A torch to carry

Some times I feel like I’m waiting for Christmas. Only darker. My wife becomes more and more ready to take flight of this world every day. I want her pain to stop. I want everything she believes as a Christian to be true. I don’t want god to be Santa Clause as she likes to say, Just a divine being who keeps his promises. She has taught me much about living, loving and parenting. Many of you make make very uplifting comments when I write. Sometimes flattering, but I’m just a guy trying to do the right thing in the moment. Lord knows that was not always my story. I need to spend a moment to thank all of you for your support both in building my strength through your words and allowing me to take some time out with my family in this trying time. Many of you have never met my wife and love her because of the way she has invited you in to this current journey, some of you know her in real time and love her because of the beautiful energy that she radiates and her unique way of parenting. I have begun to write some Andrea stories that I intend to post after she passes so that all of you might know her a little better outside of this chapter of life. I hope to let you all see her through my eyes. I think I was in love when I saw her staring at me through that coffee shop window, have been ever since. I’ll post more when the time is right but for now we can keep learning from Andrea.

Once again thank you

60 Responses to “A torch to carry”

  1. Deb says:

    Kelly…thank you for posting again. I never met Andrea, but I sure wish I could have. I think she would have been great fun to be friends with! As it is, just ‘knowing’ her from this blog has been one of the most inspiring things in my life. Thank you all for sharing this very private, painful journey with strangers. I know it has changed a lot of lives for the better. You all have so much love and prayers coming your way that I hope you can somehow feel it.
    I think I can speak for many when I say that checking this site for new postings has become an important part of the day. We feel like we have become vicarious family members and care what happens to you all. Please keep writing, even when Andrea can no longer do it.
    love to all
    Deb in AZ

  2. cheryl says:

    may there be peace in your house today

  3. Jodie says:

    She is so beautiful… inside and out, as I know I don’t have to tell you. Deb stated all that I could really say so eloquently.

    Thank you for sharing Andrea with us. And Andrea, thank you, too.

    I feel so privileged to be able to have this insight into your amazing lives. God bless you all.

    Jodie in OK

  4. JaBLes D says:

    I have been following your family’s story for quite some time now. You have all been a huge inspiration to me and will always continue to be. In this day and age we don’t get to hear enough about parents who are doing the right things. You guys are doing everything right, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

    I don’t have the words right now…but with all my heart, thank you for sharing your lives with the world.

  5. Gift of Green says:

    What a beauty! Thank you for posting, Kelly.

  6. Kelly,

    Even though I have never met your lovely wife, any of your children, or you, by reading all of your written words…I have been granted a glimpse into your lives. It is a gift to me as well as to many others.

    My thoughts and prayers keep going back to all of you as well as your many friends. Letting a special person leave us is so very hard. We know that it is better for them, but we cannot help but be “selfish” and want to keep them around.

    While I already know that I will weep with sadness and loss when I read of her passing, I will also weep with glad tears for Andrea. She may close her eyes to our world, but they will open right away to her heavenly home. A lovely place where all of her pain is gone.

  7. Julie says:

    Thank you taking time to post Kelly. You, Andrea and your children are in my heart and in my prayers. Wishing you all peace.

  8. Tammy, WV says:


    I speak for myself and many others when I say “thank you” again for sharing Andreas’ life with us. I’ve never met you guys but I feel like you are part of my family. I continue to pray for all of you, I just want God to give you peace and strength when her time comes. I pray that all her pain will be taken away and she will just go to sleep.

    I hope you have peace of mind just knowing what a wonderful husband you have been through this battle. Andrea has always spoken so highly of you and her family – she loves you so much.

    Continue to lean on God, because he will get you through this.

    Love & Prayers
    Tammy, WV

  9. Debbie says:

    What a beautiful post. What a beautiful picture. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family throughout the day. Peace and serenity to Andrea and you and all of those around you.

  10. Meg says:

    Thank you for posting Kelly. (((hugs))) to everyone

  11. Claudia says:

    Dear Andrea,

    I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago while reading the blog of another mom with cancer. I have never written to any other blog before, but yours has touched me so deeply, I want to share a little of my own experience that I hope might help you.

    My mother died of breast cancer several years ago. I am an only child and my father had already passed, so I was my mother’s main caregiver. I did everything for her that I could right up until she passed away. During the years of her illness I wanted nothing more than to have a frank talk with her about what was happening to her. The more ill she got, the more I wanted to really connect with her, but it never happened. She grew up in a different time and was uncomfortable with shows of emotion. After she died I went through her belongings looking for a letter that I prayed she had written to me, but there was none. I had a wonderful mother and I know she loved me. I miss her every day but there is an additional sadness because we never talked about “that elephant” in the room. We never cried together. I never really knew how she felt about facing her illness and her death.

    As a woman who lost her mother to breast cancer, I wanted you to know the gift of openness you are giving your children will stay with them forever. Your sharing this experience with them will make them stronger people. Coming across your blog has also been a blessing to me, because, about 2 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I had no example of how to help my family if this disease takes me…until now.

    God bless you. I pray that your passing will be peaceful.

  12. Tina, French Creek, WV says:

    Thank you, Kelly. Deb is AZ said it better than I ever could. Hug your wife for all of us. Praying sweet peace for your family today & everday.

  13. Randi says:

    I only discovered your blog yesterday, but I find that reading it now has become of utmost importance to me. Your wife is loved, both virtually and in real life, and I can tell how much she cares about her family and friends as well.

  14. sizzle says:

    My heart goes out to all of you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  15. Jeanine says:

    Kelly, thank you for posting again – both you and Andrea are giving this entire community a rare gift by allowing us glimpses into this journey. Please know you are surrounded by our prayers and thoughts.

  16. Renee Khan says:

    Kelly, you and Andrea are such blessings. Of course I came to this blog to help deal with my own IBC. I keep coming to this blog because of the love I feel for Andrea, and further for the love that I feel for you and the kids.

    I know that I will be looking forward to what you write about Andrea just so that I can hear the whisperings of her in your words.

    In the meantime, I don’t even know.

    Love Renee

  17. jes says:

    everyone has already said what is in my heart that i wish for the collins smith family + the honorary members to know. i just hope with all of my being that every member of your family FEELS these words of love and wishes of peace and support that the hundreds of folks have written or said. thank goodness no one has to be alone through all this.
    much love.

  18. Michelle Wienke says:

    Andrea, Kelly and family-

    You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers-wish I could do more for you at this time- I think others have summed this up well- those of us who think of you so often, and pray for all of you daily, continue to check daily and want to be sure that you are all handling all of this as best as you can.
    Andrea-I wish for you another day of love and painfree hours and hours. I love you, even though we havent met, and never will- I do look forward to meeting you in heaven someday!!
    Kelly and kids and friends-please know you are always in my thoughts and prayers-may you continue to be able to spend quality time together each day-these are special moments and are such a gift from God!
    My love and prayers and thoughts, as always-

  19. Ruthie says:

    Hi Kelly,
    I watched the video “a day in the life” last night. I enjoyed hearing Andrea’s voice. I live in that “whole other world”, Northern California (haha) ~ didn’t hear the first part of that conversation as it wasn’t included, but that gave me a good laugh. Seeing your little dude Clay shaking his butt to the music was so funny, too.

    The picture you included was stunning. Your wife is a beautiful woman. I can see how she drew you in immediately when you saw her through the coffee shop window. Her eyes, her lovely face. Una (can’t see it, but assuming that is the word) Vida Mejor….a better life…I like to hear the stories behind the tattoos that people inscribe/decorate their bodies with.

    “Regular” guys who step up when situations in their lives warrent it become extrordinary. Your love for your wife is evident. Sweet. Tender.

    Andrea stories….yes, those are important. They will become even more important as time passes, and they will be grounding for Clay, who is still just a wee one.

    Blessings to you and your family Kelly. May this morning and the rest of your day together be filled with tender moments that will sustain you all after Andrea passes.

    Ruthie from that “Whole Other World”

    P.S. I was unable to post a response I had written to Tucker’s post last
    night. I am not sure what happened. May I email it to him?

  20. Rachael says:

    Thank you for posting and keeping us informed. I think every time I see a new post here my heart will skip a beat and my breath will catch in my throat. Thank you for letting us into your life, you will all continue to be in my prayers.

  21. Pamela says:

    thanks for taking the time to post, it means a lot to those of us who have been praying and loving your family! Kelly…you CAN believe what andrea believes about Jesus, that is why it is called a step of faith. None of us feel that we have enough faith, but that is why we CHOOSE to believe! When you ask Jesus to be your saviour, and choose to believe that He is God, He will enter your heart and cleanse you in such an amazing and incredible way that you will KNOW it is true…that andrea really is going to be standing face to face with God and you can spend eternity with her! Your heart will be filled with more peace than you have ever known…i only know because of the way Jesus touched me, entered my own life, the way He has in andrea. I am continually lifting you up in prayer, and for andrea to be pain free.
    Many blessings,

  22. SueK says:


    Thank you so much for writing. I’ve been following Andrea’s story for many months now. I pray for peace in your family and for Andrea. What a courageous, inspirational, beautiful person Andrea is. Her writing is so powerful. And what great, wonderful children you are raising. God bless you all.


  23. Trish says:

    I hope you can somehow feel the incredible outpouring of concern, love, and support from the many of us who have been following your journey.

    Thank you for including us, and for making me once again realize you never know what tomorrow brings, to love your friends and family TODAY, to do those things you dream of, and to enjoy the little moments.

    You have made a difference. You will not be forgotten.

  24. jenni bender says:

    love you kelly.

  25. tracey says:

    Just sending more support for you all…

  26. lizz says:

    it’s so hard to leave, andrea, you, the kids, at the end of the very late night…
    i love my family.
    thanks for adopting me.
    give me a room and i’ll clean it.

  27. Ed says:

    Kelly and Company,
    I’m sure that this whole experience has shown you strength you never knew you had and I’m I am sure you hoped you would never have to find. When I come to visit, I see Andrea’s suffering and I see your pain that you try so hard to hide. I know how wonderful Andrea is and it breaks my heart for you all to know she will not always be with you.

    I know it makes you feel bad that your leaving is causing pain in others. We know you did not choose this path. I know everything has its purpose. I struggle to see the good in this. In the mean time I’ll do what I can to make this easier. Maybe the great cosmic mesage will one day be clear……..Ed

  28. Wendy says:


    Reading the post today took my thoughts to the Thanksgiving when you called to tell everyone that you and Andrea were getting married. That she was a Christian and that you had accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. What a celebration we had. Joe came back to the table from talking to you with tears of joy in his eyes. What a gift Andrea has been to you and to the whole family. I desperately wish we had more time with her. I even more desperately wish YOU had the rest of your life with her. As I sit here with my own tears I know I can’t fathom the pain you are going through. We are praying for you and loving you and Andrea and the kids. Thank you for the beautiful words and the way you have opened yourself here on the blog. We are always here for you. Big Hugs, Wendy

  29. Linda Conley Soffer says:

    As “a guy just trying to do the right thing in the moment”, you are really kicking ass! I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to watch your family suffer in so many different ways, and to suffer yourself and still be strong. Andrea saw something great in you, and you obviously have fantastic taste in women. I believe that it is our relationships that help us to reach our full potential, and you are a shining example. Thank you for posting, thank you for preparing future posts, and thank you for continually reaching inside of yourself to find a strength that you may never have known that you have. The right thing, indeed.
    Peace and love to you, Linda

  30. ByJane says:

    I ditto all the others who thank you for your willingness to take up the torch. You and Andrea are clearly partners now and forever.

    PS Is that a current photo of Andrea? She’s stunning!!!!

  31. joshua says:

    i’m glad we’re bros, kelly. you’re a gift from God.

  32. Linda, Palm Harbor, Florida says:

    Andrea and Kelly,
    Andrea you are such a beauty! And Kelly, what a wonderful husband and Father your are, indeed! From all the postings from you both, one can certainly see that you are soul mates and have supported each other in so many ways. I know that your family will have very tough days ahead, but I pray that you are all at peace and know the Lord Jesus is with you always. God’s peace be with you. I’m praying for you all. God bless. Love to you Andrea and the whole family.

  33. Heather says:

    Peace Be With You Kelly, Andrea, Family, Friends and Fellow Bloggers.

    May we all feel peace with this one day. It will be a tough one to deal with but we will always have the words of some truly beautiful people. Not all of us are lucky to know you Kelly and some of us who know Andrea found a totally new person once she found you. So much happier and so much stronger. (She was always Feisty though ). Your courage to put your feelings out for the world to see really shows your devotion as a husband and a friend to your wife.

    Learning everyday of human kindness for all who Blog and comment – I thank you, Heather

  34. Maura says:

    I have been a reading Andrea’s Blog after being sent by a friend. I can’t imagine the pain you are all suffering, each one in a different way. You and Andrea are so lucky to have found each other. The love that you all share is so passionate & deep.
    Please Kelly, try to get Andrea’s Blog published. I think it would be an amazing tribute to her & all of you.
    May you all have a peaceful day & give that wife of yours a soft hug from me, a stranger that has been moved beyond belief.

    ~ Maura~

  35. Melinda says:

    Wow, such a beautiful woman. And what a lucky man you are to have her in your life. 🙂 Godspeed.

  36. You really are a beautiful family. The world is a better place because of people like Andrea. I’m sad that I will never meet her, but feel fortunate to have shared her journey via the blog.

  37. NoRegrets says:

    what a great photo. what a great post.

  38. Helen says:

    Isaiah 40:31
    “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run,
    and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.”

    The refrain from one of my favorite hyms:

    And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
    Bear you on the breath of dawn,
    Make you to shine like the sun,
    And hold you in the palm of His Hand.

    May you ride on eagles wings…………Andrea, for your final journey, Kelly and kids let the thought of all of you resting in the palm of God’s hand comfort you.

  39. Dina Leah says:

    I was just listening to a song with this very prayer this morning and sending those VERY words in thought to Andrea…..We are all so connected in love for this most incredible woman……
    Andrea, I still send you love, light, and breath….
    Dina Leah

  40. Sara says:

    Oh Kelly….you are so sweet! Andrea is just beautiful….as she is in every picture 🙂 Praying for you all.

  41. Donna says:

    Praying for the peaceful passage of the ultimate “PEACEFUL WARRIOR” our dear, sweet, loving Andrea. I love you, and your husband and children. You have shown us the deepest reason of why we are here on earth…to love unconditionally.

  42. KK says:

    I have never had the pleasure of meeting your family — there is not a day that goes by that you are not in my prayers

    There is such a pure love the generates from all your words. May God touch you and keep you in his palm —



  43. Sheena says:

    Great job, Kelly. All around. We love you.

  44. Kathy U says:


    I was with my mom who took pretty much the same cancer journey that Andrea is taking now. I often found her to be stronger that I was and that was so humbling.

    May peace be with you.

    Kathy. Washington State

  45. Erin Levy-Hill says:

    Thank you for sharing. I knew Andrea years ago when I lived in Philly and attended Circle of Hope. She was amazing then and is even more amazing now. What a strong woman. Thank you for being so honest about God. I pray His Holy Spirit brings your family that peace that passes all understanding. Let the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ fill you with joy in knowing beyond any shadow of doubt Andrea will be at peace with our creator who loves her so much. There are seasons that come in our lives that we may not fully understand. Take hold of the peace in knowing God understands. He knows unimaginable pain and He hurts more than we could ever hurt. His love for Andrea is greater than we will ever know. We were not made for this world but for the purpose of spending eternity with God our loving Father.

    Psalm 56:8 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
    Psa 56:9 On the very day I call to you for help, my enemies will retreat. This I know: God is on my side.[fn1]
    Psa 56:10 O God, I praise your word. Yes, Lord, I praise your word.
    Psa 56:11 I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?
    Psa 56:12 I will fulfill my vows to you, O God, and offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help.
    Psa 56:13 For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.

    Andrea will be rescued from death and taken into God’s eternal presence, as he promises. She will walk in His presence in His Life giving light.

    Andrea and Kelly my prayers are with you both as well as the children. You are never alone! You are all loved so much!


  46. caro says:

    ‘s so humbling to read what you write, kelly, and makes me want to try harder when it comes to love and relationships. and they radiate so much love. and: you rock.
    thinking of you all. much love.

  47. Fudd says:

    I think of Andrea often. I think of alot of fun stuff we did when I lived in Philly. I think I miss going to see her bartend at T Mom’s on Sunday afternoons. She really did teach me alot, although I dont think I will ever let her off the hook for making me try TVP. That crap in awful. But in all fairness I eat tofu to this day.

  48. Lulu says:

    She is very beautiful. She looks peaceful and serene. Lx

  49. Roads says:

    Wishing you all the best. It’s a hard path, this one, but it can be walked. You’re doing all the right things, and I wish you well. Best regards to you all, from London

  50. Amy says:

    Hugs to you, Kelly. I know right where you are now, wishing her pain would just end, just as I wished my Mom’s would end from metastatic bone cancer. I wish Andrea a quick, peaceful, painless passing very soon. I am sure hospice has her very comfortable right now.

    There is love and light all around you, Andrea and your entire family.

    I look forward to reading your Andrea stories, when you are ready.


  51. Lulu says:

    I have passed on a recent award to you all – including your poet laureate – but you have to come over to collect it Lx

  52. Linda, Palm Harbor, FL says:

    Just very anxious to see how Andrea is doing, I ck always and hoping Andrea us not in pain, my blessing to her and you kelly and family, I’m praying for all of you. Andrea, you will be with all the angels soon and in no pain. I will look for you in heaven. I know I will see you and want to hug you so very much. I love you sweetie. God peace be with you today.

  53. Andrea and Kelly,
    Kelly, I saw you driving down Frankford today just before I got to your house. I love that big blue waggon! When I got there Andrea had just fallen asleap. I was relieved for her and selfishly sad that I didn’t get to hug her. I played with Slo’s extra skin for a while whilst speaking with Naomi. I could do that for hours!
    My heart is in a constant state of being compressed by some invisible fist of pain. When I am thinking of what you all are going through I can barely breathe. I have been crying often, not for long periods, but often. I hug Bob alot, and won’t let him go. I try to smooch Shane alot, but he won’t let me. 4 year olds! Be prepared.
    I will try to stop by again tomorrow without interfearing with your family.

    I have to tell you one day:Of why I think you met Andrea and how lucky all of the children are to have you in their lives. You are the one who was meant to guide them into amazing futures, nobody knew it until now!
    I love you Andrea, and I love you Kelly
    Amy Delicious

  54. lizz says:

    the way i feel on the inside today, is full of love , always sadness, but today so much love and thankfulness to be able to spend these days with Andrea, you the kids, Naomi, jen…
    i was so glad to see alec open up, he’s such a good big brother.

    love love love you
    i’ll see you all tomorrow

  55. Andrea says:

    Thank you for recognizing my role in all this and for being a kick ass chica to boot. Naomi and I were just talking about this a few hour ago. Through my checkered past, I have had to do a lot of rebuilding. Sometimes homeless, aways poor, I have lost and gained a lot in my life. I feel that all that which I once thought wasted years is now a series of lessons I can use to guide the kids through this. They are losing everything they know. I have been there before, made that leap of faith into the unknown. I am losing the love of my life, but not everything, and we are crazy blessed through all of this.

    hope to see you tomorrow

  56. leah says:

    Kelly, you are a great husband and father.

  57. What a beautiful photo of Andrea. Kelly, you are amazing and I wish I lived closer so that I could give you a big hug. I hope you and Andrea don’t mind but I have put a post on my blog asking for prayers for Andrea and your family. If you don’t want me to do this, just let me know and I will remove it. I will post it later this evening, Friday, July 4th.
    Love and God bless,

  58. Alexis says:

    Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
    Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
    Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
    How do you measure, measure a year?

    In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
    In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
    In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
    How do you measure a year in the life?

    How about love? How about love?
    How about love? Measure in love
    Seasons of love. Seasons of love.

    Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes!
    Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan.
    Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
    How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

    In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried.
    In bridges he burned, or the way that she died.

    It’s time now to sing out, though the story never ends
    Let’s celebrate remember a year in the life of friends
    Remember the love!
    Remember the love!
    Seasons of love!

  59. Jen Bierman-Gsell says:

    Hi Kelly. My name is Jen. Liz Bierman is my sister. I’ve never met Andrea or your kids, but I’m sure I’ll meet your kids someday. I have 2 of my own and Liz keeps saying how she wants to get them all together for a little swim date at our parents pool. Which would be awesome. But basically I just wanted to tell you from the bottom of my heart, that you and you wife and children are permanently in my daily prayers. I wish you all the strength and comfort God can provide. Bless you all. I hope I get the chance to meet you someday.

  60. Jamila Hankinson says:

    Hi Kelly,
    I am sorry for your loss. I have been a part of your Meredith family since Jesse. Thank you Andrea for making me appreciate life and the moments we share with our loved ones so much more!! Your blogging has that instant focus effect that I hope will last forever. I love all of you