Thursday, September 25, 2008

Everytime a Bell Rings . . .

Our angel got his wings this morning at 7:45 a.m. The end was peaceful and so quick that it was unexpected. It appears that his surge of energy on Monday was a final "Hurrah" before another rapid decline. He spent Tuesday and Wednesday knocked-out on Atavan and pain medication in response to a lot of pain he was having in his left ankle (of all places?). He never really awoke and slipped away peacefully in his sleep. I stayed with him until his warmth left him and until he became stiff. Even in death the human body is amazing. I was so glad the kids and I were able to be with him and to say our final goodbyes. The kids have been incredibly resilient and I am so grateful to have such competent, caring, people around them right now who know exactly how to handle the situation and who aren't afraid to be part of all of this.

I'm sorry if you have not received a personal phone call regarding the news. I am preoccupied making arrangements. Jeff drafted a final blog before he died and he asked that I post it upon his death.

So, here are his parting thoughts and words.

(P.S. I, Kelly, will continue to post here to let everyone know about funeral arrangements, etc. and will also use this blog to communicate about the aftermath of Jeff's death--about how I and the kids are doing etc. So, I hope you'll keep reading).


Hi! The fact that you are reading this means I have died. I asked Kelly to post this after my death. She did not read it beforehand so its content is as fresh to her and the kids as it is to you. I weighed carefully whether I wanted to post a final blog like this. On one hand, a “letter from the dead” seems a bit morbid. But ultimately I decided that I wanted to share some thoughts that provided comfort to me in the end. I hope that they give you some insight into how I viewed my battle with melanoma and my approaching death.

Where’s The Justice?
Before this happened, I had never questioned why things happened. To me, the answer seemed clear: they happened because there were causes. A tsunami wipes out a village because an earthquake shakes the ocean floor. A plane filled with business travelers crashes into an office tower because a mob of cowardly terrorists chose that flight for their suicide mission. The innocent bystanders don’t deserve to die, and certainly they (and their friends and relatives) deserve great compassion for the circumstances in which they find themselves. But God didn’t make those things happen. People or nature did.

Then this happened to me.

And of course I questioned why it happened, looked for justice in the situation. I felt like I had led a healthy life, had made wise and careful decisions about how I conducted myself, had done plenty of praying, and was an asset to my community. So why would I get stuck with a diagnosis like this? When there were so many people who had abused themselves in one way or other, who had made bad and dangerous decisions, who ignored God completely, and who were not assets to their communities—and yet these people were living to ripe old ages—why was I the one who had to face the prospect of an early death? If God was a God of justice, where was the justice in this?

And then, as I pondered the situation for the umpteenth time, it dawned on me that this was justice. The facts are that I have fair skin and I was sunburned many times as a kid. One time, when I was 19, the burn was so bad I ended up with painful blisters on my face, shoulders, arms, legs, and feet. And I remember the exact thought that struck me as I looked at myself in the mirror and realized the extent of that particular sunburn: “I probably just killed myself with skin cancer.” It was obviouds then; I know now as I knew then that I have this cancer because of my own actions. I may be blameless for those actions, at least to the extent that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t use sunscreen in those days; few people did. But the outcome could not be called unjust. It was simply the inevitable consequence of my actions.

I spent a lot of time begging God for healing during those first several months after my diagnosis. I prayed almost constantly that he would perform a miracle and rid my body of the melanoma. I also spent a lot of time wondering—for the first time in my life—whether there really was a God, whether there really was an afterlife, and whether there was any value to prayer. I hadn’t given much thought to these subjects in the past, but they suddenly seemed very important now that I faced the possibility of dying. The lessons I learned in religion class looked quite feeble when I viewed them next to the apparently iron-clad proofs that scientists and atheists made for a wholly material world.

They looked feebler still after the melanoma metastasized to my brain and I underwent brain surgery, lost the use of my leg, and spent a month laying in a bed in the hospital. This rather dramatic sequence of events might have seemed to be an emphatic answer to my questions. See, these might say, this is what will happen. Not because of God but because there is no God. The universe began with a disinterested bang, and it’s been operating in a disinterested cause-and-effect ever since. Prayers are irrelevant.

It would have been difficult for me to dispute this argument, except for a strange event that happened six days before my craniotomy. It was a Monday afternoon, and I had jogged three laps around the Hart Park track in Wauwatosa. Those were the first three laps I had run on a track since high school. I had given up running for more than 15 years because it wasn’t fun for me anymore. But that particular Monday, as I walked past the track, the thought struck me that it might be fun to run again. And it was. Seeing once again the lane markings, feeling the spongy recycled-tire surface under my feet, striding past the grandstands, it all made me remember why I had enjoyed running as a boy and motivated me to want to do it again. Moreover, it renewed my desire to beat this cancer. The fact that I couldn’t extend my left leg when I got home seemed irrelevant.

It wasn’t. That was actually the first symptom of a swelling brain tumor. The following Saturday morning, I underwent a craniotomy.

During the following weeks, it became increasingly more apparent that the surgery had left me with a permanent disability and I would never run again. Surprisingly, I was not particularly angry about this new development. I was grateful that the doctor had been able to remove the lesion. I was grateful that I was close to home and could have lots of visitors. And I was grateful because I had run those laps around the track. Some people might call it a coincidence. From my perspective, however, it was as if God had given me the opportunity to run—and I had chosen to take advantage of the opportunity through my free will—because He knew I would never have that opportunity again.

I began to think of some of the other “opportunities” that had presented themselves in the past year. I had pulled my bike out of the shed for the first time in seven years and taken several rides with each of the kids. Coincidence or opportunity? In the days immediately prior to my diagnosis, I had completed the last task in our home renovation. Coincidence or opportunity? We had taken our first big family vacation the summer before my diagnosis, and the Christmas that preceded my diagnosis—by a mere eight days!—was undoubtedly the best Christmas we had celebrated as a family. Even if I had gone into complete remission, we couldn’t have had another vacation or Christmas like those, so carefree and hopeful with no worries about the future. Coincidence or opportunity?

And then there was Finn. Kelly and I were not expecting to have any more children. Jack was five years old, and we were starting to get comfortable with the notion that God had given us all the children we were meant to have. Then Kelly found out she was pregnant. It took us by surprise, and we wondered to ourselves why God would give us this baby at this time. The timing seemed even worse after my diagnosis. But then Finn was born, and God’s answer was clear. If ever a family needed something to celebrate it was us at that time. Here was a special person that we could love and, equally importantly, who could love us at a time when we needed it most. Coincidence or opportunity?

I am an objective person by nature. I think logically and believe firmly in rational thought. I considered all of these situations carefully and, while admitting that some of them might be coincidences, cannot accept that so many seemingly random events would coincide in such a way by pure chance. Assuming there is a God—and I am convinced that there is for several reasons, not the least of which are Thomas Aquinas’ Five Proofs—and assuming that He interacts with His creation, then these kind of “opportunities” seem to me like the most probable way He would do so. These opportunities respect the gift of free will and provide comfort without interfering with the forces of nature. Miracles, by their very nature, are not common. And I really do not think we would want them to be any other way.

For some reason, my recognition of these “opportunities” seemed to quell any doubts I had about prayer, Heaven, and God. I think this feeling of acceptance—you might call it Faith—is probably also an answer to a prayer.

You Have To Die
But enough philosophizing. The real issue, at least in many people’s minds (including my own), was whether the treatments would work or not. In other words, was I going to live or die?

As you might expect, I have found that contemplating my own death has been both sad and worrisome. Questions arise that have no answers: Who will give away my daughters at their weddings? Who will take my sons to their first Notre Dame games? Who will comfort Kelly when she is feeling lonely or overwhelmed? Will Kelly be able to make it as a single working mom? Will the kids have problems coping without their father? Most of these questions, I decided, are not worth worrying about. Anything can happen in life, and I don’t know what the future holds for my family. What I do know is that Kelly is an amazingly strong woman and my children are incredibly resilient human beings. They will handle whatever comes along the same way they always have: with hope and with courage and with prayer.

One question, however, I could not dismiss so easily: what is the purpose of all this? It seemed like there should be a moral to the story, but I could not find one. I don’t see how it benefits my wife and kids in any way to be stripped of their husband and father at such a young age. I don’t think my disease and death have advanced the scientific understanding of melanoma. I considered so many reasons why my death would have a purpose, but ultimately none of them satisfied me. Of course, you often find answers where you least expect them.

Last summer, Kelly and I rented “Stranger Than Fiction.” I had looked forward to seeing this movie ever since my friend Marc Schulte had recommended it during his visit to see me in Houston. I had expected to enjoy the film, in no small part because of Marc’s recommendation. But I had not expected it to speak so directly to my situation. The movie, which stars Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson, involves a man named Harold (Ferrell) who begins to hear a voice in his head. He soon discovers that this voice is actually the voice of an author (Thompson) who has a reputation for killing off her main characters. Afraid that his end is near, Harold asks a college literature professor (Hoffman) to persuade the author to let his character live. The professor succeeds in talking to the author and getting a copy of the work in progress. He then—in what to me was the most important scene in the film—meets with Harold to discuss the situation. Here’s how it goes:

Professor Hilbert stands near a window, looking out at the street below.
Harold enters the room.

Professor Hilbert?

Professor Hilbert
Hi Harold.


Professor Hilbert
You look tired.

No. No, just calm.

Professor Hilbert
Harold, I’m sorry. You have to die.


Professor Hilbert
It’s her masterpiece. It’s possibly the most important novel in her already stunning career, and it’s absolutely no good unless you die at the end. I’ve been over it again and again, and I know, I know how hard this is for you to hear.

You’re asking me to knowingly face my death?

Professor Hilbert


Professor Hilbert

I thought you’d, I thought you’d find something.

Professor Hilbert
I’m sorry Harold.

Can’t we just try to see if she can change it?

Professor Hilbert


Professor Hilbert
Harold, in the grand scheme it wouldn’t matter.

Yes it would.

Professor Hilbert

I could change. I could quit my job. I could go away with Anna. I could be someone else.

Professor Hilbert
Harold, listen to me.

I can’t die right now. It’s just really bad timing.

Professor Hilbert
No one wants to die, Harold, but unfortunately we do. Harold. Harold, listen to me. Harold, you will die, some day, some time. Heart failure at the bank. Choke on a mint. Some long, drawn-out disease you contracted on vacation. You will die. You will absolutely die. Even if you avoid this death, another will find you. And I guarantee that it won’t be nearly as poetic or meaningful as what she’s written. I’m sorry, but it’s, it’s the nature of all tragedies, Harold. The hero dies, but the story lives on forever.

This scene seemed to sum up so much of how I felt about my experience with melanoma and at the same time it provided great comfort. Like Harold, I was sad about what was happening; I didn’t want to die. But, as Professor Hilbert explains, each of us has a story. And each story has a particular way it is meant to end. We may not understand the why, but at some point to some one it all makes beautiful sense.

Prayers Answered.
So this is my story. And I’ve been privileged to have so many of you as a part of it. I am so grateful, not just in what you have done for me since I received my diagnosis but—far more importantly to me—in what you have done and continue to do for Kelly and the kids. I have been blessed to be surrounded by friends, relatives, and neighbors who genuinely care about my family and have proven they will do whatever they can to see that my children thrive and Kelly has the support she needs.

It is my fervent belief that, in spite of my death, prayers have been answered. The answers may have come in a way—or at a time—we didn’t expect, but sure enough they came. And they will continue to come. So keep praying for me and for each other. I’ll be praying for all of you.



Mary Louise said...

Dear Kelly, Aubrey Kate, Regan, Jack, and Finn; and Gary & Mary, Pat & Tracy, Mary Margaret & Bryan, Michael & Victoria, Michelle & Jeff…

With deep sorrow, much love, and many prayers,

My heart is with you.
Mary Louise

Peggy Wilkins said...

Thankyou Jeff and Kelly.
With tears and gratitude - Peggy Wilkins

Scott said...

Sorry just doesn't seem to be enough, but then again, what words are appropriate. My family's prayers are with you and the family.

Scott and the Sonnheim family

Ann R said...

My thought's and prayer's are with you all. I can not imagine your grief at this time and there are no words. I just hope you can find some peace knowing how much I enjoyed Jeff and his strength through a very hard fight. His words of wisdom will be with me forever.
The thought of Jeff being a angel seems to make me smile through the tears.

Deepest Sorrow and prayer's,
Ann Reins

Katie Clancy said...

Deepest sympathy and warm thoughts of all of you at this sad time. Jeff is an amazing inspiration to all of us, and leave it to him to reach out to all of us even after he is gone. The entire Dodd squad is a strong pack, and we love each of you. We will be there for the final services. Much love, prayers, kisses, hugs... Katie & Ed

SandyS said...

Today proved again that Jeff is a great writer. I never liked the end of the story where it just says "The End". I always want to know what happens after the end, becuse to me an ending is just a new begining. I much prefer the ending "and they lived happily ever after." because then you know how everything works out.
Kelly,I know today it doesn't feel like it but later you can have my prefered ending of "and they lived happily ever after" Aunt Sandy

katie.elsener said...

Dear Dodds,
I am so proud of Jeff. I was Jeff's comp teacher and told him he was an amazing writer. One day Mary thanked me because I was the only teacher to tell him that. He certainly has proved in this blog that writing was like breathing for him Jeff was an amazing young man and he will be greatly missed. Our prayers are with you all.

JameyR said...

Dear Kelly & Kids,

With deepest sorrow and many, many thoughts and prayers.

Jamey Rappis
ND Class of 1990

Anonymous said...
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mphaley said...

Thank you so much for sharing your lives with us through this blog. What an amazing example you've given us about how we struggle with our own humanity but end up finding divinity through it all. May God continue to bless you and your family as you struggle with this difficult time.

In prayer,

Mike & Laura Haley
Pius X Class of '91

CathyBB said...

Isn't it just like Jeff to have thought of everyone else and prepared this blog!

Kelly, I remember you wrote when Jeff had his brain surgery, the medical staff had said that the procedure showed patients at their most "real" states, and of course they learned that Jeff was inherently the kindest patient they'd ever had. (That's the way I recall your story, anyway!) I remember smiling when I read that and thinking yes, that is Jeff Dodd to the core! He proved it again with this blog. What an honor to have known him.

Thank you for sharing this journey with so many people. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I promise I will continue to pray for all of you.

Sean Stevens said...

Our prayers continue to be with Jeff as he meets our Heavenly Father and with you, Kelly, and your family. Please let us know if we can help in any way.

Sean and Heather

Barb Kickhaefer said...

SERENDIPITY. I agree with Jeff that is one of the most fun and joyful words in the English language. On March 4th he posted that he often found himself wanting to use that word but refraining - to make sure the circumstances truly suited its semantic glory. I hope early this morning was one of those "serendipitous moments" he wrote about. Every time I hear or read that word I'll think of Jeff.

You are all in our prayers,
Ken & Barb

Kerry (Hanigan) Benes said...

Dear Kelly, Aubrey, Reagan, Jack, and Finn,
May God bless and bring you comfort in this difficult time. Jeff has certainly earned the reward of the good and faithful servant. I'm glad his has found his peace and left his pain. Our prayers are with all of you today and always. God bless!
Kerry (Hanigan) Benes and family

Kara Smith said...

Much love to all of you. Thank you, thank you so much for sharing your lives with all of us. Sending up prayer after prayer for your comfort.

Jim said...

Dear Dodd Family:

We are so sorry for your loss. May Notre Dame, our Mother, comfort all of you as she welcomes Jeff to heaven.

Our deepest sympathies,
The Carrig Family

Andi said...

Kelly and family...

You don't know me. Jeff and I went to high school together. I haven't seen him, obviously, since our 15th reunion. I remember Jeff as being a kind, gentle, caring person, nice to everyone in our class. I am so sorry for your loss. He will be very missed. Pius X Class of 91 will never be the same.

Andi Wernke

hootiemac said...

Kelly and family,

Our hearts and prayers are with you.

Scott, Lindsay, and Lauren Hudson

TheRamFam said...

Kelly & Family,
I can't come up with the words to describe my feelings right now, but please know that you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Also, I would like to share this poem, author unknown, that gives me comfort in times of sorrow...

I’m Free

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free…
I’m following the path, God laid for me…
I took His hand, when I heard Him call,
I turned my back and left it all…

I could not stay another day to laugh,
To love, to work or play,
Tasks left undone, must stay that way…
I found the peace, at the close of day…

If my parting, has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy…
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Oh yes, these things I too will miss…

Be not burdened, with times of sorrow,
I wish you…the sunshine of tomorrow…
My life has been full, I savored much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch…

Perhaps my time, seemed all too brief,
Don’t lengthen it now, with undo grief…
Lift your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now
Because He set me free

Tom and Carmela said...

As I might have said before, I don't recall ever meeting Jeff as a member of the ND Club of Milwaukee, though I might have at one time and simply forgotten.

He has done a great thing in sharing a last entry with us, one of those "In case of death open this letter" deals. Thank you for sharing it with us. He obviously believes in life after this life on earth and he is to be commended for looking forward.

Yet, though we will all die and though we know that if we are in the state of grace, we pass onto purgatory or go directly to heaven, it is still never easy to say goodbye.

We have supernatural hope and console ourselves that one day, we will see our loved ones and will never have to leave them.

Kelly, I don't believe my wife or I have met you, but you and the children will be on our prayers.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Tom Kustner
Class of '83

Bryan said...

Kelly and all the Dodd family,

You are in our thoughts and prayers.

With heartfelt sympathy,
Bryan and the Nollett family

Monica said...

As other people have said, saying I'm sorry just don't seem to be enough. I have prayed long and hard for Jeff's earthly healing, but as of this morning he was officially healed, just not how so many people wanted.

ksu_rock said...

Godspeed, Jeff. We love you and miss you already. The angels and saints must have welcomed you with open arms, and escorted you to a special place reserved for His own.

Kelly and children, stay strong, but don't be afraid to break down and cry - that is when you are closest to Jeff and our Father in Heaven. We love you all and support you.

With loving arms and (tearful) prayers,
JJ, Anna, Evan, Ethan & ? ...

maxi said...

I will be praying for you and your family, and know that Jeff is still watching over you and your children, sitting at God's right hand. God bless you always, Maxi

Rod & Joyce & Family said...

Please know that our loving thoughts and prayers are with you all, Kelly, Aubrey, Regan, Jack, Finn, Mary, Gary, Patrick & Tracy, Mary Margaret & Bryan, Michael & Victoria, Michelle & Jeff. What a strong and wonderful family you are! God bless each one of you!

Warm hugs from the Dolton family

Jon "Gunner" G said...

My Heart and Prayers are with you and your family Kelly,

I had never had the chance to meet Jeff.

But after this reading I now see how he has touched so many lives even if the ones he has touched know it or not.

He has just touched my heart and will continue to touch others each day.

Much Luv and Prayers Kelly.

Zoy said...

Rhonda and I offer our sincerest condolences to the entire Dodd family.

I feel privledged to have been able to follow along with Jeff's daily activities. Jeff and the entire Dodd family are pure inspiration.

Rhonda (she's a singer) visited Jeff (and Kelly) a few times at the hospital, the most recent 2 weeks ago or so.

I've checked your blog quite often, most recently tuesday and was so happy to see that Jeff had a 'burst' of energy (and still am happy):)

This morning, I was listening to a Savatage song (I'm a metal guy), called "Believe" (it's a beautiful song if you have never heard it) and I thought I'd check to see how the Dodd family was soon as I opened a new webpage to this site and saw "Everytime a bell rings" I knew....Hearing "Believe" play in the background as I opened and read this blog, my heart warmed and I smiled knowing HOW GREAT a family the Dodd's are (even though I've never met you personally).

I then got up and gave my son, Keaton (he turns 7 today) an extra big hug.

With much love...

The Begos Family (Zoy, Rhonda and Keaton)

Amy Kutilek said...

Kelly, Aubrey, Regan, Jack and Finn,

Our prayers will continue. Jeff has made a positive impact on many many people and his reward will be great. We are all blessed to have known him.

With much love and sympathy,

Amy Kutilek

Fedora said...

Hi Kelly; Hello Jeff's kids:
I don't know you all personally. Jeff's blog was sent to me through a friend of yours. Jeff's writings did for me only what a story like his can- stopped me in my tracks to thank God for my life that I rarely, truly appreciate. When I think of your husband Jeff, a person I've never met, I promise I'll complain less. Qu: How did I turn your tradgedy about me? I have shamefully refered to myself more times than I dare to count. If you think about it, that's the beauty of Jeff's story: One can't read it without self reflection. I want to be a better person just from hearing about Jeff and his family. You can't buy that kind of change. Although Jeff is with the Lord, his story is working on his behalf.

May the Lord bless and keep this family,
Fedora Harris

Rhonda Begos said...

I am so sorry to hear about Jeff's passing. I took his message and emailed it to everyone of my friends. He is proof that no one's life ever really ends when they leave a lasting legacy for everyone to follow. What a wonderful man, and father and friend for you to have.

Please, please, please let Zoy and I know if you need anything at all. If you need someone to sing at the funeral, I AM HERE, absolutely, positively. Anything.

I looked at my son this morning and hugged him so tight, and my husband and I spent an extra 10 minutes telling each other how much we loved one another. Things we take for granted, that Jeff did not. And it's because of his words that I will continue to do that.

With deepest sorrow, sympathy and with joy that heaven will now be a lot more fun when I get there....
Zoy, Rhonda and Keaton Begos

Gould said...

I don't have the words to express the sorrow we feel for you family.

Jeff's words in his final post are remarkable. They will stay with me a very long time. Think of the asset he will continue to be in his new community of heaven!

What a great man!

Marc S said...

Dear Kelly, Aubrey, Regan, Jack and Finn ...

May you find strength in one another and in your faith during these sorrowful times.

Jeff mentioned in his last message that "The hero dies, but the story lives on forever." Jeff was a hero - for you, for me, and for many many others. His story will live on through you and in everyone's hearts.

Many Prayers,

... Marc Schulte

Peter Kazaks said...

Dear Dodd Squad:

I am so sorry for your loss. You are all on my mind.


Mark L. said...

In my 35 years, I have not met a finer person than Jeff. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, and will continue. I have several fond memories of times Jeff and I shared, and I look forward to the day we can reminisce together in God's heavenly kingdom.

With deepest sympathy,
The LeRiger Family

gardiner said...

We are so sad and wish you strength and peace Kelly, Aubrey, Regan, Jack and Finn. Jeff's final blog was truly amazing.
Our love, Meaghen & Brendan

Gretchen Viney said...

For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 38-39

"On the sand, I have abandoned my small boat; Now with you, I will seek other seas."

With sighs too deep for words, I am thinking of you all.

Gretchen V.

Cathy said...

Dear Kelly, Aubrey, Kate, Regan, Jack and Finn -

My deepest sympathies and heartfelt sorrow go out to you. Tonight, I will light my ND Grotto candle at home and say a prayer for Jeff, all of you, and the extended family. Jeff was a wonderful person, and your memories of him will give you comfort.

Cathy Connors

Anonymous said...

Kelly and kids:

I am so sorry for your tremendous loss. Jeff was such a great person and role model for all that knew him. I always admired him in high school for all his talents!

My thoughts, prayers and tears are with you and your family.

Nikki (Lopez) Schaecher

Deirdre said...

Thoughts and prayers are with you Kelley and family. Jeff will be missed, but the wonderful memories of him will sustain us all......

Prayers,Sympathy and love


emily benes said...

Dear Dodd kids,
I'm sorry that you had to lose your dad. I'm keeping you in my prayers. God bless.
Emily Benes
(daughter of Kerry Benes)

Becca (Toof) Allen said...

Dear Dodd Squad (how precious!) ...
I worked with Jeff years ago at Sandhills Publishing/Peed Corporation in Lincoln, NE. What a dear, sweet guy he was! I am saddened to hear of this loss and my heart, thoughts & prayers are with his beautiful family. But I am also so refreshed by Jeff's last words. Amazing, amazing, amazing! God bless all of you!

SaraOF said...

Dear Kelly and Kids and Dodd Family,

Jeff has touched the hearts of so many people...even those he never met. He is amazing. That he said he will be praying for us is, well, beyond words. Kelly, thank you for continuing to write in the blog. We will be praying especially for you and the kids. God bless.

Sara (Odgaard) Fritsch, Pius '91

Christopher A said...

Through the blog, Jeff's struggle and your faith has influenced more than just those who knew him.

Requiescant in Pace, fearless leader.

Barbara said...

Dear Kelly,
It is truly a blessing and a gift to you and to your family, friends, loved ones and acquaintances, (even to ME who stumbled upon this blog tonight) to have Jeff's thoughts and contemplations about life and death in this final post. I am deeply moved. I was also widowed in Dec. 2008 and have two children, now 4 and 5, and I am now 36. Thank you for sharing so much in this blog even in the year following Jeff's death.

Does the mourning really feel done?

I'm still stumbling in darkness...


A Family Friend said...


I am a long time friend of the Dodd family in Lincoln as I grew up with Mary, Michael, and Michelle. I remember Jeff and his dedication to life, family, and God. I read Jeff's final blog at least once a month if not more often. It keeps me focused on the important things in my life, as there are many of times that I use to find myself burying myself in work or projects that needed to be done.

I want you to know, that Jeff's final words have change my outlook on life. I have become a better person because of knowing Jeff and reading his words. May God look over you and your family and let your lives prosper. And remember "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure 'tis like a morn in spring", so keep smiling as I know Jeff would want you to.

A Family Friend said...


I am a long time friend of the Dodd family in Lincoln as I grew up with Mary, Michael, and Michelle. I remember Jeff and his dedication to life, family, and God. I read Jeff's final blog at least once a month if not more often. It keeps me focused on the important things in my life, as there are many of times that I use to find myself burying myself in work or projects that needed to be done.

I want you to know, that Jeff's final words have change my outlook on life. I have become a better person because of knowing Jeff and reading his words. May God look over you and your family and let your lives prosper. And remember "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure 'tis like a morn in spring", so keep smiling as I know Jeff would want you to.