Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly

2005 -Fifth Year Tribute: Who, What, When, Where, How, Why – Kevin Drue Donnelly

http://www.oocities.org/hepvet/Kevin5thYrTrib.html

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

 

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly

November 14, 1958 – August 5, 2005

Fifth Year Tribute

By: Monette Benoit, Kevin=s Sister

Copyright 2005

“Who, What, When, Where, How, Why”

Part One

This picture was taken May 21, 1974 by our dad. When Kevin was in junior high, he loved to pole vault. He was a pole vaulter, a high jumper.

 

My youngest brother, Kevin, competed in high school and practiced in our ‘side-yard’ without any matt or mattress to break his fall, preparing for competitions. Kevin would lift his pole, steady himself. He would focus, begin to run. He would hunker low, preparing to launch.

 

This picture was taken April 5, 1974 by our dad.

 

Then Kevin Drue Donnelly would plant that pole into the spot he needed to carry him into the air to soar, above the raised bar. As Kevin flew over the elevated ‘bar’ Kevin continued to ‘raise higher with each success’, he advanced his skills, and often he faced the sky. I remember, moments frozen in my mind, how he would smile as he ‘flew’ – moments before he landed, sometimes crashing.

I remember the brother that would then jump high into air, arms elevated to the sky. My brother would grab that ‘pole’, tucking it under his right armpit. Then Kevin, nicknamed ‘Rambo’ by a childhood friend, would sprint back to the spot where he began – focusing to run, to jump, to ‘soar’ again. When people speak or write about my brother, this is part of the loving memory in my heart: A younger brother eager to improve his skills, eager to soar past his limits, smiling, jumping into the air.

 

 

My parents took this picture of all of their children on mom’s piano bench in our small living room. My mom tucked Kevin, in bright red socks, under my right arm, to support Kevin. I remember posing for that picture, and Kevin was so small, he would fall over, unsupported. That’s the kind of relationship siblings have. One supports the other, when they can. When they can. And when they can not, they watch from the sidelines waiting for each other. I remember a brother eager to push himself. This tenacity would greatly serve Kevin – and many others as Kevin’s life charted new courses.

“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity.” Louis Pasteur

Some of us stood on the sidelines cheering Kevin. I remember holding buckets of ice for his bruises. My mom insisted. I don’t remember Kevin ever taking the ice, bruised or bleeding. Those of us on the sidelines cheering and watching, later experienced wonderful moments when we stood side-by-side with Kevin. Some of us have awful moments, and some of us, those included here, have moments that altered our world, perhaps the history of a virus and how if affects a veterans, each person, each family, each country.

Oh, this is so much bigger than Kevin. Yet his plight, his path must be remembered. You don’t’ want ‘on’ this path. Knowledge and understanding, conversations and sharing will easily prevent this path. Veterans and loving families, friends can prevent this record of Kevin’s history.

If you think you do not know anyone with Hepatitis C, you are wrong. You do. Perhaps the people around you do not know they have Hep C. I did not know my youngest brother had Hep C from military jet injectors for vaccines. His altered medical records reflect the truth. After Kevin’s death, right before Christmas, I did not know my father would be diagnosed with Hepatitis C, from blood transfusions.

Perhaps people around you do know they are diagnosed and are living with the stigma and don’t share. You will be touched by this virus. You will know. It is ‘how’ we deal with the course of events within our lifetime and with the veterans and mutations of this virus that will affect future moments, future events.

The number of people who want to see this ‘true’ story produced into a movie continues to grow. It is a ground-swelling within the trench. I remain startled, stunned and sometimes experience ‘quick’ twinges in my stomach when people contact me. The ground-swelling of men, women, teens, who want this story told, continues to escalate. And, yes, I am being contacted by producers, people are talking. They want to talk. They need to talk.

We have a virus that has numbers from the CDC, Center Disease Control that are over 10 years old. Most highly placed Hepatologists put that number over five million people infected – five million. I understand that currently AIDS has numbers under one million. The five-million number does not include military, veterans, those with no health insurance or prison stats, which the CDC will not include. Their internal numbers are staggering.

“Will you be there for me? Thinking of me every day. Are you my destiny once I dare to say, will you be there for me? Just think of you and me, we could never tow the line. It’s such a mystery.” Sarah Brighton, ‘There for Me’

Where is the accurate, detailed information? Where are the facts? How did a virus appear in 1942? Is it man-made? Facts and stats, numbers and truth do not lie, they do not mislead. They inform. They educate. They teach. Facts speak for themselves, silence is unacceptable. We can do better. We must do better. We owe it to our children’s children and to our veterans to prevent others from living our history.

“I get on my knees and pray that we don’t get fooled again. Meet the new boss, the name of the old boss.” Bruce Springsteen

When I read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s passage below, a chill ran down up my spine. I was reading late at night; the comparison to Kevin as he ‘was’ and where his memory is now, jumped out, touching me. In that moment, I committed to beginning the fifth tribute to Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, 11-14-58 to 8-5-00 with this pole vault comparison. Perhaps others will have a ‘breakthrough moment’ as they read this ‘fifth’ update. I share to plant seeds. The seed may not produce ‘light’ tonight, but you want to accept this invitation to listen.

You want to accept this invitation to helps others. The gardens vary, some paths are winding; some are dead-straight. I share to plant seeds. Perhaps you want to go back and read earlier accounts where I opened the Kimono within my heart. Vegas odds could never have predicted I would be here now with facts prior to Kevin’s death, inaccuracies after Kevin’s death, honor and dishonor – then the ‘double’ Muhammad Ali blow to the stomach, the diagnosis of my dad.

As millions before me, I was leading a ‘simple’ life before this virus reached out and tapped my shoulder. Though it knocked my brother straight between the eyes, 12/23/97, it tapped my shoulder. The tapping changed and mutated as his illness and personal life began to immediately go sour. Facts, folks. Strange things began to happen in our world. Odd events began to be recorded in our world. My simple world changed with ‘clicks’, often one by one. Then it darkened to a black chapter the evening of 8-5-00. Kevin asked me to listen “if I could,” to document “if I could.”

I did listen, I did document — never knowing I’d stand before so many, head down, shoulders back, bottom lip quivering, working to bring honor back to my brother’s world, working to bring truth back to my parents’ world. I share as Kevin is not here ‘now’ to lead by example. If he were, he’d be seated at his computer, cigarette lit, resting in his ashtray, to the right of his computer keyboard. A TV with current news would be running in the background; Kevin probably would have music playing, too. Music often propelled him to move forward all his life. Kevin whistled complete tunes to the radio. Sometimes he’d jump up with a quick dance, twirling, wiggling. Then he’d take a deep breath, sit back at his computer, head down, he’d go back to work.

If Kevin were here, Kevin would be working, helping others, initiating new ideas, challenging people to work together, focusing on pundits, politicians, critics who criticize behind ‘walled walls’. Kevin would be challenging and working with the medical community. Kevin believed each, above, was responsible for where we are today.

Kevin’s book, “The Panama Story,” free on the Internet at “Panama Story” was written one chapter a night. Read it, folks. Accept my invitation. It is based on history, documented facts from the Freedom Information Act. Kevin tied it in with a fast-paced novel to assist people to learn where we are, based on where we were, to learn what we must do, to prevent where we are going. It’s not a riddle; it’s not complicated. Hepatitis C is a diagnosis that can shake your world if you or someone you know has Hep C. It can also shake your world if someone near you has the disease and has not been diagnosed. I wonder which is more fearful? I know, from experience, both are not to be taken lightly. I begin my fifth tribute to Kevin, my head bowed, a hat in my hand, ready to be tossed over the wall.

Irish history records fact that each man used to have one hat, a source of ‘huge’ pride. After the British built high walls in Ireland to prevent communication within the communities, Irish men would go to the wall, hat in hand. And if they had a point to make, they would take their hat, throw it over the high wall. If your hat is tossed over the wall you have to go get it. You have to climb that wall. In the only eulogy that Kevin, a veteran, had two years and nine months after his death, I began his eulogy with the Irish hat being tossed overhand by Kevin. Come listen for a moment. I want to share with you wonderful facts and the truth about Kevin Drue Donnelly five years after his death. The message continues. The message is expressed with compassion. Others accepted Kevin’s invitation and others now lead. The veterans march on, the road is paved. Kevin and others, before him, are honored with the work we give of ourselves now.

“As a high school student I was a high jumper on a track team. … I used to set the bar on the stands, take a position thirty to fifty feet back, sprint fast toward the bar, and get down as low as possible to generate the added energy to propel my entire body over the bar. By getting down low I could ascend higher. Grief, when it is only an inner experience of sadness and sorrow, will keep you down in the … the plunge itself. It will immobilize you … But when you know that this despair has within it some sweet blessing, you disrupt the grief/sorrow partnership, and the fall helps you regain your footing and soar above the devastating potholes of life on earth. Allow what is there to be there, at the same time that you allow the possibility of different behavior. When you know that all falls are blessings and all losses are in divine order, you will gradually sweeten the sorrow and you will gain the energy to soar to a higher altitude in all areas of your life.” Dr Wayne W. Dyer “Wisdom of the Ages”

Emails, phone calls, the kindness of strangers assisted me to stay on the track, to learn how to hunker in when new facts or inaccuracies are being created. learned how to run, leaning into the wind, viewing something just out of reach, ‘above’ my fingertips. When I look back now, I see an elevated pole, I see the mat below, where perhaps my landing has not, perhaps, been so smooth. I ‘had’ to accept Kevin’s invitation. I’ve document why; here I document who, what, when, where, how and why. I know the moments when I stood up, shook myself, learned to listen to my gut, continued to pray, and then consciously walked back to the exact dang spot, viewing the elevated pole, a distance away.

Emails sent to me, such as the ones shared between the sharing of ‘where people are now, five years later’ are what helped to strength me. humbly share with you, shoulders back. Learn from my path. Learn from Hepatitis C diagnosed within a family. Learn from the side effects of a disease that is not clearly understood, the side effects of treatments that are varied and often – downright cruel. Learn from the depression that is part of this disease. Learn so you never get close to my path or Kevin’s.

This email was received from a dear friend August 15, 2000:

“Oh, Monette, I’m so sorry. Really. I’m sad and can hardly be with the feelings that swept over me when I received your email. I’m sorry for your loss and the grief that you are dealing with now. I know your brother made a difference on the planet out of what you share with me about him.His willingness to keep having a conversation that many people wanted to ignore has made a difference with many people and also allowed Kevin to experience for himself a purpose being fulfilled. Brothers are special, and I know you’ll miss him. Yes, we’ll all pray and celebrate his life.”

I was chatting with Dr. Cecil, July 16, 2005, the person Kevin was seeking to assist August 4th, 2000. Kevin was working to help Dr. Cecil and a dedicated, important lady to open an online Q&A support group for prisoners, the night he was escorted by two sheriff’s from his residence, Dr. Cecil gave me permission to use his quote:

“Kevin was an activist, and he tried to help others; this was an important part of his last phase of his life. e used the Internet to reach people, and he was pretty sick with the disease toward the end. Kevin has helped many. Please include my comment below in your memorial for your late brother, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly. Good luck to your dad. Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly died five years ago (with) Hepatitis C cirrhosis. He contracted this infection from his military service, and I am honored to have known him the last few years of his life. We used to email each other weekly about HCV issues.

Captain Donnelly was very intelligent and used his computer skills to research medical information about HCV on the internet. He and LeighAnn Vogel developed a website Veterans Helping Veterans that was a repository of data concerning Hepatitis C. He tried to help veterans and other patients with Hepatitis C get the information and the care that they sought.

Treatment has advanced at the Louisville VAMC. We started in May 1998 with 734 identified HCV patients, none who have been treated. We have treated 317, and so far 99 have been cured of the HCV. The survival in cured patients is greatly superior to patients who failed treatment. Other VA medical centers are treating more patients, and I expect the trend will continue. About seven percent of all veterans are infected with HCV, and this group must be targeted and treated to prevent excess mortality. Captain Donnelly’s selfless advocacy and intellectual integrity are greatly missed by the HCV community. I am thankful that I was able to know him through the internet and to gain from his knowledge and compassion.” Ben Cecil, MD bdceci01@iglou.com

Kevin’s sister received this email from our dad after Kevin’s death, prior to his own diagnosis with Hep C:

“Last Sunday, on a beautiful afternoon, your mother and I took a ride into the desert. While we were admiring the scenery I said it was too bad that we had to go to the Northeast rather than the Northwest this summer. She quickly agreed that she did not want to go to Kevin’s grave. Just mentioning Kevin’s name causes her very grievous pain. We have tried to go to WA and OR for almost ten years. We’re both excited about going to places where we have never been or have visited a long time ago. I went to AAA and have already begun to plan our trip. Last summer was a real wake-up call. Two of my cousins died, my younger cousin Terry so sick, our good friend had a cancer relapse and me with the prostate problem. Have you mailed the diaries that Kevin had? Again, sorry I missed you today. Love, DAD XXX’s”

 

Kevin dated this picture in his handwriting 7/14/85.

 

Gathering this Fifth Tribute, I phoned Kevin’s closest friend since his diagnosis. Out of respect, I asked if he wanted to remain ‘anonymous’. Kevin’s friend paused and asked, “Are those people still in jail”? I responded, “The ones for the news source?” “Yes, those are the ones.” I replied, “Well, ah, yes.”

Then I softly teased, I’m beginning to feel like a combination of Woodward and Bernstein – ‘Wood-stein’, for the people who request to share this, but not that; people who request to share that, but not this; people request to share anonymously; people share with me completely, then request none of it is shared. And yes, folks, I do speak to people who let it ‘all’ out. I have been very clear from the moment I received the call direct from Kevin after his diagnosis at my dad’s hospital bedside, asking me to “listen, if I could; to document, if I could.”

I have been very clear from the moment I received the phone call from his stepdaughter telling me Kevin was dead, “and we all knew he was crazy, and there was a spare bullet on the dresser, and there could have been a triple homicide.” I have been very clear with my own parents; my dad in August 2000 was just recovering from advanced prostate cancer surgery, mom at his side, brothers gathered with their children for my dad, the same day we received the phone call that would forever change our world about Kevin’s death. I have been very clear with people I’ve listened to, spoken with, met … and even with those who have tapped me on the shoulder in public telling me “you don’t know what you’re up against.”

Perhaps not, but I was very clear with each, including my parents when they could not understand this sharing about their son: “I’ve lost the loss of all losses; I will listen, I will document. Others must never repeat this path; others must know why and how choices, decisions were made. Pointy little fingers are not being pointed here, not by me, Kevin’s sister. Facts are facts. Facts speak for themselves. What is ‘pointy’ are the inaccuracies, the ‘lies’ that attempted to become fact by people within Kevin’s residence and a small handful of people. I have been respectful, often head down, standing very still, praying for the right words, the correct choice. I must acknowledge this path is not where I chose.

I must acknowledge that had the respectful actions been taken by Kevin’s widow, Tina [Justine] Velochi Lomonte Donnelly, to please:

1. Return the research and email address book, my brother’s last wish, to the Hep C community.

2. Return the few items my parents requested, none of monetary value.

If number one and two had been respected, I would have turned my back on this path. I am here because neither were gifted, granted and in the process of sticking around to fulfill Kevin’s last wishes, I was ‘around’ to witness the inaccuracies as they appeared as facts. I am here because the inaccuracies ‘had’ to be changed. One does not permit ‘lies’ to rest when a brother ‘lies’ in a casket unable to defend himself. I wasn’t raised like that, though I was raised to be respectful. Facts now reveal a handful have not given Kevin’s own parents respect. And that handful is the reason I’ve stuck around listening, documenting. So there we have it. The truth.

Will you accept my invitation to share with others? Hep C can be a terrible disease when there is misunderstanding, lack of education. Bad choices are made, and as documented here, the bad choices are not isolated. Thus, am I still here. And as people request the movie, I’m still listening. I’m still documenting. My parents ‘get it’. My husband ‘gets it’. All members of the military, veterans and strangers ‘get it’.

Facts reflect that Kevin’s work, research, email address book, the items his parents requested were not returned — even after people within the Hep community offered to pay for the research with their funds. Due to my family’s pain and the fact they could not attend Kevin’s funeral due to dad’s cancer surgery, I flew alone to the funeral. I arranged to have the military flag over his casket, when none was requested. I negotiated with the funeral parlor to get the American flag for a Captain in the Army, after 22 years of service, in exchange for ‘no obituary’ with his widow, Justine Velocci Lomonte Donnelly. I stood and listened as people stood to ask me “why are you parents really not here?” Some people told me exactly where his brains were on the wall just 48 hours after I was informed of his death. I stood tall, stomach ill, and listened, listened. The facts are documented. When I discovered that the rank on Kevin’s tombstone was for Second Lieutenant, and not Captain, I sat on the floor, just as Kevin did one day, and began a ‘new’ search.

 

 

I removed the emotions from the event when Louise Velocci, Kevin’s mother-in-law spoke, negatively about my deceased baby brother, then abruptly ended the phone call with: “And don’t you call here no more.” I continued to gather facts, correct what I may and will continue to do so. I will share the conversations to help others. Will you? Five million plus people are infected. You do know someone.

The past five years have been traumatic and dramatic. I continue to seek ‘conversations’ listening to others, to prevent another family from ever knowing the symptoms for a disease that will change this world as we know it. It will. Thus far, since August 5th, 2000, I have shared what has happened in my world, in our world – reluctantly at first. I know few people that would ‘desire’ this path. This year, I prayed and listened. When the event occurred, listed below in a hotel restaurant, I decided the sharing this year would be from ‘within’. I would ask those who knew Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly during the final chapter of his life, to share the three answers. Each was asked:

1. Where are you now in your world with events concerning Hepatitis C?

2. What, if any, events do you think are related to Kevin’s work, research, Kevin’s choices?

3. Finally, what good and bad has happened to you, your family in the past five years?

 

I gathered information, compiled it. Throughout the update of where people are now five years later, I decided to include emails from my world that gave me the courage, the ‘guts’, the strength to follow my heart, to commit to this path. I don’t think I could have stood in this heat or the pain without the mentors, the conversations, the emails that gave me courage to move forward – even as inaccuracies continued to bubble from within Kevin’s residence and from the people who would not return Kevin’s research or few items Kevin’s parents requested.

This year, I had a second meeting with producers for a film on Kevin and his path, and also met with a new round of people committed to documenting this ‘with’ film. Kevin had shared with a few. He shared the black world he was living, and they, with strangers, continue to request a documentary, film to share the truth. Every single person, to date, that has crossed my path continues to tell me, to encourage me, to move forward, to never forget, to ‘not let go’.

And there have been personal sacrifices, as well. After being in the Hep C trenches since 12-28-97, my brother dying with Hep C, 8-5-00, my speaking at an International Hep C rally 5-23-03 delivering the only eulogy Kevin has received since his death – my dad was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, 12-16-03. Just as I typed the sentence above, my phone rang. My dad, in a grand voice, asked: “What are you doing”? I paused, then shared this project – silence – They still work to move forward without their youngest child.

 

Mom’s handwriting on the back of this picture is: Dad and I with our Cowboy hats on, San Antonio, Texas, 1/86.

 

My mother now has a husband of 52 years with the same diagnosis that her youngest child received. My mother still is unable to say Kevin’s name. For five years, she continues to whisper his name, often rubbing her hands together as her eyes instantly tear. My dad witnesses, purses his lips, looks down or away … and sometimes, silently, softly, slowly, shrugs his shoulders. We ‘all’ wait for mom to ‘come back.’ Words do not comfort her. Hugs do not comfort her. We’re waiting for time to comfort Kevin’s mother. Perhaps kindness after Kevin’s death would have helped. Perhaps the truth would have helped Kevin’s mother. We do know the inaccuracies have hurt my mom and my dad and the memory of a soldier who helped thousands and thousands of people in this trench. 

Five years after Kevin’s death, we still hurt from the lies, now corrected, though the scars remain. As mom and dad chatted about their day, mom ‘just’ shared, “Honey, I had a dream last night with Kevin.” “Excuse me?” I replied. “I had a dream last night about Kevin. It’s been a while, honey. He and his brother were doing something together and only one son came home. I kept looking for Kevin. I kept calling for Kevin. I kept wanting to know when he’s coming home since his brother came home, alone, without him. You know they were always together. Then, honey, I saw Kevin, at the age he was when he left. He was looking good; he was an attractive man. I looked at him, and asked Kevin when he’s coming home, and I heard Kevin say, ‘I’m dead, mom.’ Honey, I stopped looking for Kevin in my dream last night and went back to sleep.”

 

I had written on the back of this picture: Kevin’s house the day mom and dad picked me up from the airport, 3/82.

 

Mom then added, “I’ve said all my prayers for him and will continue to do so … and after a while God takes over. God is taking care of Kevin now. And I love you, honey.” Yes, folks, this path continues to take my breath, causing my heart to skip just one moment. I listened to my mom, then said, voice-cheery, “Good for you, mom. I’m proud of you.” Mom doesn’t see me lower my head or hear the sudden intake of breath. I’m there for my mom, my dad, just as I’m here still for Kevin and this path, this dang, Hep C path. After I finished speaking to my mom and my dad, I reluctantly walked back to this chair, to this computer, hit the ‘start’ button with on CD player, put my shoulders back, chin forward. Now I’m back in the trench for Kevin, again. Will you accept my invitation to plant seeds?

Kevin had a full life ‘pre’ his Hepatitis C diagnosis. As his world shifted, this ‘buddy stayed in the trench with Kevin, the truest of true friends, looking after a brother, a neighbor, veteran. When I contacted him to ask where he and his family are five years later, this is what we chatted about, what Kevin’s Buddy shared. I phoned, explained my quest, my reasons for wanting to include someone who was so enclosed within Kevin’s private world. He listened, without one word. I winced, hesitated and shared he could have the opportunity to be included, but I wanted to also give him the opportunity to decline. The ‘opportunity’ was the reason I ‘had’ to phone. Initially, we spoke softly, we listened to each other; cautiously we laughed together. Later, we roared with laughter remembering the determined, stubborn-willed, army veteran, his wit, his humor, and when we ended our chat, we both ended whispering softly to each other: “I love you.”

“A many lay dying in the streets … Any other day he would have been preaching, Reaching all the people there, I Say God Rest His Soul But Lord knows I can’t change what I saw, I Say God Rest His Soul.” The Allman Brothers

Out of the pain, there is hope, there is strength. Here is the truest personal update five years to the date of Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly’s death with Hepatitis C. This veteran, neighbor, father, still ‘talks’ to Kevin every day. Each day, he drives to work early, sitting outside in his car, before going into his office. Each day, he now prays for Kevin to protect his son, overseas on the frontline, in Iraq. Almost every day, something occurs where he and his wife, look at each other and think of Kevin. Often, they say, “this one’s for you,” as they look to the sky. They have moved on, their children, youngsters who played with Kevin, have matured, memories with Kevin, remain. This veteran’s children was gifted our dad’s motor bike from Kevin. His family has gifts that Kevin gifted them from his Germany tours, Europe, Kevin’s world travels. They have the true gifts, gifted from Kevin himself; Kevin’s hands extended out, their hands receiving. I’ve seen the gifts in their home and smiled.

When the contents of Kevin’s office and residence were scattered by ‘next of kin’ without regard to requests from Kevin’s mother and father, one of my consolations was that this neighbor and family have gifts that Kevin hand-carried to their home. This veteran lowered the American flag, per my request, after Kevin’s funeral, when no one lowered the flag or turned a light on in front of Kevin’s residence, five days after his death. This family was very special to Kevin, and I thank God they had each other during the good years, and during the hard years after Kevin’s Hep C diagnosis. This veteran, neighbor, father, remembers when “Kevin was physically very active in all sports, the neighborhood, the kids in the area. Within a matter of a year, all his physical activity was gone. We just didn’t understand it. He had been so physically active, and then was hurting throughout his whole body. He had spots, swellings. I saw them; he showed some to me, but he was proud and often tried to make a joke out if. But all his physical activity was gone within one year.”

Now – five years later, since Kevin’s death – the Veteran who stepped in so often to help Kevin when he was alone in his home, when no one was eating with him, when no one was shopping or purchasing groceries for Kevin, this is the veteran who drove Kevin to the emergency room around 3:30 a.m., the last Christmas he was alive – this neighbor and family truly was there, each day, each night. Often they smoked a cigarette in the middle of the street, late into the night, debating, laughing, arguing, supporting each other with their daily ‘current events’, life’s challenges. Sometimes this veteran’s wife would order the two veterans to meet in the middle of the street, so they could get over being upset with one another after a heated debate – and ‘to move on with it, already’.

In the middle of the street often in the middle of the night, after Kevin’s diagnosis, Kevin shared his world, his triumphs, his anger, his frustrations with others not being helped – as Kevin became more ill, became more alone and became more involved helping veterans and families.

“This road we travel gets a little tough sometimes, Sometimes I know you feel like you can’t go on, Need somebody help you get back home. Need a friend to help you find your way home. You know the whole world loves you when you’re dancin’. Life ain’t all good, but it sure ain’t bad. Don’t be discouraged when the sun don’t shine, Gotta keep on pulling, you gotta keep on trying. Everybody’s got a mountain to climb.” Dickey Betts, The Allman Brothers

Kevin made a choice; this veteran, neighbor was there 100 %. He was there, per Kevin’s request, when the sheriff removed Kevin from his residence and office, at the court-ordered request of Justine Velochi Lomonte Donnelly. I documented this in earlier tributes. The truth is public knowledge now. This veteran was in the vet’s car returning videos at Blockbusters, per Kevin’s request, when Kevin phoned Tina, now a widow, that night a nurse working the ER shift at Massapequa Hospital, pleading for his Hep C research, information, to continue Kevin’ work, so Kevin could do a live Army radio show the next morning.

“I got a right to be lonely when you’re gone. Well it’s so easy to give advice, When you ain’t the one who got to pay the price.Served with a letter sent to whom it may concern A lesson learned hard nearly got me down, I got a right to be wrong.” Dickey Betts

This veteran, neighbor, buddy, was the last person to speak to Kevin. He and his wife watched Kevin walk away, turn the corner, head down, shoulders hunched forward. Kevin was smoking a cigarette — carrying a small suitcase, which sheriffs forced him to pack as he was evicted from the residence. Kevin began his last journey, a choice Kevin made, to go home, to the residence containing all his research, his notes, his world after all his requests were refused. This is the residence where Kevin painted walls, hung doors, planted bushes, manicured a Bonsai garden, manicured the outside yard during his healthy days, and where prior to his diagnosis, Kevin had made the decision to be ‘a-stay-at-home-dad’ for three stepdaughters. The residence where he lived and worked, contained the work Kevin predicted would never be returned to the Hep C community. The residence contained items of Kevin’s birth family (his mom’s and his dad’s family). Kevin predicted items would never be returned to his parents.

 

Kevin’s handwriting dates this picture 12/20/82

 

The residence where he lived and worked, contained cats Kevin predicted would go to the animal shelter to be put down the first morning they were open for business. This prediction, and many more, became true, tick-tock, one by one, as quickly as Kevin left this earth. Five years after 8-5-00, this veteran is “now watching people get care through the VA hospital, which wasn’t there five years ago. The Hep C is rampant in the prisons, you know, and the VA is not denying it any more. They are paying. Vets are getting Interferon with the VA; they are being monitored. Kevin was an activist, and his activism means that others are now being helped. They are.”

Well, by and by, way after many years have gone, … It’s up to you and me brother, To try and try again. So, hear us now, we ain’t wasting no more. Don’t forget the pouring rain.” The Allman Brothers

When we discussed Kevin not seeking treatment 1998 to 2000, Kevin ‘declining’ medical treatment, my dad now diagnosed with Hep C, we shared our worlds since the diagnosis and first entry of Hepatitis C into our paths. And this buddy ‘knew’ before I did. Kevin waited to tell his family until after Christmas, telling my dad when dad was in the hospital, critically ill, and Kevin and my dad began a “race to heaven.” Kevin won. And now my dad has Hep C. We shared how Hep C currently is diagnosed ‘with’ larger numbers, his friends who are veterans, my family and people I know, many have the diagnosis, but not all have the facts and the truth.That was Kevin’s mission. He had a mission when he was here after he was diagnosed. We didn’t like it, but Kevin had a mission” the veteran shared, regarding Kevin’s work and involvement with Hep C.

 

 

Kevin had written on the back of this picture: “In my room during an alert! March ‘78”

 

This veteran wanted Kevin to get help. Kevin always said, “I can’t do it until every enlisted man is helped. I have a family. My family is grown. I have to help others now. It’s too late for me, but others will get the help. I won’t and can’t until every enlisted man is helped.” And how they argued over Kevin’s decision not to seek treatment — Kevin believing the doctor’s diagnosis 12/23/97 based lab results that he “only had two years to live and was not a candidate for treatment – oh, and have a Merry Christmas.”

“I can’t stand to see you leaving. Guess I’ve got to let you go. But there’s just one thing you should know, It ain’t over yet, but I can see it clearly now. Gonna change my way of livin’. Cause I know time is on my side. My mind is set. Do what you gotta do – It ain’t over yet.” The Allman Brothers, D. Drider and Johnny Neal

Here ‘were’ two veterans from different branches within the military family. The ‘verbal jabs’, jokes, dark humor, oh, how they argued and then laughed, roared, in the middle of the street over what they had previously argued about. I would just shake my head when I’d hear Kevin or his buddy sharing their latest debate, contested conversation …True brothers, friends, true buddies, true soldiers.

Last week, this neighbor said, “Kevin chose ‘the mission he had because he ‘was military,’ attention to all the details; you can’t quit until all the details are finished. That’s why Kevin took on the mission. It was his military training. The ‘military’ in him was why he took ‘on’ the mission.” Kevin didn’t quit his ‘mission’, until he was homeless, terminally ill, clouded by the ravages of Hepatitis C, depression, aching kidneys, liver, swollen hands and feet – oh, the multiple side effects – Kevin was sicker than any of us knew. Just as many others are now sick. Could this have been prevented? Yes. Will you accept my invitation?

This veteran shared, “Kevin chose a mission, it was his choice, and you have to know that. You have to try to understand that.” This veteran, again, shared with Kevin’s sister how events had been created and chosen. I was the sister who had phoned the neighbor/veteran and his wife after Kevin’s diagnosis. I phoned, introduced myself, begged him not to hang up on me and to please, please let me know how my baby brother was. This veteran, listened then without one word – then softly, he thanked me for calling, said he had been waiting for my call. I remember crying to this man who was seeing and helping my brother every day. He listened and soothed me with his calming advice, calming voice. Then he ranted about other topics.

We got into the trench quickly that night. When I first spoke to this veteran’s wife, I asked if she would take Thanksgiving dinner over to Kevin, knowing Kevin would be alone the next day. I added, “And could you please put the cranberry sauce on the side. He doesn’t like cranberry sauce ‘on’ his food.” She was silent before adding: “I know. I know. I was planning on taking a plate over; I know he doesn’t like cranberry sauce.” I apologized; we both laughed and a new friendship was created. Kevin never knew I phoned and was receiving calls on where Kevin was ‘in’ his world, as he shared with me.

Kevin was more alone than he was sharing with others and me. This was a very dark chapter in Kevin’s world, but it’s all documented. It is. When I initially phoned the neighbor’s home, I had to open a window into Kevin’s world, and this family, reached out to my open hands, embraced me. Right after Kevin’s diagnosis, “In the beginning,” the neighbor/veteran said “I did think Kevin was a little paranoid when Kevin said his lines were being tapped and cars were driving by his home. Right. We didn’t understand Hep C and didn’t know if he was being paranoid.” “But one day,” he said, “a car did come down the dead-end. The car stopped in front of Kevin’s home. There was a large white seal on the doors of the dark car with dark tinted windows and the license on the car was ‘federal’ license plates. I saw the car with the seal on the door, the license. I saw it. That changed everything. I didn’t think Kevin was being paranoid after that.”

This veteran shared:

“The positive now, five years later is that people aren’t getting the run-around from the VA. Now it’s an epidemic. The only thing you have to prove to get benefits now — you only have to prove you had some form of blood contact. That wasn’t true before Kevin’s activism and work.” A year ago, in a doctor’s office, this veteran picked up a brochure discussing Hep C. He saw ‘depression, suicide …’ It was in the VA Hospital in the waiting room! Now, I see it. Now I understand more. Now I know to help others. I helped a veteran go through the treatments a year ago. I helped because of Kevin. I was there for the veteran and his family. I drove over there after work when I was dead tired, when I knew I had to be there for the veteran throughout his treatments. Now I know because of Kevin. But back then there was no information, no knowledge.”

This veteran, neighbor, attended Kevin’s small funeral, wake at Dalton Funeral Home in New Hyde Park, NY, and the next day sat on my left, during the Catholic mass, Kevin’s casket to our left in the aisle. He and his wife then drove to the cemetery for the burial. This veteran said that when a song on the radio came on playing “Grateful Dead” he raised his hand in the air and said, “This one’s for you, buddy” and cranked the radio. This veteran, neighbor, stood to my right, behind me, saluting at full attention, wearing military jacket and hat, as taps played from a tape recorder tucked into the bushes within Calverton Cemetery minutes before the casket was removed. This soldier is “still trying to deal with Kevin’s predictions, as they come true about Hep C, treatment, the VA, Kevin’s residence,” with whom he spent the last eight years of his life. “One by one, they are coming true. Oh, how right he was. Sometimes I nod my head and say, “yeah, you were right, again. And sometimes I laugh and think of your brother. He knew. Man, oh man, he knew!” My conversation with this veteran ended with him saying: “I will help others now. I will continue to pray to your brother to watch over my son on the frontline. I will continue to help other veterans. — And I miss the hell out of your freaking brother. I really do, kiddo.”

I received an email from a mentor August 2000:

“Monette, Kevin looks so good in his Army uniform. You should always be very proud of him and what he tried to accomplish. I don’t pretend to understand why things sometimes happen as they do. Life is so fragile and all too often, those society loses, are the ones we can least afford to lose. Kevin was certainly one of those. Time heals the wounds, but the scars remain. I can only quote the words that we often associate with a very terrible time in the history of human kind, but are so appropriate in moments such as this, ‘Never Forget.’ Never forget Kevin. Do good deeds in his honor and he shall live forever.”

I received an email from a dear friend, Nam veteran, who would step forward with open arms to embrace my broken heart:

“My dearest, There are no words I could speak that would express my feelings. I am choked by the words I can write. I have lost too many to worthless causes. The grief I feel is without bounds, both for you and your Brother. He served in uniform, so we were Brothers, also. I stand ready to help in any way I can. Please let me know where He is, unit served, dates & time served, it will help me help you.”

I received this email from a friend regarding the first year tribute for Kevin:

“Wow. I just finished reading your story. I was captivated from start to finish–although I suspect the finish was not the end. Thank you for sharing it; it was a lot, and I realize it must represent only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. On a related note, just yesterday I attended a memorial service for a friend and colleague who took his life at 29 after battling his own demons — success, drugs, to name but two. Your brother’s story is different from my friend’s, but the coincidence of the two seems to be trying to say something. In my friend’s case, a fast and impressive rise to success was followed by an equally precipitous decline into self-destruction. All but one of his family — his sister, coincidentally — forsook him, and his was a needless and very lonely end. In any event, these two stories certainly have left an impression on me.”

“I don’t know if the government created AIDS. I tend to think yes, but controlling it escaped them as it mutated. You can’t have conspiracy to limit the population with a disease without the cure.” John Titor

I received this email from LeighAnn Vogel, dear friend, veteran, who worked with Kevin, who also built the website with Kevin Veterans Helping Veterans. She assisted my family and me, prior to Kevin’s death and after. LeighAnn Vogel is also the friend, veteran, who helped to intercede when medical ‘professionals’ were advising my dad to take Interferon, before his liver biopsy results were even in. Dad listened to LeighAnn, and I thank her with open heart for all she has shared.

Kevin: Five years later

“Well here it is, five years after Kevin physically left this earth. A lot of changes have come about in the world of Hepatitis C. New treatments, new revelations on how to treat, numbers of those infected going up and up, and research information are a few that I can think of. Lots of personal changes in the Hep C community, as well, have occurred. I’ve been sitting here watching it all. Taking it in. Wondering what Kevin would do or say about certain things. I know he would laugh at some of the people who say they knew him or worked with him because in actuality Kevin basically worked alone. People would email him, and he would do whatever he could to help them. Many of those still say they knew him well. It makes me laugh.

Others stole his research, posted it online as their own, and said they knew him well. But then, I kind of know what his response would be to some things. It seems he is here, just behind me, slapping me on the head telling me: “I told you that long before they decided to finally admit it” about research news that seemed to be old news. It was old news because Kevin had found it a year or two before the rest of the world. I guess in a sense that was Kevin — ahead of our time in the research department. So many of the things he touted back in 1998 and 1999 are now accepted because some other party has finally admitted it. I can’t help but think that if he could have hung in there with us just a bit longer, he would have seen his research being accepted and been so proud.

I truly believe Kevin was behind my going to Washington DC and training to become a Veterans Service Rep. He was the most ‘Pro Veteran’ person I have ever met in my life. He would have done anything for a Vet or active service member. When I first met Kevin, online, I was only learning about Hepatitis C and Veterans with Hepatitis C. As I watched him write the “Panama Story,” (Kevin wrote one chapter per night, publishing one chapter each night) I was stunned to find out that I was stationed only about 20 minutes from him when we were both in the Army in the mid 70’s.

If it had not been for Kevin, I believe I would not have known my source of transmission was the U.S. Army and those jet injectors. I’m sure I would have found out sooner or later, but thanks to Kevin it was sooner. I can just imagine what he would say if he knew that now, finally, the VA is beginning to approve claims for service connection due to those very same jet injectors. Kevin pushed me to become an advocate. I had only started to make up my own webpage about my experiences with Hep C. Once Kevin and I got together, we created ‘Veterans Helping Veterans.’ Kevin wrote the information; I put it up on webpages for all to see. We started a Yahoo message board for Veterans, which is still up and running six years later.

There are still times when I get angry at him for leaving when and how he did. I still need him to help push me along. He would have seen his hard work come to fruition in so many different ways. Of course, there are still those who use him and his work to fit their agenda, but I don’t get so angry at them anymore. His slaps to the back of my head must be working! Or maybe it’s just that I know better now and feel simply pity for those who feel they need to steal what he gave so freely – his hard work. All he ever asked in return was credit for what he had learned. Simple respect. If nothing else, Kevin deserves a huge amount of simple respect from the Hep C community. I don’t think it would be at the point it is now, if not for some of his research.

We have lost so many comrades in the Hep C community since Kevin left us. He always took a loss very hard. He felt he should have worked harder or faster to help a vet, and if we lost the vet he took it personally. Les (Lester Tucker) was the toughest. Losing Les broke my heart, and I think that it put Kevin into a funk he couldn’t get out of. He was only one man, but in his mind Kevin was going to help EVERYONE and when that wasn’t possible, or fate took its own turn, he was crushed.

I know he’s up ‘there’ with those we have lost, probably telling them all to slap me in the head now and then. It’s a good wake-up call for me. I get into a funk, or float away from Hep C issues and suddenly that ‘smack’ to the back of my head will bring me around. After five years, I guess that wake-up call of his isn’t going to go away. The only thing I wonder about now is – when I get up ‘there’ and see him again, I’m not sure if I’ll hug him first or just kick him in the shins for hittin’ me in the head all the time!” I also know he would be telling us to put the sadness of his death behind us and move on. I have learned that life is very precious and very short.

I received this email from a mentor:

“Clearly from what you have told me, your brother learned (life lessons) from his death bed, even though he was well along the way to causing major reformation. How fortunate you are to realize the lesson so young in life, long before you touch your death bed.Yes, you don’t have his ‘things’ but you have the ability, and the understanding to ‘change myself first’ as you have accomplished that task.Remember your brother and thank him for that gift of helping you achieve that – far more important than anything you can put on a list and request to be returned to you from his in-laws. You have the most precious thing he could have left, and they have ‘things’.”

I received this email from my younger brother, discussing Kevin’s one year anniversary, 8/5/01:

“I’m planning a special mass for Kevin in our church Sunday.  Our opening song (I’m in the choir) is ‘Amazing Grace,’ and the next song is ‘On Eagle Wings’. The closing song to the church service is ‘Joy, Joy to Heaven’.  I think he would like these songs and our parents will be in the audience. We have a very nice small choir that can really move you.  We sang at two concerts already, and we are thinking about going to Ireland next year to sing a little.  This is going to be a special day for all.”

I received this email from my dad’s cousin after he read my ‘calm’ email:

“I sense a Donnelly temper below the serene exterior.”

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw

I received this email from my dad four months after Kevin’s diagnosis:

“Kevin only said that he is sending all these messages, and he told me how many there are, to alert people to the danger so hepatitis. And he only said that he spent the day in bed. And he thanked your mother for an Easter card. I don’t know how to forward his e-mail. Anytime I try anything new I lose it. Kevin will do what he has to do. His time is well spent helping others. This is probably more important than any other activities that he has ever done.  Love, DAD XXX”

I received this email August 7, 2000, the day I flew to attend his funeral, from a friend I work with:

‘”Words that can really comfort you, Monette, are hard for me to find. Your brother, Kevin, will surely be in my prayers tonight, as he has been for awhile. It seems almost fitting, in some odd way, that you’re the one that will be there when he’s laid to rest. I just know he left this earth knowing you’d be there. Be safe on your trip, Monette, and know that you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers also.”

I received this email August 6, 2000 from a friend who worked with me and corresponded with Kevin:

“What a very sad, but somehow always anticipated, message to find waiting. You know my prayers are always with you, and Kevin, and, of course, especially now. I couldn’t answer until I strolled through a few hundred messages from him (from) January 1999. Kevin and I had a talk about God and heaven and what he believed was going to happen to him when he died.  It’ll warm your heart, I promise. So now once again you get to be the strong one. Face it, darlin’, you’ll never not have to be the strong one.  It’s just your destiny; in your work, in your life. They say He never gives us more than we can bear.  Are “they” right?  I hope so. Smile knowing you made your brother very happy and proud. Kevin (and I) started talking about what happens after we leave this earth, God, heaven, etc., and it was so comforting to know he did believe in all the stuff that gets me through each and every day.  I admired the hell out of that coming from someone who had every right to be very angry at God. I’m so sad to hear he died alone.  I hope at least he died peacefully. Don’t worry about whether the rest of the mortals at Kevin’s funeral will physically embrace you, M. Kevin will, you’ll feel it, and that’s all that matters.”

 

This is me, Kevin’s Sister, looking up ‘to’ her baby brother, Kevin. The back of the pictures reads: December 28, ’76, 4:00 a.m.!

 

Email received from Kevin’s friend and member within Hep C community, Carrie Sue Suldovsky, 2005:

“The HCV is still part of me, with the knowledge I got from (Kevin) I stand firm on the choice to not treat.  Not until there is a cure. Since I never sought treatment it was not hard to say ‘no’.  I had a new insurance plan ‘before Kevin crossed himself over’, when that went into effect, I sought out a PCP doctor who would hear me. As time went by she understood that I knew my condition, and that I read all about it much of the time if something new is ‘out there’ I have knowledge of it.

In the course of life with the HCV and being a pre-menopausal women I had to have my gallbladder out.  Since they (doctors) were going to be in there anyway, they did a biopsy.  It showed my liver was at the half way mark.  When the report came back, one doctor after another tried to ‘talk me into’ treatment.  When the topic came up in my PCP doctor’s office, I said, well, I’m not into doing it.  (Keep in mind one of the things I’ve been keeping tabs on was the drug companies who give ‘perks’ for the doctors who put people on treatment.)  The doctor started with a sales pitch, and I said, well, I don’t think it is a good idea.  The PCP doctor said, but I have one person who just cleared after only five weeks!  I said ‘Good what genotype were they a B?”’  Then the doctor went on to ask, ‘Oh, what is your genotype?’  I said don’t know there is no reason to have that test I never wanted to treat.  When the lab work came back showing I have a very RARE to the U.S. type (4) it just reinforced what Kevin and I both agreed on long ago this is a Man-made condition.  (4 is only found in Egypt and a small pocket in Central Africa!)

Now no one can tell me that the WHO (World Health Organization) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) didn’t have anything to do with the people who got this from infected gamma globulins.  I know it was not something anyone did on purpose; it still happened, and all those who went to Viet Nam are walking proof of that.When my husband went to the V.A. for his first checkup that was one of the things they ran a test on him for.  He was a lucky one since he went into the Army in 1962, he missed out on the HCV infected shots. In just the past few months I’ve had a meeting with a local doctor who agreed to take me on.

He runs a low-income clinic and since I am very, very low income I don’t have to pay a full co-pay of $20.00 to be seen in his clinic.  He agreed that a gamma globulin given in the mid 1960s very well could have been the way I was infected, but he didn’t have to agree; I know that is how I got this little bugger!

Every time there is another ‘break’ in HCV I think of Kevin,  and he may not be here in a body ‘earth suit as another person who knew him would say’.  He is still alive in my heart, and I know that in time the battle of HCV will be won. The big thing is that when it is won so will cancers of most types. Kevin was such a wonderful caring person. Now looking back, I think of the things that happened that got to him.

Lester Tucker had been a Vet who needed a transplant; Kevin fought tooth and nail to make the Vets pay for that and help him out.  But sadly, he never woke up from the surgery.  That stuck Kevin too hard; he had fought so hard to force them to give him a liver, and yet he could not live to know how it would work. Monette, HCV was something your Brother faced.

Please remember this one thing.  ‘Life IS A GIFT’. Yes, it is, and the fact that your brother’s life touched mine is just one example of what a wonderful time we live in. Please, if your Mom and Dad ever vacation in Idaho again tell them I would love to meet them. ‘They had stayed in the town my Mom and Dad lived in Kamiah.’ It was one of the threads Kevin and I had that kept us talking about real life. I’m just so sad he never did open up and tell me the problems he faced with his home life.  I know it is to late now, but I also know he would never air his dirty laundry to someone he didn’t know that well.

Susan (Lester Tucker’s wife) has remarried and is doing o.k. I do not have an e-mail address for her, I’m so sorry but I just do not.   When Lester passed away before waking up (after his second transplant), she had to leave the world of HCV message board’s behind.  She did check in at one point about a year ago to let folks know she was still o.k.

How I got to know Kevin was he got his computer the same month we got ‘online’; I had been using a computer for some time as I work for a school.  But we did not have an Internet connection for a long time.  Then when Kevin and I found each other it was from off a message board that at that time was called SHN.  He, Deborah, Sally and a few others got the heck out of there (SHN message board) as it was kind of a toxic place, due to the fact that three or four people thought they owned the board, and other things.  The same message board went on to be sold to the company called WebMD.  (But that was long after Kevin and I met, and left that board.)

I think that the big thing that tied Kevin and I, other than the HCV given to us both by a shot that should prevent Hepatitis, was that I’m married to a ‘Vet’; my husband went into the Army in Hamilton OH.  He slipped by going to Viet Nam by the skin of his teeth; he was short eight days of the time his unit was to be over there so he spent the last months of his time in TX.  (After he first did a trip to Korea) He was just one of the few lucky men, in many ways.  One, he never had to see Viet Nam, and two he missed out on the gamma globulin that was infected (or as Kevin found out mutated). I miss Kevin today as much as I missed him the first year.

I will tell you that when I first heard he was dead, I in my head (I’m not the only one on this) I thought that someone in our government had ‘knocked him off’ so when I learned a year later that he had taken his own life it removed some ‘fear’, but I still had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing.  I know it is painful for you as you being his sister he was a (real life) person.  I, and the whole HCV community, sure wish you could have found the ‘zip disks’; he had everything he was working on saved on ‘Zip disks’.

Feel free to stay in touch, I plan to be around in my (earth suit) for some time.  “I want to see grandkids and so far no-one has any kids on the way.” Carrie Sue Suldovsky

I received this email from a friend, veteran, who had requested information after hearing the rank on Kevin’s tombstone was incorrect, August 17, 2000:

“Thank you for the info on Kevin. I lost my Brother many years ago. It has taken that long to realize I’ll never get over it. The pain is not as sharp as it was. Instead of thinking about Him every minute, it’s down to a few times a day. I know this doesn’t sound encouraging, it’s just reality. Give yourself a lot of time and lead-way.

I was recently divorced when my Brother died, and I stayed alone for years, wrapped in thick shell of pain nobody could get through. Friends said I was like a wounded Tiger in His den, alone, dangerous. I’m glad you won’t have to go through that, It’s no way to live. Take care, Be safe.”

I received this email from a mentor August 17, 2000:

“Monette – I’m so sorry to learn of your brother’s death. Though I never knew him, I’m sure he was a special and beloved person. I hope you and your family will find peace in coping with your loss. I know what you are going through. In 1966, I lost my sister with whom I was very close, to when she was just 22. Despite the passage of 30+ years, the hole her death left in my life has never been filled, even though the grieving ended long ago. In time, your grief, too, will pass, but you will always cherish the memory of Kevin.”

I received this from Kevin’s best friend September 20, 2000:

Your email gave me more insight into the situation. I was only trying to be objective, perhaps I was too much so. You are right about the disrespect to your parents on this. I had not thought of that. I hope to get out to Calverton next month, just to check up. I will place flowers on behalf of your parents and then I will write to them. In the meantime, please let them know I have not forgotten about them. I love and respect them too much just to send out a ‘sympathy’ card. I need some time to let this settle with me, and then will write them from my heart. I hope you also understand that ( I know you do!).”

“Love changes everything, how you lay there, how you die. Yes, love, love changes everything. It brings you glory, it brings you shame … Nothing in the world will ever be the same.” Andrew Lloyd Weber

Email I sent to Kevin’s best friend, also a deacon, four hours after I was told Kevin was ‘gone’, August 5, 2000, requesting he attend funeral:

“I have tried to phone, but your number is not listed. I was informed a few hours ago that Kevin Drue Donnelly passed away last night, August 4, 2000, 41 years old. Kevin will be waked at Dalton Funeral Home, New Hyde Park, NY on Tuesday (hours now are 2:00 – 5:00 and 7:00-9:00).

His wife has made plans to have him buried in Calveton (sp?) in the military section. This is out east on Long Island, near Riverhead. I have requested that a military funeral … as yet, such plans have not been made. My younger brother flew to San Antonio, TX, today with his son to visit my parents and elder brother. Dad had aggressive cancer surgery late June. This was his first time to see my parents (since dad’s surgery, per dad’s request so he could recuperate). Due to the flight restrictions, my brother will not be able to attend Kevin’s funeral. Due to the family gathering in Texas, I will fly alone to witness and attend Kevin’s funeral.

Kevin was scheduled to do a radio show (in the west) today … he was very excited to speak about Hep. He was much sicker than any of us knew. I will try and contact the VA … about a military funeral. But since I’m not his wife, I will need to respect the wishes of others. Sadly, Kevin will not be buried in Arlington, his last wish. But I will fly, sit with him, and thank God for letting me have a (baby) brother like Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly. Can you attend his wake and/or funeral? I wish you could … as I’d love to have you say a few prayers. One of Kevin’s neighbors, this evening, even asked about his mountain-climbing friend … I said, yes, I had tried to contact you. Please let us hear from you.”

I received this email from a veteran, friend when I was working to process and understand the inaccuracies, the disrespect to Kevin’s memory and to his parents from people within Kevin’s residence August 16, 2000:

“The more I hear about Kevin, the more impressive he becomes. There is NOTHING better than an officer who thinks of his men first and himself last. I haven’t seen that many who do. I grieve with you for the great loss Kevin’s death means to all.”

Bruce Burkett, veteran, friend, 2005. Bruce and I met during the 2003 Hep C Rally in Washington DC, and Bruce returned my phone call when I reached out after dad’s diagnosis:

“Hi, Monette, I will be glad to help. It is ironic that you wrote today; I was looking at Kevin’s picture last night. I was going through some old files and found the copies of the article in ‘Newsweek’. I first met Kevin in 1998 when I was looking for information about HCV. Not only did I find information, I found a friend and mentor. He encouraged me to continue the fight and to help others in this battle. Since that time I have worked with several HCV groups and founded the Missouri Hepatitis C Alliance in 1999. We worked at providing support and education to anyone who was affected by HCV. Today we have seven support groups across central Missouri. In May 2005, I quit my job, and we started a program that offers free testing to anyone who has any risk for HCV. For those who are positive, we provide viral load and genotype testing and a referral to a physician. For the uninsured we will pay for their office visits and lab testing. We also have co-pay assistance for the under insured population. Without Kevin’s insistence that I continue the fight, I don’t think I would be where I am today. I think about Kevin often and I miss him.”   Bruce Burkett

 

If I was truly brave, I would say ‘This is a sister seated between two people who have yet to be diagnosed with Hepatitis C.’ We were in a cave, seated together, one hot Texas day, seeking to escape the heat. After I included my picture here, ‘then’ I phoned my dad requesting permission to share. My dad, Kevin’s father and a veteran, paused without one word for a long moment. Then my dad laughed and immediately said, quote, “Yeah, sure, why not? I don’t think it of all the time. Sure, go ahead. If it will help others, go ahead and use it. I still don’t understand all of this.” I treasure this picture, Kevin, Monette and Dad.

 

I received this email via Internet:

“I prayed last night for you … You need a bigger dog to nip the little dog and get him off your heel. Then, the big dog can go after the rats in the junkyard. Good luck.”

“Judge success by what you had to give up to get it.” Dalai Lama

I also received this email from a friend of Kevin’s, Hep C support leader, 2005:

“I think of Kevin always, and he was a wonderful human being who was the only one who really understood Hepatitis C many years ago. Everything he tried to tell people about this disease all turned out to be true. I love and miss Kevin very much and think of him quite often to this very day. I need to sing you a song over the phone because I don’t know the title, but it was Kevin’s favorite song! He would always send me dancing animations with the song in the background. Whenever I hear it I think of him, and how wonderful it was when he was with us.

I cared a lot for Kevin, and he was a lifesaver to me. I really didn’t know that much about Hepatitis C, and I feel that he leveled with me and did the type of investigating that others ignored. It made sense what Kevin said about the disease and many of the doctors, and even advocates, were far behind Kevin’s knowledge. He was one smart guy who didn’t pull any punches. I then became an advocate with my own organization, and I will never forget Kevin’s help, support and wisdom when I was first diagnosed and needing help in understanding this disease.

It was good talking with you. Yes, you are like (Muhammad) Ali for sure, but you are strong like Kevin, and he is with you and guiding you every day. I will keep in touch!”(I had shared that I feel like Muhammad Ali with a double punch having a brother diagnosed with Hep C, and after his death, Hep C advocacy, assisting myself and others, and then after my dad’s diagnosis, I ‘hurt’.)

The song that Kevin sent and sang to this lady, and which she hummed and sang to me last week:

“One, two, three, four, five, everybody in the car so come on let’s ride….. So what can I do? I really beg you my Lord. A little bit of Monica in my life, A little bit of Erica by my side. A little bit of Rita’s all I need … Jump up and down and move it all around. Shake your head to the sound, put your hands on the ground. Take one step left and one step right. One to the front and one to the side. Clap your hands once and clap your hands twice And if it look like this then you’re doing it right. …” Lou Vega: Mambo Number Five

Kevin’s favorite group to his best friend was Marshall Tucker. His favorite group to a neighbor was Allman Brothers. His favorite group to others was Boz Scaggs. Music was the foundation that grounded Kevin. This sharing was special to others and to Kevin.

An email I wrote to a mentor, educator, religious counselor, requesting the correct rank on Kevin’s tombstone after learning his rank of ‘Captain’ was incorrect and the tombstone listed his rank as Second Lieutenant, 9/09/00:

“Do you know how I can obtain the military status of my brother, Kevin Drue Donnelly? He was a Captain in the USAR, after filling one tour in Germany. He was denied, in writing, his rank of ‘Major,’ received at his home, two days after his death on August 7, 00. I have recently learned that the ‘grieving widow’ (also a veteran) has given information to Calverton National Cemetery, Riverhead, NY, that his is a ‘2nd Lt.’ That is what will be on his tombstone until I can prove that he was a Captain. Do you know how I may obtain this information?”

Response to above email: “As far as retrieving things from your brother’s grieving family, I don’t know. I sense a bit of ‘distance’ between them. I don’t know the full story. Is there anger on their part? Are they upset with somebody or something? Are they possessive and don’t want to let go of his things? Don’t they realize how much you meant to him and he meant to you? Aren’t they willing to share with you? I know, I know, a lot of unanswered questions. I would hope that mutual understanding could be worked out among all, keeping in mind what your brother would want. Give me a call some day when you get a chance and let me ‘listen’ to you. My gift from God is to listen to people.”

Email I received from a mentor when reviewing a letter I had drafted to send to Kevin’s widow on behalf of my parents, September 26, 2000:

“Outstanding letter. I think the offer of the Waterford crystal glasses going to Kevin’s stepchildren is very considerate. If this woman doesn’t return these things to you, she would be a real first class _____. In fact, it would get me mad enough to want to kick her butt all the way into the Pacific Ocean. Maybe she’ll change her approach and decide that being a human being is worthwhile after all.”

Email I received from Internet:

“1. Call the nearest VA hospital, explain your situation and have the records verified (explain you are a relative, etc).

2. Call the nearest recruiting office and ask for a phone number, web address, etc., to go to find information.

I would also suggest on the Internet, going to the U.S. Department of the Army and then doing an online search until you get to the proper place. Let me know if this works or doesn’t work. I can’t believe that the widow would be so %*@*! Stupid. Blessings and prayers.”

Email received from Kevin’s childhood friend:

“I sent a card to your parents and wrote them a note. I visited Kevin’s site in early November 2000. It was still dirt and no stone marker, but it looked as if they noted his stone for a correction to Captain.”

Email from members within the Hep C community, 1/01:

“Well, the conversation just did not go well at all I’m sorry to say. Tina would not put me through to Michelle. I talked with Tina in length about Kevin and I working together and what it would mean to me. She told me that she did not want me to call back and she resented the calls to her. That she was Kevin’s wife (nine years, second marriage for both) and those things had more meaning to her than to any of us. She resented me asking. I suppose I should have waited and continued calling until Tina answered, but I really feel that Tina would be short stopped… (with) the computer. She is really on the defensive, and I won’t repeat some of the things she said. Anyway, I’m sorry and I tried. I don’t think you will get that computer from her as long as she has custody of it. She says it’s her computer and that she purchased it and that Kevin was just using it. She said the computer stays. I’m sorry.”

“Why do ‘you’ never get an answer when you’re knocking at the door?” Moody Blues

 

This picture was taken of my brother when he visited us, April 1983. This child’s mother had flown to visit her family, out of state, and the young girl was left with her father. When Kevin learned this, he immediately spent days caring for this young girl while her father worked. I watched from afar and photographed precious moments. Kevin was tender and my love for their tenderness moved forward in my heart and my world. I have one picture of Kevin in a hammock, and this young girl is pushing with all her might to ‘sway the hammock’. Texas Hill Country

 

“Who, what, when, where, how, why?” Will you accept my invitation to listen to plant seeds for others after reading this?

I received this email after Kevin’s death, working to correct inaccuracies and retrieve Kevin’s research:

“Does the phrase: ‘You *don’t* want that to appear on the public record, do you?’ — mean anything to you? Kevin told me that is what was said to him, repeatedly, by all kinds of authority figures. He said it about drove him crazy, and eventually Kevin just ran out of energy. Further, any attempt he made pre-Internet days to get his work out was stymied and stopped. By the time the net was functioning and he could get his work out, it was too late, he got too sick. And, like most people who suffer from what he had, (it) set in, just rendered him incapable of continuing. He realized it would be up to the next generation of people to pick it up.”

“The brain processes sequential information in a linear way. Measure the risk, go over your notes and go upward.” Steve Wynn

I also received this email:

“As I review articles in the next couple months, I will send you relevant links. The USA is not the only country guilty of this sort of chicanery. Someday, when the story emerges, people will be astounded. … Many, many red herrings in the news, to keep the public in the dark. Soon, antibodies will develop in those left, to make them resistant to bacteriological warfare, and the rest will be dead. You see it already in those diagnosed with HIV, living longer and longer. Genes mutate. People want that tiny diagnosis and that magic bullet. They really don’t care about the whole picture, never have. Occasionally, you meet the educated few who really *want* to know…and are repeatedly discounted by MDs and others who have been told ‘You really don’t want that on the public record …’ So they don’t tell the public. It could cost them their licenses.”

I responded via email:

“Thank you for sharing. Thank you for confirming Kevin’s research and work. In time, my brother’s work will be seen and studied as being right on target — horrifically, on target. Kevin, who studied at Stony Brook, NY, and under Nobel Laureate’s, was accurate in the facts and the stats and the numbers. He always said, ‘they’ (numbers) don’t lie. Kevin spent the last two years of his life trying to share, then realizing the messenger was not being listened to — then he shifted back into straight reseearch. His research was printed in JAMA, many, many medical associations. My baby brother … he went out — swinging, working to share the facts about viruses and ‘how’ they are/were spread. I’m still swinging in the bull’s pen, working to ‘make’ lemonade and to continue to keep faith in the bigger lessons. Your validation is a bittersweet message.”

I also received this email:

“I have now found out what is bugging a host of others with unnamable diseases and slow healing patterns. The culprit: mycoplasmae – microscopic organisms related to bacteria, which come in hundreds of varieties. I have long suspected the existence, but got the first real confirmation today (with an) internist’s office… I could go into the molecular biology of these darlings, but why bore you?

Suffice it to say, Kevin was right. As far back as 1942, the US gov, military complex, and some other world govs have been releasing such microplasmas on unsuspecting populations, noting the development of “wasting diseases” among them, of course, Hep C, on population levels. Since fully 3/4th of the world has been infected by now, and it’s from the very air we breathe and environment in which we live, you see the scope of the problem. They mostly lie dormant throughout our lives, but can be activated in periods of extreme stress. I’m convinced they cause everything from chronic fatigue syndrome to sub-clinical pneumonia. Further, they are hard to grow in vitro, as they are parasitic, need a human host with all our complex chemicals (including sterols, like CHOLESTEROL) to eat. You have high cholesterol? Guess what? You’ve been reprogrammed to produce it by these unwanted guests. I could go on with examples, but it would just make you sicker to read it all.”

I received this email: “Yeah, Kevin told me all about it. It was pretty right out of Hollywood. You can’t believe how fast fed agencies (and others) can move when this stuff is on the line. It will eventually leak out over the web, in fact, it already has. Experimental testing of Brucella concentrate in or around 1960s, as well as people dumping toxic wastes right in the ocean … the bacterial mycoplasm that got into lungs. The country was sprayed with it. It’s been dormant for almost 50 years, and now, is now activating all over the place…over 6,000 with ‘flu’ in Colorado and several deaths. There will be many, many getting sick as these mycoplasms activate!

Fact is we were poisoned, along with about 100,000 other people, some of whom will begin displaying symptoms as their immune systems weaken with exposure to pathogens, allergens and other stressors.  Mycoplasma, long buried in tissue, will begin to activate. The news reported ‘an unknown number of adult deaths’ so far due to pneumonia and flu in Texas, 34 deaths to children known. A friend asked ‘So, we are going to die from this?’ I replied, ‘We could. We don’t have to, however, if we tell our story straight to the doctors we see when we have flare-ups, and avoid medicine interactions because they think we have arthritis or joint pain and give us things which further inflame the pneumonia.’  As more responders get the condition, people will learn what to do.

In addition, Kevin’s work on Hep C, finding out about the pollutants and wasting diseases, etc., is all important because it gives an independent verification of ‘wasting diseases’ and the constant pollution by world governments and industrial organizations since before WW II.  In short, biological warfare has been around a long time.”

Monette:  If Kevin were here, right about now, Kevin would say, “OK, folks. Let’s gather around. According to the history and charts, here’s what we have …”

 

Kevin Drue Donnelly created statistical charts, (he showed each to me) when he was an employee of Equitable. Picture dated in his handwriting, 1986.

 

Then, I know, my brother, Kevin, would review how he was given the Hep C diagnosis, how Kevin was given inaccuracies. Kevin would share how he began to ‘hunt for his own truth’ with medical records, reviewing past activities, and Kevin would share now how he discovered, alterations, inaccuracies within his military medical records. (I documented this in the first tribute ‘anniversary’ sharing, “He Was A Brother, A Vet, and He Died Before His Time.”)

Kevin would say if inaccuracies involved:

1. After diagnosis, a letter arrived at his home from the military stating he must have acquired this disease from ‘homosexual activity or intravenous drug use’;

2. A representative knocking on his door from the local cemetery. Kevin called over his shoulder, “Tina, it’s for you,” and went back to work, then Kevin phoned people to share his world and he requested to be buried with the military comrades, requesting Arlington;

3. A biopsy he later learned, performed by Dr. Melissa Parker was used, in part, as part of research, perhaps to be sold (Kevin wrote a letter complaining in writing about the procedure and doctor to NY State Department of Health);

4. His widow, Tina Velochi Donnelly, stated that there was a spare bullet left on a dresser the moment of Kevin’s death with neighbors, Kevin’s birth family, immediately after Kevin’s death and shared he was waiting for others on his last night on earth (an inaccuracy that police, law enforcement and others later proved to be absolutely inaccurate by every professional in the residence who documented the truth);

5. Kevin’s birth family, each, was told this inaccuracy, in real-time, as we were told of his death;

6. The American flag initially was not going to be over a 22-year veteran’s casket until I phoned the Dalton Funeral Parlor with facts and promised to make a scene during the entire wake (Kevin received his ‘flag’ in return for ‘no obituary’, negotiated by his widow to Kevin’s Sister through the employee of the funeral parlor) The employees in the funeral parlor insisted the widow did not request, nor had completed paperwork for military status, which would automatically ensure the flag;

7. Kevin’s rank was incorrect on his Calverton Cemetery tombstone, papers filed incorrectly by Kevin’s widow, Justine Velochi Lomonte Donnelly, a veteran;

8. Kevin’s predictions would each come true — to include his research not being returned to the Hep C community, items important to his mother and father’s family would not returned — multiple other predictions – predictions which included the size of the wreaths during Kevin’s ‘wake’ and the verbatim quotes on wreath ribbons – each 100% true, frightening accurate to some of us.

With these inaccuracies, and there are more – well, folks, Kevin would stand tall and would pronounce: “Each source of each of these inaccuracies would prove to have a credibility problem. The facts speak, data speaks, correct sources are well known and documented. Move on!” Then Kevin would fold his charts, put his facts away and would get back to the important items, discovering why there is such a virus, and what we can do to help veterans and people with this disease.

“And, after all, what is a lie? Tis but The truth in masquerade.” Lord Byron, Don Juan

Kevin would share how he worked to find answers for himself as he helped others online, answered emails, returned phone calls – while his phone lines began to be tapped, military vehicles drove by his house, parked on his small cul-de-sac, bushes were run over in his yard – odd things began to occur in his world. Kevin would shake his head and go back to his bunker, back to the trench. Kevin would share how he gathered information for people to contact their politicians, how to ask specific questions to their doctor(s), how to reach out when others were alone, when others were ‘thinking’ they were ‘alone’.

Kevin would extend his invitation to others day and night. Will you accept my invitation to share, to help others? Kevin would share how his Hep C advanced without medical treatment as his personal world turned on a dime when he decided not to sell the rights to “The Panama Story” a book he wrote, one chapter a night, available on the Internet for free. Kevin always said, “If I sell my work, my research will never be taken seriously. I do not want my life defined by the activities of people in this house. I will not sell my research or my story.”But Kevin did document and share with others. He asked them to hold the records, packages he mailed, items he personally wrapped and sent, so ‘history would know.’ This ‘is’ the truth, folks.

“I’m not old enough to play baseball or football. I’m not eight yet. My mom told me when you start baseball, you aren’t going to be able to run that fast because you had an operation. I told Mom I wouldn’t need to run that fast. When I play baseball, I’ll just hit them out of the park. Then I’ll be able to walk.” Edward J. McGrath, Jr.

Kevin wrote articles, collected data, researched the CDC, Red Cross, Rockefeller Foundation – he spent hours and hours on these groups. Kevin gathered information and data from the Freedom of Information Act, documenting in depth their fingerprints with a trail of ‘viruses’ and ‘illnesses’ and history of Hep C. Kevin sorted through ‘tribes’ (my term) when people took stances that were not based on facts, stats, numbers, education. Kevin did write about the history of how the virus was man-made, documenting the series of events 1941, 1942 and forward. Read his “The Panama Story” free, on this website.

As the disease ravaged his body, Kevin made choices to include not seeking treatment; choices addressed here and also in previous ‘tributes’ I’ve written prior to 2005. Each year, I attempt to answer a little more. I’ve planted seeds each year. I have. People were not ready for all the answers, perhaps I was unable to share all, too. And my world has had a few gremlins in it, too. Preparing this Tribute, emails from others corresponding with me have had problems, my phone has not worked, little bumps have gone ‘boof’ in the night. After Kevin was court evicted out of his home, and the largest inaccuracies attempted to become fact, I listened and continued to pray.

Kevin did publish research, composed his emails, authored articles about bacteria, viruses. He did hold back ‘some’, as he was warned to do. Though Kevin worked tiredly, he did try to work with some of the world leading international virologists. He worked direct with them hoping, pleading they would share the facts they know. Kevin’s research, work, was taken out of his home when he lived there. The doors were broken on his office door. They were.

He knew and shared with a specific group. Kevin wanted his research to be shared, and if it wasn’t, he laid the groundwork for others to know what his world had been like; the hell within his residence and within his body that was ‘killing’ him. I wasn’t sure how I would ‘share’ this year. I decided to share this year when one event occurred. I had been praying, hoping that my sharing would assist others, would prevent ‘my path’.

My dad’s diagnosis with Hep C still is ‘raw’ anguish, as I know more than the average person, family member, who receives this ‘bit’ of information. I was in another state on business. In the hotel, I ordered a meal in the restaurant. A man waited to take my order, stood, tray in hand, pencil poised midair. He asked where I was from. I shared. We discussed the NBA playoffs. I was rooting for the Spurs. He was rooting for the other team.

This young man shared he had to root for the other team since he grew up near them. He was in this city temporarily; he’s in the military. Still scanning the menu, I glanced up, softly shared, “my brother was in the military.” He asked where. I sighed, paused, and said softly, “He ‘was’, sir. The young man asked, “Where is he now?” I paused, looked out the window. “Heaven,” I replied. “Oh, what did he die of? He casually, instantly asked.” I paused, voice soft, “He died with Hepatitis C.”

The young man, tray now on his left hip, said, I quote: “OH, I had two friends kill themselves last week with Hep C. That’s how all the veterans and soldiers are going now. They don’t want to ‘die with’ this disease. They didn’t know each other, but each did the same thing and used the same weapon. Just last week. Two. So, how did your brother die?”

“… And the playing stopped in the playground now … And school’s out early and soon we’ll be learning; the lesson today is how to die, and then the bullhorn cackles, and the captain tackles with the problems and the how’s and the why … and you can see no reason, what reason do you need to die, die?” Tori Amos

Stunned, I waited. ‘We had just gone through a lot of information very quickly – in a hotel restaurant. I still grieve. I still pause prior to sharing, wording my words very carefully. Rather than answer, I asked why he was waiting on me. He said he ‘needed’ to keep busy. This soldier shared much about his life, his job, his work in the military. And unexpectedly, he shared about military vaccinations, experiments and returned to the topic of Hep C.

Slowly, this young man, watching me stare ahead, looking out the window, not at him, asked, “So, how did your brother die ‘with Hep C’?” Prior to answering, I shared about Kevin’s research, advocacy, his website linked by the VA, whipping out a card and handing it to him. I did not want to answer this question. I remember asking, “Don’t you need to wait on others? I’m not the only one here.” “Nope,” they’re all taken care of.”

This young man waited for my answer. And when I answered, he bowed his head and said, “I knew it. I could tell by your reaction. Let me know if you need anything. The military may not know how to take care of the soldiers, but we soldiers sure know how to take care of each other. Here’s my name and phone number. If you ever need anything, call.” Again, my world shifted. I ordered a small meal. When I left the restaurant, he shook my hand, took me by the elbow and shared kind words that still tear my eyes. I thanked him, turned, walked away, shoulders back, head down.

And I remembered the incident that occurred riding from the airport to this hotel. The driver, a young woman, spoke about AIDS and … asked me about Hep C. I had been up earlier that day, changed planes, been de-shoed ‘by’ airport security, had gone through a long, dang day to get my shoes in that car. I do not wear a sign, or a ribbon or an armband, yet this topic, conversation, seems to appear, repeatedly. Sometimes, I will just wait silently, perhaps hoping the topic will change. Nope, not this time. Dang it, not this time. I remember slumping in the back seat, working not to roll my eyes, fatigued from the day, fatigued from ‘where’ this conversation could go. The driver did not see or sense my reluctance. She chirped on and on, asking what I knew; she had some friends who had just been diagnosed. Within the enclosure of this car, from the airport to the taxi I shared information, facts. When we arrived at the hotel, she said, “I’m afraid now.”

“Afraid of what?” I asked. She said, “I’m afraid I could get it.” I paused, thought and said softly, “Well, this is no different than your mother telling you to look both ways before you cross the street. Now you do look both and you’re safer for it, right?” “Oh, yes,” she said. She thanked me, took the card I ‘share’ for Hep C advocacy, for Kevin, and she refused the tip. “Oh, no, I learned so much from you. No one here talks about it. We’re all frightened; I never could have learned this from the radio or TV. I can’t accept your money and I won’t.”

After I went up to my room, I fell backward on the bed. Had I shared too much? Why does this conversation keep occurring in my world? Did I share as an advocate, seven years now? I leaned over, exhausted, still dressed from the airport, bags at the door, I turned on the radio. The song on the radio was playing, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” and my eyes teared with tears that people do not see. I cried that perhaps – perhaps, again, I had shared what ‘was’ needed. And I lay on that bed, looking at the hotel ceiling until the song ended. Then I slowly got up, wiped my tears, unpacked my bags, re-entered my world. So, after the restaurant conversation, when the waiter, finished ‘our’ conversation, I went upstairs and sat in the chair overlooking the paved, empty parking lot.I prayed and asked God how I could honor Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly this fifth year. This ‘sharing’ here is my answer.

I also received this email:

“… you can talk directly to a person’s spirit now and help them. It takes some time to withdraw from the body … the Tibetans say weeks, in fact…that is, death begins weeks before the final breath is taken. At that time the spirit can be reached, and it is good for a relative or friend to sit with it mentally, a bit each night, and tell it what is happening and not to be dejected. We don’t have anything like the Tibetan book of the dead for our culture, but basically they remind the spirit of its divine nature, and that it is a natural thing which is happening and not to be confused or concerned.

… when you are dying, the subconscious turns inside out, its very hard to explain. That is why prayers to the spirit are so important. As the body loses (it), the wetware in the brain becomes incoherent. It’s hard to sort out present time from past and future time.”

I was forwarded this email last year, immediately, after posting my Fourth Tribute to Kevin, 2004:

“Thank you so much. This is a great way to start my day. I had given up trying to find the tribute to Kevin a few months ago. I had read it last year, had saved it to my favorites, and I would often go to the link and read from it. I lost the link when my computer crashed a few months ago, and (once I was up and running), I couldn’t remember his last name and didn’t know how to find the tribute anymore. I looked and looked — to no avail — and now – here it appears. Great way to start my day! It’s one of the best things I’ve ever read.”

Email received from a colleague:

“You did a very good job, Monette!  It’s just such a sad story, but with the facts as they exist, there’s not any other spin that could be put on it, and it touches emotions in the reader that probably aren’t touched often, which can be a good thing.  Just knowing he went through all that mostly alone is tragic, and your descriptions of the same are so vivid that it makes me very sad to read it. Your writing also educates the reader, as I’ve learned many things about a disease I have heretofore known little about. I personally know two people who have it right now, and it helped me understand more of what they are dealing with.”

Email received from a colleague:

“Just a quick note to say “Bravo” on your article (writings). I’m glad to know you’ve gotten a lot of support … on the Hep C issue. I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands just like me, who knew relatively nothing about it until you came along. I’m sure Kevin is watching over you with a protective and extremely proud eye. What a sister you are.”

Email received from an acquaintance:

“Monette, do you ever smell anything when you think of your brother?  Have you ever caught the faint scent of something while reviewing his life? For while I was reading this (his first tribute), a pleasant but unfamiliar odor of something like, but not exactly like, lilac, came over me! As soon as I was done reading, it was gone. I didn’t really realize it until the very end. Curious.”

Email received from the Internet:

“Woke up this morning to the strains of the X-Files theme song in my head. Strength, my friend.”

Email received from a member within the Hep C community:

“My sympathy’s to you and your family on Kevin’s passing.  It was indeed sad knowing a good person like him has gone on.  No, I didn’t know him personally, I just knew him from the hepv-l support list.  He gave such good advice and support for hundreds of people, and I think it’s a wonderful thing you are doing to go on and continue his work.”

Email received from someone who knew Kevin and worked with people within the Hep C community:

“For (Tina) to have treated Kevin as such, and then have the nerve to say to someone who knows the truth, that ‘these things mean more to me because he was my husband’, especially since she’s in health care and knows the ramification’s of such treatment, behavior is … inhuman, which is the only word to describe it. If you’re in a vindictive mood sometime, we can compose a letter from the Hep community that starts out like the subject line. It could go on to say that the Hep community knows of your relationship with Kevin, (Tina’s) the isolation and mental cruelty you subjected Kevin to is intolerable from another human being. Your (Tina’s) withholding of Kevin’s latest research has been seen as a blow to those that suffer with the same disease that would have taken Kevin’s life. This research may in the end have pointed to the origin of this mutated virus, and if it was man-made, could have forced an infusion of research funds that would rival AIDS and Cancer. The peace of mind that you are willingly withholding from millions of infected sufferers is despicable. You should be ashamed of yourself. If the saying, ‘What comes around, goes around’ is true, as one hopes, then you are in for a not so pleasant rest of your life, etc. You can type it, send it out here, and we can mail it.”

(I received many, many emails like this and declined all requests.)

Email received from friends of my mom and dad:

“Your ongoing account of the events preceding Kevin’s death are so sad. We did not know of the divorce – just one additional problem.  You can take comfort in the fact that you did visit him and kept in touch and made that sad final journey to attend his funeral.  You should have no regrets.  I hope that the family relations can work themselves out over time. And I hope that Kevin’s work and research is not lost to all those who depended on him. We have many friends who have lost children, and each handles it in his or her own way.  Some refuse to talk of the death.  Mothers will say that the child’s name was never mentioned after he died.  The father wanted it that way.  But it always seemed to me that to deny the death was to deny the life and that is not what I would want.  The family dynamics are forever changed; sometimes it makes the bond stronger, sometimes it divides. Like you, I also think that your dad was trying to keep busy on 11/14/01 – so he wouldn’t have time to think – but it doesn’t work that way.  It is an emotional day and the accompanying stress does make one more prone to mishaps.  That is what I meant by saying that I was not surprised about the date that this accident happened.” (The first birthday that Kevin was not here, my dad, in an effort “to keep busy that day” fell off a ladder and broke his shoulder.)

Email received from Hep C community:

” … his daughter-in-law Michelle is going to get everything we need out of the computer. I talked to her for about ten minutes. She is a very nice girl. I told her I wanted all his email lists as well as any other email addys (addresses) he had. I let her know that they were important for not only the research, but for me to continue helping vets around the country. I also asked her to get any files pertaining to HCV that are still in the computer. I mentioned if there were any printed files, I would like to have those as well. She was very willing and said it would be no problem to get the things I am asking for. Apparently, Tina has ok’d all of this. I also told Michelle that I would pay for any disc’s used and for the postage.” The Hep C community did not receive the requested information or computer or address book. The truth.

Email I received from a colleague after attending Kevin’s funeral:

“I’m so sorry to hear of all the things that have hit you.  How blessed you were to be able to help your family and be the one to be there for your brother.  You can be sure that in such a difficult time you were a big help to your parents.  I hope you are feeling better each day, and I hope your dad is getting better each day.”

Email received from a member within the Hep C community:

“I was shocked when I visited the website this morning and learned of Kevin’s death. I had no intention of even visiting the site today but for some reason I did. My husband has been fighting Hep C with PCT for the last two and a half years thru the VA hospital in Indianapolis. Several months ago, I put out a general E-mail on a chat room – don’t even remember which one – asking for help and information with the VA claims process – Kevin was the only answer back I received and his help was valuable beyond any expectation I had.  Not only the guidance he gave, but the hope he conveyed to fight for the rights of our Vietnam vets has helped thru many a long night when my husband was going thru his treatments. I for one will sadly miss a man I never met, but feel I knew.”

“The things you can’t remember are the things you can’t forget — that history puts a saint in every dream …” Tori Amos

Email received from a member within Hep C community:

“That tribute to Kevin, the Captain, was very beautiful indeed.  God, I had just spoken to him via the internet and I did not know that he was so near death.  He never talked about his own problems, as you said just tried to help others. It was a shock for me.  I too have HCV and contracted it via blood transfusion, active duty.  I failed treatments, as I was a non-responder. I am a fully disabled vet now, but I did build my own website.  I had asked Kevin before he passed if I could mention him on my site, and that is my tribute to him.  I will tell everyone I know.  They try to make you feel ashamed of having HCV, like its dirty or something.  But, well, I am not shy and I believe the Captain did a great service to veterans.”

Email received from member within Hep C community:

“That place where ‘member stories’ are posted is a ‘spin off’ of the old SHN broad (Now called WebMD) where I got to know Kevin.  As time passed, Kevin soon left (SHN), that place had way too much fighting about who was right. And the truth is each one of us has to find our own path.  That goes for all of life, no matter what it is about, each of us has an internal guide of what is right and what is wrong.  Kevin stayed in touch with me after the first few months.  Sometimes his e-mail would just be a cute joke or a way of looking at life to make you laugh.  Other times he was just saying ‘Hi!’ We cannot change what was — only try and live life as it is. And know that your brother has a good soul, so I know that he is in a fine place.  *He may even be able to read e-mail* 🙂 Carrie Sue Suldovsky

Email received from a member within the Hep C community:

“To all my friends on shore–I lost one of my Hep C activist friends to Hepatitis C — The Dragon.  In his honor, I am going to include an html that you can click on to go read about this extraordinary man:

http://www.oocities.com/hepvet//Kevin.html

 

Many of you on my list did not know Captain Kevin Donnelly.  He spent the last several years of his life helping veterans, and doing deep field research on Hepatitis C, and emailing out all the studies, abstracts, other pertinent information – some only available due to the Freedom of Information Act – to a rather large group of us activists out here on the internet.  His work is invaluable, both his work to help vets, and his deep field research.  His work with the vets was a key factor in opening the doors of the VA to help veterans afflicted with Hep C, and his deep field research has profound implications for the world at large. Kevin was not finished working that research into a cohesive whole yet, and we activists who are left have a sacred obligation set before us to do! I will miss my friend Kevin.  We exchanged email, shared information, gave each other encouragement, talked on the phone, joked about seagulls, and understood – at a deep level – each other’s loss to this disease. The best way I know how to both honor Kevin and fight The Dragon, is to give people information, to be sure that once that cohesive whole is reached, people are fully educated or at least aware regarding Kevin’s findings.  To that end, I begin here, now, giving my friends a chance to read about Kevin’s story.”

Email received from member within Hep C community:

“Kevin and I did a lot of work together over the Internet and had many phone conversations.  He and I did a radio interview here in Huntsville, AL (Kevin called and we had a three-way interview) where I live and started a support group with Kevin as my inspiration. I had been e-mailing Kevin for the past few weeks and never received a reply.  I thought he was mad at me.  I went to his website to look up some info for a fellow Vet who I work with and found out the awful news. I’m sitting here at work crying writing this e-mail.   Please let me know what I can do for Kevin. I felt like I always knew him and loved him dearly. I stood up for him when those who wanted to destroy him did their dirty work.”

Email received from a neighbor who knew Kevin all his life:

“Kevin was born and grew up in a house diagonally behind mine. Among his playmates were my children. I admired his intelligence and sometimes mordant wit. I am glad that in spite of his affliction, he found a way to transmute it into an activity that helped others. His too-early death was regretted by all who knew him.”

Email received from member within Hep C community:

“After a year a whole year … I now learn the truth. I am in such a state of shock. I had not one clue that Kevin had all that going on in his life. I’m so very sorry to learn all of this. I pray now for his soul. I cry ‘real tears running down my face!’ for my loosing a good friend, one who I only wish had shared with me as much as I shared with him. Kevin knew so very much about my life. Due to him being on the list he got to know me very, very well. The “list” had become my safe place. I could go there and tell all, the daily stuff we let get to us — the up and downs of life. Kevin was there with kind words when my grandparents needed me to care for them. Kevin was across the United States from me and my house, yet he was right here to help anytime I turned on my computer. He, as I, knew how there had to be something gone wrong for so many of us to be ill with HCV.”

Information sent and received from Internet:

Calverton Cemetery #  800-347-8619, Captain’s grave: Section 42, Grave #2502-R, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, NY  11933-0424  

 

Email received from a veteran who served with Kevin:

“After your call, a darkness descended on us. You may never really understand how dear Kevin is to us.  The news of his death is a very hard knock for us, all by it self. I have put my Hep. C on the backburner, and visit my doctors very quietly and without fanfare. It may sound a little odd to you, but here it is. I have decided that I want nothing to do with the whole issue of Hep. C.  I am being a little selfish here, I know. But it is just that I want to preserve the best qualities of life that I can, for my families sake. I can not change what has happened to us, but I can choose what course I go down. And, aside from seeing a doctor now then, I do not want to devote any of my “Precious” time to this issue. Please try and understand.  Life is to short and I feel that I have to make this very painful decision for my family. I would be honored to meet you in person. I do wish you the best in your endeavor to carry on Kevin’s quest. You certainly sound like you have the “Intestinal Fortitude” {one of Kevin’s favorite terms = The Guts} for the job. And I know Kevin is very pleased with all that you are doing. Oh, by the way, I don’t know if I told you but, I have been receiving full cooperation from the V.A.  Any time or anything I need, they have put at my disposal.  This is an exception to the rule, but it is happening this way because of Kevin’s work, I am sure.”

Email received from an acquaintance:

“I was so insensitive and never sent a card after I heard about your brother’s death.  That is such a terrible disease. My husband’s mom died from that disease, too.  She just took such a rapid decline. She could have NO protein, lost weight, lost clarity in her thoughts, bruised all the time and then finally died.  We had round the clock care for her, and she got so ornery she kept firing everyone that was hired.  It was a tough go of it. My heart goes out to you and your brother’s family.”

Email received from a mentor:

“I admire your stance on your brother’s death.  As we spoke before, I think his legacy was one that you are now charged with bringing to the world (what an awesome responsibility).  As if you had nothing more to do.”

Email received from Kevin’s friend and veteran:

“First, I wish to share with you how hurt I am, by my government’s actions and ways.  I gave my best to my country. I actually ended up doing multiple tours of duty in three branches of the service. … I ran a surgical clinic. You see I bought into their bullshit. You know what I mean; don’t ask what your country can do for you… mom’s apple pie, honor and country, etc….  Then I grew up or maybe I just woke up. Anyways, I became very disillusioned at first. I really believed we all represented the country’s finest. And our government would always be there for us. And I have to wonder, is our gov. this ignorant? The wall of propaganda the government depends on to fool its countrymen is deteriorating more and more with each passing generation.  I think this is what frightened the gov. the most about Timothy McVeigh, not the death of the innocent victim’s, but warrior recognizing his enemy, and the threat it poses. A warrior they created! (don’t misunderstand me here. I do not believe or support the actions taken by McVeigh. I just feel that I can understand his motivation. I am sorry. I am getting a little carried away here and I don’t want to give you the wrong impression.

Kevin is (sic) one dearest of the people in my life. We naturally go way back. We became men together. Our comradely, shared memories, and experiences represented the essence of true friendship. A bond that was everlasting.  This was best demonstrated when Kevin called me, after nearly 20 years of no contact.  It was as if I had just seen him yesterday. I immediately was at his disposal. Anything for my brother.  In the beginning, I worked very hard for Kevin. (as a silent partner; we both decided this was best.) We communicated by phone and snail mail daily, for secrecy needs. And on the net when it was in our best interest to do so.

Kevin understood instantly that I could be a valuable resource to his research and our newly defined mission, and I responded with the same enthusiasm for truth as did Kevin. After about a year of working with Kevin on a daily basis, I started to back off on the big picture and started focusing on my own Hepatitis C and my own personal battles with the V.A. (which Kevin was in full agreement with). And boy, did I rattled a few cages at my local V.A., which seemed to entertain Kevin immensely.  To this day, my locale V.A. is baffled as to origins of all these copies of ‘The Panama Story’ showing up in the waiting rooms.  I watched many copies leave the building in the hands of veterans.”

After my dad’s Hep C diagnosis, I received:

“It is a strange world, Monette. My heart goes out to your father and you. How terrible. Keep praying, I believe there is purpose even in our horrible experiences, but I hate them just the same.”

After my dad’s diagnosis, I received:

SHIT isn’t the word for it honey pie. But then I can’t picture you saying the BIG word, so I’ll say it for both of us. I’ve been saying it all afternoon. Your dad is NOT of a healthy age, or healthy enough, to withstand interferon. How old is he exactly? He’s probably had this for 26 years, and he could be in a cirrhosis stage by now. I also know people who have been in cirrhosis for over 20 years with Hep C, including my wonderful friend who got Hep C from a tattoo in a concentration camp in Germany. She, only this past May, died from Liver Cancer due to the Hep C. She was well into her 80s. She only got really sick with it when it went into the cancer. So tell him to keep his chin up.

Depression, moodiness, lack of appetite, insomnia, dark urine, bad taste in his mouth, itchy skin, discolored skin (yellow) are all symptoms. Should he feel the need to have some wine, they are making a couple different brands of non-alcoholic wine that are pretty tasty. Join the angry masses my dear. This surely is everyman’s disease. The chances of your mom being infected too are very small, but I’m glad you told her to get tested too. ASSURE them both that this may not kill him either! Many more people live with this than die from it. Besides, he has nine lives and he hasn’t used up enough of them yet, so I know the good Lord will NOT take him with this disease. Give your mom my love. This has to be killing her. Hug your folks and tell your dad my heart is with him….and with all of you.”

 

After I received dad’s diagnosis, I emailed 12/16/04:

Dad phoned me this morning, stunned, right after he learned, on the phone from the doctor’s office. Dad went to GP for checkup.  GP thought it ‘was liver’ and perhaps prostate cancer had moved up. On that theory, the day after Thanksgiving, dad went for a liver scan and later blood work.  I kept insisting he not fool around with this.  I even stomped a few offices when they would not give him an appointment until January. I kept thinking of Kevin and liver.  No matter what, if it’s liver, it can be serious, Kevin would say.

Many people were upset with me for phoning the doctors’ offices and raising hell; I don’t give a damn and said so.  He was not to wait until January for an appointment, not with his health history and cancer history. Dad phoned stunned today and said they may suggest interferon (before a liver biopsy!).  I had a talk with him about ‘gas’ and told him he needs to find out the strain, etc., that I would (be) asking for specific questions.  I also told him that mom needs to be tested.  Stunned, he agrees.

Dad is now getting a script for more blood work, and he will ask for one for mom; then he will go and have blood drawn. I am unclear if a (mature) man with all his health issues, should even consider undergoing interferon, a drug which Kevin always said was not good (in his time).  Perhaps it has changed since Kevin’s death, but I do not believe a man with dad’s age and health issues is strong enough to be ‘gassed’.  Dad also asked if he can drink wine. … I said, “you know the answer, but you should sip slowly, if you do….”

Dad has outrun death since 1977 — TRULY.  Doctors have told us they are unable to figure out how he has survived.  The first surgeon in 1977 did not bill dad, when dad pulled out tubes from his arm, left the hospital and drove from the east coast to California, sending a picture to the doctor with his toe in the Pacific Ocean — after that doctor gave him, maybe, six months to live. All I can do is wonder ‘how’ two members of my family could get this. Dad had many blood transfusions in late seventies, early eighties. Thank you for your response. I’m ‘stunned’, but am cheerful to dad.  I keep telling him, they thought it was liver cancer and it’s only Hep C — Out of the two, Hep C is a better draw.  Dad agrees.

Head low, I’ve been through so much with Hep C and Kevin’s path and then post-his death.”

The email received below is in response to the above-email:

WHAT???? OH MY GOD WHAT DID YOU SAY??????? THIS CAN’T BE TRUE!!!!!

He needs a Genotype Test and an HCV RNA PCR QUANTITATIVE TEST. Have them do a ‘CBC With Differential’ and a full blood work-up. He needs to know his liver enzyme levels, albumin and bilirubin levels, iron and Ferritin levels, protein levels and he needs a PTT and especially an Alfa Feto Protein test. (the last is a tumor marker)

OMG, I am crying here. This is just unbelievable. Tell him to get a liver biopsy. At his age, they most likely will not let him do treatment. This is just so shocking. I’m sooooo sorry to hear this, and to have you all go through this AGAIN. What an awful Christmas present for you all. Please know that I am praying for all of you and for his tests to come back looking good. How could Kevin let this happen up there?? That was probably not a very fair thing to say…sorry.”

I received this email received immediately after the above email:

They can’t recommend interferon until they see the biopsy and assess his case after the biopsy. That would be foolish to tell him to take therapy without knowing what’s going on with his liver. There are many options. Not just intereferon. He may do well without the therapy and might be able to wait until something better comes along. It all depends on his biopsy and how far advanced his disease is. The treatment is very, very rough and at his age, if the disease isn’t far advanced, I would think that they would just let it rest and have him take good care of his liver. Just my opinion. Again, it all depends on his biopsy. We won’t know anything until then…just speculations.”

Newspaper article, Sunday June 26, 2005

“Hepatitis C testing will be offered free”By Tracy Idell Hamilton

” … The San Antonio AIDS Foundation is offering the free hepatitis tests along with free HIV tests – Monday is National HIV Testing Day. …And for every person infected with HIV, four are infected with Hepaitis C, said Dr. Anastacio Hoyumpa. In 1999, only 51 cases of Hepatitis C were reported to the city’s public health department. In 2004, more than 4,000 cases were reported.”

Conversation I had with a member within Hepatitis C community:

“My turning point was LeighAnn and Kevin, to start. We’d talk about him not getting a transplant and Kevin would say, “My family has grown and I’ve lived my life.”

Conversation I had with a member within Hepatitis C community:

“Kevin always had a joke to make someone laugh. He was always on chat rooms helping others. We made a connection. He helped a lot of people. We were personal friends. He made me smile, and he was a funny guy, And I miss Kevin, I do, and he was a good guy. Every Vet I meet, I ask, Do you have Hep C? They say, I don’t know. I say, Get Tested. 63% of all Viet Nam veterans have Hep C. I was wounded twice, had surgeries. The meatball surgeries were done in Viet Nam. They patched you up, sewn you up and put you back in war. … That’s how I got Hep C. Now I help others.”

Conversation with veteran, friend of Kevin, 2005:

“Kevin and I used to talk about Hep C, where the virus came, the numbers of people with Hep C. I don’t understand … for all the statistics with Hep C and the numbers, there’s not a lot of talking about Hep C. There needs to be more talking. Look at the numbers with AIDS and the numbers with Hep C, nobody is talking. When Kevin was really active and things were getting spooky, Kevin wanted me to call the same people he did, to see if I got the same reactions. I started getting phone calls at my home at 3:00 a.m. from people, many who would not identify themselves. Some were from people all over the world, WHO (World Health Organization) representatives, many were from Australia. All of them would say, you’re on the right track, you’re getting closer. Some would say ‘keep going,’ others would say, ‘stop it.’ We were talking to top virologists around the world. One woman told us where she was working and said she could lose her career, and she said to keep working. Kevin and I received these calls at our homes in the middle of the night. And Kevin phoned me when the federal van parked in the cul-de-sac. He phoned me, as he was watching it.

But what bothers me still, is why aren’t people talking about the numbers. Where did it come from? What’s going on with the increasing numbers of people. Nobody is talking. I’ve seen the mathematical (tables). People are buying time. They should be talking about the disease. Kevin did all he could. He did.”

So I ask, will you accept my invitation to share with others? I have tried to address some of the ‘who, when, where, what, how and why’ here. Many of the answers are in prior postings each year. I have labored to be respectful of Kevin’s widow and family, people, my own family. Time is slipping away. I have shared conversations, emails from people who were with Kevin five years ago tonight, people who were important in Kevin’s world. I have shared conversations, emails from people who gave me the strength, the courage to move forward; I also shared the moment I decided ‘I had’ to write this Fifth Tribute.

“So put a candle in the window and a kiss upon his lips,as the dish outside the window fills with rain…You pay the fiddler off until I come back again, and it’s time, time, time, it’s time.” Tori Amos

Time is slipping away. Some research and data that Kevin requested ‘be’ tucked away, photocopied, per Kevin’s request, is being shared where we may and will continued to be shared. People are waiting. Please accept my invitation to plant seeds for others. They will thank you. They will. You will help others. You will. As I wrote earlier, preparing this Tribute, emails ‘suddenly’ did not work, my phone unexpectedly began to not work, again. Last night, my husband looked at me and said, “You know what Kevin would say, don’t you?” I replied, “Oh, yes, honey, I believe I do. I know I do. And then he would tell me to ‘deal with it’ and get back to work.”

And I end with the email that began at the top of this sharing with ‘Part One of this Fifth Tribute’ to Captain Kevin Donnelly, after sharing more information, continuing to comfort others, –I continue to challenge the virologists, journalists, medical professionals, government officials, veterans to come forward and to change this path, one conversation at a time. I gathered all these pictures from pictures Kevin had. Some pictures had staples still included in the photo, others had tape still attached. I know these pictures were important to Kevin.I took the pictures to the store and had digital copies made, with prints.The man and woman working on the pictures, volunteered they “don’t know anyone with Hep C yet” and they thanked me for my work. They ended with: “You are doing good work. You really are.” I nodded my head, experienced a twinge in my stomach, turned to exit the store. With the pictures in my right hand, the stereo that had not been playing began mid-song to sing through the speakers. 

Carly Simon was singing: “Hey, ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend …You just call out my name, and you know I’ll be there. Hey now, all you’ve got to do is call. Lord, I’ll be there, yes, I will.” James Taylor

I paused, the hair stood up on the back of my neck; I looked up to the ceiling where the speakers were tucked. I nodded my head for a moment, I listened for a moment, put my shoulders back, my chin up.I exited the store into the hot Texas heat, got in the car and drove back to the trenches. I began this Tribute with this email.

I want to end with this email I received from dear friend:

“I know your brother made a difference on the planet out of what you share with me about him. Kevin’s willingness to keep having a conversation that many people wanted to ignore has made a difference with many people and also allowed Kevin to experience for himself a purpose being fulfilled.”

 

This picture is ‘Rambo’, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, in the Catskills, a member of the Catskill 500 Mountain Climbing Association. This was a ‘path’ Kevin had to take to earn his Catskill certification membership. A membership Kevin earned and cherished.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly

November 14, 1958 – August 5, 2005

Fifth Year Tribute

Home Page

1www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

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