In Loving Memory - For Kiley

For Kiley

On April 18, 2018, Kiley Rianna Terrell Lane went home to be with Jesus. She was a sweet friend, a cherished daughter, a treasured sister, a loving wife, an adoring mother, and a faithful follower of the Lord.

Early this year, Kiley became suddenly and seriously sick and was hospitalized soon after at UNMH. In February, she was diagnosed with Hantavirus, a rare and dangerous virus spread through contact with infected rodent urine or droppings. Her family doesn't know how or when she contracted it. I first found out when a news article from KRQE News 13 came up on my Facebook feed with Kiley's face on the image banner. Kiley and I didn't keep in close contact after high-school, but we had recently gotten in touch early last year and communicated occasionally through 2017. 

In fact, we'd first reconnected over the subject of the 10 year anniversary of the loss of our mutual friend, Tayah Cox. Tayah had come to know Jesus in a true and personal way right before she went home in August of 2007. She had told Kiley about her decision, but I never got the chance to hear it directly from Tayah. So I asked Kiley to tell me again, and I want to share some of that conversation with you here. 

Me: "Hey Kiley, how have you been? I know this is out of the blue, but did Tayah really tell you she believed in Jesus before she died? I feel like my memories of that time are getting more blurry, and I've been thinking about her a lot."

Kiley: "You know what's weird; I have been thinking about her a ton too. I drove by the spot and noticed the disco ball was gone. That was a couple months ago when I was heading to TX. 

Yes, the year before she left us, we had gone to all the MHS dances with the twins, and she started asking questions about my relationship with God. After a while the questions were more in depth, and I just told her that being a Christian means always trying to do the right thing, be kind, and do good for others.  That I'm a sinner, but I try to meet each sin with an act of kindness or prayer, and she later told me that she had been thinking about asking for forgiveness, and trying to be better... I mentioned that that was all God wanted from us. It didn't have to be a big production; that once she thought of inviting him in, he had already been there. After that there were a few weeks we didn't speak much because we were both so busy, but then like a day before she died she told me she felt she had accepted Christ and was gonna tell you in person.  

I remember being so happy for her, and then I got the call.  I remember leaving Les' house and telling my mom, while pacing in the living room.... "It's Tayah. She's invincible. She'll be fine."

And then that day I was at MHS and I got the call that her parents were deciding to take her off life support, I buckled. Fell down in the hall and called my mom.  She ran up to the school and got me, and then I was there with you. 

I still have all the pictures, whenever I smell sunscreen and PB pretzels I think of her.  I just heard Kellie Pickler "Red High Heels" and I just beamed. I feel like she's just always reminding us of how much fun she brought our lives. Remember when she flashed the road leaving school? Those big sunglasses. 

Is Smelly cat still around?? 

How are you!? Your wedding looked amazing and you're just a classic beauty. So sorry to have heard about your dad, but I'm glad Levi is so successful as well! You're just killing it, lady love!"

Some time passed here before I responded. It was a pattern on my end. That breaks my heart now. 

Kiley: "I can remember you really struggling the two years after, and I know I waited so long to tell you; I've never really forgiven myself for waiting. I knew you needed to know; because I knew how important your faith was, and that you had been working on helping her find it. God works like that I guess, and I wanted to help you find peace. She was so special, and the two of you had an amazing friendship.   

I always fancied myself closer to y'all than I probably was. Lol

Sorry Dawson was hitting buttons as I typed and sent you that messenger request. Haha!

I hope I haven't upset you or opened any wounds. Did I? I'm not sure if I helped or not."

Me: "Hi girl. You absolutely helped. I want to read back through your message and write a better response for you. This past week has been a bit of a whirlwind. But thank you for taking the time to share the story again. I'll write you again within the next few days."

Kiley: "Ok no worries, please take your time. I was just concerned that I might not have helped the way I intended. I don't need any more of a response, but I will be eager to hear from you again. Please know if you ever just need to relive her memory, call me anytime! I love remembering Tayah. She was such a light in my life- and I'm blessed to have had y'all through my years in NM. I sure do love you; I'm proud of who you are!"

Me: "Hi Kiley.  Gosh, six months later. I'm terrible. Your message absolutely helped bring me peace and reassure me that Tayah's ok. I think I put replying on the back burner because it's just easier not to really let my brain go there you know? 

I started writing about Tayah this week. Kind of just a record of my time with her and my perception of how that last day and week were for me. I realized once I started writing just how much my own brain had blocked from me. I think about her all the time, but I haven't stopped to dwell on that time in years. I think that's our minds way of protecting us in some ways, but its been nice (and hard) to remember too. 

It's been 10 years now, and I can remember like it was yesterday. At that time I never could have fathomed how life could just continue on. I never could have imagined what 10 years from that day could be. Yet here we are! Anyway, thank you again for taking the time to tell me about your experience with her and your conversations about faith. That really does bring me so much joy! 

Smelly Cat IS still around. She has moved across the country and back with me twice, and about a dozen moves in between that time. She's my constant companion and my only child (for now) I'm really doing well! Marriage is amazing and fun, my husband and I just moved into our first rental home alone! Finally! (we had roommates for the first 2+ years of our marriage), and my friend Brittany and I just opened up our own hair shop. It's called Towns. Chad has his own business too, he's a silversmith and makes beautiful jewelry. I never would have imagined what my life would be right now, but I'm thankful. I still see Teila, Trina, and Larry from time to time. We're planning to get together sometime soon, I know they'll love knowing there are still people who think about Tayah often. 

What is your life like these days? Love to you and your family, girl."

Kiley: "Oh good. I totally understand the bittersweet conundrum when it comes to thinking of her. I find solace in the fact that she was an absolute gift to those of us who knew her, and my life was forever better after her. I feel like she's around frequently- just in little things. It's so weird how you replied today, because in the middle of the night last night.... I literally sat straight up thinking of our messages and you and Tayah were on my mind the rest of the night. I couldn't get back to sleep.  

I'm happy you're doing so well for yourself! I've creeped on your blog and wedding stuff and it's gorgeous. You have an eloquent way with words.  

And PS if you DON'T have kids I'll be soooooo sad! You MUST procreate!  

Anywhoo.... 10 years.   Wow.  Just wow. Surreal."

Everything that is true of Kiley's heart and character is evident through these messages. She was faithful and true. She was thoughtful and considerate, complimentary and sincere. She loved fully and without time restraints. It didn't matter how long it had been since we had spoken or how insanely long it would take for me to respond to her messages. She was understanding and empathetic. She was present. She didn't take things or people for granted. She was fun. She was funny. 

Loss through death, no matter how many times I've experienced it, has never gotten easier to understand. Kiley was just here. We were just in awe together that 10 years had passed since our friend left. And a few months later, Kiley left too. I can't wrap my head around that. I don't want to look back on the loss of her in 10 years. 

Her last message to me was in September of 2017. I didn't respond. By the time I next thought to, her picture was on my feed and I saw that she had been hospitalized. I checked in on her mom and sister's page most days, to check for updates. I prayed for her often. I finally just messaged her mom too, and she invited me to go visit Kiley. I never made it to the hospital. 

On Monday, April 16th, all of Kiley's updates made it clear that it would take a miracle to save her. That her body was failing her and there was nothing more the doctors could do. It was at that time I finally responded to her message. 

"Hi Kiley. Thinking of you today and praying for you to pull through this thing. I don't understand why certain things happen, and why certain people suffer. I want you to know that what you shared with me and reminded me about Tayah all these years later is a gift. I'm so thankful to you for that. I'm thinking about high school, dances and slumber parties. Cruising down Montgomery, talking about boys, all the usual. I hate that it takes something really serious to happen to cause appreciation sometimes. Or just reflection in the first place. I think you are a champion. I have faith in a miracle for you and I pray that one day soon you'll be able to read this message and get back to me. Want you to know, too, in light of your last message... I'm pregnant! The baby is due in September. I don't know what we're having yet, but we find out later this month. Stick around and I'll let you know.  Love you, Kiley, I pray you stay."

My heart breaks for Kiley's mom. Her sister. Her husband. And maybe especially her daughter. Oh Dawson, know you had such a good, good mamma. She loved you so. 

Kiley, I will miss you. I'm glad you know what it is to truly be in the fullness of peace and joy. To be without pain and tears and heartache and fear. To be in the presence of Jesus. I can only imagine. Give Tayah a hug for me. Give my dad a hug for me. 

Until we meet again. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
Some friends of the family have organized a YouCaring account for Kiley's hospital stay and expenses moving forward. To find out more about Kiley's story or to make a contribution, please visit Kiley's page here
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