Saturday, August 4, 2012

Her last days with us

Thanks for allowing Brian and I time to stop and begin to process what the last week and a half has held for us. We are ready to tell you about Liv's last days with us.

Two weeks ago Liv began sleeping more. We expected it, but just one day it happened and she didn't ever gain her energy back. As far as we could tell she wasn't sick, but I think she was starting to feel it. That was a Sunday. That night Brian gave her a pep talk. The next day we were scheduled to finally go to the aquarium (with free tickets before it actually opened for the day--HUGE thanks to Annie). We thought if Liv wasn't up to it we wouldn't take her, though we had been looking forward to it for weeks. Brian told her she didn't feel better we wouldn't go. Monday morning came and she was as bright-eyed as could be. So we rounded up the troops and left for Crown Center.Our dear friend Rachelle came to document the trip. We are completely indebted to both her and Annie for making this incredible trip so memorable. It was one of the highlights of her last weeks at home.

Tuesday she continued to sleep more, but her awake hours at home were filled with play time and enjoying the porch.

Wednesday, after a visit from the Hospice nurse Liv woke up from her nap coughing. I thought maybe she just needed to cough up the after-sleep stuff, but she just kept coughing. That night, Brian and I knew this illness would be it for her, but we had no idea how long it would take. We prayed for it to go quickly--it did. Wednesday night she did ok, and thankfully we got some sleep while her nurse watched her carefully. Thursday morning she was struggling a little more to breathe and we called the Hospice nurse to come check on her. In just twelve hours of apparent illness, Olivia's lungs were mostly filled with fluid.

That morning Brian and I struggled with our decision to keep her home. We had turned off her feeding pump and her machine that tells us how well she is breathing-- it was just alarming all the time anyway. We tried keeping her at home, but the morphine regimen was stressful for us to maintain--every hour counting her respiratory rate and deciding if she then needed more medication. By the middle of the day Thursday we decided to take their open room at the Kansas City Hospice House. We are monumentally glad we did. After transporting her in the car to the house we were met with a child-decorated room and an incredibly helpful and kind staff. They began to give morphine via sub-Q (a small needle into her fatty tissue, since they do not do regular IVs there). Olivia calmed down very well with the medicine then and Brian and I focused on just being mom and dad instead of caregivers. That night we were allowed to sleep in her bed with her and we took advantage and took turns. The pictures below are the last pictures we have of Olivia, from Thursday evening.

In the middle of the night it seemed apparent that Olivia would be leaving us soon. The nurse gave her an extra dose of morphine about 2am and we stayed up for an hour to sing to her, read scriptures, and prepare ourselves for her departure. Brian slept in her bed from 3am to 5am when we woke up again to the nurse giving more morphine. Olivia's body was trying to fight so hard, and we let her know for the millionth time that it was ok to relax and let go. At 5:30am I laid in bed with Liv and fell asleep listening to her erratic breathing. Brian stayed awake for a while, eventually giving in to heavy eyelids a few minutes later. At 6:20am I was awakened, by apparently nothing in particular. I laid awake looking at the ceiling listening to---nothing. I rolled over and Liv was gone--sneaking out in the few minutes we were not keeping watch--probably the Lord's kindness to us. After waking Brian up we took Liv's oxygen off and just stared at her, both thanking the Lord her suffering was over and wondering what to do next.

The rest of that day was mostly a blur: showering, cemetery shopping, probably eating, lots of family...about 2pm the funeral home finally came to pick Liv up from the Hospice House. Brian chose to perform his last fatherly duty by picking her up out of bed and placing her body on the gurney to be taken away. He rolled her down the hall and into the chapel, where we had a brief family prayer led by one of our friends and pastor, Kris.

Since then, there are a million people to thank, tons of stories to tell, but very few pictures. On the list of people to thank is you. Thank you, for praying, for crying, for agonizing with us. For rejoicing, for thanking God, and for celebrating Liv's freedom. Her life was very short, but incredibly purposeful and amazing by any measure. Brian and I are beyond grateful and very honored to have been the parents to Olivia Grace Key while she was here on earth. She has changed us in profound ways. Perhaps on a selfish note, if there is any memory or treasured thought, or way Olivia has changed you, we would love to hear it and celebrate her life with you. Feel free to leave a comment, please.

Olivia's death is not the end of this blog. Though it was mostly about her, and started as a way to keep people informed of her medical progress, in honor of her we decided to keep it going, to be honest about where our family is and how we are doing with life, with grieving her death, with the incredible escapades of Gabby, her sister, who is 100% her own person but like her sister in so many ways. We hope you'll stick around.


  1. Wow! I started crying all over again. I shed tears for Livi being gone but I shed tears now from your remarkable words and the things you shard with us. Although I didn't get see Livi much BUt I knew her and loved her through your blogs, your fb postings and through her grandparents. No matter how she felt, photos you took always had some sort of smile on it. She will be missed. I look forward to the future blogs. Continuing to pray for you all!

  2. So grateful to have been a part of that last Tuesday. I appreciate her squeezing my fingers, looking into my eyes and playing music games with me. I promise to continue to be a part of your support system. I'm always here. ~Kathy

  3. Thanks for sharing, Kelly. My favorite part of this post was that it seemed that Livi seemed determined to see the aquarium. I am heart broken for you but I am so proud of the grace you've displayed during this. Proud to be a friend of the Keys.

  4. Yes Olivia was and is a blessed child of our Father. She is in heaven running and playing with the other children. She will be missed but never forgoten. She blessed and touched alot of people with her smile. Olivia I know you are reading this and in heaven and one day we will be with you again, We love you.
    My prayers still go out to the family.

  5. Oh Kelly, your whole family has moved us more than you will ever know. Although I haven't commented much, Pete and I have kept up with your blog posts and we have been praying for your family. I cannot stop the tears as I read this latest post and see the pictures...the deep love that you and Brian have for Olivia is so evident. I cannot express how much I admire you and Brian. You are incredible parents. God blessed you both with all the right ways to love and help your beautiful girls in the ways that they needed you most. I wish I could have gotten to know Olivia better in person. I would have LOVED to play with her and talk to her. Through your posts, I could see her sweet, spunky personality. She was a fighter and such a STRONG girl. I can't imagine what you and Brian have had to go through the past two weeks. Praise God for the hope of Heaven...knowing that she is experiencing things far greater than we can even imagine. Dancing, singing, rejoicing with the Lord. We love you guys and wish we could give you giant hugs. Just know how much we admire you and will continue to pray for you all. You have countless memories to cherish of Olivia. Those memories will live on and continue to inspire countless people. Thank you for sharing so much with us throughout the past few years.
    Pete and Laura

  6. God's strength and provision is so evident in Olivia's story and in the way you live as a family. Our first Sunday at Redeemer (December 2010) Brian preached. He spoke of sweet Olivia and the suffering you had undergone but also the constant presence of Jesus through it all. I remember holding our 10 week old daughter that Sunday and just being struck how she doesn't belong to us any more than Olivia belongs to you. We are just so blessed to be given the moments we are with them as you well know. Over the past year and a half we have continued with Redeemer and become members. We have watched your sweet family from afar, surrounded by the love of God and community He has given you. It has been beautiful. Then of course Brian preached again a few weeks ago and my heart was touched again. It is so amazing to see how God worked through Olivia in your life and the lives of so many others! Most of all I just see your Hope. Your Joy. Your Strength....all because of Jesus. It is encouraging and, I will say it again, beautiful to see. We will continue to pray for your family as you walk through this life you've been given...and celebrate your wedding anniversary tomorrow.

    Many blessings...
    Amanda and Ben Connell (and our kiddos, Charlotte and Cale)

  7. Brian & Kelly, where do I start? Livi kindly, with her chubby warm hand,led me back to times and places the Lord had tried so often to lead me. I refused to go with him, but I would go on this journey with Little Miss O. Livi took me places where my vision for young families had, well, I really never had any hope for young families. That is so different now. Livi drew me pictures of what things could be like if it really, really, didn't matter what other people thought of me. She tried. Livi taught me about what "enough" means. Livi had such a difficult student, but I'm not finished learning. Thank you so much, Brian and Kelly, for allowing me to attend her school.

  8. I'm heartbroken for you guys, while also rejoicing, picturing Olivia twirling and singing in Heaven.

    She touched me by making me hold my own little ones closer. When I think of your beautiful girl, I think of spunk, tenacity, and determination. It's amazing how she moved so many without saying a word.

    You guys touched me by teaching me about faith, grace, hope, and exceptional, tireless parenting. Of course I'm staying tuned to your funny, honest, challenging blog.

    We will keep praying for you. Hugs.

  9. Brian and Kelly you both are my role models. You remind me every time I read one of your blog posts how much God has to do with our every day lives. I remember meeting you a little over 2 years ago in Children Mercy's picu, David had just had his cranial reconstruction and Olivia had just come out of her heart surgery. Ever since you guys have been my role models. Olivia has taught me to get as much out of my every day life with my boys, especially David. To give him every experience as we can, no matter what his limitations are. She was such a beautiful angel down here on Earth, she has to be a glorious angel up dancing with God. Thank you so much for letting me experience your miracle, and all of the miracles that God granted through her life.

  10. Beautiful Key family, words seem so inadequate right now. Olivia has touched so many lives in such simple ways. I loved that her personality shined through all the pictures. What an amazing little girl, and what devoted and faithful parents. I know we have never met, but I have loved "getting to know you" through your blog. Your family is on my thoughts and prayers!

  11. Kelly & Brian: I was lucky enough to take care of Olivia on many occasions and she always held a special place in my heart. I remember caring for her the night before Gabby was born, and one night when she had a blowout on your lap and I had to run and get you a patient gown to wear home!! I always kept up with her progress through the blog and through Jenny. My heart aches for the loss of her- she was such a beautiful girl. I can not begin to imagine what you are experiencing right now, but your words are so powerful. Your family and Olivia have touched the lives of many, and will never be forgotten.

  12. I haven't seen Brian since high school, but I read a little of this blog today. I cried. Then praised God for parents who loved and served well through so much hurt and loss. I pray that God will give you His peace and comfort in these days.

    Mallary (Nisbett) Wiley

  13. Perspective, trust in God's sovereignty, peace that passes all understanding, perseverance, strength, honesty, gratitude...These words come to mind when I think about your family, Olivia, and the way you have journeyed with her over the last 3+ years. On tough parenting and marriage days I am thankful for the perspective that God has given me through you guys as you have opened your lives to so many of us over the world wide web. I CANNOT imagine walking the road you are on but as I have watched the Lord carry you and give you strength to do impossible things over the last three years I know He will not fail to carry you now. The Carson family has celebrated the precious life of Olivia with you and now ache with you over the empty place that your hearts feel as she is gone. Love you are AMAZING parents. -Jeff and Angela Carson

  14. those were amazing words and i can hardly see through these tears as i write this. so enjoy the grammatical slurring and run on sentences.

    olivia's life glorified Christ more than most people i know. her life was good.
    her life was so meaningful and so full of good.

    that night after the funeral i dreamed about you guys. and you were all standing at the doors inside the sanctuary. and brian was holding your littles and his hand was around you(kelly). and olivia was hanging on to kelly's legs, leaning into them and hiding behind them a little. being kind of shy. it was a live family picture or something.
    but her wheel chair was no where to be found. she was just a sweet little girl at church with her family. the place where she had been a million times...
    and nato envisioned her running around in the balcony during the funeral, out of breath laughing and squealing.
    i have just loved both of those thoughts. i think of them often.

    babbling. crying and babbling. gosh.

    anyway, we love you guys so much. i love that you continue to process this story. your lives continue on...and olivia will always be in your hearts. please keep writing and telling the story of healing and redemption. it proclaims a God that is good and sovereign.

  15. Brian and Kelly,
    My heart breaks for you. I went to MBTS with both of y'all, though our paths didn't cross often. I've read your blog for a while now, and I want you to know that I admire y'all. I know you had more difficult days than I care to imagine, but I can tell that y'all were the best parents for sweet Olivia. I'm so sorry for your loss, and will be praying. I'm thankful that y'all have the assurance of sering her again one day. May the Lord give you comfort and peace.

  16. Brian and Kelly--
    Thank you for sharing this. Sometimes when we go through tragedies, we tend to try to bottle it up inside. But, I thank you so much for sharing your heart because I know it has impacted the lives of so many people. We are praying for you all and are so thankful Olivia is at peace now.

    In Christ,
    Scott and Amilee Sanders

  17. I remember the early evening that Brian and Kelly called me to tell me a baby was coming. A few months later they called again to say this baby was a girl. I loved her from that moment and anxiously awaited her arrival. Proximity has been a real issue for me living so far away from my sweet friends and their precious babies. However, one night I got to hold Miss Olivia Key and it confirmed all my love for her. What a beautiful baby. Holding her fragile body and wishing God would take some of my strength away and give it to her. As I held her she spiked a fever. Kelly counted the seizures as they neared 20. Within minutes Brian and Kelly were loaded up and headed to the ER in Fayetteville. I met them at the hospital desperate to help but knowing I couldn't. Olivia's pneumonia was back and the test to confirm were worse than I could imagine. The life Brian and Kelly had been living up to that point was so real to me. But nothing, not even the ache in my stomach was as real as the presence of the Lord in Brian and Kelly. Their strength and their faith will always leave an impact on me and as I have now had a child and spend a few weeks in the hospital with him I know a little bit about the faith you have to find or the fear will destroy you. I'm grateful to my friends for living out a Christ-like example for all of us. When it comes to suffering I can only look to Christ and the Key's who have suffered more than I can fathom.
    For the powerful life Olivia had I can say this...when I spoke of her to friends, family, and strangers I saw hardened hearts soften. Her short life WILL/HAS lead others to an everlasting life. God is sovereign and though I want answers as to why her I know this was His plan for her before we even knew a baby was coming. And although that makes my heart hurt for Brian and Kelly the Lord knew who to entrust this baby to. He knew who would remain faithful through the tears and the disappointment. He knew who would remain a witness to everyone working in the hospital, reading this blog, and attending their church. He knew who could still praise Him even when she was taken from them. We love you guys and we morn with you. I am so terribly sorry for this great loss and I'm praying for healing.

    Your Sister in Christ,
    Courtney Moore