After eight years of marriage, Ian and I had Henry Joseph Kelley on July 15, 2008 and our lives were changed forever. Henry’s bright-blue eyes and contagious laugh won over the hearts of everyone he met. Industrious and intelligent, affectionate and gentle, Henry taught me the incredible depths of motherly love.
In 2010 Henry met his best friend, Miri. Life was chaotic but fun for the next couple of years. Henry and Miri grew and taught us all about patience, self-sacrifice, and the joys of watching little ones explore their world.
At four-years old, in the summer of 2012, Henry began experiencing a cluster of symptoms that gradually intensified and ultimately landed us in the emergency room of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in late September. Doctors found a massive brain tumor and Henry underwent a tumor-resection surgery just days later. Several weeks into our hospital stay, the diagnosis and prognosis of Henry’s aggressive, malignant tumor came in. He had a rare form of cancer, a supratentorial PNET tumor in his frontal lobe.
Even with the most aggressive, experimental treatments, the survival rate was very low and the treatment process grueling. So, after extensive prayer, research, and discussion, my husband and I felt peace with only one agonizing option – bringing him home with hospice care. Henry spent the next two months surrounded by family and friends, having as many local adventures as his body would accommodate.
On December 16, Henry headed to Heaven.
While I don’t believe my son’s life was taken for a mysterious higher purpose, I know this pain will be met with purpose as I partner with God to spread the knowledge of his tremendous love. Henry’s death has become a means for me to share my picture of a loving God who is not orchestrating the evil and pain in this world, and to share how my picture of God infuses my faith with passion, even in the midst of incredible loss.
Emmy-Winning story “Henry’s Last Holidays” on 11Alive News, October 2012