Not long ago, a young Rappahannock boy’s life was cut short in a tragic auto accident. This week he would’ve celebrated his 20th birthday, as his mom, Kim McKiernan, so poignantly wrote on the Facebook page dedicated to young Logan’s life, where his family and friends share their memories and hurt. This author would like to reprint an ode to the young man’s life that she penned shortly after he left our world. His mom would like me to share it with you.
Logan, handsome boy that you are,
a Rappahannock boy,
full of life, gumption and gallop,
a poster child for a young Marlon Brando, a James Dean boy
always a bit over the edge
pushing the envelope a bit
but mostly being a boy — a sweet, endearing baby 16-year-old boy
a boy who has known since early childhood
that cystic fibrosis was his destiny
knowing that he might not outlive his folks
but his little life was still cut short, so very short
and he lived life to the fullest
breathing every moment
challenging every moment
your parents, Kim and Mike
like my boy Hans
and Evan and Patrick and James
and your Rappahannock High friends
frozen by the news
their fun loving, spirited buddy
is no longer
remember having you here Logan
cooking hearty breakfasts
ya’ll couldn’t get enough fresh Rappahannock bacon and eggs
nor beef and potato dinners
don’t remember what time all of you went to bed sometimes
after a weekend night of laughing and talking and sharing
already fast asleep
I miss you Logan
you were a good boy
God bless you and your family
my heart bleeds right now
because I can’t imagine your mom and dad’s pain
We miss you Logan, so very much
bless your beautiful heart
from all of us here in Rappahannock
Brittani Dodson of Sperryville exemplifies all that is good in the world. She is a beautiful young woman, currently studying nursing at Shenandoah University, a graduate of Rappahannock County High School. She was the president of the National Honor Society, among other scholarly achievements.
During her senior year, she lost her beloved cousin, Lauren Payne, afflicted with Rett syndrome — not unlike a severe form of cerebral palsy, meaning she couldn’t walk, talk or take care of herself. She was loved, and died with Brittani at her bedside. (Logan McKiernan, remembered above, was also a classmate and friend of hers.)
Many would have buckled. Brittani, however, was a tower of strength, and committed herself all the more to the world of special-needs children. As president of the local NHS chapter, she promoted a program to read in local schools, and unlike some of her peers, was excited not only to read to kindergartners, but to read to the special-needs children she felt were so neglected.
She became fast friends with Michelle Jenkins of Sperryville, who embraced Brittani’s pain, having lost a son, a special needs child, not so very long ago. She became a mentor.
Earlier this year, Shenandoah University administered a trip in exchange for a winning essay. Brittani, along with a group of health-care majors, won and went to Panama in March, ostensibly as a sightseeing trip and to widen cultural horizons. While there, they were connected with a family from North Carolina who had adopted children and were in the process of building a special-needs orphanage.
This family was keen on feedback from these talented future health-care practitioners, consulting about equipment and all manner of needs — and then, on their own dime, Brittani and several other Shenandoah students returned to Panama last month, offering consultation and volunteering at local orphanages. Brittani tells me she’d like to go back again in December. The orphanage is now located in a former hospital and is the first and only special-needs orphanage in the country.
Michelle, Brittani’s kind mentor and Rappahannock cheerleader, has offered the Sperryville fire hall for bake sales and dinners to raise funds for another trip to Panama. Brittani says she would humbly welcome not only attendance at these future fundraisers, but any donations of clothing, including diapers and other needed children’s items. You can reach Brittani at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 540-423-7808.
Beyond moved by this young lady, I sat in her kitchen talking to her and her lovely mom this past Saturday morning, all of us sharing silent tears over the loss of Brittani’s lovely young cousin Lauren, and Logan, who would have turned 20 this week.
Brittani’s mom Sharon, in a mom-to-mom moment, poignantly relayed how she wasn’t sure Brittani was going to make it through her senior year of high school: how devastated she was, so hurt, so much death touching her little person. You did good, Sharon, your daughter is beautiful and will blaze trails. She is a gift to all of us.