Our feet crunched through the orange and yellow leaves as we made our way to the cemetery. And for a moment my ponderings became whimsical in the dark way that whimsical thoughts manifest themselves in the first stages of mourning. I thought… I want to be remembered in the Fall. Before it gets cold, and when the leaves have covered all the ugly parts of the ground. When things smell fresh but also like bonfires and the relief from Summer heat is just new enough to savor it. And then, needing to make it known, I spoke that sentiment out loud to a friend, as if she could somehow influence how and when I would be remembered.
How we are remembered is completely up to us.
I was reminded of that this week as we said goodbye to Kelley Frost. A good friend and a great husband to Laura and a present dad to their three. Kelley wasn’t perfect. He was the first to tell you that. I had barely known him a few months when he unleashed tales that made me grab Laura’s arm and ask “is he telling the truth?!” He was.
Kelley was tough and wild and made his mark growing up. But Kelley was also redeemed. Kelley was free in Christ. And when he tasted that freedom it didn’t change who Kelley was… but it released him to live an even bolder life. A life that proclaimed the Gospel without pretense or legalism.
Kelley lived a big, fast life. Full of spontaneity. He didn’t hide behind social graces or expectations. He just lived the life he wanted and took many along for the ride. We remember Kelley’s life for being loud, passionate, opinionated, motivated, FULL of ideas and mostly consumed with plans to live out his life on a beach or lake at some point. But we also remember Kelley because he was real. I think I switched between like and dislike of that man for all the years I knew him. But he knew that and I’m certain he took extra care to pick on me whenever possible. He also liked to solve all my problems, he had big proposals that would end world hunger, the crisis in Haiti and the orphan epidemic. He wasn’t afraid to tell me how to do my job and honestly… someday I might just implement some of his crazy ideas.
But one thing I really loved about Kelley was how he loved my friend Laura; his wife. I’m not sure if she noticed how he looked at her. So Laura… he looked at you something fierce girl! No marriage is perfect, but you guys were working through life together and loving it.
So now we find ourselves at the very fresh beginning of deep grief. A mother and father have lost a son. Brothers and sisters have lost a brother. A wife is without her husband and her children without their father. But what a legacy Kelley left us. Go big. Live big. Love Jesus without apology. And of course he left in a season with leaves that crunch and change. A season that’s not too cold or hot. A season that is perfectly unique among seasons. Fall is a time for drawing close, for thankfulness and for remembrance. I pray that this gives his family and friends comfort as the weeks become months and the months become years. I’m certain that Kelley, if he had considered it, would have wanted to be remembered in the Fall as well.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.