Dearest Rachel –
As I mentioned the other day, Kevin’s stepdad asked me to write a few words about him for his memorial service, whether I could attend or not. With that in mind, and seeing as it would probably be read about now, here is what I wrote:
I’m not about to claim to be Kevin’s oldest friend; six years is a huge age gap when you’re growing up, until it suddenly isn’t. I didn’t really meet him until I came back home from college, and met him as part of the singles group at church. Nor am I his closest friend, as far as I know; it’s hard to be, when you’re dealing with a ten-hour drive either way to the other’s home. We would see each other only twice a year. But I suppose I’m one of the oldest of his close friends, and of the closest of his old friends, so I guess that counts for something.
It seems insufficient to try to sum up a man you’ve known half your life (even if it has been, for the last decade or so, only been for a couple weeks out of the year) in only a handful of paragraphs, but that’s what I’m going to try to do here. Actually, I’ve come up with three words to describe him, and a couple of paragraphs to explain why each one describes him.
The first word that comes up is “passionate”, which admittedly conjures up images of dashing leading men with flowing hair and six-pack abs, holding a swooning damsel like they were posing for a cheesy romance novel. And I know what you’re thinking, “What’s the problem with that? That sounds like Kevin to a T.”
(pause for laughter)
And yet, hear me out: he cared deeply about the things he cared about, which is more than a lot of us can say about the things in our life. He had a great passion for rock music – as anyone who’s ever heard a verbal dissertation from him about the subject (and the band Rush, in particular) can attest. More recently, he’s been devoted to his online girlfriend, supporting her with encouragement through her struggles, both emotionally and materially (I don’t know if she’s been informed of what happened to him, or how that might be done). But especially, in his studies of the Bible and theology, which leads to my next word to describe him…
“Strong-willed.” Okay, that’s two words, but still. And I realize this makes him sound like some sort of defiant child – although I understand that’s not entirely inaccurate, as he’d told us many stories of his somewhat… wayward youth, and not necessarily with complete regret. But what I mean by that is that he held firm in his convictions. When we would get together, on a weekly basis back when he lived in the Chicago area, or on those semi-annual occasions when each of us would visit the other, we would frequently debate certain points of theology. Not so much the minutia, like how many angels would be able to dance on the head of a pin (the answer, by the way, is “as many as want to”), but real meaty topics, like various aspects (and that was a word he used frequently in these discussions) of Calvinism versus Arminianism and so forth. We would argue like rabbis at some first-century synagogue about these points, and I rarely could budge him from his convictions, even as little more than a verbal sparring partner. More often than not, I was the one to surrender at the end of one of these debates; not so much out of admitting defeat, as it was admitting that I was not as firm in my point of view as he was in his. Upon hearing of his passing, my son observed that he now has the opportunity to discuss these matters with the great minds that came up with them: he’s going to give Augustine, Luther, Lewis, and all those others a run for their money.
Given the strength of his convictions in what he believed, I think the final word to describe him would be “faithful.” Not just in terms of His faith in God, and his service toward Him, although I’ll get to that in a moment. Even in the secular world, he proved to be a faithful servant; he would often tell me about the stories of so many of his erstwhile colleagues who would be able unable to fulfill their duties for one insignificant reason or another, leaving him to fill their shifts. Now, I understand that’s the responsibility of a supervisor or a manager, but it was his faithfulness on the job that got him promoted to those sorts of positions, so it’s not as if it went unnoticed or unrecognized. “Whoso is faithful in little, will be faithful in much.” On a lighter note, he could be counted upon to join us for a game night every week when my wife and I used to hold them back at our home. He still would come to visit every year, even after her passing. And with the onset of the pandemic, he would regularly join us online with several other friends to play games remotely; we’d just gotten to play with him again this past Sunday after a month away over the holidays, which I’m so grateful for the opportunity.
But of course, he was also faithful to his God. He studied the word, and delved further into it than many of us can imagine – even I admit to being out of my depth in discussing things with him from time to time. You folks here at Clearview probably know about this better than I do; while I understand he participated – and would occasionally lead – Sunday school, I don’t know the particulars since he moved down to Tennessee, but assume that he’s been doing the same things that he used to back up in the Chicago area.
In any event, I expect that he was – or will be; I don’t know how time works up there – greeted with the words that we all want to hear someday: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the rest of your Lord.”
Enjoy your rest, Kevin. I won’t say you’ve earned it, or have a right to it, as that’s not how it works – and you’d be the first to tell me so. But I believe you’ve been given it, so make the most of it, and I’ll see you when I get up there.