We have not been in touch for quite a while, yet we still think gratefully of your prayers and support. It has been a long, difficult eight months since we lost Daniel. We are fortunate to have family and friends who watch over us as we travel this road. Maine Children's Cancer Program continues to keep their arms around us as we attend a support group for bereaved parents.
You were such a part of our lives through Daniel's illness I felt we should share with you what we are doing. Many parents who have lost a child turn their energies to fund-raising or foundations or some type of project, keeping the memory of their child alive while improving the quality of life for other children.
And, no, this letter does not conclude with a request for donations!
We often traveled with the kids to land we own just outside Farmington and talked about someday building a rustic cabin where we could rest and relax when Daniel felt better. He helped us pick a site for a cabin and went swimming in the nearby lake. It was fun to dream about someday.....
Then we lost Daniel and the thought of ever returning to that property was like a bitter taste in our mouths. We couldn't imagine spending time there without him. Late in winter when we received an insurance check we were baffled as to what to do with it. Because it was impossible to think of enjoying anything we might purchase with money which stemmed from Daniel's death, we let it just sit for awhile. We thought how nice it would have been to have had the cabin to enjoy with Daniel between hospital stays. We even thought how good it would have been to have a place where we could get away after he died. When we took the other kids to a hotel and spent the weekend trying to talk about Daniel, to share memories and plan for the future, it was a cold, public place and not quite the atmosphere we needed.
Eventually, as so many other parents have done, we thought of the families and children who are still battling cancer or who may have lost the fight. We decided to build our cabin, making it available to families who have a child with cancer and to families who have lost a child. In this way, we can fulfill our dream of a cabin and maybe give someone else the moment of respite we wanted to give Daniel.
Obviously, it cannot be the rustic cabin we would have built on a shoestring. It will need electricity and plumbing and be handicapped accessible. We have purchased a log cabin kit from Dostie Builders who modified it to meet our needs. We hope to begin building soon with a plan to have it available for use as soon as possible.
So, no, we are not looking for donations, but if you know any inexpensive (Free is even better!) plumbers or electricians, you are welcome to refer them to us. If you have a burning desire to help with the actual building of the cabin, feel free to reply and we will let you know when and where. The cabin will be called, 'Daniel Kelly Stronghold,'.
We have created a board of directors for the Daniel Kelly Stronghold, not because it really needs one at this time, but because we want a small group of people to hold us accountable for how we spend money, especially if we become involved in fund raising. The cabin will still be under our ownership and we don't want any questions about misuse of donations.
Daniel Kelly Stronghold Board of Directors
Laurette Ng, our next door neighbor, is Sammy's surrogate mother. Her daughter, Elizabeth, is two years older than Afton, and her son, Eric, is a friend of Stuart's.
Robin McDonald (Habicht) is a member of First Baptist Church in Portland and works in their office. She and Daniel were crazy about each other, and she actually let him drive her car down Canco Road (which should maybe have you concerned about the mentality of the people involved in this project!).
Dave Langway and his wife, Kim, fellow foster parents with Casey Family Services, are actively involved in the Relay for Life held in Falmouth. At this year’s relay, Dave presented us with a plaque honoring Daniel's participation in past relays.
Stuart Kelly, our son, has taken an active interest in Stronghold and will round out the Board. Stu is presently a Ranger in the US Army based in Georgia.
Thank you for everything,
Dana and Leslie