Steven Kelly, In Memory

In Memory - Steven G. Kelly II -

Two years ago today, my husband’s son was murdered in Las Vegas.  The following is a copy of the impact letter I wrote to the judge for her consideration in sentencing the  man who killed him.


I offer this today to Steven’s memory and for those of us who share in the loss of our children. God sees all things.  Nothing escapes His gaze or His righteous judgement.


Your Honor;

I am addressing the untimely death of my step son Steven, who was forever taken from us in an act of rage, and outright murder.

Steven was my husband’s son who I met when he was about 9 years old. He was playful, curious and strong, and grew to be an astonishingly handsome man whose looks were striking. His death has created a huge hole in our hearts and also in our lives. Every person within a family has a special place that is only for them. That place is filled by the many ways of who they are. It is not a place filled by great social or societal accomplishment, but in small things that are shared, fun things, silly jokes that no one else “gets”, curious things, the things of laughter and of tears, of struggle and of resolve in things learned, in growing and growing up, things that only touch families. Why? Because we know of each other and are known by each other, creating the intimacy of family that God had in mind when He put us together. When a person is taken from their family that place is forever lost, the family is not what it was while that person was alive and it will never be so again. It has to reform, but is it forever broken. We are broken. The place that was Steven is now empty; it is a giant hole of nothingness and it will never close.

Steven will not be in the car that pulls into the driveway. When our phone rings his voice will not be heard on the other end. There will be no more well wishes on birthdays and holidays. There will be no more food fests and curiosities shared in the kitchen. He was a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, and he was a friend. He was a big brother to my two daughters, especially my youngest – Jessica – who grew quite close to him just before her own death. Steven will not be here to continue to inquire as to how I am in losing her, his condolences are forever lost. His memories that he shared with her and of her will never again be repeated in my ear. In a sense, the loss of her is renewed to me in his death, in his absence. I will not see the blazing intensity of his eyes looking back at me in “those” conversations we often shared of life, of faith of relationship.  As for the future, there will be no grandchildren, no “little Stevies” to run around and carry on and remind us of Steven, his strength, his great looks his beautiful heart and smile.

After his death we met with some friends and neighbors there in Las Vegas who knew him. Every one commented on his helping nature, his great heart, that he was always around to help others despite his own problems or needs. We found those stories greatly encouraging because that was the Steven we knew too. For him was formed the motto “Always had a heart to help others”. We also met with a member of the police department, a field officer, who talked with us about Steven and assured us he was truly trying to work out his problems.

About one year before his death, Steven was diagnosed with Bi-polar. That diagnosis explained to us the suffering that he experienced in his lack of focus, the extremes in behavior, his ups and his downs. It explained to us why he could never just be who he was, or recognize the simple fact that he was hugely loved, a part of a very large family who nearly moved heaven and earth to help him.

He began treatment and  medication and for the first time we saw his focus, his desire to grow, a new ability to work in gainful employment, to settle, to begin to understand on a new level our love for him and how important he was to us as a family member. We saw a deeper relationship forming between us,  longer conversations of encouragement shared on both ends,  of love, courage and support. We had a hope that had not been there before. A hope that was lost the day he died. So again, all that Steven was to us, all that he could have been in the years to come was taken away forever.

How do I explain to you the impact of the loss of a child? It is my second time around. Truly, there are no words good enough, nor paper long enough to express that loss, that grief. It is a loss that will never end, as it is renewed every day upon waking. It is to wonder if why my own heart beats, or why it is necessary to draw in one more breath. How can I possibly go on without that life, that person I once knew who used to look at me, talk to me, laugh with me, and even argue with me? Yes, I miss that too!  It is a loss that is lived out every moment. The excruciating pain that is felt lessens as time passes, but it never heals. The emptiness from the hole in all of our lives, and in our hearts that was Steven will always be there. No one can take it away, no one can fill it – ever.

When I have tears and grieve over his death, they are not just for me, they are for the entire family. The grief I feel is for my beloved husband Steve, it is in my knowing first hand the horror of losing a child, the pain, the loss, the endless questioning of “why”.  It is in looking in his eyes and knowing the heart that I love suffers as I had suffered. I cry tears for him because I completely understand, I feel it with him, I walk it out with him every day. The grief is for Steven’s mother Kathy, whose own grief sent me to the floor on numerous occasions, again, knowing firsthand what she felt the shock, the horror, in our first conversation over the phone, more tears than words. Grief shared of our lost son…her son…their child…Steve and Kathy’s…their heartbeat. It is the initial shock and horror continued with the repeated loss, grief, tears of others, people who I love and who love me. People who loved Steven now with a loss that will never end.

When the Lord said, “You shall not murder” He did so in His great wisdom. Life is His to give and His to take. He knew the endless suffering that would come to families, to those who love and who are loved, at the hands of a murderer.

Your Honor, I thank you for your time and consideration.

M’Kayla Kelly
Vancouver, WA

…just like—that…

Well, maybe I have put this off long enough in wondering if I want to write about my emotions, the shock that is still with me (us) in losing Steven, and all the old buried emotions and memories of losing Jessica. Two deaths of two children 10 years apart in age, nearly 8 years apart in death. Steven and Jessica loved each other, not early on, but in the later years, the time just before her death. And how he cried for her, even lately, even he could not understand why she died and he lived.  Two children-one son, one daughter died very similar deaths, similar injuries, similar reasons with very similar birthdays, his February 9th and hers February 10th. And for all the facts I can put together there still is no reasoning why these two had to die. Stupid choices made by another in the heat of the moment, one is in jail, one is not. Head injuries – irreparable damage resulting in quick deaths. Only One could keep them alive, yet in His good reasoning chose not to.  I found a picture of them talking face to face at my grandmother’s funeral taken only a couple of weeks before Jessica died.  As I looked, the picture told me they had been conniving, together forming a plan to leave us then. We, as a family agreed it was so, it had to be that way.  It brought us peace to agree.

I put my mother on the plane this morning and wondered if I would see her again. We never know when will be our last conversation, our last hug, or even our last argument. Those we love are taken from us so quickly and without warning, more times than we think about. Yesterday I read the  news of a hiker who had fallen into the mouth of Mount St. Helens while posing for a photograph. The land beneath him gave away and he fell 1500 feet to his death. No warning. Not for him or for those who loved him. Just gone like— that, just that quickly.

And so it was for our son and our daughter. I was Steven’s step mother. I am not saying that to separate myself, but to give place to the respect of his mother as I believe that position is very important. Maybe more so in death than in life, but for reasons I cannot explain to you.  I heard his mother cry out in her grief in the loss of knowing she will never see her baby again and that is all she wanted, would give anything, go anywhere, do anything just for the chance to make this thing wrong death thing right, to again bring life back to her child. And that grief was mine – for a moment it made she and I one. And in his death, having already known first hand the loss of the death of a child that maybe only a mother can experience and the willingness to do anything, go anywhere to make this death thing right, but being granted only a black and stony silence in the response. It is dark, it is nothing short of hell as we know it this side of life. And there are no rose colored glasses to help paint a nicer picture. All that these two precious people were to us, their family and their friends, all that they could have become is forever lost. There will be no children borne through them to carry on their names, their smiles, their deep blue eyes or their laughter or hugs. All of it gone just like—that.

And so, as “deep cries out to deep” I can only trust in the love and peace my Father, our Father has to offer me (us) in the hope of a better day. A day when the pain will not be so intense, a day when my thoughts come back to me, a day when the memories of those loved and lost will no longer rip a hole in my spirit, but instead offer a giggle in my heart for their love, the laughter that we shared, and the peace that will come in the knowledge that they were only mine (ours) for a time.  I long for the day I see them again and there will be no more tears, no more loss, no more confusion or pain. But in that day, a brighter smile through clearer eyes. For what we see now in part we will know then face to face.

Thank you for all of your wonderful prayers and words of encouragement. They have meant more to us than words can express. We can feel them like a presence, like a warm comforter wrapped around an otherwise crazed world.  I cannot kick against this. For whatever reason, the Lord has allowed these deaths. It may sound very simple, maybe too simple, but I must say this here as I have said it aloud  – the Father knew they were going to die and He allowed it. So, the One who sees the beginning of all things to the very end, the One who knows all of the ins and outs and in-betweens has found reason for these two deaths to take place in our world, He has again allowed our lives to shatter.  So, I resign myself to His love and His ways as I again remind myself that His ways are not my own, but much higher and with greater purpose. As much as I can in this moment of life, I resolve in my spirit to live by His.

In loving memory of our precious children

Steven Gordon Kelly II and Jessica Nicole Brown