Friday, March 7, 2014

4 Keith

I've lived abroad for more than 4 years, and now that I am traveling for only a few months, I have never felt so far away from home.  Missing events like wedding or birthdays were hard when I was thousands of miles away, but when the people I care about are suffering I feel so helpless being so far away, and now another wonderful friend is hanging on to his life (EDIT: Keith passed away on March 7, 2014).

I first met Keith when I joined one of my besties, Barb, to watch rugby in West Rutland.  Keith and Barb's husband, Matt, played together for the Rutland Roosters.  I really enjoyed watching Rugby and being around the members of the club, so when a women's team formed, I jumped at the chance. I then soon became friends with Keith's wife, Janet.  Keith is a man that everyone likes and has not one mean word to say about anyone.   He loves kids as he works with them both in the public school system and as a loyal coach and referee.  He especially shines when working with kids with disabilities as he is able to connect with them on a level that most people have difficulty reaching.  You could always count on Keith - at school, on the pitch, in everyday life.  When I was going through treatment, he and Janet were at every event to support me.

Keith wearing a special pink jersey in my honor during treatment
Barb, Keith, me and Pam

On Monday, Keith ran a half marathon, well, because he loves to run. He wasn't in a race, he just wanted to run 13.1 miles on his daily run.  He ran at least 2 marathons last year and runs every single day.  He is probably in more shape than most people my age and he is in his 50's. He once did a burpee challenge to get himself to do an insane amount of burpees in one day, I'm inclined to say his goal was 1000, but as I write that it seems completely impossible.  Could a human being really do 1000 burpees? Maybe my memory is wrong, but I know it was an amount that made people gasp in horror when he would tell them.  And he always reached his goal.  

Doing what he loves, running

On Tuesday he set out of another jog to the polling station to cast his vote as a good citizen and as he arrived, he collapsed.  Keith had a heart attack.  How the hell does a man who is in the best cardiac shape of anyone I know have a heart attack?  Life is so completely unpredictable and so not within our control.

Keith and I 
His heart was stabilized, but when he collapsed he hit his head and smashed his skull.  He has been in a medically induced coma since.  Today, I woke to an email explaining that his last scan showed even more signs of bleeding and his doctors are now talking to Janet about keeping him comfortable and encouraging her to donate his organs.
Janet and Keith

This man, this kind gentle soul, someone the world needs, is now on his way out.  And once again, I am stunned and so stricken with sadness it doesn't seem right to be traveling and exploring the world when he will never be able to do that again and while Janet is in such excruciating grief.   Keith shouldn't be the one who is leaving us now. Why does the world get rid of those that are most needed and wanted?  I should be there for my friends, and I'm not.  I'm too far away.  I need to take a few days to re-examine my trip. I feel so helpless being this far away when my friends are suffering.

For now, please keep Keith and Janet in your thoughts and prayers and hope for a miracle.  He needs more time on earth, not just because I don't want to lose a friend, but because some many people, especially kids, count on him.  He put his heart into everything - School, kids, sports, friends, family, running - that it is a devastating irony it's his heart that has failed him. However, there isn't a person out there that could say that he ever failed them.


  1. We will pray for Keith and Janet at this time. You are so right, life is not within our control. A higher power, GOD, is the one in charge and it is not for us to wonder why this happened to such a good man. Our days are numbered before we are born.
    Please don't feel guilty because you are on this trip. I don't think Keith would want you to feel this way from the way you described him.
    We continue to keep you in our prayers. Love, Mom

  2. Where does one send care wishes for Keith. I coach ov girls soccer and Keith has been a ref longer than I can remember.