Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kerry's Gift

People often ask how I face a day without my son.  I tell them that just because he isn't here, doesn't mean he's gone.  I knew, almost immediately, that his soul lives on. It wasn't enough, but it was all I had, and I was determined never to let it go.

One day, in confirmation, and in glory of this, Kerry gave me flowers.

For me, Valentine’s Day represents the start of my labor. Kerry arrived two days later, on the 16th of February.

This particular Valentine’s Day, my husband Mark and I wander into a neighboring town to catch a matinee of MILK; a powerful movie that instantly motivates me to be more, contribute more, and grow more as a person.

My intention was to watch all the 'Best Picture' nominated films prior to the upcoming Academy Awards so that my opinion would be an educated one.

Before exiting the theater I stop at the bathroom, where the typical ladies room line has formed. In front of me, a stately woman blends free flowing tears with shallow gasps of air, as she rummages through an over sized purse in pursuit of tiny shreds of tissue. Behind me a woman soothingly strokes her tortoise shell glasses, cradled at her heart.  Her gaze is heavy and glazed in sentiment.

"Great movie, so powerful," we concur.
"Makes me want to do more," adds the woman.
"I haven't done enough," says the other.
"I have to write more," I announce.

I often wonder how Kerry would critique current movies. We shared praise for many of his favorites- Rushmore, Girl Interrupted, Almost Famous, among many others. He was a huge fan of Sean Penn; we watched Falcon and the Snowman together several times.  He was opinionated about politics and a supporter of gay rights.  I am quite certain he would push MILK into the top twenty-seven of his all time favorites. 

In lieu of joining hordes of couples crammed into low-lit, high priced restaurants -we opt instead to go to our local Whole Foods market and pick something up that we can  lovingly prepare.

Mark refers to Whole Foods as “the grocery store with no food.”  I, in contrast, shop here regularly.

Tonight Mark is right, nothing looks appealing. I pick up a package of pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower and toss it into the cart. Two loops later and still nothing but vegetables.

Halfway through the frozen food isle I recognized the women that stood ahead of me in the movie theaters bathroom line.

"Great movie," we gaily reconfirm.
"I have got to do more," she adds.
"I have to write more," I tell her.

I circle back to the front of the market where vibrant hues of cascading flowers are corralled. I am drawn to a bouquet of orange tulips and swiftly scoop them up. The site of this, coupled with my bundle of green and white vegetables, looks all so Irish and I smile at the memory of Kerry's leprechaun laughter, the blush of his Irish potato skin and the shade of his Galway Bay blue eyes.

"27.72" declares the cashier.

Awh, the flowers and vegetable Valentines Day gift from Kerry!

In life Kerry was fixated on the number 27.   In death it reminds me that he is near; and to see it coupled with 72  triggers my belief that life is a self-evolving circle, a continuously enlarging sphere of interconnected and interdependent fields. Ying/Yang, Sun/Moon, Light/Dark, Heaven/Earth- seemingly opposite forces that move in a tandem of synchronized dance.

My eyes swell with satisfaction as I mindfully swipe my debit card and affirm my purchase with my personalized code and valiant signature.

I clutch my gift at the center of my heart as Mark and I enter the neighboring Chinese restaurant. Together we look over the menu before placing our usual take-out order of one "Happy Family" and one "Perfect Match."

While waiting beside a fish tank of orange coral and clown fish, in comes another couple from the movie theater. They sat four rows in front of us and the women held the spot directly behind me in the bathroom line.

"Great movie," the woman and I state in unison.
"I have to do more," adds the woman
"I have to write more," I declare.

I continue to receive subtle messages from Kerry, especially on emotionally driven days and often, I write about them.  It’s easy for some to dispute my “signs” but none of that matters to me. 

As I push my limits of consciousness, Kerry reminders me that we are more than just physical beings, we are spiritual beings with limitless potential.

Kerry’s true gift, is the knowledge that a vast level of consciousness exist, and that it can be found in a simple act or otherwise mundane moment.  When we open our eyes to our surroundings, relating and interacting to ideas, situations and people with love and kindness we are creating mindful bonding.   These connections seed and nurture our spiritual growth and help roll the self-evolving circle forward.


The key to every man is his thought. Sturdy and defying though he look, he has a helm which he obeys, which is the idea after which all his facts are classified. He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own. The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outward to new and larger circles, and that without end. The extent to which this generation of circles, wheel without wheel, will go, depends on the force or truth of the individual soul. For, it is the inert effort of each thought having formed itself into a circular wave of circumstance, as, for instance, an empire, rules of an art, a local usage, a religious rite, to heap itself on that ridge, and to solidify, and hem in the life. But if the soul is quick and strong it bursts over that boundary on all sides, and expands another orbit on the great deep, which also runs up into a high wave, with attempt again to stop and to bind. But the heart refuses to be imprisoned; in its first and narrowest pulses, it already tends outward with a vast force, and to immense and innumerable expansions.



  1. Hello from one green one to another,
    As I read this, on a sleepless night, I want to reach across cyberspace and envelope you in my arms, one mom to another. My scarred heart is free (so true "the heart refuses to be imprisoned:- love Emerson's quotes)and I am glad you found comfort in the "chains" of coincidence and depth of feeling your son's spirit. Yet, there will always be the unsaid, for me, not to dwell on but the gangrene hole in my heart that will always remember and wish. I try to replace those aches with rainbows, knowing that "somewhere over the rainbow", there IS a place where peace pillows cushion us all. Ironically, I lost someone also born in Feb. who also felt a connection to the number "27."


  2. This is not the first time I have read this story and it will not be the last. I bond more mindfully with you each time... xo Marilyn

  3. I continue to be touched by what you write. Keep up the good work. Allow our hearts to feel what your heart speaks. "Elroy"

  4. Oh, Shannon,
    Such a touching story. I love the idea of the circle surrouding
    You have a profound connection to Kerry. Thank you for sharing the wisdom that comes from your soulful bond with him.
    Love, Mairead

  5. My friend, my fellow suicide survivor mother. The sun will not set while there is work to be done. It may be dimmed, because our beloved's rays ay not be there, but their powerful light shines in other ways.
    And on we go.
    With love from
    Andrew's mummy


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison