. Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
    R. that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

    Let us pray: Almighty, everlasting God, who by the co-operation of the Holy Spirit didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin-Mother Mary to become a dwelling-place meet for thy Son: grant that as we rejoice in her commemoration; so by her fervent intercession we may be delivered from present evils and from everlasting death. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

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  19. Thank you for taking the time to write. I have been checking and re-checking (with so many others) to hear how things are going. A group of us from JMU are exchanging emails with memories of JMU days and times with Patrick- so much joy and laughter! He is a blessing.
    There are no words for the image of Patrick and Ceci spending their final times together.
    Many prayers for you all. Grace and peace to you.
    -Katherine (Smith) Edwards

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  20. Julie, thank you for giving us the honor of being with you, Patrick,Cecilia, and your families in this sacred space. Although the pain and sorrow are intense beyond belief, it is so evident from your writings that there are also peace, joy, and grace unimaginable present with you - a testament to the truth that God is with us. Thank you for sharing that message of hope with all of us. You are constantly on my mind, and I will continue to intercede on your behalf. Love, Cami

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  21. Oh Julie. What tender, tough, bittersweet days these have been. We continue to ask the Lord for mercy and for the Holy Spirit to comfort you in this time. We praise Jesus for Patrick's lucidity and you ability to worship, sing, and pray is a testament to your faith. You are so amazing and the Lord will honour your faithfulness. Remember that Patrick has known, and still knows, your deep, deep love for him.
    Much love
    natalie + dave

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  22. Julie, You are very kind to let us be a part of such an intimate and personal time in your life. I will continue to pray for you and him through these moments you have together, that the sweet memories may forever be imprinted on your mind and heart. ~Sarah (friend from JMU)

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  23. Thank you so much for your kind update. Through your blog, you are showing care to so many who cannot be there. Also very glad to hear about how well things have gone in the past several days of good-byes. That is indeed a gift you will always remember. May God continue to hold you all in the palm of His hand as you grieve, but not as the world grieves, for you have a certain hope!

    Peace of Christ,

    Jeff and Sharon Bjorck

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  24. From South Africa...Peace be with you all.No words could convey the emotion so I'll stop there.One more reason to look forward to the second coming.

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  25. Julie, our dear friend...

    As Laura and I have been here in Durham, we've been grateful for the opportunity to gather with friends like Thomas, Amy, Jim and Beth and share, remember, and honor Patrick together. We've consistently recounted our memories with him (and you!) and have, without fail, affirmed the tremendous gift that it is to know Patrick and to have been a special part of your life together here. Thank you so much for sharing these moments with us; all words fail.

    Lord, grant us all the peace and hope which sustains us in these unspeakable moments.

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  26. Becca and Brenden MillerDecember 26, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    Hi Julie,

    It's Becca and Brenden Miller from your first small group as a married couple--in Durham at the Pendergrass's. I am grateful to Silas and Laura for sharing this link with me.

    Julie, I cry easily every time I read your words, every post. I have prayed for you over these holiday weeks. The Lord is near you all, and His light shines so brightly through your pure and honest posts, that I cry both in sadness and in worship of our perfect and all-powerful God--Who is being made known for how you have shown faith through this season.

    I remember how Brenden and Patrick shared a love for scotch--not sure if they ever got to connect over a glass. And how you and Patrick came to our Christmas hymn sing--in our small guest room. I remember Patrick saying he doesn't quite love singing (I don't particularly remember him singing loudly ;) but that he came to support you and to affirm how worship through song spoke to you.

    We love you in Jesus, whose strong and loving arms are near.
    love,
    B and B

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  27. I worked with Patrick at the White House years ago and lost touch but Dil Chowdry sent me this update - my heart is breaking for you and your family. I've prayed every day since I heard and asked my Grandma to pray as well. It was so amazing to read your post today - I pray God continues to bless you with peace and joy that passes understanding. -Dana Ayers

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  28. Julie - We're so thankful for the incredibly special time you and your family were able to share with Patrick over Christmas. Thank you for sharing those moments with us. Praying for continued strength, comfort, and peace for you all.
    Love,
    Josh, Cristen, & Cohen Mugford

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  29. Julie, thank you for taking the time to update us. We continue to lift Patrick, you and Ceci and your family up in our prayers. I am praying for a miracle, and for God's peace...
    With love in Him,
    Laura Parrott

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  30. I found your blog through another one I was following. Please know though I don't know you, you and your precious daughter are in my thoughts and my prayers.
    My husband went to be with Jesus in February. We were married for 27 years, and have 4 sons. I can honestly tell you, it's been the hardest thing I've ever done. But family, friends and more importantly, God has sustained us. It is truly moment by moment still. But the love between a husaband/wife is something so precious, and you'll find your memories are so painful and beautiful at the same time.
    Just wanted to let you know my heart breaks for you, and that you are being lifted up in prayer by many who don't know you personally, but feel your pain as though it was theirs. I'll continue to pray for you in the days ahead. God Bless you and your little girl!

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  31. Thank you for this wonderful update Julie! I am so very glad to hear that Patrick has stuck around for Christmas and that there has been time to share parting words with loved ones. Even if that is not the miraculous healing we hoped for, it is comforting to be reminded of the better life that is to come. That is the greater hope. We hate to see Patrick go, but we look forward to the day we will rejoin him. For now, I pray for more sweet moments for you both, Patrick and Julie. And may you continue to be sustained in prayer and in practical needs. Love in Christ, Patrick Bean

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  32. Prayers to you and your family. I wish I could say more to help heal, but please know people you don't know are praying hard for YOU and your family!

    Love in HIM,
    Mikaela

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  33. Dear Julie: We've not met...Tim was a faculty colleague of mine when he was at Fuller. We've all prayed for Patrick in the past; be assured that we're praying for him now, along with you and Ceci. My heart breaks for your family as I read your post. May God grant you hope and a stillness of soul in the days to come. Blessings to you all...Cameron Lee

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  34. Praying for you and your family during this time. May God continue to give you strength and bring you peace.

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  35. Julie,
    Thank you for posting such a loving and tender update. We have been weeping and praying all weekend as a family though we are not even in touch with you all. My husband lost his brother to cancer 12 years ago, and our 2 year old girl has been praying for yours. Your faith and courage are a great witness to me. We continue to pray for you and all the Kellys and Cates in this painful time.
    Leecie (Patton) and Garrett Brown (and 2 year old Lena)

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  36. Praying for you all

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  37. I go to Restoration and have been thinking of and praying for your family during this time. May God give you His comfort.

    Sara

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  38. Julie,

    You truly amaze me, and I am so grateful that Patrick has been able to share the best time of his life with you!

    Being friends with him from JMU, we have lost touch in the most recent years (after his first battle), and it brings me such sadness to see him leave you and his family (including the multiple strains of "family" all over the world).

    Know that prayers are flooding for you and Cecilia! Peace that passes all understanding...may you experience this living example over and over. God is with you and will not forsake you!

    Thank you for being a strength and grace so we may all experience this time with you...

    Amy Jones

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  39. Julie, you are a friend of a friend of mine. I found your blog through her. Your words are beautiful and inspirational. I wish you peace in the days ahead. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  40. You are loved by many, God's Peace. Grace seems to have found you both, my family and I are touched by your love and grace during this difficult time. A friend in Charlotte.

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  41. Julie...I know we're short-lived friends, but Patrick and you have been on my heart even in my dreams recently. We live two blocks away from TFC and have a guest room if you need anyone to stay with us for the time of the memorial service. And Julie, God is good. When everything settles, I'd like to share the story of my sweet little Benny with you...Jesus has given me hope when I didn't want to go on. And that's why I think Patrick stumbled into the pew next to me to ask if I could help you. I can't help you, but the hope Jesus has given me can maybe encourage you some. I'm praying for you all. Lisa Martinez

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  42. I know you are probably not reading all of these responses as it is overwhelming and to emotional. I speak from experience on this topic, as I kept the blog for my 43 year old brother in law in January. He is no longer with us and when I read your post it made my heart skip a moment. My post on January 12 was...with profound sadness yet peaceful joy....so I pray for you peaceful joy in knowing you will see Patrick again and all the GLORY that he will see. I do not know you but know someone Patrick went to school with....our church is praying for you and your family. Remember PEACEFUL joy....praying for peace of mind, heart and spirit for you! God Bless.

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  43. Sweet Julie,

    I'm praying for all of you. You are so brave and I know Patrick is very proud of you. So am I.

    Jenna Walton Hood

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  44. we love you guys and we are with you in spirit. Claire and David Hughes

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  45. Julie, I just want to send you my love. Know that I am thinking and praying for you and your beautiful family. Love your cousin Susan (Cate) Weigl.

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  46. We've been holding your little family up in prayer since Torrey told us on Christmas about Patrick's decline. May God hold you in the palm of His mighty hand, comforting you and giving you His powerful, loving strength to face each moment of these difficult days.

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  47. Continuing to pray for you all to ask for God's blessing, mercy and grace to be with you each and every day through such a difficult journey.

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  48. Julie, Thank you you so much for the update. Continue to have you all in my thoughts and prayers. And amazed and in awe that the reunion on Saturday with the family was as perfect as it could be. Your blog entries are a blessing to so many and the truth and humility with which you write is incredible - you have opened up your world to us and for those that can't be there physically, it makes us feel as close to being there as possible. Thank you so much for that. Give Patrick our love and hugs. XO, Liz

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  49. Dear Julie, You and Patrick are on our hearts and on our minds. When we think of Patrick, we think of his peaceful countenance and gentle spirit and can't help but believe he is handling all of this with great courage and faith. Thank you so much for your beautifully written and precious words regarding sweet Patrick; and for keeping so many of us updated. We are praying that God will do a mighty work!

    In Him,
    Kevin & Heather Konkal

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Thanks for your prayers!