For Caleb

He was a cute baby with an enormous head.

But he would grow into it, and as he grew and found his words it soon became clear that that big head housed a big brain, full of big ideas.

First cousin once removed, he was my cousin’s little miracle baby. More like a nephew to me than a cousin.

My aunt–his grandma–told me once that he liked talking to me because I spoke to him like an equal. This funny little kid with the big vocabulary who loved to say shocking things and get a rise out of people. I think he liked me because he couldn’t shock me, because I shared his twisted sense of humor and affinity for horror.

I spent time with him when I could. We always tried to make him feel welcome, wanted. I spoiled him with gifts alongside my actual nephews. He liked books, and that made him a kindred spirit. At ten, Matt and I took him out for an afternoon of ski ball and a movie, after talking about doing so for far too long. The movie was the prequel/remake of The Thing. He actually did manage to shock me by telling us he’d read Who Goes There, the short story on which the original movie was based.

At ten. I didn’t read that story until I was in college.

We wanted to take him out more. We planned to. But plans always fell through, and we got busy with life, and he got busy with being a teenager.

Another ten, tumultuous years went by. We’d see him now and then at family gatherings, always shocked at how much older he looked, how much taller he’d grown. He became more withdrawn, not so ready for conversation. He didn’t have it easy. The deck was stacked heavily against him. But he tried. And he grew into a young man who was sweet-natured and kind-hearted, who loved his mama, and his grandma, and the Lord.

Five days ago, he was taken from us. Violently. Senselessly. Unfairly.

It’s tempting to ask why. But the only why that really matters is that evil is real, and it likes to prey on the sweet-natured and kind-hearted.

I wish we’d taken him out more. That we’d made more of an effort to stay in his life. Maybe it would have made a difference. Probably not. But at least we’d have more memories with him.

As it is, I’ll always remember that cute kid with the big brain and the big ideas, and the gleeful little giggle when he managed to get that rise he was looking for.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart.

–2 Corinthians 4:8-16 (emphasis mine)

Love you, Caleb. See you on the other side.

If you would like to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign to help cover Caleb’s funeral costs, please click here. Thank you.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay