I miss you. I really thought we would have more time to talk, but I understand that you had to go… although I don’t think I fully comprehend that you’ve left yet. I want to cherish these few moments before reality sets in, because once it makes sense, it will be truth. Until then, I’ll be on the lookout for a random “I love you, Jams” text or a status update about Kevin Smith re-tweeting you.
I’m writing because I’ve wanted to tell you a few things – some you know, some I don’t think you realize.
First of all, I’m very proud of you. I’ve been meaning to tell you that for weeks. I know we haven’t chatted much recently, but the fact that we hadn’t, coupled with the entire change of tone in all of your status updates was a pretty clear sign to me that this was it – everything you’ve worked toward finally paying off.
I shared in your excitement about your move to New York, even though I didn’t get the chance to say it. And honestly, I was dreading saying goodbye to you, so I procrastinated in doing it. It seemed like a good theory at the time. Turns out I was incorrect. Nonetheless, in spirit, I was so immensely happy that you had found peace in your life. From completing school, to embracing fatherhood (something that had terrified you for the first several months of Zeke’s life), to falling more in love daily with Amber, to actually being able to sleep at night for the first time since I have known you – things were just… good. I don’t know if people understand everything you wrestled with to get to “good,” but I saw it. Good doesn’t seem to come as easy to you and I as it does some others, but that’s why we always found each other in the rockiest moments of life.
Secondly, you’re one of the cool kids. I know that means very little to you, but that’s part of the reason you earned the title. You’re smart, funny, compassionate and most of all, genuine. I always admired the fact that, unlike so many Christians, you never put up a facade. You never claimed to know everything or to be perfect – you were far from it – but it was that visible struggle that made you so relatable to everyone. Your struggle was your ministry. Because you were honest with yourself and with others, we knew that you would understand. You would never judge. You would always respond in love.
The staff of 91 along with Kyle, Greg and Steve got together last night to pray for Amber and the kids and talk about you. As you know, that group is more like family than former co-workers. Still I was pretty amazed as everyone shared specific moments in their lives that you were a part of that they said made a major impact on where they are now. I don’t think the same would be said of me in my absence. You should know that, whether you ever realized it or not, you changed all of us. Brandon, Brent and Stan all commented to me that they feel like you and they were a lot a like. I’m fascinated that three of the most opposite people I know could relate to you so closely. That’s a gift that I don’t know that you saw in yourself.
Thirdly, I love you. There is no doubt in my mind that this is something you left us knowing. It’s how pretty much every conversation with us began and ended. You never once spoke with me without telling me how beautiful and valuable I was. You and I grew together through our struggles and pain. In each other we found support and comfort. I knew that no matter the situation, you would always be honest and compassionate. I did nothing to deserve that from you, you just gave it freely. I will never forget how you were so adamant in letting me know that because I saw you at your worst and loved you through it, that I will always have a special, irreplaceable spot in your heart. I hope you know that you share a place in mine as well and you always will.
I wish you could’ve seen how loved you were. I wish you could see all the people you inspired. I wish you didn’t leave us so soon. I don’t claim to have the answers as to why this happened. A man with everything on the upswing, a child on the way with the job he worked so hard for just weeks away – I can’t give you a satisfactory reason for that to be taken away. I can see good things that your death has put in motion, but they are all of little consolation at the moment. You spoke a lot about faith and trust in God. I’m choosing to believe that there’s a bigger plan ahead and that your family will be abundantly blessed for the hardship they will face without you. I take consolation in the fact that you went home at a time in your life that you were the happiest the closest to God I’d ever seen you.
My promise to you, my dear, is that I will try to carry on at least part of the legacy you began. There’s no way I could carry the load that you did, but the thing that always struck me most about you was your ability to love the people that the world rejected. You have my promise that I will try my best to do the same – to show the love of Christ through being an honest, flawed human being to the people who need love the most.
I also promise to care for your family. Your sweet Amber, son Zeke and your daughter who will know her daddy was a great man through the memories of those who loved him. I will pray for them and do what I can to make sure they know that they are always loved, just as you are.
Thank you, Caleb. Thank you for being you.
With all the love in my heart,
The last time I sang in public was at an 80s show several years ago. Somehow Caleb had convinced me to put my fear aside and do a duet with him of this song. Since that day, I’ve always smiled when I hear it.
Caleb’s memorial service will be held on Monday, August 6th at 1 pm, located at Life Church South (7800 S. Walker) in Oklahoma City.
For those of you looking for information on how you can help Caleb’s family, please check out the Our Friend Caleb Facebook page. All updates are being posted by the family there and it’s a great place to share your memories.