Ken Bovey: Part 8 “Go In Peace”

June 13th, 2011 was the 20th anniversary of the death of a friend of mine, Ken Bovey.   Ken died at the age of 32 from scleroderma, a rare auto-immune disease.  This is the story of the last 10 months of Ken’s life.  It is a story of how one man prepared for his own death.

Late Wednesday morning 13 June 1991

The next morning, I got up and called the hospital.  I fully expected to be connected to Ken’s room, but the nurse on duty told me that Ken had died during the night.  I was shocked, surprised, and confused.  A short time later, Michelle called me and said, “You won’t believe what happened after you left.”

Author’s note: this part of the story I did not witness.  Michelle, who was there, reported the events to me, as did Ken’s mother, Nancy.  Recently, I asked Nancy to tell me the story again, 20 years later.  What follows is a collaboration of both of their stories to me, then and now.

Earlier on Wednesday morning 13 June 1991

About an hour after I left, Ken’s heart began to fail.   By this time, Ken’s mother Nancy had arrived, but his father had not.  Family friends of the Bovey’s were in west London trying to rouse Ken’s father, Chris, from sleep.  As I said, Mr. Bovey had early onset Alzheimer’s and, once he had gone to bed, it was difficult to wake him up.  Ken wanted to say good-bye to his father, so they had to keep him alive long enough for him to arrive.   Ken’s heart would slow and he would begin to slip away.  Twice they applied the heart defibrillator, something that caused Ken great pain.    After two shocks the doctor declared that he would not shock Ken’s heart again.  He told them to clap their hands in Ken’s face whenever the beeps on the heart monitor showed his heart slowing down.

A nurse came into the room, a beautiful woman with golden blond hair.  She came to Ken, said hello, fixed his bedding and checked his I.V. tubes.   Nancy told me she was a most beautiful woman and that she had never seen her before and whom she never saw again.   Ken was entranced by her presence.   Humorous to the end, Ken said to her, “Better luck next time.”   Nancy told me she could not get it out of her mind that this woman was an angel sent to strengthen Ken to the end.

As they waited for Ken’s dad to arrive, Ken used all the strength he had to hang on.   He told Michelle to look into his eyes, as a way of anchoring him in the moment.  Michelle said it was agonizing to do this, as the reality of Ken’s spirit leaving him was too difficult to endure.   Whenever she looked away Ken’s heart would slow and he would start to slip away, they would clap their hands for him and his heart would begin beating more strongly.   Finally, Ken’s dad arrived and he was able to say good-bye to his mother, Nancy, his father, Chris, his Aunt Diana, and to Michelle.

When all had been said, Nancy told Ken, “You can go now, Ken.”

Ken responded, “I can’t go.  There’s too much love in the room.”

Nancy said, “Go in peace, Ken.”

“Please stand back.  You’re too close.”   Everyone moved away from him.  Fully conscious, Ken’s spirit left his body.   Nancy would tell me later that she could feel Ken’s spirit rise out of his body as a ball of light and fly out the corner of the room.


  1. by Tammy

    On August 14, 2011

    This is beautiful! It is what we all should hope for: that we have “too much love in the room” in which we die. After so much suffering, what a blessing for Ken to be able to surrender his spirit peacefully into God’s arms, enveloped in the love of those who would miss him dearly.

    It is a remarkable story!

  2. by Nancy Bovey

    On February 18, 2013

    I am Ken’s mother and it has taken me a long time to comment on Pat’s beautiful recollections of the struggles and the victories of my dear Ken’s passing. This June it will be 22 years since that last day of Ken’s life and it still brings tears to my eyes and grief in my heart. Ken was a strong, intelligent and determined man. Ken tried so many things to improve his health after his Kidney Transplant at the age of 20. Back in those days the side effects of the drugs he had to take to keep his Kidney greatly altered his Immune system and he fell prey to many serious diseases the worst of which was Scleromyxedema. Ken gave his friends and his family so much strength when we would constantly witness his bravery, his humor, his love of God. Ken loved good food and his Aunt and I took him out to lunch one day and we ordered Shrimp and Ken said, I can’t order that cause I am not supposed to eat that, but can I have some of yours. We said, “Sure”!! and he relished every bite with a big grin on his face. Ken was dying and his Dad and I knew it, but that last day it was like he was reborn. He was joking with the Nurse and he said to her, “Better luck next time!” and she had to leave as she was crying. When Ken said to me and his friends, “There is too much love here I can’t leave.” We all backed away and I said, “Ken I love you, go in peace.” At that very moment it was as though I saw a stream of light and instantly Ken was gone. I will never forget that beautiful passing. It was as though an Angel had come and gently took his spirit to Heaven. I had never seen anyone die with such grace before or since. God Bless you Ken you are forever in my heart.
    Pat has remained a very, very special friend of mine ever since the first time I met him, which was a couple of years before Ken died. His writing here is beautiful, accurate, loving and true. Bless you my friend.

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