I stood outside the funeral home, my feet refusing to walk the last few steps up to the door. It was a beautiful sunny day, and to those driving by, an ordinary one. A few drivers and passengers gave a quick glance our way, but then never gave it another thought.
Rain might have been more fitting today, as though heaven itself was crying. But a sunny day was better, because Keke brought sunlight to everyone he touched.
Those thoughts filled my mind as I stood frozen just feet from the entrance. I don't know how long I would have stood there if Tara, Keke's mom, hadn't walked out. I wasn't expecting her, and she was clearly distraught. At only 21 she has already lost her mother and now her son."I don't understand this, I don't understand any of this. Why Keke? Why did he take Keke?" The words spilled from a broken heart.
I don't know, Tara, I really don't. And the thing is, we never will this side of heaven.
But God knows. Because our children are merely on loan from God. Here for a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." God alone knew Keke's purpose, and he knew when it was fulfilled. And he knows our purpose.Not only that but God gave each of us the abilities and personality to do something extra special in this life. And one way to honor Keke's too short life is to search for God's purpose in our own.
That does not mean we don't grieve. We do. The book of Ephesians, speaking of death, says, "...so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." Jesus grieved. He cried when he heard that his friend Lazarus was dead. We will grieve. There will be mornings when Keke's mom wakes up and just for a minute forgets he's gone and rises to wake him before remembering he's not there. There will be times she finds a stray sock or forgotten toy and the tears will come. There will be the first Christmas without him when it feels like there is no reason to celebrate. And the second Christmas and the third.
There will be a sight or sound that triggers a memory and the pain will be overwhelming.
It's at those time we must be strong and think of Keke as he is now. Running, dancing, laughing and whole.
Standing in front of the funeral home, glancing down at the form in the coffin, it was very clear this was not Keke. There were no sparkling eyes and no smile on his face. They'd done a good job, but it was only a shadow of who he was. He's already completely whole and walking for the first time.
Keke's first day in heaven was the best day of his life, but the saddest for those left behind. We do grieve, but we grieve with the hope that we will see him again. As we stood graveside, the pastor said, "All of you who know Jesus as your Savior will see Kealen again one day." It is true, and some days it may be only that hope that keeps those closest to him going.
So we remember Keke's short five years on earth with a smile in our heart, but tears on our faces. We know our goodbyes aren't forever because Jesus said, "“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6) Our lives on earth may end, but we were made to spend eternity with God through Jesus.
And Keke is already there. I miss you Keke. We all do. We all thought you'd be with us longer. We'd love to have one more hug, one more kiss, one more smile. One more day at the beach, one more time at the park. One more Christmas. One more birthday.
Today was goodbye, but not really. Because we'll see you again, Buddy. And we'll spend forever together. Dance with Jesus, Keke. Dance with Jesus.
One of my favorite memories is doing an egg hunt at the beach for Keke and River. Please share your favorite memories of Keke below.