All praise, honor, and glory to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!
Strange first words back on the blog after Kailen’s passing? I think not. Kailen went to be with Jesus 13 days ago (318 hours ago, to be precise), and during that time, I am personally aware of more than 50 people that have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ, including close friends and family members from both sides of our family. Strange first words? If you think so, I would pose this question: What would Kailen be saying right now, if these were her fingers tapping the keys instead of mine? Would she be pouting, wallowing in some insatiable desire for earthly martyrdom? The answer is obvious; it was written on her arm for all to see.
YET I WILL PRAISE HIM.
Am I confused? Yes, but I will continue to trust in Him who can do far more than I could ever ask or imagine. Am I broken? Of course, but I will place my faith in Him whose power is made perfect in weakness. Am I sleeping/eating/breathing normally? Not even a little bit, but I will praise the name of Jesus, who tells me that though I am outwardly wasting away, inwardly I am being renewed day by day.
As I’m sure you’ve discovered, I have decided to continue Kailen’s blog. She and I had so many things in common, so many shared passions, but one of the most unique and highly-valued was our common love of the written word. While we were dating, we discovered our shared love for writing through the poems we wrote for one another. My first poem to her was entitled “Beauty and the Beast”; she titled her’s “Prayers for a Prince.” The complementary nature of our writing styles was immediately undeniable, and I believe, even to this day, that our common affinity for words catalyzed and amplified our young love and helped it blossom into something far greater, far more enduring.
So in death, as in life, I will seek to honor her with my words (along with every breath I take). But there is something very important you must understand from the onset: I will fail miserably. I am capable of constructing well-formed, highly-varied sentences, of giving life to creative ideas, of properly employing the use of a fancy word every now and then. But I am not capable of painting her splendor onto the page; ink and paper and electrons are all too finite, too simple, too two-dimensional. Kailen was, and is, every word I don’t know, every color I cannot see; but it is no matter. Even if I knew the words, even if I could see the colors and somehow translate them for you, it would be a futile and arrogant effort.
The page could not and would not hold her.
Kailen was consumed by the essence of heavenly things. That essence is too wondrous, too magnificent to be reduced down to some empiric babble. I held her when she was healthy, when she was sick, when she was bleeding, when she was crying, when she was trembling, when she was falling, when she was seizing, and when she was dying, but even I cannot fully grasp the beauty I’m trying to describe. The way I’ve come to understand it is quite pathetic, but it’s the best I’ve got — I’m a pharmacy nerd, people (cut me some slack): As humans, our immune system is hardwired to recognize “self” and “non-self” entities. Entities that are recognized as “self” are unharmed and are allowed to live peaceably within the body. Entities discovered to be “non-self” are attacked, engulfed, savagely ripped apart, killed, and ultimately expelled in some manner. Well, think of the world as a human body. This earth is satan’s dominion, his playground, so consider satan as the immune system for that body. He decides what is “self” and “non-self”, which means he decides what gets attacked.
The moment Kailen was conceived in her mother’s womb, satan began screaming. “NON-SELF! NON-SELF! NON-SELF! ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK!” And that is precisely what happened. Kailen was born with a collapsed lung that earned her a lengthy stay in the NICU, and the physical ailments quite literally never stopped from that point forward. Much like our bodies treat bacteria and viruses, this world attacked, engulfed, savagely ripped apart, and ultimately killed Kailen’s body. It was all satan could do; she was simply too big of a risk, too much of a liability. She stood in the way of his plans.
I told you it was pathetic, but it’s the only illustration that comes close. Kailen was a warrior for Jesus, and even in the death of her body, she would not be silenced. 50 people. FIFTY. Have come to know Jesus, either as a direct result or an intimate correlate, of Kailen’s passing. Congratulations satan, you piece of deplorable filth: you failed. Again.
But back to my point: I will not be successful in conveying K’s magnificence through this blog, nor will I be able to fully convey to you how deeply I loved her or, subsequently, how deeply I miss her. Even on his best day, Van Gogh would have painted a poor picture of My Beloved. Earthly talents, even of the virtuoso–which I am far from–simply aren’t adequate. Thus, forgive my inadequacy from the onset.
I have known for approximately a week that I would be continuing this blog. The Lord didn’t reveal it to me immediately, but when He did, it was in overwhelming fashion. Once I knew I was supposed to continue it, I began seeking how to begin, how to start writing again after enduring the greatest loss I have ever known. The answer, much like the assignment, washed over me like a crashing wave.
Through what you might call a divinely-fortuitous sequence of events, an opportunity arose for me to take a trip out west with my best friend. At first, frankly, I said no. Why would I take a trip to see all these beautiful places and experience all these wonderful things when my wife, my beloved, my darling among the maidens, had just died? It was foolish, it was selfish, and I wouldn’t do it. Period. That was it. But as God often does, He opened my eyes and allowed me to see the situation from a fresh perspective. In this case, from Kailen’s perspective.
It was less than 2 months before K’s passing that God revealed a simple truth to me: it is not death that hurts, but rather the loss of life. It was a profound moment of clarity that nearly brought me to my knees in the hospital parking lot. I must say, as humbly as I can, that Kailen and I infused more life and love into a heart-wrenching and downright hellacious situation as is humanly possible. But that doesn’t take away the fact that she died at 25, while I, 26, held her hand and sought the Lord’s mercy, begging Him to take her quickly and without any more damn pain.
Loss. Of. Life.
So much we could have done, so much we should have done, so much we should have seen, heard, smelled, listened to, laughed about, read about, places we should have driven, ran, walked, skipped while holding hands. Having kids, buying a house, going on a real honeymoon…just to name a few. By any rational mind’s estimation, we lost a devastating amount of life.
And so that brings me here, to this hotel room in Burlington, Colorado, my computer sitting on my lap. Instead of staying at home and conducting some sort of self-serving pity party, I got in the car this morning and Ben and I drove 15 hours. Why? Two reasons: one, Kailen would have punched me in the stomach for even considering foregoing an opportunity such as this, and two, I AM DOING THIS FOR HER! For all the things we didn’t get to experience, for all the loss I feel pressing against my soul. I brought my TeamKCT shirt and a lock of Kailen’s hair with me and I plan to see it all. For her. For us.
So over the next 7-10 days, I will be cataloging the trip on Twitter and Facebook with photos of the different places we’re traveling. I will also continue making blog posts. I haven’t yet decided how frequently I will post on this blog — probably at least once weekly — but for now I will share my trip with you, and part of that will take the form of excerpts from my personal daily journal.
Here is the excerpt from today, September 28th, 2015:
Today we drove west. We climbed the ridges and rolling hills of Missouri and descended into the vast sea of plains and grasslands in Kansas. Tiny townships dotted the flat landscape, each separated from the other by no more than 15-20 miles, and each having, without fail, 2 unyielding staples: a grain silo and a church steeple jutting against the horizon. We drove for over 14 hours until, just after sunset, we breached the eastern edge of Colorado.
As the world scrolled by outside the window, I found myself calling out to you in my mind, desperately searching the fields for any sign of you. The winds whispered back but you stayed quiet. The pain was not so reticent.
This grief, I’ve found, is like a sadistic maze. For everywhere I go, you are there to meet me; and yet, everywhere I go, you are nowhere to be found. You are both everywhere and nowhere, and neither satisfies.
I miss you, beautiful. I love you.
At this point in my life, I feel I have 2 distinct purposes:
1) Glorify Jesus Christ with whatever life he has left for me
2) Honor Kailen
Please join me as I seek to fulfill these purposes. More to come later this week. In the meantime, I pray each of you will experience Jesus in a new way, and that His joy would pervade you, even in (and especially in) your pain.