Branwyn Elizabeth Kenney, a beautiful, brilliant and big-hearted young woman of 22 years, died in her mother's home March 3rd.
The daughter of Major (Army, Retired) Laura Uhl of Colorado Springs and Major (Army, Retired) Richard Kenney of Lake Wales, Florida -- Branwyn was one of those special people that could live four days in one, delighting in all her senses, and embracing life with arms wide open. Her death, brought about by a heroin addiction she was struggling valiantly to overcome, is a searing tragedy for all who loved her, and for the world, which lost a being of grace and overwhelming generosity of spirit.
Branwyn grew up with, in her own words, "a magical childhood" in the tiny town of Waterloo in upstate New York. She, along with her slightly older brother Reilly, spent hours climbing the gorgeous red maple tree outside their home, learning to catch AND clean fish with her dad, having tea parties with her mother, and hearing all the Narnia and Harry Potter books read aloud by mom, instilling in Branwyn a life-long yearning to see "real magic."
Moving with her mother and Reilly to Colorado Springs when she was 7 (her mother returning to Active Duty at Peterson Air Force Base after 9/11) Branwyn began to climb mountains (and ski them!) in addition to her beloved trees. A Girl Scout from Daisy through Seniors, Branwyn went on awesome adventures (dragging brother Reilly along) with Troop 910, led by wonderful family friends Mary Gerber-Heil and Diane Klein, as well as her mother.
Attending the University of Colorado at Denver for two years, Branwyn planned to become a Human Rights lawyer. But a deadly new relationship intervened, and brought addiction with it. Dropping out, Branwyn became mired in the blackness that always accompanies addiction. Somehow, though, her brightness shone through it, and she helped her many friends with all their troubles -- drugs, suicidality, poverty --with her indomitable spirit, she just KNEW that she would overcome the clinging, clawing darkness that was heroin...
The past two years she fought very hard, having periods of bright and blessed sobriety, mixed with terrifying backslides. She worked two jobs, fell in love with a marvelous boy with whom she got an an apartment (as well as a ferret she named Matilda) and dreamed lovely dreams of marriage and babies with...
On March 3rd, coming back home to spend "Mommy time" with her mother, she texted words of love and future projects (to add to the already long list of save-the-planet projects they worked on together, most notably animal rescue) then... Branwyn shot up "just one last time..."
We gave her a home funeral in the beautiful Victorian home she'd loved so. Family and friends flew in from the East coast, and together with her multitudinous local, loving friends, the house was packed to the rafters with the grief and tears of those touched by her joyous spirit...
Branwyn is survived by her mother, father, paternal grandmother Dorothy, brothers Reilly and Jason, sister Erika, stepfather Mark Uhl, love-of-her-too-short life Joseph (Boomer) Pfeffer, honorary aunt Cecelia Harris of Waterloo and, Matilda.
A scholarship in her memory to help recovering heroin addicts go to school is in the planning process by her mother and Branwyn's friends.
"Up, up the long delirious burning blue, where never lark or even eagle flew..." May you truly "put out your hand, and touch the face of God." Fare thee well, darling girl. May we meet again on those "windswept heights..."
Published by The Gazette on Mar. 26, 2017.