Happy Birthday, Kevin Drue, 2003
By Kevin’s Sister
Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.
“Why? I gave him my Word.”
As my brother Kevin’s 44th birthday passes today, November 14, 2003; I bow my head, say a prayer, lean into the wind and share:
Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, born November 14th, 1958, is greatly missed by his birth family, soldiers and friends who knew him personally and professionally.
As Kevin’s sister, I desire to share this past year has been one where we, as a ‘new’ family, continue to move forward, honoring Kevin’s life, which ended August 5th, 2000, too early, too sad, too quickly.
Kevin died with hepatitis – documented to result from military vaccinations – after the course of events and facts I’ve shared to be true.
For those invested and interested, you will want to know that I’ve met with a film director.
Kevin used to say:
“The only good thing about hepatitis is the family that it creates.”
I know many, many agree.
I did not understand this upon Kevin’s death.
I continue to share ‘facts’ which needed to be withheld, would be withheld and would be timely shared.
As the honorable time shortens and departs, new possibilities are created.
How sad they are being created.
How liberating it is to pull aside the black curtain and to share what transpired in his life and within his world.
Kevin’s birth family continues to heal.
We gathered for the 50th wedding anniversary of my mom and dad (a veteran) at my brother’s home (another veteran).
Kevin was greatly missed by each person, who remembered an athlete, blond-haired, bright green eyes, long eyelashes, a young man with big goals.
We spoke of him, often as we gathered.
I believe almost every man in attendance that day was a veteran.
My parents, siblings and those who ‘grew up’ with Kevin, continue to place one foot forward, one step at a time.
Though stunned from his sudden death, funeral, no eulogy, no obituary, incorrect rank on his tombstone, the actions, statements and opinions shared with Kevin’s parents and myself, to date not one phone call placed to his parents from Kevin’s legal family (in law, defined to me by the funeral director, cemetery personnel, detective, medical examiner, etc. as ‘widow’), we were respectful to others.
After the 2003 Washington, D.C. Hepatitis C rally, when I delivered the first and, to date, only eulogy since Kevin’s death, 2 years and 9 months after he was removed from the residence — the action of his eulogy focused energy to continue honoring Kevin for all he shared and accomplished with others.
So many veterans shared.
Many cried, many shared, heart wide open.
They ‘get it’.
I continue to honestly answer questions posed to me about his personal life, the last few years of his life within the residence where he lived and communicated via email and on the phone with thousands upon thousands of veterans, hepatitis C patients, family members, journalists, media representatives, elected and appointed officials, physicians and individuals within medical professions, personnel in governmental bureaucracies, private and public institutions — the list of people with whom he communicated is astonishing.
My message tonight is one of hope.
As I wrote when you began reading this: I recently had the honor of meeting with an accomplished film director.
I have kept my Word to Kevin, to my parents and to the people within the hepatitis C community.
Until what rightfully belongs to the hepatitis C community, Kevin’s library and e-mail address is returned, and until what rightfully belongs to Kevin’s parents (items not of monetary value, only sentimental), are returned to Kevin’s parents, I will continue this path.
This is my Word to my deceased youngest brother when we last hugged our good-bye.
This is my Word to those who were kind, helping me when I was alone, when I did not know how to look forward, when I needed the assistance of strangers to focus my life and this path.
So many people continue to urge me to share the truth, facts and this story.
My goal already accomplished, though compartmentalized, is that others will never live what I witnessed and experienced after Kevin’s diagnosis and death.
A path such as this creates the ability to become scarred — or to create tools for others to become educated with information to avoid history repeating itself.
I choose education and advocacy, as did Kevin.
I choose the truth about hepatitis C and Kevin’s life and death.
I know many adults and teens have read my messages and are preventing the ‘horror’ of what transpired in my brother’s life as he worked alone in his office, downstairs in the residence of a house where he died.
This has not been an easy road, folks.
Sometimes I sigh and listen, in the quiet moments.
Good must come from this.
To permit otherwise, would be dishonest and disrespectful to Kevin, my parents, all veterans and individuals diagnosed with hepatitis C.
It would also be dishonest to those who will contract this virus.
Did you know there’s a hepatitis J?
The virus mutates and continues to do so.
As I wrote two years ago, I documented in detail, placing the information in the hands of others, due to the ‘odd’ course of events and actions that began the night of his death.
Grief creates interesting emotions, as does anger and greed.
As Kevin’s only sister, I listened; I listened with intent and integrity.
During the meeting with the accomplished film director, I stated my goal of creating this true story into a movie, continuing to share and to advocate for veterans, hepatitis C, families living with hep C and families hoping to avoid the virus.
The CDC shares that over five million people within the U.S. have contracted this virus, a number that does not include current military personnel, veterans, homeless or prison populations.
Why do over five million people diagnosed with ‘any’ virus have to wonder why there is not more investigative reporting honestly sharing what this virus is, what is does, where it came from, where it may be going, and what will prevent the virus from being spread?
While we are asking questions, we need to include illnesses that occur with this virus and also those that result from contracting hepatitis.
I’m not a medical professional. I do know multiple complications occur with hepatitis C, which involve kidney problems, overall health issues; there may be depression, isolation, suicide.
Many of the illnesses that result or are created from hepatitis C and/or depression, do not include hepatitis as a stat, when the person is diagnosed or counted.
What a shame.
How does one track where we are headed, if we are unable to accurately track where we are and from where we have come?
Multiple diseases, symptoms and medical problems result from any disease affecting five million individuals, a number within only one country.
The public and those who follow the diagnosis of hepatitis in any of its virus stages, deserve to know origins, facts, truth and inaccuracies, which attempted to become facts.
Documentation, accurately sharing, and making a film to educate and to advocate, continues to motivate and to generate energy.
The sharing is factual and personal, stored in private places with multiple people, so we may sort what is correct, what is accurate and what is: the Truth.
Thank you to so many who continue to share kind moments from my brother’s life.
You are the heroes, now.
You are the reason my brother worked so tirelessly.
Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly truly was passionate about education, advocacy and assisting veterans and others.
May his path never be forgotten.
May you never tread upon our path.
May we move forward together.
I focus on truth; upon what will now help others, what will help veterans, hepatitis C patients, family members, veterans in prison, hospice patients, homeless veterans and individuals, and what has become a catalyst for honor and respect.
Happy birthday, Kevin. I know we would have spoken today, November 14th.
After your hep C diagnosis, I sent you a fountain, shaped ‘as’ a mountain with pine trees planted along hiking trails, to symbolize the mountains you used to climb with Eugene, when you were members of the Catskill’s Mountain Climbing Club.
To date less than one thousand people have accomplished what you and Eugene earned.
You wrote me that the ‘durn’ (not the exact word used) fountain kept reminding you to ‘pee’ as your kidneys were failing.
You still found humor in the dark moments.
Your last birthday gift was a calendar sponsored by a wolf association, an animal you greatly respected for its survival instincts.
This year, I send you my love and the wonderful knowledge of knowing we are moving forward in creating the movie.
Charlie Rose, PBS television interviewer and most respected journalist, here we come.
If you have moments, e-mails and memories you would like to share to become part of this movie project, e-mail me, please.
With honor and respect, I will retain confidentiality upon request; I will share what is factual – what is the Truth.