One Rockin’ Life

One.  That is the number of times I’ve seen my cousin cry.  And ironically enough, they were not tears of sadness, but tears of joy.  I’ll explain in a bit, but first I need to back up and introduce you to a young woman who has taught me much in her twenty-two years.

I was nineteen when she was born.  She’s the youngest of thirteen cousins, all of whom I spent a great deal of time with growing up.  I remember her baby years well, as missed developmental milestones evolved into concerns and then unknowns and fearful questions surrounding what her future would hold.  For a time, there was a lot of hushed talk among the adults and I remember a concerted effort to keep the doctor’s reports from reaching the ears and heart of my grandmother; fragile from living under the weight of her worried nature for so many years.  The amount of information compiled about the condition of her health seemed to parallel the growing number of prescription bottles that lined the counter during her family’s cherished visits with us.  

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Once my cousin’s diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy was clear, the growing weakness in her muscles was defiantly counteracted by an undeniable and remarkable strength in the will of her family to create the most fulfilling life she could lead.  Both her mom and dad always were, and continue to be, open and direct about her condition and the resulting physical limitations.  However, they have also always been resolute in their determination to provide any opportunity for this amazing cousin of mine to move mountains.  From ballet classes as a toddler to dancing at family weddings in her wheelchair to making Dean’s list in college, this young woman, teamed with the relentless support of her family, is truly one-of-a-kind. From day one of learning of her diagnosis, my aunt and uncle dug deep, they did their research, perfected the skills needed to care for their daughter and set forth on a journey that would show everyone around them exactly what being a parent means.

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I know I speak for each member of my family in saying we have deep admiration and respect for the selfless and tireless way my aunt and uncle love and provide for their children.  Her older brother, just as much an amazing force behind her success and smiles, is now studying to be a doctor.  He will bless the field of medicine immensely, not only as a result of his knowledge and dedication, but perhaps even more from his intimate understanding of the challenges set before someone with such significant health concerns.  His compassion has been beautifully refined after years of loving and caring for his sister.

As my cousin grew, her physical strength continued to decline.  She endured major surgeries that had the potential to crush the spirit of the strongest soul out there.  But my cousin persevered and we all sat back and watched this unique force of a girl fight her way back to that smile we have all come to cherish.  Years ago, when it became necessary for my cousin to receive a tracheostomy, there was concern that she may not be able to learn how to “talk around” the tube that would help her breathe.  I remember vividly the moment we received the news that the surgery was a success and shortly after learned that she was talking again. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that will keep this girl from sharing a good story:)  

Seventeen.  That is the number of Hunter Hayes concerts my cousin has seen.  She loves him, totally and unabashedly loves the guy; his music, his country charm, his cute face, his concerts.  A few years ago, the Make-A-Wish foundation granted my cousin her dream of attending the Grammy Awards.  It was during this fairy tale of an evening that she came face-to-face with her beloved young country star.  And this was the big moment the floodgates opened and this girl started to cry. Tears. Of. Joy.  Just last week, myself and several of our cousins got to share a piece of this joy with her when we all attended a Hunter Hayes concert together.  Front row, close enough to see Hunter sweat and marvel at the dread locks sported by his band mate.  I didn’t know a single word of his songs, it was a steamy 100 degrees in the venue and I was smooshed up against one-too-many sweaty strangers; and I got to watch my cousin smile from ear to ear from start to finish.  It was awesome.  

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Countless.  That is the number of hearts my cousin has touched in the past twenty-two years.  There are people in this world that stand and shout and teach nothing.  Then there’s my cousin who sits and talks at a whisper and everyone stops and listens because her message is one of remarkable strength and hope and because our hearts are yearning to see God in this way.  There are those who run mile after mile, train for hours in the weight room and take pride in their bulky muscles; all in vain if one’s spirit is weak.  Then there’s my cousin who shows us all that a positive and grateful spirit will bring you further in life than the strongest legs could carry you.  We live in a world in which the definition of a valued life is becoming smaller and more misconstrued every day. Judgments swirl around us with the force and destruction of the fiercest tornado.  Then there’s this young woman with a small frame and the largest of hearts that helps us all see through the storm and realize a cherished life is defined in the way it is lived.

Thank you, my sweet cousin and cherished friend, for your example of resilience and for showing all of us just how to “rock” this gift of life.

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19 thoughts on “One Rockin’ Life

  1. Tears. Of. Joy. This hits us all very personally and deeply, Nicole. You could not have done it better. “Some stand and speak with a loud voice and teach us nothing – others sit and speak in soft tones and teach us everything”. How lucky we are to have this lovely little lady in our world. How lucky for us that you have the gift to paint her portrait so perfectly.

  2. You’re amazing, Nicole, as is our sweet cousin. I’m so grateful to be part of this awesome family who has taught me how to love and appreciate love even more.

  3. Thank you Nicole for this wonderful blog about Kellie. Not only do I love and appreciate what you’ve captured about Kellie’s spirit, but (as always!) you amaze me with your ability to write so beautifully and so elegantly. I never want any of your stories to come to an end! You are truly a gifted writer. Kellie DOES love Hunter Hayes for sure – but nothing compares to the love she has for you and all of her wonderful cousins. <3

  4. Thank you Nicole! Way to go, Making a Marine Cry! Many think Heroes are the superstars of stage and screen or athletics. The true heroes are those who go through life facing adversities that would destroy the soul of many. But continue to fight their fight fearlessly and without complaint. Never putting themselves before others even when the conditions could easily justify it. These Angels always have the best advice for us who have the “Third World Problems”. God has granted this precious young woman the gift of Love, of a family whose caring and strength can never be matched. I thank you for letting me/us know about this incredible Angel. God Bless you and your family and this incredible Young Woman!

  5. ❤️❤️❤️Your family is lucky to include such an incredible, inspiring young woman. And what a gift to them to have you write about her so beautifully.

  6. I don’t know you……but I love you. Kellie is the most special person I have ever been around. She has taught me life lessons that I have shared with many friends. You have captured her charm and her beauty in your story. You have captured the essence of who Kellie Lorrain is. Special. A gift to the world. I love her. And now, I love you too.

  7. What a beautiful story to share with all of us. Your cousin is an amazing, wonderful gift to all of us. Even those of us who only know her through your writing. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Wow, beautiful story Nic. Thanks for sharing. I will always love the memory of the Hunter Hayes concert with Kellie at Hampton Beach. Cousins unite!!!

  9. Beautiful tribute to Kellie! I saw the cousin picture at the concert and am happy to know the story!
    Steph always glows talking about Kellie! I remember how central Kellie was to the celebration of Steph and John’s wedding! Special indeed.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. What a truly inspiring story at a time when there is so many things that we hear and see that make us question where we are going. It is so nice to hear of one Rockin’ Life so special. thank you for sharing

  11. Well …. when I was a working man I had to stop reading this blog. Too many people walking into my office every Friday morning wondering why I was wiping away tears. Now in retirement, I have the option of reading again, as long as I allow two hours in isolation while I have myself a good “Friday morning cry”! I know how lucky I am to be Kellie’s dad. She has changed us all and I’ve had a front row seat to watch her spirit show what’s truly important in life. But as the old saying goes; “It takes one to know one”, my dear niece! And you know and understand her very well. NEVER has the essence of Kellie been put into words as was done this Friday morning! Thank you Nic! You have a gift, and we are all so fortunate to see the world through your writings each week. (I’m going back into isolation for a while).

  12. Beautifully said Nic, so grateful for your words that capture not only what we feel about Kellie and her amazing example of living a beautiful life but also the amazing example Marc and Mary are to all of us striving to be great parents. So blessed to be part of this family!

  13. Nicole we do not know Kellie but do know of her. Your mom and dad have spoken often about her to us over the years. What an amazing young lady she is!! What an inspiration! I wish this world were full of people like Kellie, her family (and you). What a fine world it would be!

  14. Your writing creates a window through which we can see the beautiful people that make up your world, Nicole. Thank for sharing Kellie, her parents and your family and you with us. Reading your posts makes me cry but always makes me grateful I am alive. What an amazing woman is Kellie. God bless her, you and Kellie’s selfless loving parents. Thank you for another marvelous post.

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