Andrew Kippley: “Through the Eyes of a Dying Man”

July 2, 2009 | 16 comments

Breathe in. … Breathe out.

We are but a breath.
Here on purpose,
for a purpose,
from beginning to end
… to unending.
But here on Earth?
Just a breath.



All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
— Psalm 139:16


Andrew Kippley is 15 and has cancer. He’s been told there’s no more treatment options left. He could look at life one of two ways: One breath closer to dying. Or having another breath in which to live.

Andrew chooses the latter.

Andrew was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma — a form of infant and youth cancer — when he was a toddler. After 10 cancer-free years, the ninth grader from Minnesota found out last month that the cancer had returned. (Andrew is the nephew of family friends.)

No treatment options are left. Drugs could slow the progression, but Andrew didn’t want to spend his days sick. He wants to live.

He’s the sort of kid who has this quote on his Caring Bridge page: “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life you have a thousand reasons to smile.”

At the beginning of his chemo treatments, he walked down the hall singing, “Ain’t no mountain high enough” with his IV pole in hand.

He now has a day planner to keep track of the things he wants to do, people he wants to see.

And he wants people to know that if this earthly life is “but a breath,” we ought to start living like it. He wants us to see the world “through the eyes of a dying man.”

Andrew wrote a poem after his recent diagnosis. He has graciously given me permission to reprint it here.

I want to live and breathe like Andrew. These are his words:

Through dying eyes, it’s a new world I see.
The colors are so much brighter.
The little things grow bigger day by day
And burdens grow even lighter.

As times grow shorter, you’d think I’d grow sadder
But it makes me cherish everything more.
And with each passing day, it’s easier to say
Live this one like never before.

And as sadness looms, I grow in faith.
As I trust in God for safety
this situation is out of my hands.
And I know that he will guide me

At a passing glance, there’s nothing to me.
but there’s more than meets the eye.
I see the world in a much different view
Than the average person passing by

And I wish everyone could see the world
through the eye of a dying man
because maybe, just maybe
people would live and see the world like I can.


Photo credit goes to Tyler Farstead, a 16-year-old member of my church, who had the eyes to see God’s beauty in this mountaintop view during a church trip.

by | July 2, 2009 | 16 comments


  1. Denise

    Are we not all dying?

    Some may have the grace to know when it may come but we all should be living and breathing life like Andrew. He is living his breaths -wisdom far greater in heart in heart and mind than in chronological years. An example to us all.

    Thank you. With your permission and Andrew's, I would like to print this post and hang it next to my desk as a reminder to "live each day like never before."


  2. mom2six

    Like Denise I had the same thought…are we not all dying? I read a quote once from someone, I don't remember who. It really has turned my way of thinking …"We think we are in the land of the living moving to the land of the dying when actually we are in the land of the dying moving to the land of the living." Andrew's poem, what a great reminder, this life is but a breathe. We should really live this life as we long for the eternal one.

  3. Redeemed

    the post made me to pipe down and think..

    Life we live is very short we have to live for the glory of LORD.

  4. RCUBEs

    Beautiful poem! Truly an inspiration and a great reminder for us to be thankful and appreciate everything, for every good gift is from our good Father. God bless.

  5. Red Letter Believers

    death is that shadow that is always hovering, always reminding us that things here are not forever…Andrew has a way of pushing that shadow aside and glipmpsing at forever

  6. Deb

    I don't know what to say.

    My heart hurts for Andrew and for his family.

    You did a tremendous job in helping us see Andrew. His desire to live. His faith in God. And his desire to make a difference in the lives of others.

    He has.

  7. Jennifer

    Andrew's poem makes me pause, notice the many things I do that take away from living, since I, too, am one step closer to eternity. My heart hurts for him and for his family, for the shortness of time they will have together here on earth. But it rejoices for the eternity they hope for together in heaven.

  8. A Simple Country Girl

    no real words, only pulled heart strings

  9. Runner Mom

    Oh, Jennifer…how beautiful. Thank you for sharing Tyler's outlook and his love for God. I'll visit his Caring Bridge site. I too would like to print this poem as a reminder. Blessings to you my friend.

    Come by my blog when you have a minute–I have a give-away for my 100th post. 🙂

  10. Billy Coffey

    Prayers for Andrew, that he may spend his days with the same sense of wonder and awe that he's now provided for us all.

  11. Laura

    Oh, my goodness. HOw to respond to such bravery? I learn from Andrew.

    Showing life I have so many reasons to smile…

  12. deb

    I don't know if our words can help him, but grasping a little of the gift of a God given day through his eyes he helps all of us .
    we can't understand any of this.. such sorrow for his family and friends

  13. Claire

    i am humbled and brought to silence.

  14. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience

    Would that I were as wise as Andrew…
    Thank you, Jennifer…
    you were a messenger of God today, Andrew speaking the message…


  15. takemefaraway98

    This is andrew Kippley. I read this and am humbled by all the nice words. I thank everyone for their prayers and comforting words. To better reach me, email [email protected]

  16. sweetkisses22286

    May Andrew Kippley Rest in Peace as he passed away September 25th, 2009… He will forever be remember by me as well as all of his friends… May we pray that he is in God's arms now.


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