Our son Keith died when he was almost 30 years old; that was 10 years ago. Today, May 20, 2009, he would have been 40 years old. As Keith’s birthday approached, I wondered what he would have accomplished in the last 10 years.

Keith loved the outdoors, so I can still see him fishing, running, hiking, skating, skiing and scuba diving. However, I know how much Keith loved children, so if he was not married, with children of his own, he would be working with children that needed a Big Brother.  I can also see Keith working with young children, teaching them to be ice hockey players.

Keith would continue to be close to his sisters, Cindy and Carrie, laughing and teasing them. He would visit them and be an important part of their lives. He would be proud of Cindy’s art and her writings and wonder if her new home was in a safe area.  Keith would be staying at all of the hotels where Carrie has worked and analyzing all her new job opportunities. He would continue to call Carrie his little sister even though this year Carrie turned 32.

The love Keith had for his family would continue with phone calls and visits to his cousins and aunts and uncles.

Keith would still be calling me on Sunday morning, when my husband was singing in the church choir. He would still want to know what was going on with his mother; I would have appreciated that concern. He would continue to tell me about what he had done during the week and places and things he wanted to try.

My husband, Dick, would still be going on special fly-fishing adventures with Keith, and Keith would encourage his dad to perfect his fly-fishing techniques.

Keith would have made special time for his friends, calling and going on hiking, fishing and hunting trips.

We can think of what Keith would be doing if he was alive, but that is not reality. We cannot physically have a celebration with Keith present however we do understand that Keith will be with us for his birthday in a spiritual way. He has touched our family in such mysterious ways, but the way Keith reaches out to those we have never met amazes us!

Through my website, Thegiftofkeith.org I receive many e-mails, from people I have never met, people who have felt a connection with Keith.  I did a web-radio show with Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley on Healing the Grieving Heart.  On this show, a young man phoned in and explained how he was suffering from depression.  He had previously visited my website and felt a connection to Keith.

That morning, he went to my website, feeling depressed, and read that I was talking that same day on this web-radio show.  He called the program to talk to me and explain the connection he had with Keith. He felt Keith guiding him as he learned ways to deal with his depression.

Another way Keith helped was with a young man who wanted to end his life. I was reading my e-mails one morning, and there was an e-mail from a young man who said that his life would soon be over.  My husband called the police, with the information from the e-mail, and the police were able to find the man in another state.  The police and the local hospital were able to get the man the mental health care he needed, he is alive today.

Yes, it is always hard facing the fact that I cannot see Keith on his birthday this year or the following years; however, I can still see my son, if only in my mind and heart.  He is smiling and continues to touch my life. Keith will never be forgotten; his love will continue to be felt in different and wondrous ways.  Consider yourself touched by Keith; you are reading this article; wish Keith a Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Keith, I miss you so much, words cannot express.

Love Always, Mom

Carol Loehr is webmaster of The Gift of Keith and author of  My Uncle Keith Died.

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Carol Loehr

Carol Loehr is the author of My Uncle Keith Died (Trafford), which addresses children’s questions about suicide and depression. Carol’s only son, Keith Loehr, died at the age of 29 by suicide in 1999. Carol has been an elementary and special-education teacher. She created and continues to maintain www.TheGiftofKeith.org, a web site to help comfort and educate survivors of suicide, as well as clergy, health care professionals, and counselors. Carol appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” discussing “Honoring a Child Who Died By Suicide.” To hear Carol being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley100605.mp3

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