For Kammie

Yet another high school classmate is struggling with life, to stay alive, and we who love her sit by idly, helpless, with "thoughts and prayers" that seem to ascend as high as the ceiling. As with Shannon, so with Kammie, and we who know them both love these creatures of kindness, generosity, and immense love. Both (still) teach us all to laugh, to love, to live life free of stress, drama, and all the toxicities that accompany the mindset of far too many among us. Both teach us that getting caught up in the all-too-common noxious and pernicious attitudes of our perpetual doom-and-gloom acquaintances is not truly living.

Kammie, you were as tall as life itself to a small guy like me in high school, and you always treated me with the utmost respect and kindness. You blossomed into an amazing adult human being, teaching the rest of us to love and respect others, even when doing so is either costly or seemingly impossible or undesirable. Your presence in this world has impacted so many of us and we, collectively, say: Thank you for being a gift to us all.

I'm not giving up on you until there remains no more hope left in this life to sustain that hope. Until our breath has escaped our lungs hope remains. Even this morning, when I was praying that you would live into an old age of your late 80s, I kept hope alive. I keep praying, hoping, that you will be awakened from your cognitive sleep to live a much longer and more healthy life. You have struggled for so many years with particular health problems and, without fail, each one left us who love and care about you on our knees again, praying, hoping even when the strength to hope and to believe in better days is difficult to maintain.

Many people don't know how to express their grief where you are concerned during this time. This doesn't mean that they don't care about you but, rather, their demonstrating concern over you is complicated and difficult. Temporary sickness is unfortunate, certainly, but the looming fear of death is another animal altogether. But with all the light, positivity, and love you have showered on us throughout our history on this earth together, many of us right now want to throw it all back at you, and stand as beacons of hope when, now, you are unable to do so. From the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer we read and pray:
Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve your sick servant, and give Your power of healing to those who minister to her needs, that Kammie, for whom our prayers are offered, may be strengthened in her weakness and have confidence in Your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP, 260)
We know that prayer is not a magic trick; we pray for people, at times, who still die. We will all die. Death is as part of our reality now as is life and existence. What the reality of death teaches us, primarily, is to live our lives in the now -- meaning, we shouldn't sleep-walk our way through life, but truly live and experience the moment. Kammie, from my experience, you have always lived your life in this manner. No matter how bleak the circumstance, you find a way to be brave, strong, positive, and loving. Thank you. We need you with us to keep reminding us to laugh, to love, to live. So we keep hoping and praying.

UPDATE: I received notice that Kammie passed from this life to the next this evening, 23 March 2017, and you, girl, will be missed! Your suffering is over. Until I see you again, your memory, as your own self, lives on.


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.