Kellie van Meurs

I met her online, in a support group for people with Dysautonomia.  She asked me for help with her new blog and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  We chatted over the internet regularly.  We were ‘bloggy buddies’ and ‘cyber-besties’.  In the space of only four months, we covered the sort of ground in friendships that usually takes years. I knew her.  But I never got the chance to meet her.  One day, we’d laugh, after Russia, she’d come to New Zealand, or I’d go to Brisbane; one day we’d have a drink and laugh about the ‘bad old days’.

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And then it was Friday night, Kellie and I were facebook chatting, making jokes and catching up on what was happening with her kids back home.  About how much they love their babysitter and how her husband was off on a well deserved boys night out.  She was missing her family, but getting closer to when she’d fly back home to be with them.  She signed off so she could go and Skype her kids.  I had been worried about her.  Since her stem cells had gone in, her posts and messages had become a lot quieter.  She was in isolation because her immune system was non-existent.  And then her numbers started going wrong.  She’d been having platelet infusions because she was at such a high risk for a haemorrhage.  She was very, very tired.  Busy, bubbly Kellie was struggling, but never found it easy to admit it.  It concerned her that her family would worry more.  She was toughing it out, Aussie-chick-style.  And some time between our last chat, and today, Kellie had a massive heart attack and lost her life.  Her life.  That whole, wonderful, beautiful person, suddenly gone.  And the hole she has left behind is too big to wrap words around, too large to define.  It will continue to widen.  We will fall into it, those who loved her, in our darkest moments of grief.  We’ll claw our way out, the way grievers do, pulled onward by the relentless demands of the living. And all that Kellie was, will remain with us.  It is the bittersweet burden we carry of the lost. It’s that terrible fact that we shoulder across every day we’re here without her.  She’s gone.

I sent her a message when I heard. I think my ability to believe that it’s true has flickered in and out like a bad transmission.  In my head, I have one word.  no.  It plays on repeat.  I’m calling it out to her.  No no no no no.  I hear her echoing my word back to me. No.  Just no.

My disbelieving heart tries to grapple with what it all means.  For her husband Mark, for their kids, Ash and Luc…
I don’t know if you will ever read this, but if you do, I want to confirm what you already know.  She loved you with fierce passion.  You are why she tried so hard.  You are what she was fighting for.  Life with you.  She had enough love in that heart of hers to fuel a nuclear explosion on a galactic scale.   To light up the whole universe.  You’ll carry her love in your hearts with you.  It is still there, enough to illuminate many lifetimes. I am so so sorry for your unfathomable loss.

I know I am only one of Kellie’s lucky friends.  Our friendship is new. The first time we met online, she’d just discovered she had the antibody for Stiff Person Syndrome.  In my typical fashion, I thought having a definitive diagnosis was a lucky break, it meant treatment.  But she started on IVIG straight away and continued to decline.  Her spirit almost broke, she nearly gave up.  But then she remembered something and a tiny little spark of hope began to light her outlook. You can read her brave post about that here.  She was going to Russia for stem cell therapy, then no, she was staying in Australia, then no, back to Russia again.  Her confidence was high, her can-do attitude carrying her through all the challenges of her preparation. She wrote to me about how she was going to be okay. About how she hoped she would never take being healthy for granted when she was well again. And we all believed that she was coming home.  That she, if anyone, could beat the odds and make it.  That she’d be laughing in the face of adversity and raising a glass of champers to life itself.

No.  No no no no. No.  Oh Kellie. Your beautiful heart didn’t make it through.  And our hearts are aching with all the tears you’ll never shed, for all the hugs you were yet to have, for your homecoming that isn’t what it should have been.  We ache for your family, for your much loved kids and husband, Mark.  We long for a world where things like this don’t happen.  We want to be back at Friday, when you were still here with us.

Before you went to Russia, I sent you a cyber-bestie t-shirt to match my own.  “Fall seven, get up eight” it read across the front.  I thought it was the perfect slogan for your positive, ‘She’ll-be-right’ chutzpah.  Oh Kellie, I wish you had made it to the eighth.

I will miss you my friend.   X

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Kellie van Meurs posted this on her facebook page while she was in Russia.  I so wish the choice was still hers.
Rest now beautiful brave girl.

If you are able to donate to the fund to bring Kellie’s body home from Russia, here is the link to the fund.  Please help if you can. X



21 thoughts on “Kellie van Meurs”

  1. Rachel, I really hope Kellie’s family are able to read this one day, to understand how much love she had for them (and I’m sure none of it will be a surprise).

    Rach, not only did you help Kellie with her blog, so we could all share in her journey to Russia but now we know the beautiful friendship that came out of it for both of you.

  2. Oh Rachel I am so very sorry my heart aches for you & her family! Last post I read Kellie was sounding so positive! Big hugs x

  3. A lovely post and tribute Rachel, I remember Kellie’s updates and messages as full of humour and bravery.
    What a strong lady and I am so sorry she has gone.
    Thank you for being brave too and sharing your words xxx

    1. She was so funny Clare. Even on Friday night, as awful as she must have been feeling, she cracked a couple of jokes. I will miss the irreverent humour and her ability to shine a big fat beam of optimism on everything.

  4. Oh my God Rach. I did not expect to read this when I began your post. I don’t talk about it but I believe in God and am a strong Roman Catholic. You don’t have to believe to be loved. I will be praying for the repose of Kellie’s soul and that her family as well as you will be comforted in your terrible sadness and loss. I wrap my heart around you for

  5. Rachel, my dear friend, there are no words to ease the grief. I am so so sorry for your loss. Kellie’s blog was so full of hope and humour, it seems surreal that she is gone. My thoughts and prayers are with you and her family. May each day bring a little less pain my friend. Much love Sarah xx

    1. Surreal is the perfect word for this kind of thing. Why are our brains so terribly equipped for sudden death, any death? I just feel lost in the place somewhere in between incredulity and horror. Thank you so much for your beautiful words, Sarah. I know just how well you understand the terrain of loss and I appreciate your love and concern. You are lovely. X

  6. Oh Rachel. I don’t even know what to say. This is such a difficult time for everyone. I really do hope Kellie’s family find their way to this beautiful post to know how much she touched not only your life but many others out there in cyber world. Friendships here are very real and as close as any of those in our real lives (sometimes I believe even closer). My heart aches for her family and also for you Rachel. Please know that you are in my thoughts and I wish I could give you a big hug right now. Take care beautiful lady. xx

  7. Thanks Rachel. As a freind of Kellie and her family your words are a comfort and I will give Mark a copy to read (he left the online world to Kel). She was in life as she was online amazing, full of so much energy that the room changed when she entered it. She loved all that she learnt and those she met as she climbed each mountain her illness presented and as you say that last one just too much. She will be forever an angel that is with us to make us really experience emotion be it happy, sad, joy, or sorrow a she would in full Kellie style. Take care

    1. Oh Anastasia, thank you so much for taking the time to write. And thank you for giving Mark a copy. I sent him an email to her email address but I am not sure if he will ever get to her inbox. I don’t know how he and the kids will ever be able to process such an enormous loss. My thoughts are with all of you. She has had one of the biggest impacts on me of anyone I have ever met. I will never sing loudly again in the car without thinking of her. Her jokes and her way will always be remembered by so many of us. Take care Anastasia X

  8. Hi Rach, your words about hope and your friend Kellie hit my (heart) spot. You are one of my favourite ‘truly alive’ persons – thank you for telling it like it is x Yep, hope is a little tricky. I just blew a years layer of dust off my bible because you brought to mind the last verses of the LOVE chapter (1 Corinthians 13) …
    “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.” (v12-13 old-fashioned version) – and in the updated version –
    “We don’t yet see things clearly . We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
    But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is LOVE.” May all of us, so in need of a good love feel it today xxx

  9. Rachel you have honoured Kellie perfectly with these beautiful paragraphs. She was passionate about well crafted words and your blog is overflowing with them! I wish you love and good juju in return for what you sent out to Kellie, please keep the hope alive xo

  10. Rachel
    I am an old school friend of Kellie’s we go back over 25 years. Its been a dark few days and reading your words today makes me feel so proud to have been her friend. Your words sum her up just perfectly. Kel was a truly special person her courage and positivity in how she dealt with this dreaded illness and all that was thrown her way is something to aspire to. I hope Mark, Ash and Luc in time get to read your words as seeing how much she was loved and admired by others may provide some comfort. I wish you all the best in your own journey and know that Kel will want you to hang on to her hope x

    1. Thank you so much for writing Mon. And I am so glad that my words made you feel that way. The loss of Kellie is not something any of us will be able to understand. I hope that you who were in her offline life are finding comfort together in your memories of her and the force of her irrepressible nature. She made bloody sure she wasn’t going to be forgotten in a hurry! 😉 She will be so missed.

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