Kaylee Mykal Benzing
Cousins words to describe Kaylee: awesome, thoughtful, fantastical, kind, extreme, uplifting, laugh-a-getic, life of the party.
My name is Miriam Mohler and Many years ago I was the junior high pastor at FBCS along with my husband who was also on staff. One of the families I ministered with and to was the Benzings. Ministry occurs in the context of relationships and I am more like Jesus because of the relationships formed during those years with the Benzing family extended and many others. I am honored to be here today and it is my job today to comfort the brokenhearted, instill hope and remind us that God is still good.
We gather today and our hearts are broken wide open. I am so sad. We are so sad. None of us wants to be here because we are so grieved over Kaylee’s death; but at the same time we are so glad to be here to honor and celebrate the amazing young life of Kaylee Mykal Benzing.
it is so important that you took off of work or you drove the miles or found the time to be here. Death is never convenient and it matters that you are here. There is something powerful about getting together in the same room and breathing in and out our sadness; breathing in and out words of faith; breathing in and out our love for Kaylee together. This time of public mourning is important for you and for Kaylee’s family. Thank you for being here to walk together, to say goodbye, to remember, to celebrate, to laugh and to cry.
Our personal journeys of grief have begun now, and grief plays by its own rules. It doesn’t follow a linear path but ebbs and flows as we figure out how to live without Kaylee. Wherever it is you are in your grief, I hope you will find encouragement and promise in today’s service.
Kelly – you will never get over losing your sweet girl, your Kaylee. There isn’t closure that will come where you are done remembering and missing her. Instead of getting over her, you will learn to live without her and you’ll learn how important memory and story together will be. Don’t forget the goal of mourning is to keep memory alive and you will always want to remember your sweet girl. People will expect you to be fine sooner than you are “simply because you look fine“ but it’s ok to not be fine, it is ok to not be ok. It will take a long time, a lifetime actually, to grieve and to learn to live in this new way. Some days it will feel like you’re taking steps backwards. Just take the time; It’s yours to take. Sorrow is actually a gift that connects us to the heart of God and His presence. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted it says in Mt. 5. God is near to the brokenhearted. I know I am not saying anything new as we have all grieved Michael for the last 20 years. God is brilliant at using all of our life, good and bad, to make a perfect work.
Life is a journey and we have had the privilege of walking on this road with Kaylee long before cancer was part of her story. Kelly, you were on the road with Kaylee as her mom. She was your rock, and you were hers. Together you traveled and you helped each other find your best and confident voices, your own ideas. You raised such an incredible godly young woman who lived well, loved well and laughed fully.
Scott, Karrie, Mandy, Joseph: you have, with your families, walked through life giving guidance, loving and playing with Kaylee, telling stories of faith and Jesus.
Elizabeth, Jon, Clara, Jay, Hannah, Rylan, Jaden, and Jayce: you walked on the road with your cousin “you had fun making videos, playing games, camping and playing soccer together. What a gift she’s given you to remember how much she loved you.
Dennis and Ginger, Grandpa and Granny, You got to see how generous and thoughtful she was and was always willing to step up to help get something done. And she delighted in telling stories and hearing yours.
She had incredible wit, off the wall humor and would stun you with her laugh and creativity. She was precious and precocious, wasn’t she? Inside and out.
Some of you walked with Kaylee at school, at church, on a field or in the halls of the hospital. And now, we’ve all been together on the road with Kaylee being sick, wearing our warrior t-shirts, logging in and donating to help her kick cancer’s butt, doing whatever we can trying to help, knowing that in the face of terminal illness, it is hard to know what to do.
We know what it is to join this mom, Kelly, on this road of disbelief and sadness, recounting the whirlwind of the last 15 months and the impact of stupid rare cancer, osteosarcoma, she got and now reeling in a life without Kaylee. Today we get rejoice that Kaylee has finished her journey home. Our walk on life’s road from here on out will be lonely without her and a lot less silly. We will miss her good heart, the way she quietly loved and lived. We’ll miss her stories. We will miss loving Kaylee and being loved by her. But today, Thanks be to God. For the honor and joy of knowing Kaylee as long as we did.
I would like to share 3 truths that Kaylee would want you to know:
#1 Death does not Win.
Cancer is awful. It is devastating. We prayed for healing and God answered our prayer. He chose not to cure her cancer but he did heal her. And so we can grieve with hope. Remember the goal of mourning is to not forget! May we never forget that even though cancer and suffering does impact our time, our finances, and our strength, it cannot destroy our faith, Our love. Nor our eternity! The only way to beat death is through a relationship with Jesus. Kaylee knew that. You see, We have it all turned around. We are in the land of the dying and we are going to the land of the living. Kaylee is more alive than any of us! She would not want to come back to earth but she would want all of us to join her there!
Romans 8:38 tells us that nothing separates her from the love of God through Jesus Christ “not death, not cancer. God did not give Kayley cancer and God did not take Kayley from us. God did not need another angel or a pretty flower or to hear a new joke. God is not that needy, greedy or co-dependent to do something like that. Instead I want you to know that God is with us as we grieve, broken in our brokenness. There is a broken and dying savior who meets us there and comforts us and says that not even death gets the last word! God does. Cancer did not win today! Kayley was clear about that from the beginning. She’s always known she’s not been alone on this road. She recognized Jesus as her Savior and has never let him out of her sight. The attitude she brought to the sports she loved, her her mom, her friends, her family “she wasn’t going to give up without a fight. She showed cancer no mercy. Yet all the time she knew that in death she would not be abandoned but would be raised to new life. New life even our wildest dreams can’t imagine. She knew she would win because of Jesus. She would want you to know that death doesn’t win! This life is short but the next one is not! It is forever!
In those moments when the memories return and the sadness resurfaces, I find comfort and even joy for those we love as I reflect on the promise of today’s key verse. For in heaven, there is no mourning, crying, pain or death. All things are made new. Kaylee’s at peace now. She’s not suffering. She’s with Jesus, in the arms of the God who loves her and will wipe every tear from her eyes. She’s home, where we all belong. In the meantime we ache, because we miss her. We’re the losers here. We’re the ones who have to say goodbye. And it’s going to be hard. There will be dark days ahead, but the same God is with us, ready with his heavenly hankie, offering to wipe away our tears, to hold us in his arms and allow us to cry on him. He’s whispering to us, I’m with you. I’ll always be with you. You’ll never be alone. So let’s allow Jesus to comfort us, and let’s be Jesus to each other. And let’s not lose hope. Jesus is alive. He’s defeated death, and he will come back again. Jesus gives us hope. The tomb is empty. Love and life have won.
#2 Death is not the end of the Story
Kaylee would want to remind you to live in light of eternity. When I was praying about what to share today, a verse kept coming up in my mind. Karrie texted me and told me that the verse highlighted in Kaylee’s Bible was 2 Cor. 5:17. The same verse!
It says if anyone is in Christ they are a NEW creature. The old has gone and the new has come. The minute we become a Christ follower we become a new creation. We are given a new song. A New inheritance. We are under a New covenant because of JC. He even gives a new command love one another.
While we don’t have to wait until heaven for the Newness of life to begin, we do wait to have a New home, a New body and New life that will never end. Today Kaylee has many new things: a body free from pain, fashioned in the image of Jesus and whole. She is enjoying all the splendors of her new home. A New fellowship.
Kaylee is home. Imagine as Jesus carried her through the gates into heaven to a welcoming crowd of the great cloud of witnesses.
I find comfort and even joy for those we love as I reflect on the promise of today’s key verse. For in heaven, there is no mourning, crying, pain or death. All things are made new. Kaylee knew she was made for something more!
Hope is faith that looks forward to that place called heaven where there is:
No more death. No more good-byes. No more grief. No more sorrow. No more sin. And no more pain.
In Heaven, we will walk on streets of gold. In Heaven, there will be a family reunion. We will be reunited with those who have gone on before us. In Heaven, we will experience peace that is beyond comprehension. And most importantly, we will be with Jesus. And we will finally see the great love of God in all of its glory.
In the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia, one of the Characters says when they land on the shore:
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”
“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
• C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
The old has gone and the New has come!
#3 Death from the Other side. Last, Kaylee sees it all differently than we do!
There are some things that look different from the other side. It’s called perspective. When hiking we start at the Bottom of the mountain and wonder how we will ever get to the top! At the end of the trek we wonder how we ever made it or perhaps wonder how we will ever get back down!
When a child starts school, we parents think there is plenty of time, but it goes faster than we think. My perspective is so different now that my son just finished college.
When a child gets braces on their teeth, they wonder what their smile will look like at the end, but no amount of imagination compares to seeing the real thing at the end.
One night when we lived here we were outside looking at the stars and my Emily, who was 3 or 4 at the time looked at the night sky and quietly said that the bottom side of heaven was super pretty and she wondered how beautiful the right side must look.
Ps. 116:15 gives us God’s perspective on death too. Precious in the sight of the lord is the death of his saints.
For us the way forward looks daunting. It is a time of loss and defeat and separation. But from the side Kaylee is on it is a time of release, reunion, rest and reward!
We think of it as losing and it really is gain.
We think of it as parting. But it is arrival
We think of it as the end. It is the beginning.
We think of it as a closing door but it is an opening gate
We are going from the land of the dying to the land of the living.
Yes, at first glance death looks like the end; it seems so final. The end of relationships, the end of all we have worked for, etc But it really is the beginning of a bright new, abundant and eternal life.
We used to watch the sunset and blow the sun out as it dipped beyond the horizon. Poof it was gone. “There it goes”, we would say. But it really is not gone; it is just out of sight! Someone else on the other side of the world was waking up and was saying, “Here comes the sun!”
Similarly on July 8, we could hear the family say, “There she goes! She is gone! But, imagine what was happening on the other side as Jesus carried her through the gates and that great cloud of witnesses said, “Here she comes! She’s home!