Thursday, June 10, 2010


Kurt and Brent, Havasupai, 2008

Something rubs my eyes with sandpaper.

Something burdens my shoulders with a load of lead.

Something holds my chest tightly so I can catch only shallow breaths.

Something chases my thoughts so they skitter around without a resting place.

My previous visits with this something have hardly been pleasant, but THIS something, this current grief, is raw and harsh and powerful and torments me in waves.


Last night at 10:40, I was folding clothes on the couch with David, watching So You Think You Can Dance.

Josh was off to his first three-night backpacking trip, so the house felt a little more empty than normal. Ben and Kate were finally asleep. Sophie was feeling hot and came out to beg for the fan to cool down her room.

The phone rang. It was my mom and dad. David said, "This is a little late for them to be calling."

I answered, and Dad said, his voice cracking, "We have some sad news."

I thought maybe something had happened to my sweet 93 year old grandma.

But he said, "We lost Brent today. He was caught under a waterfall at Havasupai."

And the world stopped. Just like that.

I couldn't speak. I could only wail. Mom said, "Give the phone to David." So I did. And Sophie came over and started to rub my back and hug me. I couldn't hear what David was saying. Ugly, ugly grief grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go.


My brothers Brent and Kurt had a special love for the Havasupai reservation, and I will admit I was jealous EVERY TIME they went. It's a hidden treasure at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, with pristine waterfalls and pools. They'd been looking forward to this trip for months. Four of them hiked in on Sunday and another group joined them yesterday.

From what I understand, they were hanging out in the water, jumping off rocks, talking, taking pictures, and then Brent wasn't there anymore. They searched for him. They didn't know what had happened to him. And then someone found him.

After Brent was found, a helicopter came to take him away. Kurt had to get to the village of Supai to call my dad, and then hike out with three of his friends, friends who have given so much of themselves to my sweet brothers that they should be adopted into our family. I am forever grateful that Kurt had them surrounding him through this horrible horrible time.


I wanted to have lots of pretty words to say about my brother. They will have to wait. This is not the time for pretty-ness.

Do I have faith in the plan of salvation? Yes. Will I see Brent again? Yes. Does this take away the bone-crunching grief? Maybe it will in another few days, but for now I'm wearing it like a concrete vest, not by choice, but by fact.

There are sweet moments of rest. Speaking with my family and dear friends. Playing the piano. Loving my babies.

And there are moments when the reality of this crashes down around me.

I must also say, while I should hardly be shocked at the outpouring of love from so so SO many, I am. I'm greatly humbled by your love, by your kindnesses, and by your prayers. I am so very grateful. Thank you for loving Brentie and for loving us. Your prayers have helped us and will continue to help us. I remember a time in my life a few years ago where I felt the prayers of others supporting me like an actual web of love. The physical power of prayer is real. I know we need it now and will continue to need it. Thank you for offering it.

I miss my good, sweet, smart, handsome, kind brother. I MISS him.

Kate said, "It would be great if Jesus would come again tomorrow so we would only miss Brent for one day."

Yes, Kate. Yes, it would.


Sibber said...

Oh dear dear Kerri... I'm so very sorry! Brent looks and sounds like he was an incredible young man! I pray that the Lord will let you know of our love and hugs and warm thoughts for you at this tender and difficult time! Please know that we are thinking of you. Family is everything... thankfully we have the gospel that ties us together! I love you Kerri!

Danielle said...

Oh, Kerri! I just wish I could give you a hug. Love you!

Linda said...

we are so sorry--Life is hard sometimes. We are praying for you and your family! We love you!

MBlairsLars said...

Kerri, There is nothing that anyone can say to make you feel better, but knowing that so many people have you, and your family in your thoughts and prayers does bring comfort. Thank goodness for testimonies. Although we have strong testimonies, it doesn't take away the current pain. It is heartbreaking that our lives can change with just a phone call. Please know we are praying for you.

Brett T. Abbott, Esq. said...

I've been reading your blog for years now, and this was the first time I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it. I just couldn't believe it. I was at Legoland with my family when I called home and found out. We are in town on our vacation this week, so we've had some fun times with your family. They came to our daughter's baby blessing last Sunday. And now this.
I went over to your house last night and gave Matt, your mom and dad a big hug. I cried like a baby; your parents amazingly kept it together. Your dad had some inspiring words about our Father's plan. I am so sorry for your loss. I loved Brent like a brother - I mean I literally saw him every day almost for about 15 years. He was my best friend. I can't imagine what it's like to lose a brother. I now know what it's like to lose a best friend, but I do not pretend that it's the same thing. You have an amazing family. Imagine having to go through this without family.
On the drive home, my four-year old, Jacob, said he was sorry that my best friend died. He then said that we should just pray so Jesus can bring him back.
I wish that could happen. Some day, I just wish it was now.

Gaylene said...

What wonderful insight from Kate. I am happy for the plan of salvation, as well, and the the sentiments it teaches us; especially the children in our lives and their sweetness and humility. I love you all.

Margaret said...

Kerri, I am crying for you. You are such a beautiful person.
Love and prayers to you, David, and the kids.

Amber said...

I think only you could have put together words so beautifully about such a horrible topic. Keep talking, blogging, playing, hugging and crying.

Sara said...

We were so saddened to hear of this news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family during this time.

Much love,

The Wyatt Family

Pearl Mahar said...

Hello Kerri Youngberg Green,

I am very sorry about the loss of your brother. We were at Havasupai the same time your brother and friends were down there. We didn't witness the event to say what happened, but saw that Brent was cared for in a kind manner with respect after it happened.

We have been going to Havasupai annually for over 20 years. If you would like to contact me...


Tyson and Laurel said...

oh kerri. our hearts are broken. our prayers are with you. we love you. so thankful that we have the gospel to add some light to this sad and broken time.

Sarah said...

Your writing brings out so much emotion. Even though I have no idea how you feel, this post made me cry.

Your family is in our thoughts A LOT. Steve and I think it is pretty neat that you have such a close family, and our knit together so tightly. Our families are not that close-and it says mountains that your is.

I am glad your kids and yourself have such happy memories!

Anonymous said...

Desi just told me this morning and I had to come and read for myself. Your words of course made the emotions run deep...beautifully shared. My heart aches for all of you. I have happy, sweet memories of Brent to reflect upon. Those memories won't fade...some from younger days, and then the latest: cute photos shared here of he and your kiddos. Love, hugs, and prayers sent to all of the Youngbergs that we love so very much!!! xoxo, katrina

Michelle said...

I am stunned.

I am so sorry. So very, very sorry.

My only advice-- spread your grief around, give a piece to everyone who will take a piece of it. Beg for prayers. I'm sending you mine.

Natalie said...

Kerri, this is a beautifully written post. You have a gift for expressing yourself through words. I am thinking of you today and wish I could take the heartache away for you. :( Your brother sounds like he was an amazing person who was loved by many, many people. Please know you're in my prayers.

Shannon said...

This was so hard to read, Kerri. I'm so sorry for you and for your family. Been thinking about you. Love ya.

Edie Lambert said...

Dear Kerri,
I was so shocked and sad to read about the sudden loss of your brother. My heart is with you and your family. Brent sounds like a wonderful man and his death is just simply a huge loss. I hope you know you are surrounded by love, support and prayer. You will need to walk this journey through the crushing grief that you described so well, but you do not walk that journey alone.
Sending you and your family love,

icoleman said...

I'm thinking about you and sending my love, Ilsa

Camilla said...

So sorry for your loss. I can not imagine the pain you must be in.

Tracy said...

I wish I was there to hug you.

FLEUR de Lo said...

Hi Kerri,

I've been absent from blogland for a while so I just heard the news. I'm so, so sorry to hear about your brother. You hit the nail on the head when talking about your grief. I think it would be nearly impossible to survive it without the knowledge of the plan of salvation, but even that just barely takes the edge off the suffering in the beginning. I think it hurts so much because we love so much. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


Anonymous said...

Brent was a amazing friend,smart and funny. Worked with him at Canon for four years. We had so much fun at Canon and outside of work. He helped me through a rough time in my life. I miss him so much and didn't get a chance to truely let him know how I felt. I'm praying for your family. Love you Brent. Chandra

Natalie. said...


I just want you to know that I am SO sorry for you, for your mother, your father. . . all of you.

Know that today, my every prayer belongs to you.

So much love,