A failed paternity test and the passing of a toddler son — how tragedy bonded this couple

When Keith first laid eyes on Kelsey, he knew she was something special. While he was not much of a party boy, he reluctantly went to an Atlanta pool party with his friends, and it’s a good thing he did.

After arriving, Keith was immediately drawn to one of the extremely attractive girls who was hanging out in the pool. He wasn’t the kind of person to interrupt a group of girls just to get the attention of one, so he stayed back and let fate take its course.

Kelsey and Keith briefly talked poolside, but it definitely wasn’t an immediate love connection. Following the pool party, Keith messaged Kelsey on Facebook and got her number. They immediately became friends, and over the next few years, their friendship continued to grow.

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At the time, Kelsey’s infant son, Kyle, was very sick. She wasn’t looking to pursue a new relationship, and Keith knew that. He never overstepped her boundaries and was very respectful of her situation. He truly cared for her and wanted to be there for her as a friend.

“My son, Kyle, was really sick, and it consumed my entire life. I just really needed to be there for him; he needed me every second of every day. Watching your child progressively get more and more sick is every mother’s worst nightmare. I had so much going on, and I was so scared. While I was trying to be there for Kyle, I was also trying to get out of the unhealthy relationship that I was in. I knew that no matter what I was going through, I could call Keith and be real. In the back of my mind, I always knew that Keith was there for me.”

Before Kyle was born, doctors noticed that there was a blockage in his brain. This caused health complications for his 17 short months of life.

“Kyle just got really, really sick. That night, his temperature was so high. I called an ambulance, and they came to get him. I never in a million years would have thought that once we left the house, we wouldn’t be coming home together. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about him.”

In the hospital, Kyle was put on life support. Kelsey couldn’t hold her baby boy, who she loved more than her own life. She watched as the machine connected to Kyle kept him alive with each breath of air it produced. He was in so much pain that doctors completely sedated him.

As Kelsey watched her son cling to life, she knew she couldn’t keep Kyle alive for herself. She needed to do what was best for him.

“It had gotten so bad. He was clinging to life at the mercy of a machine. He was on life support.  I couldn’t kiss him, I couldn’t hug him, I couldn’t touch him. I knew I couldn’t put Kyle though that anymore. I wanted to keep him with me forever, but as a mother, you have to do what is best for your child. It was the hardest day of my life when they disconnected Kyle from the machine that was keeping him alive. I held him as he took his last breath. You don’t know what it’s like to have a broken heart until you watch your child pass away in your arms. It was the worst day of my life.”

As Kelsey dealt with her intense grief, Keith was still there, supporting her the entire way. He was the rock she needed, and she ended up being the same for him.

“Kelsey had gone though so much. She was a fighter for Kyle, and for that, I will always have so much respect for her. She is strong, loving, intelligent and truly such a selfless person. I wanted to be there for her in any way that I could. She needed a friend, and I was going to be that for her. I knew that she wasn’t ready to date, but I knew this was a girl I never wanted to let go. I think some of the best relationships form from friendships, and I think that’s why when we did start dating, it was natural feeling. Everything was very natural.”

Years after their initial meeting, Kelsey and Keith watched as their friendship developed into so much more. Kyle had been there for Kelsey, so when tragedy struck for Keith, Kelsey was there to be the person he needed.

“Kelsey was there for me during one of the hardest times of my life. I found out that the daughter I loved so much, the daughter that I had built a relationship with for over nine years, wasn’t biologically mine. When I got the test results and it basically said that this little girl was 0% mine, something inside me broke. It felt like my title of ‘father’ had been taken away. I had a daughter one minute, and the next, I didn’t.”

During that trying time, Kelsey was there for Keith, like he had been for her. Kelsey’s situation was very different from Keith’s, but she knew what it felt like to have a loved one taken away.

The couple clung to one another, and was determined to let this experience bring them closer, rather than divide them apart. Keith explains that this is still a mentality that the couple practices.

“Kelsey has gone though so much, and will continue to have pain over the loss of her son. That’s not going to go away, and I know that. I am going to be there for her today, tomorrow and forever. I have had pain and loss in my life, and I know she will always be there for me as well. We are a team. We are going to take on the challenges of this world together, forever.”



A Georgia Portrait and Wedding Photographer based in Atlanta.

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Kaitlyn Winey About the author:
Kaitlyn Winey is an associate videographer/editor for Rare. Follow her on Twitter @TheWineyWrapUp.
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