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A letter to heaven

February 20, 2014


Dear Reed –

Today is the day I dread all year long. It seems as if the whole month of February is always a blur as I insulate myself from the pain of this day. But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t tell you that some things are a little different this year.

Sometimes, I daydream that you aren’t really in heaven, but gone away to college instead. That is a problem though when you are as vivid a daydreamer as I am, because more than once I went to call you on the phone to ask how classes are going. There are few things in life that I will never regret passing on to you kids and a healthy imagination is one of them.

Remember the days of getting pixie-led in the forest and just how far those little buggers got us off the path. Can you still hear their siren-like call in heaven too? How about all the dragons that you kept away from our house with your countless battles? Is there a place for them there too? Do you and Nanny still have the dinosaur that lived at our house but only came after he decided that it was too hot in Pensacola? We don’t hear much out of him anymore; so, he must live with you. It was a good thing because I wasn’t sure “roof cave-in by dinosaur” was covered by our homeowners insurance.


All those boyhood things sandwiched into a life much too short.

When you left us, you were so much older in spirit if not in chronological years. And I think that is one of the things I miss the most, all the grown up experiences we didn’t and don’t get to share together.

I cannot believe that you went home to Jesus six years ago today. In some moments it seems like the blink of an eye, and then at other times as we deal with Sawyer’s and Erin’s injuries, it feels like an eternity ago.

Daddy is doing better – only not today. Today, he trudged along at work in a place where if people remember the day not many verbalized it. How sad and awful that has to be when I am sure he feels as if his heart is on display for all to see. Somehow people need to know that it is okay to talk about you (and J, H, and E) even if it makes us cry, it tells us they remember.

The Boy Wonder – you would be so proud of him! He is really an incredible young man. Last night as we were saying our goodnights, I broke down and cried. I asked him to name the number one thing he missed about you. His heartfelt reply was that he couldn’t answer that because he missed everything about you. The late night conversations, the giggles from the basement, the wrestling hijinks, and saving the day are hard to do when one of the dynamic duo is missing. He shares your love of the underdog, and you would have loved to see him coach his Special Olympics players to gold medals. Somehow it would be easy to picture the two of you coaching that team together. Just know that even though you were very different boys, you are carried everywhere in his heart.

And Sister! She isn’t quite as tall as Sawyer yet, but she definitely towers over me. You would be so proud of her. She carries your tenacity to get a job done. She set a goal to improve her basketball skills, and she spent most of her summer to make 20,000 made shots. She’s come a long way from the “Laura, Mary, Carrie” wind-up days of when you boys first taught her how to shoot baskets in the front yard before kindergarten. With your love of sports, I can only imagine you would be cheering the loudest in the stands when she makes an amazing rebound or banks an unimaginable three-pointer. Her face of pure joy rivals the time that you forced and recovered the fumble in Ivanhoe. She has your smile, and every time we see it in a game, I think of you!

Sally is the one missing you the most these days. She has had some really rough days. I wish that we could grant her desire to visit you all in heaven just one time. She says that if she could do so; she would be able to live the rest of her days contented. If David is a man after God’s own heart, she is a girl after yours. Every fiber of her being is just like you, even the words she uses. Looking in her hazel eyes is like a mirror to times long ago. She is another nine year old bundle of energy, who has a large vocabulary and who can’t learn about the world fast enough. Since it is a miracle we even have her, I think God made her as close to you as possible to bring us comfort. And she does. Now if only we could keep her little forever.


Your boy, Huck, is really starting to slow down. His beautiful red coat is starting to show more and more gray. I’m always sad that I don’t have any redheads in the house anymore, and then sweet Huck comes loping into my room. I have the redheaded boy’s red-haired dog still, and that does count for something. He still has some mischief in that big ol’ body because he can still sneak a sandwich or stick of butter off the counter. Just as you loved him every day of your life together, I am carrying love’s torch for our boy even if the hourglass is working against me. I am going to hold on to him as long as I possibly can before he comes to be with you again.

A few more loved ones have come to join you in the last year. Hug them all for me! Maybe one of those sneaky around the back hugs would be the perfect gift. Just know that I love you more than you can possibly imagine, and I know that you don’t want us to be sad forever. Some days, I wish my heart understood what my brain knows.

In the meantime, I want you to know that our friends have wrapped their arms of love around us in both BIG and small ways. They always have, but for some reason I see it more this year. I thank God that he whispered into their hearts that we needed them, even if they didn’t know how much. Just sharing the moments of this journey has been an immeasurable treasure.

Even through my tears, there is one more thing that I will never regret. Teaching all of you about Jesus! It is because of his love that my love for you has meaning. It is because of his sacrifice that I KNOW – not I hope or I wish – but I KNOW that I will see you again.

Just like I believe God whispered to my friends, today I felt a strong reminder to remember that even though the hole in my heart feels like that fateful Friday, Sunday’s coming. With a message that powerful, I can only believe that God blew it straight into my heart.

You will always be my sunshine!

Loving you every single day forever . . . until Sunday comes!


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  1. Amy Gillingham permalink

    Beautiful…absolutely beautiful!

  2. Praying for you, my friend. You are one amazing woman and mom!

  3. Sarah Corder permalink

    Dear, Sweet Kandy,
    I am at a loss for words. Your strength Is amazing.

  4. Billie Jo permalink

    So beautiful! Such soothing words from such soothing soul.

  5. Thank you, Nancy. I am blessed by your friendship. For the record, I think you are equally amazing!

  6. Debbie Gannon permalink

    Kandy and Dan – I had not heard about the accident right away – it was pre-Facebook. Rod and Karen DeGraaf were visiting us a number of years ago and when they told us what had happened, tears ran down my face and my heart was crushed for you. Unbelievable. There are many days or nights when I look at my son, and know that I can’t take these days for granted. Not only are they fleeting, but they can be gone in the blink of an eye. I am so sorry for your loss of Reed, and for the years that you have dealt with Sawyer and Erin’s injuries. May the Lord continue to heal your broken hearts, and give you sweet reminders of your precious son. I commit to holding my kids a little tighter – will go right now and do that in honor of Reed, and what you have lost. Reed is not forgotten. God bless you all!

    – Dan, Debbie, Jacob and Ellie Gannon

    • Dan & Debbie – Thank you for your sweet words! It is amazing the words that God provides. I never realized how in our first “press conference” (we were still in intensive care with Sawyer) that my written words would go around the world. We simply asked everyone to go home and hug their kids. It was and remains one of the best pieces of advice we have ever given. Hold them tightly, sweet friends! Hold them tightly! Kandy

  7. Shaun Cory permalink

    Hi Kandy. I don’t know if you remember me, I was at Mayville at the same time as you. I don’t think we ever had a class together or anything, but… you know Mayville, you know who everyone is! Have come to your site through Facebook and wanted to tell you it is very inspirational and I really admire the way you put your feelings to words. My condolences for your losses. I have 2 redhead boys that I cherish, and will hold them a bit tighter from here on.
    All my best,
    Shaun Cory

    • Shaun – I do indeed remember you. That is the funny thing about Mayville. . . once a Comet, always a Comet! Thank you for the sweet words of encouragement. Redheaded boys are truly a gift from God! Hold them tight! Thanks for stopping in! Blessings & hugs ~ Kandy

  8. Shannon Carrow permalink


  9. Vallerie Breczinski permalink

    Kandy I kind of speechless Brent and I didn’t forget Reed not at all, Brent went to school like usually but carry a heaven heart his coach told me that because he just didn’t feel right he getting ready for section on Friday and Saturerday for his last of his wrestling career, but he called me and said to me he just couldn’t wrestle today, but I hope I was right to tell him that Reed would want to and have fun. So with that I hope God and Reed watch over Brent through rest of his senior year. And may God Bless your family for sharing Reed with Brent and you as well. May God be with you always.

  10. You are in my prayers. May the God of all comfort continually comfort you as only He can. Life can be so hard… some days more than others. It is only by His grace and with His strength that we can go on some days. How wonderful that we are not alone. The Comforter is with us. May His joy & peace overflow your heart. XOXO –Daisy

    • Daisy – Thank you for your comforting words. Indeed – how wonderful that we are not alone! The joy of his promises are what I cling to on the dark days. Blessings & hugs – Kandy

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