“In My Pocket” by Kelly Farley

Earlier this year I was approach by my friend Dianne Gray to write the following article and create a corresponding video for a new project she was working on. Dianne is a fellow grieving parent and Board President of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation. In addition to all of the great work Dianne does from those that are grieving the loss of a loved one, she also worked with Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman & Amy Sky to create a the new album “LIV ON” – The new album was designed to aid & comfort those experiencing grief & loss while using the power of music to heal. The song I was asked to write a piece for is called “Stone in My Pocket”. Although I had not heard the song prior to writing my piece, I found the title very fitting. Check out article below, my video and the LIV ON album (which is now available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify).

In My Pocket

I don’t intentionally keep it a secret, but I also don’t advertise it to everyone; it’s kind of personal. Just knowing I have it with me makes me smile, and it gives me a sense of peace and comfort throughout the day. When it’s not in my pocket, it can be found in a small decorative plate near the back door of my house with a pile of the other everyday things I take with me. Other things include loose coins, keys, wallet and my phone.

The song “Stone in My Pocket” instantly made me think of the item I’ve kept in my own pocket for nearly ten years. This item serves as a reminder of what I’ve been though, and the fact that I have survived the death of my two children. More importantly, however, it reminds me of my Katie and Noah, and how they are always with me and looking out for me as I make my way through this life. They guide me to be the best dad I can be.

The item was originally a heart-shaped pewter pocket coin with the words, “May the Spirit always guide you” inscribed on the front, and the words, “May the Father ever watch over you, may the Son ever bless you” on the back. I say “originally” because it has dramatically changed throughout the years due to the abuse it has taken while living in my pocket. The coin has worn to the point where the words are hard to read, and about five years ago, I noticed a small crack starting to appear at the top where the heart comes together. At the time I thought it appropriate, because I did have a broken heart.

I still do.

As time progressed, the size of the crack increased until the coin completely broke in half about two years ago. I carried both of those pieces in my pocket for nearly a year, until one of the pieces went missing. I didn’t panic right away because the coin has occasionally fallen out of my pocket throughout the years, but it has always made its way back to me when I retrace my footsteps. However, this time I couldn’t find the other half. I looked everywhere for that piece, and I still keep an eye out for it in hopes that it will show up some day.

I don’t remember how this coin made its way into my life all those years ago, but I am sure glad it did. It has served me as a trusted friend by providing me comfort in times I needed it.

The item in my pocket and I have both changed throughout the years, but I find it fitting since both of us continue to move through life with a piece of us missing, a piece of our heart.

Although a piece of my heart is missing, I know I still have to find a ways to survive the impacts of losing Katie and Noah. Does a heart shape coin in my pocket help me survive? In some ways it does. So does the black silicone band I wear on my wrist with the words “Grieving Dad – Love is Forever” engraved on it.

They both serve as reminders of my children and what I have gone through. They remind me that life is bigger than myself. They remind me to live my life in a way that would make Katie and Noah proud of their dad. I do that by trying to help other dads through the aftermath of losing a child. When I was at my lowest, I felt alone. I felt alone because there were very few resources for men that have lost a child. I made a commitment to myself at that time that if I survived the nightmare, I would do something to help others.

The good thing is, I did survive and I wrote my book to serve as that resource. I interviewed hundreds of grieving dads as part of the research for my book. The one thing I noticed as part of my conversations is the fact that I learned the difference between the dads that were doing “ok” versus the dads that were still very stuck in their grief. The difference is this, the men that are doing “ok” have found a purpose that allows them to honor their child. They live their life helping others in a way that would make their child proud of them.

My advice is to find a cause related to your child and make it your life purpose. It will allow you to feel close to your children; knowing that they are smiling and saying, “That’s my dad.”

Written by:

Kelly D. Farley
Author of Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back
www.GrievingDads.com

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11 Responses to “In My Pocket” by Kelly Farley

  1. Jojo Rodil says:

    Hi Kelly,

    There’s nothing really one thing that I carry with me everyday. But I asked my wife to collect all her things and store it in her room. But if there’s one thing that I brought with me is her toy stamp. I found her toy stamp, during her wake. After interment, I flew back to work and brought along her toy stamp. Although I don’t bring it with me, I kept it in my cabinet together with my passport, my bank papers, and everything that is important to me.

    I believe keeping her things bring us closer to her. Whenever I check on my cabinet, I see her toy and makes me wonder, if she really intended to make me see her toy stamp, and when I do, I get to have a little smile, then tears.

    I miss her very much.

  2. edcol52 says:

    It’s funny. While I don’t have one particular keepsake I carry always, there are many objects of Jake’s that I use every day that keeps me connected. I have a pair of his sunglasses in my car that help filter out the glare on my windshield to help me see more clearly. I use his cameras to capture important moments. I wear one of his jackets sometimes. It is a beautiful white linen Italian jacket, and whenever I wear it, I always get multiple compliments on it. I have one of his pocket knives I carry from time to time. I write with his Parker 45 fountain pen. My office is in what was his room, I am surrounded by some of his stuff. Books from high school, car models, the remote control submarine he played with when he was a kid, his antique camera collection. A model ship my dad made that Jake acquired when my Dad died. When I go to my synagogue, I wear his tallit, (prayer shawl) thinking it might still have some of his DNA embedded in the fibers. In a way, it is all backwards, the father isn’t supposed to inherit the son, but that’s just the way it is in my upside-down world. Using these things, wearing his clothes, seeing his stuff every day does give me some comfort and keeps me connected in that odd way, but the other side is that they also remind me of who he was and who he never got a chance to be. I too also wear the Grieving Dads bracelet and left one in a Memory Labyrinth we discovered in Northern California. These small rituals help, most of the time. It has been less than three years so I guess I am still a newbie because sometimes the heartache just comes rushing in and I am still powerless against it. Thanks, Kelly for keeping the flame alive.

    • GrievingDads says:

      edcol52 – You are welcome. I hope my thoughts and insights help from time to time. Sounds like you have a lot of his stuff to keep you connected to him. I have the baby blankets that my daughter and son was wrapped in. I also have foot prints and their little outfits. I keep them in a keepsake box and I never open it. When I do it takes me right back to that moment and it become overwhelming for me. Not to mention it scares me that I might lose them. But I cherish them deeply. I also have their urns in my house that I use to keep out on my dresser, but then I started thinking “what if I get burglarized and someone takes them thinking they are valuable”. So now I keep them hidden just in case. To me its about the connection and protecting that connection out of fear of losing it.

      Peace.

      Kelly

      • edcol52 says:

        Hi Kelly- Yes we have all his belongings from his last apartment. Duffle bags full of clothes and other stuff, all his cooking tools and utensils, machines, endless boxes full of collected electronica. We haven’t yet been able to go through them. In a way, I am reluctant to begin that project because once we have finished dealing with the remnants of his life, there will be no more. Better to keep them packed away in memory, (and the garage), where he will remain forever 24.

        Ed.

  3. Andrew Gill says:

    It was only recently I found out how many people carry something like this with them. When my daughter was born she was given a doll which had a much smaller copy of the same doll in a papoose on it’s back. When we lost Kate she was buried with the large doll and I kept the small version with no plans for it at the time. Since then it has always stayed in my pocket and, like you, it is often sitting with my keys and wallet on the front hall stand when I’m at home. If you looked closely at photos from important times in my life, you would be very likely to see her in my top pocket looking out, but she is normally in my pants pocket. Knowing that the other doll is with Katie makes me feel more connected to her. Like your coin she has also changed. She was bright purple with a clear face and slightly furry material when I got her and she is now almost pure white, has no visible facial features, is threadbare and very flat, but is without question my most valued possession. As always, thanks for your thoughts and this blog. It’s always comforting to realize that I am not the only one that feels the way I do, and that I am not the only one dealing with it in the way I am, even many years into it.

    • GrievingDads says:

      Andrew – Thank you for sharing your story and what you carry in your pocket. Glad you can relate and that your “doll” brings you such comfort. It keeps you connected to your beautiful daughter.

      Peace.

      Kelly

  4. Perfect, really.
    “My advice is to find a cause related to your child and make it your life purpose. It will allow you to feel close to your children; knowing that they are smiling and saying, “That’s my dad.””

    • GrievingDads says:

      There is a lot of truth in that statement Jonathan.

      Have you found yours?

      Peace.

      Kelly

      • Hey Kelly. Yes sir, I have. I have Paul’s memorial website (www.PaulFarris.org) and my advocacy (www.PursuitForChange.org).

        Here’s a letter written to an Oklahoma news station this morning – in response to a short story they did on police pursuits. I think it pretty much covers my story:

        http://www.newson6.com/story/33441157/police-pursuits-pose-complex-dilemma-for-law-enforcement
        Thanks for your 10/20/2016 summary of the challenges facing law enforcement with police chases. It is, indeed, a complex issue.

        I have a slightly different perspective. My son, Paul (www.PaulFarris.org) was killed in a police pursuit started as the result of an illegal u-turn (a misdemeanor traffic violation). Paul was an innocent victim. So was the taxi driver who was killed. So was Paul’s girlfriend Kate, who suffered life-threatening injuries which still challenge her today, nearly ten years later. So was the pregnant passenger in the fleeing driver’s vehicle. And so were hundreds of us, family and friends of the victims, impacted by these deaths and injuries.

        Since Paul’s death I have dedicated much of my life researching police pursuits. The majority create extreme danger for everyday citizens and law enforcement officers and can be reduced significantly through more restrictive pursuit policies and more proactive police investigative actions. Additionally, and often not talked about, there is pursuit reduction technology that is not being utilized nearly enough.

        In 2015, after many years working with a non-profit, I established Pursuit For Change, an organization focused on policy, legislation, technology and officer training to reduce unnecessary police chases and save innocent citizen and police officer lives. I work with media to share information and get this important message out. Most of your viewers do not have the slightest clue how huge an issue police chases actually are. Even advertisers view it jokingly (e.g. Toyota Prius ads which I helped to get removed). Situations like these demean law enforcement and send the wrong messages to the public.

        I work with law enforcement directly, to teach them about the dangers of pursuits, about options to reduce them, and to put a real face to what happens when a chase goes wrong. My goal is not to blame police or ban all chases, but to reduce and eliminate the unnecessary ones, especially understanding that ALMOST HALF (40%) of all vehicular police pursuits end in a collision.

        I am continuing to work with legislators in Washington DC to ensure that law enforcement has the funding necessary to acquire pursuit reduction technology. It is also imperative to gain a greater knowledge regarding exactly how many pursuits that there are every years, and as a result we are working to mandate the collection of this data. And finally, I continue to work for changes in pursuit polices that will significantly limit the number of non-violent felony chases while still allowing pursuits of those most dangerous violent felons when no other options are available.

        I’m a normal dad who is forced to re-live my son’s death every day when I read about yet another police pursuit, of which there are thousands every year. Without the changes outlined above, rest assured that some random and unlucky Oklahoma resident will die simply because they ended up in the middle of a police pursuit.

        Please visit http://www.PursuitForChange.org to learn more.

        Very kindest regards,

        Jon

        The hardest thing for me, Kelly, is maintaining the energy necessary to finish this task. It’s hard, but I know that Paul would want me top keep working, so I do, tears and all. Peace.

      • GrievingDads says:

        Jonathan. You are doing great great work in honor of your son. I was just watching the Chicago news a couple of nights ago and there was a story of a police chase that didn’t go well for the driver of the cars and a couple of the officers. Not sure why they think its a great idea to pursue people through highly dense neighbors around the City at a high rate of speed. Common sense tells me that it isn’t going to end well. Get them next time, not worth putting the publics life in danger.

        Keep up the great work. I know your son is proud of his dad.

        Peace.

        Kelly

      • Thanks Kelly. We can only do what we’re able to. We are each lucky to have the drive and an outlet to focus our energy on. Your work with Grieving Dads, by and through your book, is truly awesome. Katie and Noah are indeed proud of you, too!

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