One Week

It’s been one week. One week since my dear great nephew left this earth. I still feel like I am in a fog. I can function, and have accomplished what I needed to do, but things happen that show me I am not quite myself. My mind, if not kept in check, goes to worry…..and to images of his last minutes, the last seconds. I was not there, yet the images still fill my brain. God does take them away when I ask. I suspect it is me who brings them back.

My niece Sara, his mom, talked about the desire to be invisible when she goes out in public and it really resonated with me. I have felt the same thing. People are both a comfort and a challenge. I want to talk about it, but then I don’t want to talk about it. I want normal, but it’s not normal. Even a few simple words from certain people will tear my heart out or make me cry. Other times I can remain composed.
Sometimes I just want to scream “Shut up” to some and “Don’t you understand what has happened?” to others. But I understand that people are processing it all in their own way. Even those who didn’t know him. They want to understand. That they want to help. They are doing the best they can. And as difficult as it is to believe, it has not touched the lives of everyone.
The memorial service was horrible and beautiful. I spent most of it praying for our broken hearts and for the faces I watched around the room. I was with my mom, his great grandmother, and the images that will remain strongest for me are the grieving embrace between her and his paternal grandmother and then watching my mom hugging and holding hands with my brother-in-law’s mother, his other great grandmother, as they grieved together. They loved him so much. As my mom drove me to the service she said “I was just talking to Kaelan on my way to pick you up and telling him he was supposed to attend my service, not me his.” I think we all have had that particular conversation.
I’ll remember the sight of Sara reaching out for her mom, my sister Dana, when she got into her vicinity at the graveside. She saw nothing else at that moment, needed nothing more than her mom’s comfort and to give her mom comfort. More beauty.

Sara continues to amaze me. I watch her dogged desire to make sure Kaelan is remembered for what made him unique. I watch her looking out for her daughters and making sure they are OK. I see her writing down what she is thinking, believing that talking about it openly will help people…. hoping that in sharing her thoughts it will help others understand. Knowing that writing about it helps her as it helps me. Our therapy. Even better for us than talking it out, because our brains are so cluttered with thoughts they need the editing of thinking them through to make sense out of them.

I am watching Sara’s strength and her brokenness. Her faith and her compassion. Her despair and her humor. Her love for those that he loved….and for those that loved him, even those didn’t always love him perfectly. Her lack of blame. Her acceptance of what is. Her pain.

His sisters Sela and Karys. So strong, in this thing that is so hard to process even for adults. Their beauty and their compassion. The way they try to look after their family and each other and all those around them, remaining kind at a time where their emotions must be searing. His stepfather Brian, wanting to make things better for all but heartbroken there is not a lot he can fix this time. My other young nieces and all of his other family members (there are a ton), broken-hearted. His father Keith, walking pain. 

Oh, and all the kids…..his friends. They tore the fabric of my heart. I wanted to hug them all, to touch them all. I am sure I confused a few as I touched them as I walked by. I wanted to connect. They probably think of me as some crazy lady. It won’t be the first time someone has thought that….or the last. I wanted to say something to them that would put it all in perspective, but I still haven’t found those words yet. I don’t think there are words.
The two pastors so very different in outlook and approach, but common in the love they exuded. The music, traditional and untraditional. Beautiful and poignant, all.
Suits and t-shirts, formal and casual. Many people coming together from where they are to pay tribute in their own way. Tears from the weakest of weak to the toughest of tough. Smiles and laughter through the tears as we remember his quirky self.
Crazy weather….storms to sunshine to torrential downpours to rainbows. Almost as if all of heaven was joining us in full force on this day that was an exclamation mark in so many lives. Getting our attention to let us know that a big and powerful God was there for us….in case we be hard-headed. Letting us know that heaven had a new resident that would still shake up the world.
I want to forget, but also remember every detail. One friend urged me to make sure I don’t bypass the pain. To make myself go through it. Important advice. Good advice. Terrifying advice. I still want to avoid it. To peal off one layer at a time. I think that’s OK. As long as I eventually walk through it.
A week later I am grateful for the thousands, and I know there are thousands, who have prayed for my family. I wish the energy of those prayers could go back in time and change things. But it can’t, and as much as I pray I can’t stop the pain for those I love most in the world. But one thing I have seen in this week. God is with us, as he was with Kaelan during those last moments of fear and pain, and as he passed over from life to death to life. And we, for 17 years as he was on this earth, and before and beyond, love him. In the midst of the worse pain, joy lives. 

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