Archive | With Gratitude RSS feed for this section

Day in the Life

1 Feb

Back in May 2014, the lovely and talented photographer Jennifer Hughes had taken some family photos for us. A few days later, she emailed me with the offer to come back to spend another day with our family – not to take formal pictures, but to document our real life instead. She wanted to be a fly on the wall and capture our day from start to finish.

Chip and I loved the idea, but I was a little bit like Reese Witherspoon in Wild. I mean, I was just supposed to roll out of bed circa 6:45/7:00 a.m. to unlock the front door for her while she patiently waited downstairs for the kids to stir and I didn’t need to coordinate, but not match, our clothes for the day?

Jennifer spent that fly-on-the-wall day with us in June, and how grateful we are to have these photos of our family. She has been kind enough to post them to her website. Thank you, Jennifer!

http://jenniferhughes.com/We-ve-Got-This

(If you’re viewing on a computer, use the bottom scrollbar.)

photo by jennifer hughes

photo by jennifer hughes

Celebration of Life: A Recap

29 Jan

It’s been a week since we gathered together to celebrate Chip’s life. A big, warm THANK YOU to all who were there with us in person and to those who joined us in spirit. Several requests have come in for the remembrances and homily delivered at the memorial service and for a copy of The After Party playlist, so here’s a recap of last Thursday:

Memorial Service Program (PDF)

Remembrances

Homily by The Rev. Oran E. Warder (PDF)

The After Party Playlist (Spotify)
The bad news: Spotify does not have in its collection a few very important songs: The Idea of You (Live)/Dave Matthews Band, Shake It Off /Taylor Swift and Callin’ Baton Rouge (Live)/Garth Brooks. So you’ll just have to listen to those on your own. But the rest of the music from the party can be found at the link above. I wanted to include Lie in Our Graves from DMB The Gorge if the party had only been 16:59 longer. If you have a Spotify account, you should be able to log in and listen; if you don’t, you can sign up for an account – it’s a free service (with the ads). 

Chip’s Obituary
For some reason, The Washington Post/legacy.com copied and pasted the memorial contributions section twice. A very benevolent intern, perhaps? 

Thank you all again. Now, as Crosby and Clete have directed us … NO REST. FLY!

Dear World Video

26 Jan

We’re sharing another video today, this one a project of Robert X. Fogarty’s Dear World. The video was filmed on November 10, 2014. AstraZeneca sponsored a cancer survivor project with Robert, and LUNGevity recommended Chip after the video we did with them. We are forever grateful.

 

Miles Back Home

22 Jan

A beautifully written and stunningly heartfelt tribute to Chip, from dear friend Brooke (with some pretty awesome pictures!) that we wanted to share this morning: Miles Back Home

This post is to be treasured.

From Brooke’s blog, The Conley Chronicles:

Just keep posting pictures of that boy. 

I couldn’t have guessed that such a simple text would in hindsight mean so much.

We had been talking all week while he lay in a hospital bed. He sent me a breathing tube selfie and I ribbed back, “Try to get some sleep with that thing on your face.” 

It was our normal banter and I never wanted to believe it would end. We laughed and we joked. We occasionally took the serious route.

Can I do anything from here?

Just keep posting pictures of that boy.

And then it was over.

Perhaps I did know that these seemingly basic interludes would one day take on greater meaning. Somewhere deep down I must have, because for the past two years I have been unwittingly creating a virtual memory vault filled with texts, photos, and voicemails that I could never bring myself to erase.

Bayard Winslow Kennett II – aka Chip (Chippewa as I liked to call him) – was one of the greatest people I have ever known. I met him at the ripe old age of 22, back when we both lived in Washington, DC and worked in the same congressional building on Capitol Hill. Every week day was spent IMing back and forth about the best bars in town and every weekend was spent exploring them.

I’ve written about Chip and his beautiful wife, Sheila, before in my post Get on Board. Team Kennett – as their family of four has come to be known – have been an inspiration to so many as they focused on being present and grateful after Chip’s 2012 diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer.

The above words were our last correspondence just hours before he passed away.

Continue reading on The Conley Chronicles: Miles Back Home
Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 7.48.27 AM

brooke and chip

(You might remember that we wrote about the Conleys back in February 2014, in the post How to Train a Train.)
2c51a-img952153

miles with chip

Friends

21 Jan

A short video on the importance of friends:

tk-friends

Direct link: http://vimeo.com/royheisler/review/105995704/6623bfb778

What Is “Team Kennett”?

20 Jan

A short video on the origins of Team Kennett, and how its meaning has changed over the years:

tk-video

Direct link: http://vimeo.com/royheisler/review/105998450/ecc91bdb30

Former Staffer, Cancer Advocate Chip Kennett Dies at 34

19 Jan

We wanted to share this article by Rebecca Gale, Roll Call/Hill Navigator:

Former Staffer, Cancer Advocate Chip Kennett Dies at 34

By Rebecca Gale / Posted at 3:59 p.m. on Jan. 17

Updated Jan. 19 | Bayard Winslow “Chip” Kennett II, a former Capitol Hill staffer whose personal battle with lung cancer helped push Congress to take action, died Saturday. He was 34.

On Jan. 12, Kennett went to the hospital with shortness of breath. He had been scheduled to travel to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to complete the screening process for an experimental treatment. The Kennetts remained optimistic, keeping their friends and family apprised of their progress on Facebook and their blog, Team Kennett.

But on Saturday morning, his wife Sheila posted on Facebook:

“At 4:22 AM, Chip received a brand new body up in heaven that is free of cancer and simply full of everlasting life. The kids and I sure are going to miss him down here on earth with us but, boy, did he teach us all how to live and love. May you enjoy your rest in eternal peace, my darling Chip.”

The sad news came just a few days after Roll Call published a story detailing Kennett’s struggle and work on the issue.

Kennett worked on Capitol Hill for nearly eight years, starting out as a legislative correspondent working for his home state senator, Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. He later worked as a legislative assistant for Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., then as a military legislative assistant and director of appropriations for Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. While working for Gregg, he met Sheila, who later served as director of scheduling and operations for Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

In October 2012, Kennett went for a routine eye exam that revealed a suspected melanoma. A positron emission tomography scan and subsequent biopsy diagnosed Kennett, then 31, with Stage IV lung cancer. The disease was incurable. His prognosis: one to two years to live.

But the Kennetts didn’t believe in going without a fight. With the help from their friends and community, Kennett became an advocate for cancer research, testifying on Capitol Hill and helping draw more attention to recalcitrant cancers, such as lung cancer, which need additional funding to develop and bring more treatments to market. He worked with cancer organizations, including LUNGevity, Friends of Cancer Research and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. He encouraged his colleagues on Capitol Hill — both members and staff — to assist in fighting the disease by raising awareness and money. Advocates within the cancer community credit Kennett’s fight with helping spur action.

Kennett surpassed his two-year prognosis last October and celebrated with friends. That same weekend, he led the largest fundraising team for the annual Breathe Deep DC walk. Kennett remained upbeat, friendly and energetic. He still worked full time for Raytheon as a senior manager for government affairs and told CQ Roll Call late last year he found the support from Capitol Hill “lifts him up” on a daily basis.

Kennett was a native of Conway, N.H. and a graduate of Colby College and A. Crosby Kennett High School. He is survived by his wife and two children, Bayard “Joe” Kennett III, 5, and Crosby Reynolds, 2. Parents Bayard and Theresa Kennett of Conway, N.H.; brother and sister-in-law and Tanner and Sarah Kennett of North Conway, N.H.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Thursday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Va.

Original source: http://blogs.rollcall.com/hill-navigator/chip-kennett-obituary-cancer-advocate/

Finding Support in Unexpected Places

14 Jan

Roll Call’s Hill Navigator writes about Team Kennett today, and the unbelievable help we’ve received from the Capitol Hill community and beyond.

Capitol Hill Helps One of Its Own: Chip Kennett Finds Support in Unexpected Places

“Unlike members of Congress, who often leave Capitol Hill privileges and clout behind when departing, staffers take their community with them. Connections made between staffers can last years, through multiple job switches.

“For Sheila and Chip, the Capitol Hill community was about to change their lives. …

“Casseroles started showing up on the Kennetts’ doorstep. Emails flooded in from the House and Senate, from people Chip and Sheila didn’t know personally but who had heard of their situation. They offered research about cancer trials, connections at cancer hospitals and even babysitting services.”

Continue reading on Roll Call …

 

Shiny, Happy People

27 Nov

 

I am thankful for the day one of Chip’s colleagues, Amy Smith, walked into his office and pitched this hairbrained idea she had to help him shoot this video.  A professional video to capture his voice, his mannerisms and his personality for the kids to have one day.  It was her “specific thing” she was really good at and knew how to do well.

I am thankful the idea of this video really resonated with Chip as he and I had already been trying to think of different ways he could remain a voice in the kids’ lives that wasn’t totally flat and creepy, like filling out birthday, graduation, and wedding cards in advance.

I am thankful one of Amy’s professional contacts led her to the amazingly talented cinematographer Roy Heisler, who after reading our blog, decided he was on board and agreed to share his talents with us.

I am thankful for a successful collaboration of ideas at our house one night where we successfully defined the objective of the video–to not only capture Chip’s actual voice but also to capture his voice in this fight.

I am thankful Amy came back to us a couple of days later and said we had to put me in front of the camera with Chip to capture our marriage, our collective voice, our back and forths and interactions with each other as part of Chip’s legacy for the kids.

I am thankful for the professional, compassionate and fun-natured makeup artist and lighting crew who showed up at our house that day.

I am thankful Roy then had the idea to come back and shoot some B-roll of us one Sunday afternoon around the house.

I am thankful Amy and Roy were so inspired by the success of our video project that they decided to take it to an entirely new level and founded a nonprofit organization called The Legacy Mission, and that I get to share their website for the first time on the Team Kennett blog:

www.legacymission.org

I am thankful they have asked me to serve on the board and I can help pay it forward to other families.

I am thankful we all agreed, if we are able, to meet back up in ten years to shoot another video using the exact same format and questions.

Today, I am most thankful Chip, Joe, Crosby and I are all well enough to get on a plane and fly to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with my family.

All life is thanksgiving.  Remember to give thanks for yours.

– Sheila

Our Thursday Afternoon at the Capitol

7 Oct

Chip walked into a congressman’s office one day for a meeting with a staffer and one of his friends, Christy.  They hadn’t seen each other in a while, and, walking in, Chip didn’t know if Christy “knew” or not.  We are constantly trying to figure that out.

Sometimes people we don’t know will walk up to us at the dry cleaners, church, at a wedding reception, you name it, and say, “You don’t know me, but I’ve been reading your blog, and I have been praying for you and your family.”  Wow!  And then there are times I will just catch people, with their heads tilted over, pointing at us.  Oh, hi people across the room!  Yes, he does look good and uh huh, our kids are really young!  Those moments can feel a bit overwhelming, but at the same time, it is also encouraging to Chip and me that so many are taking the time to learn our story and pray for us.

Well, after Christy made a couple of comments about how she hadn’t seen him in a while and complimented him on his weight loss, Chip quickly realized she didn’t know.  Because Christy was a friend, Chip had to tell her right then and there.  I know this may sound crazy, but it is horrible having to tell someone and I always find myself apologizing for having to tell him or her our news.  It’s not that we can’t talk about it, because we can, but we feel so horribly for the person on the receiving end of the news and the incredibly awkward moment that inevitably follows the bomb drop.  Just add that to the list of really f’d up things we somehow manage to casually deal with on a daily basis.

Well, Christy chewed on the news all day long and emailed Chip later that night, telling him of a dear friend of hers who was a professional photographer, and she would love to help facilitate a photo shoot for our family if we would like.  We have been trying to have photos taken every three or so months, so yes, we would love that!  Imagine my pleasant surprise when I discovered her friend was the one and only Erin Rexroth!  I have been admiring Erin’s work on Facebook for years, because so many of my friends have used her for their family pictures.

One Thursday afternoon in late September, we spent a couple of hours traipsing around the Capitol with Erin taking some fun family pics.  I was immediately drawn to Erin’s warm, laid-back and funny personality.  We started playing the name game and within minutes had easily made our nation’s capital a little bit smaller that day.

ejp

Chip and I have been so fortunate over the past year to be on the receiving end of so many people’s generosity, and we are so appreciative Christy made the introduction and Erin graciously agreed to share her talent with us.

Please visit Erin’s blog to view our pictures. 

(Looking at these photos, it’s really eerie and sad to think that just one week later, our government is shut down and there was a shooting right outside the Capitol on the Senate side, at an entrance I’ve driven through countless times.  That part of D.C. will always be hard for me to wrap my head around.)

– Sheila