I Love Your Guts! From Shelley to Jed

Dear Jed,

When I was 2 1/2 years old, I received the best present in the world…YOU. You were the cutest little boy I ever knew. You had the most magnificent dimples; I always wanted you to give them to me. I remember you and your best friend Timmy, growing up in Treetop Terrace, a modest subdivision in Liberty, Texas. You played baseball and football and were a good student.

We lived a “normal” life until we realized that our mother was dying. She was 41 and I was 14, you were 12 and our baby sister was 9. Chaos ensued. Our dad married a woman who was closer to my age than his. She had a cute little boy who we learned to love. And, then, they had our baby brother, who we adored. But, to generalize, our home life was FAR from “normal.” In a gross generalization, the second part of our childhood qualified me to have lots of therapy and join all sorts of recovery groups. As the oldest, I left first for college and, thankfully, I have lots of blessings today.

They sent you to the Marine Military Academy in middle school, for a variety of reasons, but you came home for high school. Because of the chaos, you enlisted in the United States Marine Corps immediately upon graduation. You were stationed all over the world and earned your undergraduate degree, then came home to Texas to seek your Master’s at St. Mary’s and Ph.D., at Texas A&M.

You married and had two beautiful children, who are now adults. Your dream was to see your son graduate from Texas A&M and your daughter from Oklahoma State University. He finished in December, 2023 and she’s finishing in May, headed to be a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force.

When you were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we all were devastated. Our sister and brother-in-law took care of you and I helped by supporting you both. As the end became closer, I, basically, moved in with you all. You were VERY brave and did everything the doctors said to do. You fought like hell to beat this horrible diagnosis. In the end, you gave me one of the most precious gifts of my life. You allowed me to be in the room with you when you took your last breath. I felt like you trusted me to help you transition and to love you to the end.

The pain of losing you to pancreatic cancer has been one of the most difficult experiences of my adult life. We survived the death of our mother and the chaos that emerged, by being together. and supporting each other. But, since we lost our father and grandparents years ago, we had a broken chain of support. If not for my husband, sister, children and grandchildren, I’m not sure I could have gotten out of bed.

But to really work through this hole in my heart, I needed to process my emotions. Therapy helped but there is something very special about the Christi Center. My Monday night mixed-loss group, led by the amazing Cathy Collins, has helped pull me out of the darkness. The peer-support group helps me not feel alone. It allows me to remember you without feeling like I’m dying inside.

As children, we would fight and said some horrible things including “I hate your guts.” However, as adults, years ago, we ended every phone call with “I love your guts.” It just came naturally and I’ll always love your guts. I’ll share your life stories with your children and grandchildren someday. Our girls and grandchildren remember you fondly and loved you dearly. Your legacy will live on, I can make you that promise.

Scroll to Top