September 23, 2007

In Remembrance of Alec


Christi imagined a piece of Alec's spirit in each balloon, including the parts of him held by and given to each person present. I thought of the pace of their departure, the wind picked them up so fast! I imagined their speed parallel with the way Alec lived, not that he was always in a rush, but once that boy had decided there was no hesitation. :-)

The weekend passed quickly, wedged between hectic work weeks for all of us. Yet the picnic at Alec's gravesite flowed leisurely. The steady stream of arrivals began at one pm and continued until the release an hour-and-a-half later.

The mood was at turns festive, contemplative, sad, and peaceful. The day itself was beautiful. Uncle Dick, all the way from Port Angeles, WA, offered some remarks. Many in the crowd were probably unaware that his daughter, our cousin Saundra, died of leukemia when she was twenty. (Her memory is celebrated annually by the Peninsula Tennis Club.)

Uncle Dick shared some thoughts with us from an article by Mark A. Lorenson, You Can Not Lose the Ones You Love, which challenges the "conventional wisdom" that "we miss the ones we love" (47). Applying the philosophy that "we, through our current beliefs, are actually creating our experience of 'missing'" (48), Lorenson proposes a reframing which Uncle Dick exhorted us all to try:

I love you and feel your presence.

In all ways, from everyone gathered and those whose thoughts were with us, a fitting tribute.


Posted by Steph at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2007

Bonding in Belton


We ate breakfast at Deb and Bill's Cafe in Belton, Missouri. Under surveillance. One neighbor got a map to show us where Carrollton is - Austin is performing there with marching band today. Another neighbor congratulated Rich for finding a way to interrupt her life story. Christi (not one to mess up her schoolwork with doodles) recounted her stress-releasing strategy of making tic marks for each time the chatty nitwit (bless her heart) annoys her in class. Dad selected from "The Lighter Side" portion of the menu - until he learned he could have both corned beef hash and hashbrowns.

We're wearing bracelets in honor of Alec's life, celebrating being together on his account.


I have a feeling Alec would have enjoyed the two-seater.

Posted by Steph at 12:40 PM | Comments (2)

September 20, 2007

When and Who to tell...

We had in time in College Writing (first year writing) on Thursday to do a round of check-ins, "What's best about this class, What's worst about this class, and something random." I had not thought about participating (duh) and felt as on-the-spot as some of the students may have when it came to the end and - as a few students insisted - my turn. Alec and this trip to Kansas City was high on my mind, but I was thinking to myself, "No, that's too personal; telling them might compromise the teacher/student boundary." The students are interacting well, there was teasing and a fair number of comments and teasing about some of the things people shared. A minute or two before my turn, two of the boys had an exchange and one of them said, "Oh Snap."

That was my sign to let them know.

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May 29, 2007

In Memory


Hunter left the parachute guy for Alec; flowers were placed by Christi’s family. The Mount Moriah Cemetary was popular this Memorial Day.

Mount Moriah Cemetary.jpg
our dear son.jpg

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December 30, 2006

the absent birthday boy

We had fallen asleep to the sensory overload of Grievous. Obviously not quite with it, we left five items in the hotel room (all mailed to us free of charge once we realized - days later).

The Aquarium just wasn't a suitable substitute for that darn boy. We missed his sense of humor throughout the trip. Rumor has it he was good at providing emotional comfort, too.

The drive from Boston to Agawam was quiet. Yummy chili and a couple of rounds of "sets and runs" (modified slightly) took care of the evening.

Alec, pained as we all are, you can rest in peace.

Backdated from January 3, 2007

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November 18, 2006

Alec Richard Kent

Alec's remains were buried at the Mt. Moriah Cemetary at three this afternoon. Most of the family and many friends attended. Later in the evening, we read through some of Alec's poems (A Boy, Searching, Mind or Body, When someone dies, Races, Polite… or not), cartoons (Lord Chippy versus Luke Skycrapper), and elementary school writing:

Did the which git
is ulive? what did the chicken bet
the caowboy?

A couple of hours before Alec's final service, Kelly showed me this powerpoint presentation. It's a tearjerker. (As if I needed much help to get me started!)

The obituary was published in the Kansas City Star on 9/23/2006:

Our dear son Alec Richard Kent, age 13, passed gently into eternity due to heart failure on September 20, 2006 in Kansas City, MO. Visitation will be from 4-6 p.m. Sunday, September 24, at Red Bridge United Methodist Church, 636 E. 117th St., Kansas City, MO. Services will be held 7 p.m. Monday at the church. Private burial in Mt. Moriah Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to a memorial fund for Alec c/o Heartland Community Credit Union, 406 E. Bannister Rd., Kansas City, MO, 64131. Born December 30, 1992 in Kansas City, Alec was known to us as the "miracle baby" after surviving the usually fatal Myocarditis as an infant. He would later become an honor student at Center Middle School and receive state recognition and membership through the Duke University Scholastic Achievement program. A musically gifted young man, he excelled not only in his studies, but also in his ability to make friends easily with his infectious laugh and sociability. An active Boy Scout in Troop 46 and member of his youth group at Red Bridge United Methodist Church, he was known by all as a compassionate and helpful young man. Alec is survived by his parents Richard and Christi Kent, his brother, Austin Kent; grandparents Ron and Denise Roberts, grandparents David and Elaine Kent; great-grandparents Woodford and Joyce Roberts, uncle and aunt Mark and Amy Roberts, uncle Nicholas Roberts, and aunt Stephanie Kent. (Arrangements: Mt. Moriah & Freeman Chapel (816) 942-2004)

Posted by Steph at 12:11 AM | Comments (2)

October 9, 2006

the worst news

"Alec had an accident on the trampoline. He did not survive. He passed away." My brother's tone on voicemail was steady but laced with agony. I faltered, walking from interpreting linear algebra to a course director meeting. "We don't know what we're doing yet. It just happened six hours ago. We're calling to let everyone know."

What can I do? I observed myself struggle. Sit down? Stop? Really? There was no doubting the certainty or emotion in my brother's voice. Alec was gone. Just like that. An accident? Images of blood and gore flashed through my mind. What happened? It didn't make sense. What should I do? More to the point, what could I do? I had to teach in 3 hours. I had to meet with my peer teachers and Course Director in 20 minutes. Bail? Obligation....keep moving...I need those printouts. I ask a colleague in the computer lab, "Can you help me find Word? The icon is gone." I try to think through the fog.

The CD meeting unfolds around me. "Let's open with a freewrite, since it's something we ask our students to do.” I write. They move on; I keep writing. Have to get there...start sending emails, practical info only. This happened; I need to come. Can you pick me up at the airport? Can I stay with you? Search airfares, schedule. Bits of my peers’ conversation drifts into consciousness, "How do I get my students engaged?" I am no use to any of them today. Finally the meeting ends. I have two hours; it is a beautiful day. I call my sister-in-law. "This is a voice I've been waiting to hear," she says.

It was his heart. They're still trying to determine exactly what, why, how. There will be an autopsy. The neighbor did CPR. 911 was called. Christi got stuck in traffic. I'm several hours behind the curve, Rich left his message at 10 pm the previous night but I hadn't realized there was a message until 11 am the following morning. The media is involved, 911 put the neighbors on hold for ten minutes. No arrangements have yet been made. "I can be there tomorrow." Austin is doing ok. At the hospital, after viewing his brother's body, he said to his mom, "How can we be so unlucky?"

Christi and I continue to talk, the hospital called within 7 or 8 hours about tissue donation, salvaging parts of Alec's body for other people's medical treatments. There is so much confusion, so many decisions that must be made: cremation? burial? both? The other phone keeps ringing, all the local family is there, friends are dropping by, we stop for now. I get up from the lawn near South College and wander...trying to absorb the news, reeling from the hard fact and the inexorable unfolding of events. Both Rich and Christi have mentioned how awful it was to see Alec's body, how fast he got cold. My best friend has left a voice mail, responding to a text message I fired off. "I'm just devastated to hear your news." Her voice is fraught with tears.

I plant myself on the edge of the campus pond. It is an absolutely gorgeous day. A small, perfectly-formed flower draws my attention. I observe a school of small fish, a crawdad, the geese, some dragonflies, the sky. I should touch base with mom. "Hi mom, how are you doing?" She launches into the usual and I realize, she doesn't know. I confirm, so you haven't heard the news from Kansas City? No… "Alec died yesterday." My voice cracks. "What? Who?" she is aghast, possibly even panicked. "Rich's son, Alec." We don't talk long. I'll purchase her ticket, coordinate our arrival times, arrange housing for us both. I can hear that she is crying. Me, too.

I sit longer. Email Ruth back, explaining some, letting her know I have a window to talk if she has time.

"did I tell you I'm sitting by the campus pond? it's gorgeous. the sun is shining bright. there's a light breeze. the sun is hot when the wind is still, if the wind persists it verges on chilly. There's a school of 2-3 inch fish at my feet, a flock of geese lazing across the way. I don't know what plant this is in front of me, but the first detail that penetrated me when I sat down here is a perfectly formed small flower with white petals and a brilliant yellow center. Two unopend buds frame it, and a large triangulated leaf arches over it. I left my camera in the car. thinking I should go get it. two wispy blue dragonflies keep skimmering by. there were three at first, but I've only seen a pair playing for the last while. all this alec will never experience again."

Posted by Steph at 9:26 AM | Comments (2)

October 8, 2006


Yesterday I relaxed. Spent time with friends. Walked in the woods. Ate good food. Saw a decidedly unedifying movie. Stayed up too late. Have been considering when to post about Alec - my experience of hearing the news, the moments that bit the worst . . . etc.

It is beautiful late summer/early fall: shorts-weather yet the trees begin to burst with color.

Posted by Steph at 2:49 PM | Comments (0)

October 2, 2006

KC Star Tribute

Today, the hometown newspaper ran a spread on Alec.

Alec b'day w Austin.jpg

Often, family members would find Alec Kent (left) huddled over one of his sketchbooks. He is shown here at a birthday party with his brother, Austin Kent.

ALEC RICHARD KENT | He loved comics
Boy was drawn to illustrating
The Kansas City Star

Who: Alec Richard Kent, a middle school student who enjoyed drawing and games.

When and how he died: Sept. 20, due to heart failure.

Age: 13

An illustrative passion: Friends and family could always find Alec huddled over one of his many sketchbooks. Drawing comics, especially Japanese anime, was one of his favorite activities.

His enthusiasm for illustrating was enhanced by family friend Aaron Williams, who is a local comic book creator. The two artists spent hours together practicing their drawing techniques. Alec also enjoyed reading Williams’ published comics, “Nodwick” and “PS238.”

“Alec always offered his opinion to me and in fact, he used to point out my mistakes,” Williams said. “He was the best editor I ever had.”

He showed physical affection: Alec was not afraid to kiss his mom in public or hug people he just met.

Christi Kent said her son’s most endearing quality was his touch. Whether it was rubbing her temples to get rid of a migraine, or wrestling with his brother and cousins, Alec used physical contact as a way of expressing himself.

However, his desire for interaction could sometimes lead to awkward moments.

“Alec was such a wiggly kid his entire life,” his mom said. “When he was 2, I took him to Kmart and he had his hand in my pocket and tripped. He fell down and so did my shorts — right in the middle of the Kmart entrance. He was all twisted around me and it makes me laugh every time I think about it.”

Always one to take on a challenge: The energetic teenager was never satisfied with being average. Alec loved to put himself to the test. He challenged his Boy Scout peers to games of chess and poker.

He spent hours each day playing “RuneScape,” an online game that promotes problem-solving skills and puzzles. Alec’s desire to learn new skills amused his family.

“Alec spent all his Christmas money last year on eBay buying swords,” Kent said.

“He wanted to play with them in the backyard, which drove me nuts. There was even a time when he wanted to learn Japanese.”

His secret language: One of Alec’s favorite sayings was “Oh, snap!” This phrase was usually accompanied by a detailed description of his day at school. Encoded in his stories would be nicknames he had for all his friends. He created the special names based on something that happened to that person or how a friend’s name sounded.

“You really had to learn to speak ‘The Alec,’ ” Kent said. “I had to remember all his friends’ nicknames and I even called them by those, which they thought was pretty funny. Alec also made up words, which were so silly but became a part of who he was.”

Survivors include: Mother, father, brother, grandparents and great-grandparents.

The last word: “Alec kept me reading every parenting book I could get my hands on,” Kent said.

“He was just so bright and full of energy.”

Posted by Steph at 10:02 PM | Comments (3)

October 1, 2006

Making friends with doorknobs

The Rev. Bart Hildreth credited one of Alec’s uncles with saying he could make friends with a doorknob. It was one of many comments that elicited laughter from everyone gathered to commemorate Alec’s life. A bunch of people liked my words,
but there is no doubt that Charlie gave the best speech.
(If you've ever listened to him playing videogames you might be amazed at his range.)

I told one of my best friends that it was as hard to come back to Amherst as it was to go to Kansas City. “It crashes in, I know,” she said. The long slog of adjustment begins. Our lives will always be different, now. It isn’t just the fact of Alec’s death that causes the change, it is the meaningfulness his death creates, a meaningfulness possible only because of his life. “Were you close?” another friend asked on learning the news. A reasonable question, since most of my friends know my family hasn’t been all that tight. I couldn’t muster an answer at the time; it seemed a “yes” required an explanation and I didn't have the energy or the words. Now, I respond with confidence:

Yes, and we're closer now than we were before. Besides, a couple of the girls who spoke at the funeral said Alec told them "he grew out his hair because it annoyed people." Obviously we are kin. :-)

Posted by Steph at 7:54 PM | Comments (5)

September 29, 2006


"Let's just say the Lord gave."

~ Rev. Bruce Jacobs, 25 September 2006

funeral program.jpg

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September 27, 2006

Oh Snap!

"All things and all moments touch each other at every point."

Danah Zohar, The Quantum Self (1990:34)

Her particular argument is critiqued; and/but others provide alternative arguments leading to a similar conclusion: quantum mechanics has much potential to inform us about the meaning of life.

Posted by Steph at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2006



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September 24, 2006



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September 22, 2006


Alec the bright.JPG.jpg

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December 30, 2005

DOA 4 Review

"Whoa! It demonstrates how to do it! That's new."

"That's cool."

"The graphics aren't as good, do you see that?"

"Can anybody hear me?"

"That's weird." What does that mean? It had Y button with like an arrow down. Just do the move. huh. Oh that was cool!

"Oh wow, what was it?!"

"That's new." "That's cool!"

You can teleport. "When I do this he goes nowhere."

"Does he [Hayabusa] do a backflip?" That's it! That's the cool one! hahaha. That's awesome!

"They went superfast." Oh! That was tight!

"But does it do that on a normal basis?"

"That was cool." What? "They automatically fall for ya."

Comments by SS4 Shinobi and Alec during the first play.

Tournament on January 7th. Speaking of clan: supposedly DOA4 was going to have a formal clan feature but there were problems and they ditched it. Players, however, already form their own clans. I'm not sure this is a good thing? So many (all?) of the social problems in the world today come down to clan: family vs family, ethnicity, religion, or nationality vs others. "Most of the clans [in DOA] are really friendly." I don't know what this means.

Posted by Steph at 2:40 PM | Comments (0)


Both of them are a trip. Separately and together. Austin took us on the scenic route to Waid's for breakfast that just happened to take us by GameStop where the new release of DOA 4 awaited. :-) I really enjoyed watching him play last night, shifting between female and male characters and winning every single game. He explained a lot to me. Very interesting discourse involved with gaming. I asked Alec last night about whether he felt himself thinking in the ways of the games during his real life. "It doesn't make me violent, if that's what you mean." No, that wasn't where I was going. (Obviously he's aware of that interpretation.) He's articulate and concise: you don't solve problems in real-life like you do in the game. I know. What I meant was, there are parts of the games - especially the commercial elements - that are quite optimistic. They point toward possibilities. Austin acknowledged this: some things are just cool, but part of what makes them cool is that they demonstrate potential.

Alec was playing Conker's Bad Fur Day this morning. There are squirrels and teddies. "The teddies are evil but they're better." What does that mean? "The teddies don't take fall damage. Squirrels do. Squirrels can run fast but I don't care about that cuz I'm a good sniper."

I haven't learned much about Runescape yet. "It's a mythical game. You know what runes are? They're not just used in that game."

I'm having a great time. :-)

Posted by Steph at 2:17 PM | Comments (0)


Jesus Evil Kachina tells me one ought to communicate only that which rises to the top.

I arrived in KC to surprise my nephews and sister-in-law. Dad had a few hours warning. :-) The youngest's eyes just about popped out of his head when I told him who I was. Yes, it's been that long. I'm getting lessons in PSP, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 (Alec scored a perfect 100 tonight on Captain Jack), Halo (Gamertag SS4 Shinobi), and Dead or Alive Ultimate (Austin is in the top 100 worldwide).

I'm planning on downloading Full Metal Alchemy once I've finished this trip; got a bit of an explanation from the Jamester as I peered over his shoulder yesterday and was intrigued.

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