Thanks for coming along today to celebrate Kezia. We have prepared a special party that was dreamed up by Kezia herself.
Firstly thanks to Sam, Mark, Meg, Evan and the setup and hosting team for organising the events today, and to Matt Haimes for creating an amazing slideshow and video. Celia and Michael for the beautiful entry, Isaac and ……… for the music, Stephen, Justin and the tech team and of course Julie and Jeremy for their outstanding interpreting.
Thanks also to Church friends for ongoing support over the past two years above and beyond expectation. And thanks to all of you for your continual love and provision for our family during this time of great difficulty. Special thanks must go out to Jeremy & Nicole Borland, Verne & Julie Harnish, Rory & Simone Graham, Lindsay & Geraldine Swann, Tina & Chris Bothma, Fe & Jake Langridge, Margot & Stuart Shutt, Jane Thorstenson, Mike & Karlee Rippey, Adrian & Tina Schoone, Janet & Raj Swamy, and the gang.
A final thanks to Mum & Dad for always being there and helping so very much. Thanks also to Rebecca’s parents Wes and Carol for being so fantastic to us and Kezia. Thanks for looking after her every week, and for loving her so much. She loved nana so much, and always wanted to go and stay, and nana took such good care of her. Thanks Carol.
From a father
Kezia is my number one, my first born, the first little baby I could call my own. Kezia is beautiful, magnificent, delightful and beautiful. I love her so much. So beautiful in fact there were none close to her beauty. She is loving, kind, generous, and intelligent.
She is a lefty, ‘a genius’. She is also cheeky, and a little climbing monkey. She loves to run fast – like her father. She is detailed, bright, and quick thinking. She is beautiful, polite and gorgeous – like her mother. It is so awesome to have carried her through life and watch her grow, love, care, and learn.
Kez was born a perfect baby, actually she was ‘the most beautiful baby in the world’ if you recall. Her long blonde hair grown since birth, always flowed and curled. She was fit and active, enjoying running at top speed across grassy fields. She climbed anything she could, right to the tippy top.
She was smart, cheeky, lovely and kind. She was always thinking about others, thinking what their needs were. When I was sick she brought me water and food to my bedside. When I was out in the garden she would bring me a cold beer, unasked.
Kezia taught me to love
I never knew really what love was before. Night after night of holding her close, praying so hard for things to change. Helping her with all her daily routine, day after day of watching her, of praying with her, of praying for her to be healed in one day.
I have never loved quite like this before, never knowing or understanding the love a father could have for a baby before. Kezia taught me all this. Kezia taught me to be a dad, to hold a little hand, to cuddle her close, and sing songs just for her. Kezia taught me to defend her – at all costs, that she was ever so precious – more precious than anything else in this world, that she was my most valuable.
As she grew up I learnt to grow up too. I had to learn to play, read books, to help her discover this amazing world. She taught me the difference between a dress and a skirt. She taught me to dance unashamed, to prance and to dream. She helped me find freedom in loving her.
We would always make up stories, make up songs, play games and laugh. Laughter and tickles and giggles are where we would play. Story after story we would read, adventure after adventure our life would lead.
For a season Rebecca and I worked part time – so I had the girls for one day of the week. We would get up and get out, take a train, take a bus, go to the museum, library, downtown or go to the park. They were the most fun times I could have ever had with her. I learnt that she liked to take things in small doses, the 90 minute round trip to Henderson, was too much train time.
Life change event
Right after Kez turned four she started to feel unwell, this lead to an event that completely changed our lives. Something that I so wish could have been changed. We had no choice but to push forward, as a family. This time was hard, tiring, and incredibly difficult. The emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual were all under attack.
Our faith was what kept us going, always knowing that God’s plans are higher than ours, and always knowing that God had it under control. We did not like the method, but we trusted God. The most difficult steps were actually opening up, allowing others into our world. Asking for prayer and help was very hard – but it was the only way we could have made it through.
The decision to take Kez home was something we did not take lightly. The odds both ways were so poor – we had no choice but to seek quality life. This next stage of Kez’s life was the most exciting. She was turning into a little girl. She completely trusted our actions and decisions, although was always dubious about the colon cleanses. This last fourteen months of incredible freedom and quality was worth the struggles. As a family we lived life as fully as we could. We took care of Kez and also had plenty of awesome family time. Lots of adventures, lots of fun.
I am sad…
Last Thursday was a day like no other – a day that no father should have. A day we want to be so different, oh so different. A day that only God knew was coming.
I am so very sad that Kez is not here anymore because I had dreamed of watching my princess grow up, watching her learn to dance, grow in knowledge and understanding, learn to be a lady. We had dreamed together about having more adventures, travelling, playing, and giggling all the time.
We had dreamed together to take life as an adventure, to have fun and travel, to swim, sing and play forever. She wanted to grow up, be a ballerina, a gymnast and a climbing monkey.
I wanted to see my princess grow up, to transform into a beauty, to marry a handsome prince, to learn about life, to learn about God’s faithfulness and to see her have children. I am sad for the adventures we were still to have and never will. I discussed with her business ideas, her face lit up like a light bulb when we discussed buying a flower shop –and you know, that face lighting up – always touched my heart and made me smile.
God knows why…
God, only you know the reason, only you know why. We really don’t like the situation, but we trust you. God, you are the centre of our lives, the gift of time with Kezia was priceless.
We are so thankful that we were able to learn to love, to learn to be parents, to learn about the love you have. Today we are so sad, but also we have comfort. We know that you love Kezia more than we can understand, that you created her for a purpose, and that you numbered her days. We miss our little Kezia, we love her so much.
The questions we have for God are numerous. We know Kezia has gone to Heaven, and are looking forward to seeing her there someday. It’s as if she has stepped through a doorway before us into eternity. We are confident because we know there is a heaven; we know that we were created by God, and that he sent his son Jesus. Believing in the truth enables us access to heaven.
This is a wake-up call to all of us, to realise that life here cannot be meaningless. Firstly because as a parent losing a baby I am so grateful that we spent so much time together. Time is the one thing we cannot get more of, time is incredibly valuable. So much so that you should really quit your job, sell your house, and spend time with your kids – nothing in this world is more valuable. Reprioritise your life now!
The second wake-up call is that there are only two options of where we go after this life, and there is only one way to Heaven, through a belief in Jesus Christ. Knowing this truth give you a choice; knowing there is a way, not dependent on what you have done, but just because you are created in the image of God. It’s your choice where you spend eternity. Make a wise decision.
Most exciting memories…
The most exciting memories I have of Kezia, were the little times we were together. When Kez was three the two of us went on an adventure to Christchurch. This long weekend together was amazing. We visited Grandma Doris, numerous aunties and uncles and of course Jen’s farm. I remember this time as being special because it was just the two of us. We chatted all day, and giggled in the night. I felt that she grew up a lot in that time: she started to come out of herself, she was confident and brave and I grew to love her more.
Adventures were another most exciting time: taking regular day trips on the bus, or train. I remember taking Kezi to the museum on a number of occasions, and all we did was run around, go to the volcano house, and visit the bear cave. Everything was singing and dancing and playing.
Watching princess movies – This all started one day on holiday with Kristin and Liah – the 12 dancing princesses played, the music started and all the girls just danced, and danced. Since then Kezia has watched this movies dozens of times, and I have watched dozens of times too. I do love the dancing princess movies, I love them because Kezia loves them. I love them because I love her. Each time either reading or watching I would dream about my little princess and a tear would always come to my eye.
Making up stories was another most fun activity, Jeremy the Giraffe has featured in a number of creative adventures – the stories were made up mostly by Kezia, and then I helped to frame them a bit – Jeremy and the gold hat, Jeremy and the dragon, Jeremy and the bear hunt– all knitted together by Kezia.
Kez loved me
Most of all I knew that Kez loved me. She would pounce on me, hide from me, kiss and cuddle me. She always loved to be told she was beautiful. She never wanted me to leave, never wanted me to go to work, always wanted more play, more adventure, more fun, so much so that when she was a little girl I wrote her two songs. I would sing them when she was a baby, then she always asked for them as a little girl. She loved these songs so much she would sing them to Zachary and substituted in his name ….
Little Kezia, you are beautiful,
Little Kezia you are amazing,
Little Kezia God’s got his eye on you,
Little Kezia I love you.
Do you know little lady that your daddy loves you so,
Do you know little lady that your mummy loves you so,
Do you know little lady that Jesus loves you so,
Do you know, do you know do you know.
See you later Kezi …
Kezia is our beautiful little girl and we miss her already. Before she was born I remember organising her little room (that she shared with the dishwasher), everything folded just so, wipes in colour-coordinated patterns and toys at just the right angle on the shelf – we’ve never been even close to so tidy since…And I can remember when I first held her, the crazy thought that this was easy and I could do it all over again in a flash…
I’ve shared some of Kezia’s gorgeous nature and quirks in her story earlier – there aren’t too many of Kezi’s friends with a taste for olive after olive – barring Petraand Zachary, of course. There was a time when life was simple and active manuka honey and a kiss could cure any ill; and sticking plasters with pictures worked twice as fast as plain. I remember how observant and particular (translate: fussy) she could be and how she loved everything just so; how she reminded me of me often enough to solidify the fact that we could both easily be the star character in The Princess and the Pea. I think Kezi’s Nanna and Grandad would agree! It was a warm night just the other week, after changing and remaking her bed earlier, that I found her sweltering under the duvet, having slipped in ever so carefully, so as not to cause wrinkle.
When I started, Kezia could complete every line in The Owl and the Pussy Cat; she could differentiate blackbirds from starlings, thrushes from female blackbirds and tell which sparrows were boys and girls. She loved wee chicks, but didn’t have much time for towering, honking geese. She’d mastered tying bows and French knitting and would often draw pictures from a bird’s eye view – things symbolically represented as on a map.
She liked to be in charge – as in fact did every other member of our household – often we functioned as the perfect team, and the other often we each functioned best in time out! Kezia has learned two of the most important things in life: firstly how to say sorry – thanks Dad for teaching me this by the humble way you demonstrated this while raising me and secondly how to say I love you. I remember overhearing my cousin Cayla say this when she was being tucked into bed as a child, longing to be able to express it so easily and making a concrete decision to become a person who could.
Just two days before she headed off to Heaven was the last time she simply said, “I love you, Mum” while sitting on the couch.
I’d love to honour my parents, Wes and Carol; Kezia,Petraand Zachary’s Grandad and Nanna. You have been such an integral part of our life and especially Kezia’s. You were always just around the corner and so happy to have Kezi. She stayed a night a week almost every week from the time she was 3 months old, sleeping in her carry cot, tucked into your wardrobe. Mum made her little summer dresses and knitted up a storm; no children have ever had such an extensive choice in hats, cardies, jerseys and vests as ours. It may not be politically correct to have favourites, but Nanna was Kezi’s. Your home was a refuge for Kez where she was showered with love and treats that were healthy to eat. Mum went the extra mile and then some, reading every label on every jar; reading her every story – and there were thousands over the years. She taught Kez how to paint and bought the girls innumerable princess figurines. Mum knew how to delight. You were the consummate Nanna and your mum, our Grandma Joyce will be so proud.
I’d like to honour the lovely Hesther for organising parties for her girls where Kezi andPetrawere the special guests and going the extra mile cooking special food when we visited – your home is always a haven. Kezi loves her little friends and she thought of you all often, longing to visit or have you over even when we couldn’t. She especially loved Esmé and Farrah andFlorence; Bella-Rose and John-Luke; Kristin and Liah; Manaia; Ilana; Lily May and Lily Grace; and her cousins Olivia and Theo. A mix of a few of you would always come up in bedtime prayers, along with a special request for Manaia to sleep well.
Kezia loves Jesus. I remember her often pulling her top forward in order to loudly whisper “Hello Jesus!” to His Holy Spirit’s exact location in her heart. She would sing and dance to worship songs, loving the song with the line “I am not forgotten…God knows my name!” And it was just before Christmas, while I was singing Kez’s favourite Christmas carol, O Come All Ye Faithful to the girls, in the half-dark before bed that I reached out to grab her outstretched hand, only to be chastised that she had her arm raised because she was praising God, not because she wanted me to hold it. This carol, my favourite, too, Kez called the Praise Song.
God has been so good to us and answered so many prayers. It was only about as many days as counting my fingers ago when Kezi asked “Mummy, what can I do to get better?” and I had to simply say “I don’t know, we’re doing our very best and lots of people are praying.” Our job as parents is to love our children as beautiful gifts from God; to speak life and to do our very, very best – whilst acknowledging that neither we nor they are perfect, nor the world we live in – and then leave the rest to Him who loves us more than we can begin to imagine.
After Kez had gone I found the little promise box that Aunty Glenis and Jan Maree gave Kezi for her dedication. It’s a wee box with a teddy on top that’s filled with tiny rolled up Bible verses and a pair of miniature tweezers to pull out a single verse at a time – Kezi loved it and we’d often have to limit her to two or three verses at a time…
As I stood by her bed, knowing she was gone…but looking like she could so easily wake, I said a quick “Well Lord…” and chose a wee scroll. While I know verses are always best interpreted in context, Kezi’s room and an open heart was mine… The verse was “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). So thank you to all those that have prayed so faithfully and encouraged me by text and hug – you are fabulous. We have been so loved.
It was probably around the time that Kezi got her first library card at age 2, that I came across a simple book called Someday by Alison McGhee. It reflects the heart of a mother – and even those who long to be mothers, but aren’t yet. So I’d like to share it with you today…
One day I counted your fingers, and kissed each one.
One day the first snowflakes fell,
and I held you up and watched them melt on your baby skin.
One day we crossed the street, and you held my hand tight.
Then you were my baby, and now you are my child.
Sometimes when you sleep, I watch you dream, and I dream too…
That someday you will dive into the cool, clear water of a lake.
Someday you will walk into a deep wood.
Someday your eyes will be filled with a joy so deep that they shine.
Someday you will run so fast and so far your heart will feel like fire.
Someday you will swing high – so high,
higher than you ever dared to swing.
Someday you will hear something so sad you will fold up with sorrow.
Someday you will call a song to the wind,
and the wind will carry your song away.
Someday I will stand on this porch
and watch your arms waving to me until I no longer see you.
Someday you will look at this house
and wonder how something that feels so big can look so small.
Someday you will feel a small weight against your strong back.
Someday I will watch you brushing your child’s hair.
Someday, a long time from now,
your own hair will glow silver in the sun.
And when that day comes, love, you will remember me.
Just like in Enid Blyton’s tale of The Enchanted Wood, where different lands swing by the top of the Faraway Tree and are only there for a short time before moving on – Kezia has climbed the Tree to the very top and entered through the hole in the clouds to Heaven – and Forever-land has moved on with her and without us. We cannot enter today, nor do we know when Forever-land will be back at the top of the Tree; but we do know that it will be back and we each will have the opportunity to climb through that hole in the clouds should we so choose. Kezia’s story was entwined with ours for a time and continues there, while ours continues here. I can’t wait to see Kezi again. While it’s not time yet, it will be time soon enough.