Friday, February 12, 2016

The Death of Our Son Part 4

Editor's Note: Thank you to my family and all of my Facebook friends for your kind words and your support this week. It means more than you will ever know. This is the conclusion to Kenny's story.

The Viewing...

The viewing was held on Friday, February 11th, 2000 from 6:00 PM to 8:00PM. We were expecting family, friends and co-workers of our blended families. What we received that night was an outpouring of love for Kenny as well as for our families. The funeral home did not rush us or anyone away as the eight o'clock deadline rolled around and the line was now out the door for those who came to say goodbye. Fr. David led us in Rosary for Kenny as well.

What we never expected were all the teenagers that knew Kenny from Greensboro and the surrounding area as well as Rock Hill who would also come to pay their respects. They were grieving Kenny's loss too. They formed a line and quietly waited their turn to say good-bye. With our permission they left cards, letters and stuffed animals in his casket. I myself put the quilt that I made for him while I was pregnant in the casket along with his very first teddy bear that his Dad bought him. We asked the funeral home to please leave everything that was put into casket as it was. Our feelings were that these were private messages for Kenny and that it would stay that way.

The funeral home created three different prayer cards/bookmarks. Each had a copy of Kenny's obituary on the back and on the front were The Lord's Prayer/Our Father, the Twenty-Third Psalm and the Serenity Prayer, respectively. When we ran out of these prayer cards/bookmarks and the funeral home graciously made more. 

On the back of each prayer card/bookmark is Kenny's obituary. It was published on February 11th, 2000 in the Greensboro News and Record. It was published in Rock Hill, South Carolina where Marc, Ann,and David were living at the time. 

The Funeral Cards...
The Funeral cards above were made by the funeral home. Each of the cards has "In Memory of Kenneth Kitts October 10, 1908-February 9th, 2000. Of these, four of them have the same prayer, known as the "Gentlest Heart of Jesus" prayer.  One the cards has the prayer of "St. Francis of Assisi" and one has the "Safely Home" poem.

The Mass Cards...

My family and I received so many Mass cards in memory of Kenny that I cannot possibly share all of them. Each of them are beautiful. Most of the Mass cards were for our home church, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church and were set for very specific days and Masses. We also received several Mass cards that are for perpetual Masses meaning that he will be remembered in daily Masses, First Fridays and Saturdays and the Feast Days of our Lord and our Lady as well as in prayers and rosaries. We also received Mass cards that were for a specific amount of time such as 5, 10 and 15 years of daily Masses, prayers and rosaries.

The Mass card above is on beautiful maroon heavyweight linen paper with gold lettering on the front. When you open the card the first thing you see is the poem, Safely Home. When you turn the page you see this is what you see. It is from the Sacred Heart Monastery in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. We received this Mass card from Deacon Tim and his wife Eileen. I've known Deacon Tim and his family for many years and went to school with several his children.

The Mass card above is a small white, hard bound card. The front is done in gold writing. As you can see Kenny was enrolled for 15 years of Masses. It is from the Association of Marian Helpers, A Spiritual Benefit Society of The Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. We received this Mass card from Doris Blase, a friend of my Mom's.

The Mass card to the left is a small blue bound card. It is a Perpetual Enrollment card. This is also from the Association of the Marian Helpers in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. As you can see in the picture to the left, is a beautiful the photo of Jesus. It is beautifully tucked into pale blue ribbons to hold it in place.

In the picture below is on the right inside cover. The certificate is adorned with a blue ribbon with the Fleur de lis symbol and a picture of Jesus and Mary. The certificate is also held in place with light blue ribbon.

We received this Mass card from Fr. David. We have known Fr. David for many years and I will never be able to thank him enough for being with our family during this tragedy that had to face and overcome.

Copyright © Dawning Genealogy/Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014-2015, All rights reserved.                                                                                                                                            

The Funeral...

Kenny's Mass of the Resurrection was held at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church on February 12th, 2000. It is a fairly large church and it was nearly full with family and friends to say their last good-byes to a life that was ended too soon. 

The ushers handed out the programs to everyone as they entered the church. The picture to the left is the front page of the funeral program. 

I couldn't believe all the people that were there especially after seeing so many the night before. There were so many faces I did not know.  One young man was wearing his Coast Guard blues. I stopped to ask him why he chose to wear his dress blues. He told me that Kenny was a very good friend and he was honoring him by wearing his blues. Nearly everyone who attend the Mass also followed us to he cemetery. As Fr. David said the burial rites for Kenny it began to snow. 

A Father's Eulogy

"Kenny Kitts is my first born son. He is special in my heart, I am proud of who he is in his short life. I love him very much. Last night I saw many of Kenny's friends - new faces and old faces. There was a lot of sorrow. Kenny would laugh and smile and tell us not to be afraid... When I learned of Kenny's death, I was afraid. I was afraid of what lay ahead. I was afraid I would not see him, talk with him, or hold him. Last night I spoke with Father David and I listened to his words. I am no longer afraid. I will see Kenny again. Father David talked of winter. When I think of winter I remember traveling in a U-haul truck with Kenny as a newborn baby and his mother. We did not have a penny in our pocket. Kenny lay asleep in a basket on the floor of the truck. When we pulled up in front of Bill & Nina's house we knew we were home. He used to make fun of me - moving slowly in the mornings. As I get old and my body fails, Kenny will be forever young - I envy him. I ask parents here today - Tell your children you love them - Tell them everyday. Those of you who knew Kenny, I ask you to come to me and Kenny's mother and tell us a story about Kenny. We want to know. If you don't tell us, we will never know. In closing, when I spoke with Kenny last, he expressed how proud he was of his brother David. Kenny was looking forward to David going to college at Myrtle Beach this fall. Kenny was looking forward to cruising the beach with his brother. Thank you all for coming and being a part of Kenny's life."

David's Last Gift...

David said he wanted to sing at his brother's funeral. I asked him why, and his reply was "because it is the last thing that I can do for him.". Those few words made me love our son even more than I already did and made me very proud of the courage he found to do this for his brother. 

I was worried that he would not be able to finish the song in it's entirety so we had Kathy Martinek singing with him just in case. Kathy has been a family friend for more than 30 years and she along with a few other close family friends provided the music for Kenny's funeral. 

The song that David chose to sing was "Here I Am, Lord" which was composed by Daniel L. Schutte and the words from Isaiah 6:8, " Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" "Here I am," I said; "send me!" and 1 Samuel 3 (the whole chapter). 

I am very fortunate that our church was in the habit of recording their Masses (at that time) because someone thought to turn on the recording device. I now have my son's entire Funeral Mass on a cassette tape, including the music, the Homily, the eugoly's and David's gift of song. I would very much like to find someone who can convert the cassette tape to a digital format for me.

Cause of Death...

Weeks went by before I would learn the cause of Kenny's death. Finally one day I got a phone call from the detective who was responsible for the investigation into Kenny's death. He had the toxicology report and it wasn't good. The cause of death was accidental methadone poisoning. There was enough methadone in his system to kill at least ten people according to the report. I don't believe that he did this voluntarily to himself but we will never know what happened the night before or the morning of his death.

How is it even possible that he was poisoned? Methadone is a synthetic opioid. It is used to treat heroin addicts and for severe pain management. Here in the United States it is a very restricted drug and is only available through a methadone treatment facility or a pain management specialist. 

Kenny wasn't perfect and he had made some bad choices. He learned from his choices and he was finally getting his life back on track. He had a plan and that plan was forever crushed on that February day in 2000. He had been clean and sober for two years. 

Visit's to the Cemetery...

That first year I went to the cemetery several times a week. Mostly during my lunch hour. I would go there to eat my lunch and talk to Kenny. I had so many unanswered questions about his death and so many things that we never got to say but most importantly it was my way of saying goodbye. When his 20th birthday came in October that year we released balloon's to celebrate and had a family dinner at Olive Garden, Kenny's favorite restaurant. I also found a six pack of beer that year around his birthday which told me his friends visited too. 

Over the years my visits have become fewer but I visit as often as I can and I don't miss a holiday or his birthday. I still find an occasional six pack around his birthday and someone keeps putting flowers there besides me. This only serves to remind me that while Kenny has been gone for 15 years now, he is not forgotten. 

A Mother's Love...

A mother's love doesn't begin at birth nor does it end in death, it continues on no matter how long your child has been gone. The loss of a child is profound. Your world is irrevocably changed beyond anything you can imagine. You have to gather up the pieces of your life and hope that you can put them back the way they were. It is only then that you realize that the death of your child has left a hole in your heart and soul that can never be filled again even though you try. No parent should ever have to bury their child.

Kenny was full of life, he had a great personality, he was charming, he had a gorgeous smile that was framed in dimples, he had a heart the size of the Grand Canyon but most of all he loved his family and friends with everything he had. He will never find the love of his life, never have a family of his own and the world just isn't the same without him in it. I remember a quote by A.A. Milne as said by Winnie the Pooh, "as soon as I saw you I knew an adventure was going to happen.". This is one of my favorite quotes and it reminds me that while Kenny is no longer here with us, he is indeed on a great adventure in heaven. 

15 Years later...

Kenny was 19 years, 3 months and 30 days old on the day he died. He was full of life and there was so much he wanted to do in his life. However, all of that was abruptly taken away on that fateful day in February of 2000. There is not a single day that I don't think of Kenny. I miss that smile, I miss his beautiful dark chocolate brown eyes and the sound of his laugh. I miss his personality, his sense of humor and the big goofball he could be at times. I miss hearing "I love you Momma" and his hand going into the sign for I love you in American Sign Language.  Kenny was in kindergarten when he learned the American Sign Language sign for I love you and from that day until the last day I saw him, he would say I love you, Momma and give me that sign.

Kenny, David and I loved going to the movies. It didn't matter whether we were watching videos at home or on television or in a movie theater it didn't matter. They would purposely scare me in a horror movie or tease me unmercifully for crying when Mr. Spock died in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or for crying at Christmas commercials.

There are days when I feel his presence around me and I feel fortunate on those days because it is like he is checking up on me. There are times when Tommy or I will look at the clock and it will read 10:10 (am or pm doesn't matter - his birthday is 10/10) and we look at each other and say, "what now Kenny?" 

I know that Kenny is okay with this series of posts about his death and the aftermath our family had to endure and overcome. I think he would say to me, "It's about time, Momma!".

This is the end of this series about the death of our son, Kenneth George "Kenny" Kitts. Thank you everyone for the kindness you have shown by reading this series. Your wonderful thoughts and words mean so much to me. Thank you for allowing me to tell and share Kenny's story.

This is the last family picture that Tommy, David, Kenny and I would have taken before he died. It was taken on September 18th 1999 at my sister Susie's wedding.

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