TruerWords Logo

Search TruerWords

Sign Up  Log On

Shane Michael Ray Kilhefner


This is a modified version of the memorial I delivered on March 17th at our ecclesial hall. These were originally speaker's notes, not intended for reading, and so you may find odd sentence structure or even a complete lack thereof. Also, when I refer to "you," please remember the original audience.

The main modification is the section, "The Last Week." The original notes said only, "The timeline of the last week." It was so fresh in my memory that I didn't need notes to recount it, but here in the written version I've included even more detail than what I offered in the memorial.

To introduce myself: I'm Shane's stepfather. I married his Mom in 1997, and he's the only son I'll ever have.

In the Beginning

Shane Michael Ray Kilhefner was born September 18, 1980, at St. Joseph's hospital in Lancaster, PA.

His dad, David Kilhefner, was in the Navy and didn't meet him until Christmas.

For most of his life, it was just he and his mom. His Mom and Dad separated, they moved around a bit, and other people came and went, but they were constant and nearly inseparable.

Shane and His Mom

To understand Shane, you first need to understand his relationship with his Mom, and for that you need to understand two important things.

First, Corinne did not have a happy childhood. Not by a long shot. Her Mom died when she was young, and her Dad married a woman who wasn't very kind to his children. Her dad wasn't very good at showing affection, either.

  • For example, when Corinne graduated high school, nobody from her family attended.
  • When Corinne went into labor with Shane, her dad dropped her off at the hospital curb.

Second, Corinne loved Shane more than life itself, and promised him and herself that he would never be allowed to forget it or have reason to doubt it.

Visiting His Mom at Work

Corinne has worked at the bank for a year now. Shane's visited her there a few times since she started. As soon as he would show up they'd have a little show-and-tell session. Corinne would drag him all over the bank and show off her "gorgeous son" to anybody and everybody. His cheeks would get red from embarrassment, but she'd never stop rubbing and patting his back, and she never stopped smiling.

Shane wasn't too macho to return his Mom's affection, though, and everybody at the bank saw what a special relationship they had with each other.

Other Family

Corinne wasn't the only one that loved him, even at the very beginning.

Corinne's Dad loved his grandson very much, and was much better about showing affection there than he was with his own children. Part of that was because Shane was the first boy in the family, after he'd had four daughters. "Pop Pop," as Shane called him, loved his Boo Boo. (There's a picture in the album of Pop Pop giving Boo Boo a ride on a St. Bernard.)

Her sisters all loved Shane, too, and doted on him.


I want you all to have a chance to know him a little better than you did, so I'm going to have to ramble a little, to tell you some stories about his life. By themselves, they don't tell you much, but put them together and hopefully you'll understand who this boy was that we loved so much.

When he was 6 or 7 years old, he and his mom and a friend went to a McDonalds. Shane always, always, always had to check out the bathrooms in every restaurant they visited, and this one was no exception. He was just old enough to go in on his own, but after a long time he still hadn't come out. The friend went in to find him, and there he was... sitting on the toilet, having conversations with everyone that walked into the bathroom! Shane really liked people.

On his tenth birthday, Corinne took him to Chi Chi's with his Aunt Darlene. The staff brought out a cake and sang him Happy Birthday. He was so embarrassed he didn't talk to her for a long time. Do you remember what Shane looked like when he was embarrassed? His cheeks would get bright red.

That wasn't the only time he got mad about singing. When he was really young, he was riding with his mom in her Ford pickup with one of his aunts, and the ladies were singing... but he didn't like it, and got really mad. So mad, in fact, that Corinne had to pull over into a parking lot because he was making her laugh so hard that she couldn't sing *or* drive anymore.

It's too bad he didn't like it when his mom sang with such gusto, because maybe he could have learned something. Shane had a lot of little talents and skills, but singing was definitely not one of them. I first realized this a few years ago, when I was driving he and his best friend, Scott Pellerin, somewhere. He was singing with the radio, and it was all I could do to keep from laughing. Some people sing like birds... Shane sang like a duck.

Shane was very, very ticklish, sometimes exceeded only by his silliness. Even when he was a senior in high school, he would do something silly like wrap himself up in his comforter as tightly as he could, like a burrito, and then dare us to try to tickle him. And when we did, he'd laugh and yell so loud and so hard that you'd think we were torturing him... and then when we were done, he'd wrap himself up even tighter and it would start all over again.

When it's quiet . . . I can still hear that laugh, and the way he'd yell, "Mom! Cut it out!"

The Christadelphians

I first met Shane about eight and a half years ago, when I first started dating Corinne... just a week before his fifteenth birthday. I liked him immediately, as most everyone did. That smile of his just wouldn't let it be any other way.

Many of you met him shortly afterwards, the first time he and his Mom first came to meeting. A year later, they had both moved up here and he was a regular at meeting and Sunday School for a few years.

Most of you knew him to some degree, and some of you were people he considered real friends because you got to spend a lot of time together. As I wrote this, and considered which of you had played a part in Shane's life, I realized there were a lot more than I first thought.

  • One of his favorite people was Roy Bounds. When Roy's health started failing, he'd sit out in the foyer on Sunday mornings, and Shane almost always sat out there with him.
  • Eric was another favorite... he taught him in Sunday School, and Shane used to go to Eric and Bonny's house on some Sunday evenings for 'tape class'. Lots of times he would bring his infamous Chicken Curry dish. He loved to cook.
  • Shane worked with my Dad for years, and so spent a lot of time around he and my Mom. His Grand Parents were a good influence in Shane's adult life.
  • Jed got him a job working with him at the Misquamicut Club one Summer... where Shane proceeded to stab himself in the leg while he was cutting down boxes.
  • Sarah had a car accident with Shane once, in the snow. Shane wasn't even driving!
  • Jim Burns drove to the Mid-West Bible School with Shane, and they spent a solid week together.
  • Shane worked for Darren one Christmas season at KayBee Toys.
  • Heather was a friend, almost more, and they recently spent some time together in the evenings.

Friends from School, Work, etc.

Yes, there was another side to Shane, there was the side that only his friends knew, and that side was no more or less "the real shane" than the side we knew. Sadly, I've always believed that his bike accident when he was 15 did a little damage and made it hard for him to finish growing up. All teenagers seem to have personalities that are split between their families and their friends, but when they grow up those two personalities merge into a whole person.

Shane never quite got there. I'm happy to say, though, that the Shane known by his friends was still a loving, happy, smiling Shane. Everyone I've talked to in the last week has said the same things.

A Recent, Personal Story

I wish I could tell you everything there is to know about him, just to show you how much we loved him, and why. But, I can't. Even recounting every moment of his life couldn't do that. Let me just a final personal story of my own, and then I'll finish with a recounting of what I know of the last week of his life.

"An Old Man"

On SuperBowl Sunday, Shane was staying at our place so he could work with my Dad on Monday morning. He was watching the game, but decided he wanted to be go to the Burns' house where everybody else (from the ecclesia) was watching it. He didn't have a car but I didn't mind driving, so off we went.

This was a rare opportunity to be alone with him, and I didn't waste it. I asked him what he wanted to do with his life, besides work part time for my Dad and part time for a pizza place. It's fine if he wants to be a cook, it's fine if he wants to be a trowel guy, but he needed to pick something and work towards it. I told him that a man needs focus, needs direction for his life if he's ever going to be satisfied or happy.

At one point I said, "I don't want to sound like an old man, but..." Before I could finish my sentence, he interrupted with, "You signed up for the job!" (Clearly, he thought I'd said, "your old man")

That made me smile, and thinking about it now still makes me smile. Shane never called me "Dad," but he didn't have to.

(Incidentally, he later told me that he was pretty sure he wanted to focus on cooking and go to Johnson & Wales.)

The Last Week

(Note: the following is an expanded version of what was delivered at Shane's memorial service. I didn't even have notes for this part of the memorial, and now that I'm writing it down I've realized that I *need* to include every detail I can remember.)

Sunday, March 7

On Sunday, Shane was supposed to stay at our house again so that he could work for my Dad in the morning. I tried calling him a number of times to see if he needed me to pick him up at his apartment, but couldn't get an answer. By 9:00 I still hadn't reached him, so I decided to just drive up there and ask him in person. Corinne decided to go with me, and we ordered pizza and wings from Olympic Pizza for dinner since it's just a couple miles from his apartment.

We pulled into his parking lot a little before 9:30, and he was out on the second floor walkway talking with some friends. He'd called us just after we left, but only by coincidence: I'd been calling Scott's phone (Shane's wasn't working), but Scott was on vacation in Jamaica. Anyway, he didn't need a ride, as they were going to the movies and he'd be dropped off at the house afterwards.

Monday, March 8

My Dad called on Monday morning at about 7:30 and asked if we'd found Shane, and, if so, "when would he be there?" I hadn't realized that he needed a ride that morning, and had overslept. Dad had to pick him up (adding an hour of driving to an already long day) so I could take Corinne to work.

Monday evening, Shane came home exhausted from the previous late night and a hard day's work. He showered and then laid down on our bed to watch Joe Dirt. When I was done working for the day, I went upstairs (my office is in our basement) to find out what was for dinner. Leftover pizza and wings! No complaints here, that pizza was excellent, but... we'd ordered the Olympic's Atomic Hot Wings. They were unbelievably hot. Would Shane be able to handle them?

Corinne and I sat on the bed, warned him about the wings, and said we didn't think he could eat two of them. He kept "shushing" us because he didn't want to miss the last fifteen minutes of the movie, but said he could definitely eat them. He did eat them (That's my boy! ;-), but then promptly left the room to find something to cool his mouth down. Missed the last ten minutes of his movie, too.

Tuesday, March 9

We haven't had a spare bed since he moved out, so he usually slept on the big couch in the living room, wrapped in comforters and cats. That's where I found him Tuesday morning. He'd actually had a good night's sleep (though he was up late flirting with some older women online) so it wasn't too difficult to wake him up. I dropped him off at Mom and Dad's place at 7:15.

Mom called me later to tell me that they hadn't expected him so early, and were still doing their morning Bible readings. To their pleasant surprise, Shane sat down and did the last two with them (Psalm 119:1-40, and II Corinthians 12, 13), reading verses in turn.

My Dad dropped Shane off at our house after work, and they were done for the week. He hung around with his Mom while he waited for her to drive him home. She had the radio tuned to the country station while she cooked and read her email, and Shane sang along. Well, that's an exaggeration, and she pointed it out. He came down to my office to whine to me (just fooling around), "Seeeeth, Mom says I can't sing."

"That's because you can't sing, Shane. You sing like a duck."

"What? I sing great!" (Goofy grin.)

"You know you can't sing, sorry."

"Yeah, I know. I want to take lessons. If I could sing, I'd really be hot."

Corinne drove him home. He gave her a kiss goodbye, and they both said, "Love you!"

Wednesday, March 10

Shane had to go to court in the morning to work out yet another issue with his license. In order to have it reinstated he would need to produce his Birth Certificate, and they gave him some extra time to find it (twenty days, I think).

After court he stopped by the house to raid our fridge. He was dressed up, more than is necessary for court, and I asked about it. When he left our place he was going to try out for a modeling job, so he was dressed "cool."

Thursday, March 11

Corinne got a brief call at work from Shane to let her know this his power was out. He hadn't paid the bill!

Later, that night, Shane was hanging out with his friends in Tom's apartment, upstairs from his. He and a friend went down to his place for a little while, and then the other person went back, believing he was going to sleep. (By this time it was probably very early on Friday morning.)

Friday, March 12

Corinne had an appointment with her doctor to review a test on a lump they'd found. I picked her up from work at 12:30 so that she could take the truck down to Old Saybrook. After we got back to the house, though, she checked the phone messages. One was from the police. She called them back, an the detective said, "I can't tell you this over the phone, we'll be there in ten to fifteen minutes." That was it.

We sat on the front steps in the cold, and prayed.

Fifteen minutes or a year later, an unmarked police car pulled into the driveway. Three men got out, and we all went into the house. The officer seemed to have a script, and nothing we said would move him off of it. He asked who we were, and then introduced himself and the other officer.

(This is a difficult memory to look at, but I must. I'm getting a headache.)

The third man -- who I happened to notice was one of the best looking people I've ever seen in my life, like a movie star, which doesn't matter and I shouldn't have even noticed but it's true anyway... or maybe I was dazzled by the fear and anticipation -- was introduced as a priest or reverend or whatever.

Corinne screamed. There was only one reason for them to bring him along.

"Shane fell from his balcony last night, and was found early this morning. He's dead."

Corinne screamed for them to leave, and then went into the kitchen, shutting the door behind her. The detective kept talking, but I could barely hear him over the sound of my wife's heart breaking. The priest tried to say something. I told him to get out. They gave me some names and numbers on a piece of paper, and left.


I said at the beginning that Corinne had promised herself and her son that he would never have reason to doubt her love for him, that he would always know without question that she loved him no matter what.

She kept that promise. She loved him until it hurt, loved him to the end, and loves him still.

Shane never completely accepted the truth of God's word, but in the end there were signs that he hadn't rejected it, either. We can't know God's mind on the matter, or what was in Shane's heart, but now we hold hope close to our own hearts. Hope, and great memories.

Shane Michael Ray Kilhefner
(Click the picture to see more.)

Page last updated: 4/14/2005

is Seth Dillingham's
personal web site.
From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. - WC