The Greatest Gift

We can probably all remember what we would consider the ‘Greatest Gift’ we ever received.  Maybe it was a childhood toy you really wanted, or as a teenage getting a car or perhaps a scholarship to college. Maybe it was when someone you really cared about finally said to you “I love you”. But it was surely something that most probably changed your life.

We humans tend to best remember things given in a joyful sprit, but truthfully, not all gifts have a sense joy attached to them. Allow me to tell you about the greatest gift our Kohberger family has ever received.

As most of you know our son, Chance Reed Kohberger, contacted cancer in the latter part of 2021 and passed away on February 11th of this year. His was small cell cancer which is fast spreading (three and a half months) and horribly brutal on the body. When he was told he was in the terminal stage he asked to come home and live his last weeks with us on “the couch where I watched TV with you guys as a child

While other families might have wished for some sort of miracle to heal him after he was terminal; we all knew that was never going to happen. Instead, we four turned to face reality head on as a family and so shared our thoughts and memories, both good and bad, freely with each other.

Some of those conversations were tough to hear because at that stage Chance wasn’t pulling any punches to get what he felt he needed to say across. But for every hard truth he told there were many, many memories he shared that made us laugh and cry and feel thankful for every single day we had together.

Even while knowing he wasn’t going to survive his illness he had a most wicked sense of humor – and that alone made things easier all around.  Were his jokes and jibes small gifts given at a late stage from him to us? Yes, and we loved every single second we had while listening to him.

Chance’s illness spread so quickly and so dramatically that if you weren’t his close family and saw him at the end of his illness you wouldn’t have recognized him. His weight went from 180 lbs. to just over 80. His skin changed color, hurt so much and was so tightly drawn that the only place we could touch and kiss him was on his forehead. He couldn’t even wear clothes at the end because of the pain. It was that bad.

Even with all that the Greatest Gift I’ve received in my lifetime, and I believe I can speak for his mother Raejean and sister Pauli, was his final offering to us. After he rallied to sign his Will and Power of Attorney and address other legal issues, he knew that his responsibilities to others was over. He then could look forward. That may sound strange as ill as he was, but let me tell you why he felt that way.

When he knew he could let go of life he turned to me one evening and said “I love you both so much and I’m not going to put you through this any longer”.

With that said, and four days before he died, he turned his back to the room on the couch and did not talk, eat, drink or take his pain pills any longer. He knew exactly what he was doing and that was speeding up the end so that we wouldn’t suffer seeing him like that any longer. He was that strong to do that final thing for us.

Many give the gift of life to others; Doctors, First Responders and Mothers who have born children to name a few. But the greatest gift I have ever received was given by the bravest and most caring person I have ever known, and that was Chance’s earliest death possible – which was his alone to give.

When he drew his last breath we were with him and knew exactly what happened. Raejean and I put him in the hospital bed in the dining room (which he refused to be in before) and Raejean washed him from head to toe while singing Hawai’ian songs over him in her wonderful voice, then we dressed him in his favorite clothes. After that we called his sister, brother-in-law and girl friend over to our home and we all had a beautiful and loving breakfast together with Chance in the other room. We talked stories and laughed and cried but we knew that was what he would have wanted to happen at that time.

Why am I writing all this at this holiday season? First so that I always keep his amazing strength and kindness in the forefront of my memory, and it helps to remind me of his strength and love of Christmas. But also to let you all know that gifts can come in any size, shape, or meanings and Chance was the best gift giver I’ve known. He always seemed to know exactly what you wanted, or in this case needed, without being told.

And his final gift to us was just that. Something we would never have asked for but was just what we needed to turn to the living once again.

I thank him every day for that gift and when I really miss him I look to the sky and say ‘I love you my son’ out loud. We all believe that regardless of wherever he is or will be, he’ll always have a safe and loving home in our hearts and will be in our thoughts forever.

So I say thank you again for everything, son.  We’ll take our time with it, but I know we’ll all be together again someday…

P/S: One request from Chance was for me to take some of his estate money, and without telling his mom, buy all new kitchen appliances. When I told him how generous that was he said ‘Dad, my best and fondest memories is of the food mom cooked for us and how wonderful it tasted.” After the appliances were ordered and installed, I told Raejean what Chance had wanted her to have and why.  Again, just another wonderful and perfect gift from him to his mom.

Happy Holidays to all and please have a good and safe New Year. Hold your family dear and know that everyone of us have strengths that are not always apparent, but do brightly shine when necessary.

Reed Kohberger

62 thoughts on “The Greatest Gift

  1. Beautifully written, Reed. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us. If I needed another reason to treasure the time spent with family, especially during this Christmas season, that was it. Thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Tears and coffee indeed.
    Beautiful thoughts Reed and taken to heart.
    My mom died the day after Christmas a few years ago and the holiday season has never been the same but we started having our family gathering on Dec 26 to celebrate her life with us.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Wow, what a message, that I really needed to hear as I begin to get surly at this time in the holiday season. God Bless Chance, your family, and all of us now and always.
    Thank you Reed.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for sharing your most private moments. It is a wonderful reminder during this season of giving what is most important in life and worth sharing and celebrating each and every day. Blessings to all on here and to your families as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, maybe the best writing I have read from you Commander.

    Tears with coffee indeed.

    Wishing you a peaceful and joyous Christmas.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reed, your writing is beyond eloquent. The Christmas season brings memories of family and warm cherished feelings that are deeply personal. You honor Chance and invite all of us on the POV to simply say that we share your love with grace. Merry Christmas

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Thank you Reed for sharing something so private and emotional. Your love for your son and family lifted me up today. And got a good tear shed but it was a happy one.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks for writing Reed. My daughter’s mother in law lost her husband on Christmas Eve in a car accident in State College. She raised her 3 sons alone to manhood. It is hard for me to comprehend such pain.


  9. Reed don’t ever think that Chance’s bravery and compassion was not a reflection of the love you and your family showed him every day of his life. Apples don’t fall far from trees.

    Chance’s comment about the memory of food shared at family meals is particulary personal to my family. My German wife is kind enough to annually prepare the traditional Italian 7 fish dinner for our family, and each year my son and daughter declare that it’s the thing about Christmas that they both look forward to the most.

    Heaven for me is my family at the dinner table sharing our lives for hours at a time.

    Liked by 7 people

  10. I have never recovered from losing my mom at a young age. Years of therapy have helped some but….

    Reed, you are Blessed to be so open and eloquent about your son.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Reed – I remember you telling me much of what you’ve written here when we talked at a POV tailgate this season. It moved me then and it moves me now. It’s wonderful that you have captured the caring and braveness of your son Chance so eloquently.

    You happened to post this on a day that has much meaning to me. My Mom died 5 years ago today. I was fortunate in that she was 94 years old. Our whole family was at her side when she passed and we had Christmas music playing in the background. When she died it couldn’t have been more appropriate because Johnny Mathis was singing “Silent Night” and the line was “Sleep in heavenly peace – sleep in heavenly peace.”

    Best wishes to all.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Fran – Mom died at 3:00 pm and not only was Johnny M. singing “sleep in heavenly peace,” but just a couple minutes before that large snowflakes had started to fall – and we hadn’t had any snow previously that day…

      Makes one wonder…

      Liked by 2 people

  12. One sad part of Christmas is that it brings back our memories of loved ones who are no longer here to share it with us. Hopefully, the hope of the season helps to offset some of the pain. Reed, it goes without saying that the POV is thinking of you at this difficult time.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks Reed for that well timed touching testimony of love and grace. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you, your family all the POV faithful.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Peace be with you Reed and your family. Christmas can be a very happy time draped in sadness. We all remember how it use to be at different points in our lives. Cherish those memories the way our past-on family would want us to. Hold your head high.

    Liked by 6 people

  15. Reading the above comments makes me realize that it really doesn’t matter what differences people have with others there is almost always common ground to be found somewhere. – we just have to look for it sometimes.

    We see that writ large about Pitt athletics and now we see it about our loved ones and what the holidays mean to us. I just wish those others who feel “You are with us or against us” in their daily lives could have what we all have with each other.

    But you know…this blog has turned out exactly the way I wanted it to when I started it – a place where we could set aside those differences, respect other’s opinions and hold each other responsible for good and civil discussions. I thank each of you for that – from the bottom of my heart.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and have a Kick Ass Kwanza.

    Liked by 13 people

  16. Thanks for sharing Reed. This kind of writing really keeps things in perspective. We all come to this site to share our thoughts about a coach, a player, a game, an archrival, the state of collegiate athletics, and all things Pitt. We share the joys and we share the heartaches. This should serve as our reminder that in the grand scheme of life, Pitt athletics is nothing more than a diversion from what really matters, and that is the time we spend with our loved ones. May you and those around you have peace and comfort this holiday season

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Very well said! And Pitt athletics gives us the opportunity to be with some of our loved ones. Of course I’m referring to the tailgates and pre-basketball game festivities at Hemingways! Life is what you make of it.

      Liked by 3 people

  17. Reed and all. Your writing can act as individualized therapy and I recommend highly we all continue as needed. I truly believe we come here for an escape from the rest of the troubled world. Pitt athletics provides a sufficient amount of commonality for the draw, but we really use this gathering place for therapy. Our strength is in our collective. Wishing you all the comfort and peace that this special season provides. I appreciate each of you, regardless of opinion, age, sex, rank, or serial number.

    Liked by 5 people

  18. Commander

    You and your family were truly blessed by Chance’s life and love. You continue to be blessed by the memory of his noble spirit. (And how apt a name to have.)

    The greatest gifts are not those we can touch with our hands but those that touch our souls. Thank you for this most precious gift you have shared with us. May its light shine forever. And may your family now and forever know only joy and peace.

    Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa to all who come here. And a happy, safe, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year to us all.


    Liked by 11 people

    1. Maybe the best line I’ve ever heard touching the spirit this holiday.

      “The greatest gifts are not those we touch with our hands but those that touch our souls! “

      Thx Pittdad

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Thank you, Reed. Coffee and verklempt in this house. That first holiday season without a loved one is particularly tough as many here know and appreciate. I hope your family can fill his seat at the dinner table with memories that put a smile on your faces. Draw strength from each other and your friends…including the POV gang.

    Liked by 7 people

  20. Your story of your son has touched deeply and resonated with the philosophical, psychological and humane perspective on life by Viktor Frankl.

    A psychiatrist contemporary of Freud and a survivor of 4 concentration camps during WWII, he tested the basis of his practice in those horrific settings.

    It was that the Meaning of Life is the Meaning and value we get from what we do a nd create, our relationships and our suffering. Central to each has to do with others. Engaging with others in the camps he found that those who found meaning in that suffering were more likely to survive.

    What your experience demonstrated as you posed, that his life and death firmly fixes his survival in those who loved him.

    Thank you for this.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Thank you Reed. God bless you and your family. Wonderfully written and a great message. Every second we spent with loved ones is a gift from God and we should be grateful for that gift and cherish it. Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m having lunch right now with Mrs. Erie at Meadia Heights CC and I’m still teary-eyed when I reflect on this article.

    Lunch with Mrs. Erie wasn’t possible like this 2 and 3 years ago due to her health challenges. That thought doubles the tears…

    I’m smiling from ear to ear too as I’m sitting with my favorite person in my favorite place on earth.

    Peace and goodwill everyone!

    Liked by 9 people

    1. I’m so glad for you Rick…and so glad and hopeful for Ike also. We never know what tomorrow will bring but we do know that we have people in our lives to help us through anything that may happen.

      Family isn’t just relatives…..

      Liked by 4 people

  23. I’ve been busy with work and holiday prep the past 2 days. I just read this now. Blessings of comfort and love to you and your family Reed, and to all of the POV family. May the joy of the holiday season bring comfort and love to you all. Merry Happy everything to all!


  24. Reed, this post is beautiful, heartfelt, and therapeutic for anyone that has experienced the loss of a loved one far too early in that person’s life. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. This is my first-ever post here… always enjoy the writing and very thoughtful dialogue. Reed, this post was SO POWERFUL. I’m on the list of very wet-eyed responded. You opened my eyes and heart and soul today.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Farmer is for the 2024 class. Wish he could enroll a year early…. Can we hold onto him that long??

      Go Pitt…


  26. A follow-up to the post about losing an ass’t vb coach. I guess we’ll need a new mens’ass’t soccer coach too since she is married to one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If they both play to the average of their college numbers, Slovis has the better year in leading BYU.

      The season will play itself out and we’ll know one year from now.

      This will be a quiet week for Pitt sports and a busy week for my corporate career. I placed my prediction for the Sun Bowl last night and I hope I’m wrong, and I look forward to an entertaining game.

      I saw somewhere that UCLA won the Sun Bowl a few years back by a score of 6-3. We all know about the Wanny Pitt loss of 3-0 to Ore St.

      Wouldn’t that set college FB back if those two scores collided?

      Nah, no way Jose!

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Good article on the success of acc schools in Olympic sports.

    The question then becomes can these sports ever generate enough TV money to self sustain themselves. Today these sports are heavily subsidized by football revenues.


  28. Reed thank you for sharing such a personal moment. Your writing puts in perspective what is truly important in life which is our loved ones. It may sound odd, but to be present at the passing of a loved one is is itself a gift most never get to experience. Reed bless you and your family


  29. God bless you and your family Reed. And all of the people here. Thank you for such an inspiring gift of vision passed on to us from your son.


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