My nephew Keith died yesterday. He was 26 years old. When Keith was young he suffered from a bacterial infection that damaged his heart. A few weeks ago, that damage caught up with him. Stricken with cardiomyopathy, Keith was facing a life changing illness. I know the limitations that this placed in him were hard to deal with but Keith was young and otherwise healthy and strong. There was always hope; treatment, transplant, some new therapy. We all still believed Keith had a long life ahead of him. Despite the heroic efforts of Keith's parents and EMTs, that life was cut short. Keith was much too young.
My nephew was one of those people who enjoyed life. He was gregarious, friendly, full of energy. He was liked by everyone who met him and loved by everyone who knew him. Ever since I chaperoned a field trip for Keith's class at the General Donovan school to the Museum of Science, Keith had a very special place in my heart. I don't know how his parents Sandy and Al are coping with this loss, but Michelle and I know in a much smaller way, the grief they feel. For my children, who literally grew up with Keith and his sisters, this is like loosing an older brother.
Keith grew into a wonderful young man. He was the type of man you liked being around. Like all of us, Keith had known heartache and loss, like all of us, he had been wronged by others yet in the 22 years I've known him, I never saw Keith lash out or speak an unkind word about anyone, even when he perhaps should have. He had grown into a good, decent, kind person who I will miss deeply. Worst of all, I will never get to know the good man, the loving husband and attentive father I know Keith would have become.
Life is hard, sometimes cruel. Bad things happen to good people and the most devastating news arrives without warning over your cell phone at 5:04 on a Friday afternoon. There is no sense to be found in this loss. Nothing but time will stop the tears, fill the empty space in our hearts, or ease the pain. If there is a lesson in this, it is that we should all live our lives more thoughtfully, be kind to each other, and never let the people we care about doubt how we feel about them.
Rest in peace Keith.