Saturday, December 20, 2014

One Man's Life Touches So Many......Or one Woman's

The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance ...

There is a scene in It's a Wonderful Life where Clarence (the angel) is explaining to George Baily how much he really did matter to the people in his life. In the middle of his journey through an existence where he was never born, he sees just how things would have been different. Clarence says to him; "You see George, one man's life touches so many."

This was totally evident to me last night. But in this case, it was one woman's life. One beautiful, devoted, talented and amazing young woman.

Last Sunday morning we lost Keely Walsh. Keely was just eighteen years old. She was a sister, a friend, a 4H member, and a proud soldier in the Massachusetts National Guard. She was an amazing person. And a true friend to my sons.

Keely had a personality that lit up rooms. Whether you knew her five minuets, or five years, she made you feel like her best friend. She loved everybody, welcomed everybody, and was the perfect ambassador for 4H. She accomplished more in her short eighteen years than some do in a lifetime. And she did it in such a humble way, to know her was to love her.

I wish I had known her longer, known her better, realized just how special she was.

If you saw the people at her wake last night, soldiers, kids, parents, friends, 4H family, and lines that stretched for no word of a lie miles, you would get it. She mattered, she changed lives, and she glowed like the sun.

We met Keely three or so years ago when my sons started to show cows in Worcester County 4H. She was one of the first to greet us, in fact she took my younger son by the hand and personally introduced him to everyone in the cow barn that day. During summer fair season, 4H is your whole life, you get to love these kids, the kids bond, and that carries over year after year. You can't help but grow close. Even if you don't see them as much, or at all, in the winter, the next summer you pick up right where you left off, like time hasn't passed. 4H is family. And 4H kids are a breed all their own.

(There is something magical about a group of farm kids. I have to write a whole other post on that. But just know these kids are the best of the best. If every kid in America was like them, we would be in a much better state. These are just good kids.)

And Keely was like the leader of that family, she welcomed you in, and you just felt like you belonged.

Over the years my husband got close to Keely. As a former guardsman himself, he encouraged her to look into, and ultimately join, the national guard. She wrote to him all through her basic training, and he encouraged her when things got rough. He was so proud of her. He always told everyone about his son's friend and how amazing she was. She faced adversity in her life, and she plowed right through it.

Whether it was rescuing dogs from a kill shelter, showing cows, ( her beloved ''belties' )leading the younger kids, or serving our country, Keely accepted the challenge. Not just accepting it, but knocking it out of the park. Maybe that is why the Governor ordered all flags in the state to be at half mast today for Keely. You just know she would have gone places.

Her death was a blow. A sucker punch. An out of nowhere attack. No one got to say goodbye. One moment she was here, the next she was gone. And I'm so mad about it.

As a mother my heart breaks for her mom. I didn't know her well, but only a mother can imagine that pain of burying her child. There is nothing you can say. Words sound hollow and empty. Tears mean so much more.

I've always been afraid of death. It's more the ceasing to exist that gets me. We can't let people be forgotten. Especially not anyone as amazing as Keely. It's so unfair that the kids who do right, follow the rules, play by the book, have to feel this loss.  As much as I know it's an empty cry, I cry it's not fair. Not fair she had to die and her mom has to feel this pain. That kids have to feel this loss. It's just not fair.

I hope you know Keely just how many people you touched. Too many to count. Your life certainly did matter. Without your love and acceptance, my son would have been lost that day in the barn. And I am sure hundreds more would tell you the same. We don't need Clarence to point it out.

To know Keely was to love her.

Rest easy sweet angel.

(Keely's family asked that donations be made to Wounded Warrior Project in her memory. The link is on my sidebar.)


  1. What a shame that a young lady with so much going for her should be cut down so young. And to think that she touched as many people as she did in so many special ways.

    That you and your sons got to share so much with her is a blessing. You will always have those great memories.


  2. Thank you Blaze. Your support and help with our project means so much. She touched so many people....