No Appropriate Title Goes Here

The past three days have been surreal, they've been heartbreaking, they've been nearly unbearable. Now is one of the times in my life when I'm at a loss for words. I'm grieving, I'm mad, I'm sad, I'm scared, and I'm confused. But I'm determined to find a few words for you here because this story deserves it.

Our daycare provider, Lori, has two grandsons who have both grown up with Truman and Cecelia. Kaydin is two weeks older than Truman, and Kellan five days younger than Cecelia. On Wednesday after work, I went to Lori's just like I've done for five years. Kellan was there and he and Porter were playing with legos. He helped me look for Porter's lost Thomas train and was just his usual self: spunky, hilarious, full of personality.



On Thursday morning, December 17th, I got a message from Lori while I was out shopping with Cecelia and Porter around 10:30 am. She said there might be a bug going around the house, and Kellan had a 103 degree fever and had vomited. Minutes later she said his parents, Brad (Lori's son) and Becky, were taking Kellan to the ER at Children's Hospital because they thought he might have had a few seizures. By 4pm, Lori said that Kellan was in critical condition and getting a cath to the heart for faster medication administration. That night we knew he was in a medically induced coma and they were waiting for the official diagnosis for which type of meningitis. We were hopeful, albeit scared, that he would pull through this just fine and we could all tell him how much he scared the living crap out of us that one time he had meningitis.

Friday only brought horrible news, the worst possible news. First came the official diagnosis of bacterial meningitis, with the bacteria being extremely rare and one that is usually wiped out with vaccinations. It just didn't make sense. It still doesn't make sense. Kellan was fully vaccinated and he didn't seem sick prior to Thursday morning when the world came crashing down. The doctors say that before the HiB vaccine, this type of meningitis was alarmingly common and now it's not, so obviously the vaccine does usually work. Maybe Kellan's body just didn't take to the vaccine, or maybe it was a different strain from what the vaccine protects us against. Who knows, we probably won't ever really know. {Update, weeks later: the strain of bacteria was even MORE rare than they originally thought. Type F and not Type B Haemophilus Influenza. Not vaccinated against because Type F is rarer than rare.}

More horrendous news followed on Friday, as the physicians painted a very bleak picture for prognosis. Within 36 hours from the time Kellan first showed signs of anything wrong, the entire world had changed for his family. 

On Saturday, December 19th, Kellan passed away as the infection was unrecoverable. He was three-and-a-half years old. It happened so fast, nearly instantaneously. All from a rare, highly unlikely illness. Life can change in a moment, I've always 'known' that. But in this moment, I feel it in my heart more than I could have ever predicted before. We are all heartbroken. I cannot even begin to imagine the depth of sorrow that Brad, Becky, Lori and their entire family are feeling. 

When I think about Kellan's mom, Becky, never being able to kiss her buddy goodnight again I can't handle it. When I think about his Christmas gifts that he'll never get to tear open, I can't handle it. When I think about his big brother whose life has forever changed, I can't handle it. I look at Cecelia and I know I have to tell her that one of her best friends is gone and I truly cannot handle it. 

Both Truman and Cecelia know that Kellan has been very sick and in the hospital. We've prayed for him each night and to hear their innocence nearly breaks me. 'Dear God, please let Kellan get a bandaid for his owie. Or let him go to the doctor to get better.' Several people have sent us ideas on how to navigate this subject with the kids. But the bottom line is that life is really effing unfair sometimes, and there are no good answers. I believe in God, I believe in heaven, and that Kellan is up there waiting for us. But to be very honest with you, I don't know how God could allow this to happen. 

We were dancing in the kitchen this morning, and I just started sobbing as I buried my nose into Cecelia's intoxicating curls. Why are we the lucky ones who get to experience the little treasures with our kids, and Brad and Becky don't? The pictures of Cecelia and Kellan through the years are both gut wrenching and the most precious gifts. I know she is going to miss her friend but I also believe she is probably too young to fully grasp the concept of death. We are going to tell the kids tomorrow and I'm dreading it, but know it has to happen. Pray for both of them, but I have a feeling Truman will take it the hardest, my sensitive little guy.

Porter is on some pretty hard-core antibiotics as a precaution, even though many of the doctors say the chances of this spreading are basically zero. After many calls to my pediatrician, the pediatric infectious disease doctor at the hospital, and then NO call from the health department as was promised I decided that giving Porter the antibiotics would give me a slight piece of mind. Again, his chance of getting this infection is basically nothing...but I also feel like nothing makes sense, statistics don't soothe me, because Kellan wasn't supposed to get it either. So we will do meds for four days, and once the week long window of incubation ends next week on Wednesday, I might stop watching him for the slightest sign of a fever/lethargy. But actually, nothing will change my anxiety when it comes to imagining the most outlandish things happening to my children. Kellan's story has only heightened this anxiety. 

I remember Kellan's phase of running into Lori's kitchen, as I would drop one or two of my three children off before work, and he would just roar like a tiger. It was a tiger phase and he didn't want to speak, only roared at me. Lori called both Kellan and Cecelia 'sassy pants' because they sort of ruled the roost around there for a few years, when they were big dogs on campus;)

On Cecelia's final day at Lori's, two weeks ago, I remember taking a few pictures of CC with her buddies. Kellan happily posed for a few of my shots, and it was bittersweet because Cecelia and Kellan have always been so close. Two peas in a pod, troublemakers, always talking about having sleepovers and taking over the world someday, sweet talking their way into Lori's candy drawer more often than not. 

Cecelia's last day at Lori's, 12/3/15
All Photos-125

I remember that for the last two weeks, when Cecelia has been at home with Tony, I would sometimes take CC with me to pick up Porter at the end of my day. Most of those times Kellan seemed indifferent towards CC, almost like he was punishing her for being gone. Like he didn't really want to say goodbye, or even 'hi, there, friend!'. But then on Monday, the last time that Truman and Cecelia saw Kellan, I saw Kellan walk slowly by the kitchen where we were all standing. He grinned at Cecelia in a knowing little smirk and said, 'Hi, CC.' They hugged, she said 'hi' to him. And then he wanted to pull her into the front room to show her some toy he'd been creating. It was like he forgave her for leaving him, and to see her face light up at his affection melted me. 







We've created a Go FundMe site for Kellan's family, as I'm certain the medical bills, time off at work, and funeral costs will be an added stress for Brad and Becky. If you feel touched by Kellan's story, and if you feel as helpless as we all do, this would be a tangible way to help. I think the success of this fundraising so far speaks volumes about Brad and Becky, and about Kellan. But I also think this story really affects people because of how sudden Kellan left this world. Because of how unfair it is to lose a child. Because bacterial meningitis, and especially the strain of bacteria that infected Kellan, is supposed to be one of those things that statistics say won't likely happen. Or if it does happen, mortality is supposed to be low. His story touches people because he was so obviously loved, and because it's the week of Christmas and this family has to find a way to continue living when it seems like this loss might actually kill a person. Nothing will be the same for them, certainly.

When I think of this family and what they've endured in the past three days, and the magnitude of grief that has just landed on their shoulders, I want to cry for the millionth time. But I also want to share Kellan's story and do whatever I can to feel less helpless. If you are the praying type, I'd like to ask for your prayers for Kellan's family. It's just unfathomable. 

One final note: when I was talking to the infectious disease doctor on the phone yesterday, she told me something that brought me to tears yet again. She said that Lori and the family told her that if any of us daycare moms called, she was supposed to tell us one thing: to hold our children even tighter, to soak them in and never take a second for granted. 

Because sure, parenting small kids is freaking hard sometimes. But the things that seemed hard on Wednesday are laughable right now. Thank you, Kellan, for that perspective in my own life. Thank you, blog readers, for reading along. 




  1. This is absolutely heartbreaking. Losing a child is something no mother should have to do, it's just so terrible. Kellan and his family are definitely in my thoughts, and I'm praying that his family finds happiness again.

  2. I am so truly sorry for the heartache that family is experiencing, it's unimaginable. Thank you for writing this.

    2 year ago Saturday, we were in our own children's hospital with our then 8 month old and another 'zebra' statistically impossible bacterial infection, necrotizing fasciitis, fless eating bacteria... we were lucky, they were able to save Spencer. Stories like Kellan's always hit closer to home now, because that could have been us...

    there are no words to take away the pain, I am so truly devastated for them and those that loved Kellan. The thoughts and prayers of our family go out to all of you right now.

  3. I've been a silent reader of this blog for a few months now, and it breaks my heart to post my first comment on such terrible news... I've been having a few hard days with my newborn, and reading your post just snapped me back to gratitude mode. My condolences to you and Lorie's family. May his memory Be their strength and guiding light.

  4. My heart breaks for you all. My oldest is 3.5 too, and I just can't bring myself to imagine life without him. I will definitely be holding him a little closer. Heart breaking prayers for you all.

  5. Its just heartbreaking and there are really no words. These are things i just don't understand. As one who has had to tell my kids about losing someone they loved, you'll be surprised at how much they get. Their coping/dealing with it looks different than us too. Hugs, I know it's not an easy conversation and it just sucks. There are some good books out there that may help them process too.

  6. I know words won't mean much right now, but I am so sorry for your loss and will be praying for all those grieving right now.

  7. This is completely unimaginable, Julia. My heart is breaking for Kellan and for all of you who loved him.

  8. This post stopped me in my tracks... I small children and reading this I am holding back many tears as I sit at my desk. Please know that prayers of comfort are coming your way to Kellan's family. I am so sorry for this loss. Thanks for sharing though - if anything through your words Kellan is teaching us all a lesson right now... live life to the fullest.

  9. Truly heartbreaking and unbelievable. It's hard to not be anxious about our kids. And the thoughts about what could happen can keep me up at night. So sorry for every one's loss. I will continue to keep this family in my prayers. And all of those effected.

  10. So terribly heartbreaking and sad... there are no words for the pain everyone who is grieving must be feeling right now.

  11. In tears reading this. There really are no words other than I'm so sorry for you all and I've been praying non-stop for this little guy's family and friends. It's just so heartbreaking and unfair.

  12. Beyond devastating. Y'all are in my prayers.

  13. This sweet boy, my heart is heavy. My condolences to his family.

  14. I am so very sorry to read about this. I have another friend that lost her baby boy right before Christmas as well. I can't imagine the pain. It's unimaginable.

  15. I know you don’t blog anymore (except for recently when you shared your covid experience), so I’m not sure if you’ll see this. But Kellan and his story have stuck with me and sometimes I find myself thinking about him. Like just now I was thinking about him and I looked up his name to see some news stories about him... and I realized it’s been almost five years. That is just crazy to me. I knew he died in December, right before Christmas, so I knew it was coming up soon. But I didn’t realize it had been five years. Half a decade. Insane. I hope his family is doing well (and I hope yours is doing well too, but I follow you on instagram so I know you seem to be doing good). Sending Kellan’s family lots of love this month.


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