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Friday, July 24, 2015

Dear Grant: If I Died Today

Today is the death anniversary of my brother Grant. I decided to write him a letter about my life if I died today.  This is for you Granty

Dear Grant,

If I died today the thing I would be most excited about is seeing your face and giving you the biggest hug. I would have lots of questions but just being with you would be more than enough for a while.  Then I would take turns hugging Grandpa Shields, Grandpa & Grandma Brinkerhoff, Aunt Lisa, and all those I love and had the honor of hearing about their stories. I think I would be sure to spend some time with Holly Cottle and Lucy Jackson and tell them their families miss them greatly and still celebrate their birthdays with balloons and pink ribbons.

If I died today little brother I want you to know that I have lived a life filled with love, adventures, heartache, passion, and so much joy. Your death helped me to, at an early age, understand that there is not much in life that matters more than that the people you love KNOW that you love them. I call this my "Grant's Gift". I have spent my life since you died trying my best to communicate to others how much I love them and how grateful I am for them.

If I died today I want you to know that I have no regrets--that has been my biggest fear- to have regret. So I have tried to be honest, real, present, and to soak in all the moments I can. I have tried to be fearless, brave, and go big or go home. I have swung and missed plenty of times but I am so much stronger for all that swinging!

If I died today I'd want you to know that your big sister spends most of her day time working with teenagers who struggle in life. Once in a while I see you in the face of a struggling young man and  I pray that somehow I can help them to feel love, that they matter, and that their life can change. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do for a career in my life but in the end I think I always knew I would be doing this.

If I died today I would tell you about your best friend, dad, and also about how incredible mom has been through the years. I think you would want to know that dad tries to go to all the motorcycle trips, still LOVES BYU, and built a house with his bare hands. I would tell you that your mom is one of the most amazing women I know. She has been raising 8 kids for most of her life and she is rocking it! In addition she was the General Contractor on the new house, has made a ton of amazing dresses for us girls, and has been the greatest support ever. Dad continue teach the gospel and changing lives but these days he watches a little more TV. He has traded in his running shoes for a bike and loves riding outside these days.

Then, I would tell you all about your brother and sisters and how they have grown into such amazing people. Your sister Chelsea is a mom and she adores her little Eden. I think you and Eden would have had a blast together. Chels is a rock star in her life. She does Ted Talks, travels around the world for work/school, and has a gazillion followers in social media when it comes to her ideas on feminism and equality.  Your sister Dani is seriously the funniest person I know and she is the mom of 2 little munchkins.  She is incredibly talented with design and she looks like a model in all her pictures. Your sisters Kate & Ali are popcorn in life. They just got back from a stint together in Hawaii and no matter what happens they seem to weather the storms together. Kate is loving life in Colorado and Ali is finally ready to start a music career. Your brother Clay is living the life out in Ohio selling home security systems. He's already won cruises, been the top seller, and he's having a blast with his team of guys. Clay is getting ready to start college and he is best friends with dad (so you don't have to worry so much about dad).  Your baby sister Camryn or "lizzie" as mom used to call her has grown in a beautiful young women. She loves to be with friends, serve others, and basically lives on sugar. Once upon a time she broke almost all the bones in her body but now she good as new. We all still talk about you, watch family home videos, and wonder how life would be different if you were around.

If I died today I would tell you that there is huge beautiful tree on the side of the road in Orem, Ut that is yours. It started off scrawny and small and has weathered every storm to become a beacon of hope for many. I visit your tree often and find comfort and solace there. It is a constant reminder to me of grace--line upon line.

Every day I wake up and breathe and lay down at night to close my eyes I am grateful. I know what it feels like to have someone in my life one moment and then gone the next.  I am so grateful for the moments I got to love you and be loved by you. I am not afraid to die for many reasons but one of the biggest is I know I get to see you again. I miss you brother and today I celebrate your life and death and hope that I can make you proud.

Love Always & Forever,



  1. Kylee--Thank you for this inspiring letter. You are amazing and I love you!

  2. Beautiful. I'm gunna copy you, and write a letter on my blog. Also, I appreciate your advice to make sure people feel loved. Xx

  3. Oh my gosh! Bawling! Thank you, Ky, for that beautiful letter! So inspiring! I am so grateful to be related to all of your wonderful family! I miss Granty! I still think of him often as well... I can echo your feelings about not being afraid to die. All I want to do is see my mom!... and the other family members lost. Love your guts! xoxo...

  4. Lovely thoughts. I'm sorry for your loss, but love how you have taken it and turned it into a positive.

  5. I always loved your Dad's story about Grant from the March 2005 Ensign. His story is my story in a lot of ways- I was a premature baby with a feeding tube, I was young and didn't do well at sports until (particularly baseball) until I started playing ball with my dad in junior high (although I never played for my school team), I never have my own disability that is probably Aspbergers although I've never been diagnosed, and I'm from Orem, Utah. My dad worked at the Ensign at the time and shared this story with our family in FHE back in 2002 when your dad first submitted it. He helped get it published in the Ensign.
    I am glad they finally covered over the Murdock Canal with a pipe and a trail. It is so sad that this happened to your family (as well as many others who have drowned in the local canals). Why they weren't covered over to begin with I will never understand.

    1. *That should say "I even have my own disability"