He was my friend because he showed me over and over that he cared--about me, what I said, what I wrote, and what I thought. Through Facebook, we found out we had a lot of similar beliefs. He was my friend because he made me smile, nearly every week if not every day over the last few years. He was the kind of man, I wish I had known better, and met earlier, and spent more time with, and learned more from. He seemed to know how to say just the right thing when I'd post something that was controversial in our conservative circles, or when I needed to be encouraged or cheered. Sometimes, I wrote something that was a really hard truth for me, and then I'd want to delete it--but then I'd wait and often within the hour Keith would comment positively.
The last time I saw Keith was at the Storymakers Conference in Provo the middle of May--just a couple of months ago. When I saw him and called his name, he immediately got up from his chair to greet me and give me a great big Keith hug. I said, something like thanks for reading my Facebook posts and liking them. It means a lot to me. And he said something like, no, thanks to you for writing and saying what you do. You are doing good. He encouraged me to keep at it. We talked about how hard it is to think differently than so many whom we associate with. We talked for a few more minutes. Then throughout the day, we'd pass in the hall or in a class and I'd give him a nod or a wave. And that was the last time I saw him in person.
At the end of June, I had a meeting at my house on loving and supporting our LGBT friends and family. And Keith told me he was going to try to come. I knew he wanted to, though it was a two hour drive. I wish he had been able to because I would have loved spending that time with him, but I suspect he wasn't feeling well even then. His heart attack happened a couple of weeks later, and then there was so much more wrong. I was shocked today when he died. I wasn't ready for it. I went to his blog to read his last post. It was written on July 25th. Like much of his posts, it's poignant and touched my heart. It's fitting to end this tribute with his own words. I hope you will take the time to read it.
Bye my friend. You were a big man, with a big heart, and a magnificent soul. You leave a big void. I hope Heaven is ready for you. Until we meet again.