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Dear Kelli,

I miss you.

We all miss you.

I’ve wanted to reach out for a while to let you know what I have been up to since you’ve been gone. I know, you know, but I thought I would put it into words.

I wrote a eulogy for you, more of an outline I would say, but I could never bring myself to read it out loud. I didn’t want to get too emotional in front of everyone. I knew that you would understand. I wrote about Joe being the love of your life. Your rock. And Patrick being your pride and joy. Your heart. And of course, I wrote about your love of family, friends, and teaching... I had a funny line about us being born the same year, 18 days apart, and you being 53 and me 42. I think that would have made you laugh. I also had a funny anecdote about you and your brother David’s relationship. I think he would have liked it. It was my attempt to lighten things up. I don’t think I could have. As you know, your friend Anne’s words were beautiful and eloquent, so I think it all worked out how it was supposed to.


I want you to know that I think of you every day. I often reminisce about the story you told me about a conversation you and Toni once had. Toni asked, “What would Stephen do if you just showed up at his doorstep?” You, without hesitation, replied, “He would hug me!” That is so true, I wish that I still could.


I also want you to know that I thank God every day that you told me you loved me just hours before leaving us. I said I loved you too. That has been a considerable source of comfort for me. Thank you for that, and so much more.

I hope you know how much the “chant group” has meant to everyone. You brought us all together to say specific chants at specific times of the day while you were dealing with AFib. We all did it happily, some got the hang of it more quickly than others. Funnily, no one actually knew who was in the group, as only phone numbers showed up on the text thread. I’m not sure anyone but Kerri and Toni knows that I’m even part of the group, I have never weighed in on the many wonderful tributes given. I read them all, they bring me joy, and they are constant. I know it wasn’t part of your plan, but we will be forever connected by the “Oms” we shared. In a way, it is our secret, because I don’t believe many people know the group exists. And by the way, there was a point when group members realized only their phone numbers were showing up, so they started introducing themselves, one by one, by name. That was beautiful and very special. As usual, I didn’t chime in and haven’t changed them on my phone, but it was nice to know for a moment who was messaging.


One thing that happened very early on was that everyone in the group saw “signs” of you and shared them with us all... a hummingbird, a cardinal, a rainbow, a sunset... it brought a lot of peace. Kerri has had the most challenging time finding a “sign.” I try to help her from time to time with a picture of God Rays or a cloud that looks like a dog. I tell her that “signs” are all around her, to stop looking and they will come. She knows this, but I think she wants a specific sign just for herself.


Everyone talks about music. We all feel that that is one of our most significant connections we have with you. Like most, I thought that I was the only one you sent playlists to. I know now that you shared many playlists with many people; a wonderful connector and a constant reminder of you. We all cherish that. Music is our mutual “sign” of you.


Well, that leads me to this. Though I have wonderful childhood and adult memories of so many artists from Donny & Marie to Madonna, Whitney to Barry Manilow, and everything 80’s to remind me of you, like Kerri, I was thinking that you may provide me with one specific “sign.” I knew that you would.


And you did.


Last spring, on a beautiful sunny day in Los Angeles, I went to a hotel rooftop to relax and take in the view. I was with David, and we sat next to a girl with an adorable dog named Charlie. We had Bradley and Anderson with us, so there was an instant dog-lover connection. As you were madly in love with your dogs, I know you understand! David and the girl (Maia) started chatting, and I leaned back and listened. The typical conversation ensued, “What do you do?” Maia replied, “I’m a singer-songwriter.” And I instantly knew. This was my “sign” from you. You put us on that rooftop together. I continued to listen for a while, and then, like a gust of wind, I leaned forward after not saying a single word and said to Maia, “I know you are going to think I’m crazy, but I think you are my ‘sign.’” Of course, she had no idea what I was talking about, but she was intrigued. You would have smiled and laughed out loud. I explained to Maia that one of my strongest memories of growing up with you, and still is to this day, is music. I told her that we used to sing together all the time, put on “shows,” belt out tunes at the top of our lungs, and more recently, exchanged songs and playlists. I explained that the chant group had been discussing seeing “signs” of you. I explained that Kerri was actively looking for a “sign.” But most of all, I said that I wanted to honor you, show my love for you, thank you for the way that you had always loved me, and write a song that would give everyone that you knew and loved, a constant “sign” from you when they listened to it.


Maia and I collaborated on a song for you using words from our phone calls and text message exchanges, memories from our lives growing up together, and the love that you had not only for me, but for Joe and Patrick, all your family and friends, your students and everyone that knew and loved you. I am talking to you in the song, and at one point you talk back. You tell me that leaving me, leaving us, doesn’t have to be hard. I understand.  I think we all understand.


We wrote this song from my perspective, using the word “I,” but knowing and hoping that any time anyone listens or sings to it, the word “I” is for them. It is also their song and their moment with you.


I miss you every day and am sad you are no longer here. I never took our relationship for granted. You truly knew me. Our incredible bond will never be broken as you are my “lifelong” best friend. You will forever be with me. I thank you for the way that you loved me, the way you loved us all.


Kelli, I know you had so many more dreams and aspirations. You had so much left to do. I know your best was yet to come, I‘ll carry it for you...

The song “Signs” is for you, for all of us.

Love, your cousin,



Want to save Signs to your Apple Music Library?

  1. Download the single and save the file as an MP3 to your computer desktop.

  2. In the Music app on your Mac, choose File > Add To Library or File > Import.

  3. Sync your phone to your Music app on your desktop to add to your music library on your phone.

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