Sunday, April 27, 2014

raining in heaven

Moments of life with him go by in a flash. Sitting on the porch watching the rain fall. Listening to booming Missouri summer thunderstorms in the basement. I would pretend to be scared because his love and safe felt so good to me. My very own big brother, Doug.

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Together creating a pattern and lifelong deep love of the rain. I remember being at the neighbors for a sleep over, I was three. They were so kind to me. They gave me a bath and I got to sleep in a big girl bed all by myself. I promised them I wasn't scared. They had no kids, but they still were fun. They even had a cuckoo clock. Sometimes they would advance the time to the next hour so the little girl and boy from Holland would come out and do their welcoming dance and I would laugh and squeal in delight. 

I wonder what they were thinking while taking such good care of a little girl who didn't yet know that her seven year old brother was dead. My brother Doug died after being hit by a car down the street. 

I didn't yet know what death even meant. I don't remember who told me. That memory doesn't exist, partially because the word death had no impact on me. I heard stories, years later that almost felt like memories.

My dad looking out their bedroom window, months of piled up snow that never fully melted away. Doug's foot steps and sled paths were still traced out in the snow. Some nights he would see the clues of a life no longer and just run out the front door, as hard and fast as he could- and just keep running and running. Trying to run away from the blackness of depression that never fully dies after the loss of a child. One night instead of running he stayed and shoveled our entire front lawn, removing all the snow from the grass. He was unable to bear the sight of footsteps that would melt and never be created by his son Douglas again.

I asked if we could look for him. Do you think Doug is waiting for us at the grocery store? Certainly he was lost at a store or down the street at a friends and it was time for him to come home. I didn't understand why we weren't looking for him. I hoped if I got lost that mom and dad would come look for me. They kept telling me he wasn't coming back. I just didn't understand any of it.

My mom woke up and breathed in and out every single day. Now that I am a mother I see what an amazing undertaking that had to have been. One day she was ironing his clothes. He likes his clothes ironed for school, she said, as if he were still alive. Perhaps thinking that if they were ironed perfectly, he would come back and wear them. I'm so sorry Mom. And thank you.

I thought about him everyday. I couldn't wait for him to come back home. I hoped it would be before the next rain. One night Doug was in my dream. He was liquid golden sunshine and glowing. We were both wearing our favorite green matching feety-pajamas. Douglas explained death to me and for the first time I understood. He wasn't coming back. He said I would see him again but not for a long long time. He assured me he wasn't lost or missing. He was gone from our world and gone from the things we can see. He would always be able to see me, he assured me. He spoke of a world of ever after and heaven and I knew he was okay. I knew our time to enjoy the rain together would come again.

I understood. I finally understood death. I made statements like, Now that Doug is dead he will never be a police man, matter of factly, like only a three year old can. Because it's no fun eating it all by myself, I answered when my mom asked why I wasn't  tearing into my candy bar like usual, and was instead sitting and holding it in my little dimpled hands.

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Doug's spirit lives on in my son, Parker Douglas Kelly. They have the same beautiful eyes. Saturday was Doug's birthday. He would have been 44. This one is for you, Doug, and I can't wait for our next rainy day.

And for you Mom and Dad and anyone that has experienced loss. We will all see them again soon. 


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  1. Oh my dear God Chrissy~ It took me three times to finally get through this one. You are the most intimate, elegant writer who seems to have words for anyone and everyone. My heart is wrenching with pain for you to have gone through this horrific tragedy. Tears of sympathy for your dear parents. I lost my sweet beautiful sister to cancer this Christmas. It was, and is still, the most painful thing I have had to bear. I cannot imagine their pain. Your most beautiful way of putting your feelings in perspective helps me get through mine. I await the day you put your life in a novel for the whole world to experience. You have helped many people endure the ups and downs of having such a special superpower family. May your life be filled with much happiness. Thank you!

  2. My sympathies to you & your family, Chrissy. And to those that have children &/or siblings waiting for them in heaven. I can't imagine how hard that must be.

  3. Parker looks a lot like Douglas... Thank you for sharing this story. everyone who has had a major loss in our lives can surely relate and gives it us hope that they never truly leave us and that we will see them again.

  4. Chrissy, I didn't know. I too, lost my brother. I was five almost six and he was eighteen. He was hit by a car just up the road while riding his motorcycle. A neighbor boy, older, biked past me while I was playing outside. He asked if my brother had a maroon motorcycle. He did. He said he just saw it crash two blocks up. I almost ran up there. I got to the road and something made me stop. I ran into the kitchen where my mom was washing dishes. I told her that I think Danny crashed his motorcycle. And the last thing I really recall was the sound of the screen door slamming as my mother ran out of the house. I am sorry for your loss too Chrissy.

  5. My God. Heart-wrenching. For your parents and for you, when you were so little. I lost my best friend to a horrifying accident when I was 12. That was too young to bear such a loss, but old enough to understand what dead means. She visited me in a dream too... and I understood then that I would see her again. That she is with me. Now, nearly 20 years later, I still feel her loss like a gaping hole in my heart.

    I'm holding you and your family in my heart.

  6. Such a beautiful piece, Chrissy. As a parent, the loss of a child is more than I can bear to imagine. It made my heart happy to see your brother's spirit lives on in your Doodle. My deepest sympathies to you & your parents.
    Love, peace & happiness to you, sweet momma. xoxox Jen

  7. this is a beautiful post. i'm so sorry for your loss.

  8. I too have a brother waiting for me in heaven. His birthday is never easy. Love to you

  9. Prayers, Chrissy. As always, your writing is so beautiful!

  10. My first thought when I saw that first picture was how much your baby looks like him. Blessings.

  11. I'm so very sorry Chrissy. You have shared your experience so beautifully. Wow. Amazing how much Parker looks like the first picture. His spirit lives on indeed.

  12. Beautifully written, Chrissy. I am so sorry you lost your brother. I had a friend visit me in a dream once. It was very much like your experience. Thank you for including all the parents and siblings who have experienced loss. I have a son that lives in heaven. We miss him every single day.

  13. Your words were so eloquent. I can't even imagine losing my brother or my son. May Parker continue to sparkle your world and bring sparks of Douglas to your days here. xoxo Kristen

  14. So beautifully written. Parker does look like your brother! Big hugs to you and your lovely family.


  15. Oh Chrissy.....
    You know how I'm feeling right now. How I'm thinking of my Crissy.
    This is so gorgeously written. A beautiful tribute to Doug. You're amazing and I'm so very, very glad I can call you a friend. xoxoxoxoxox


  16. So sorry Chrissy - I never knew. He does look like Doodle and vice versa. I'm glad he was able to give you that peace in a 'dream'. Love and virtual hugs to you and your parents too. And love to all the hurting hearts out there missing someone.

  17. I am so very sorry for your loss Chrissy. Your words about him and your relationship are just so beautiful.

  18. I am so very sorry.It is astonishing how much Parker looks like your brother. Such a beautifully written yet heartbreaking post.

  19. One of our former pastors used to say, "The next time you see your loved one, it will be forever." That always brought me so much comfort.