October 18, 2010
Kaden’s life was a short four years. The grief that his friends and family felt when he died was palpable. The brief life of this little boy created such a depth of feeling in those who knew him that one couldn’t help but sense and be moved by it. I offered to create a drawing. The parents decided that some of Kaden’s happiest moments were when he was being pulled in his wagon by a fellow “Yellow Jacket” classmate. Sesame Street’s Elmo, a smiling, hugable, exuberant character, was a favorite buddy. I created an Elmo image on his shirt that could be flying or reaching for a hug; the things that Kaden might like to do if his body had served him better. There’s a hint of the Kansas yellow brick road.
The family invited me to the dedication of the drawing at Sunnyside Elementary School in Olathe, KS. A large group of Kaden’s family, teachers, classmates and friends stood round as Grandpa Rick unveiled the drawing. There was a soft exclamatory sound and the tears welled, remembering Kaden and feeling the loss.