Volume 17
An Online Literary Magazine
April 14, 2023


The Gift Kala Gave Me


Kristen Skedgell


How dare you, God, to say you love me and keep the secrets of the universe from me?



hen a child dies, no matter how old, people are often thrown into a crisis of faith. How could God let this happen? Why did He do this to our son, our daughter? To me? To us? If this is what you call a loving God, then you can have Him. How can anyone believe in such a cruel being?


Losing my stepson, Kala, changed my life in a way I never could have predicted. His funeral was the first Southern Baptist service I had ever attended. The open casket gave me one last chance to see him before he was taken away. I stood alone at the casket, touched his tie, his sleeve, his hands, his cheek. It was Kala, allright. Kala’s body but he was not in it. The logical question – where did he go, where was his spirit?


The Bible-believing folk present were secure in their answer – he was with the Lord. And the Lord was everywhere, over all. He was the One you didn’t question. Whatever happened, happened according to His will. If something you wanted didn’t happen, it was God’s will. If something happened that wasn’t supposed to happen – like a forty-nine-year old man dying in his sleep – it was God’s will. It was supposed to happen. Who could argue with that? I did. I wanted to know “why.”


For over sixty years, I’ve wanted to know the answers to everything. But after years of studying different religions and various philosophies, I was no closer to a system of answers I could live by than I was when I started my search.


So, I begrudgingly concluded that life was just one Great Big Mystery Game Show. I resigned myself to coexisting with Something I could not name or know and that probably didn’t know or care about me. I deeply resented all the uncertainty. Unable to surrender to anything solid, I was tossed around like a piece of spiritual driftwood.


Until that moment at Kala’s casket. Then the questions started again. Where did you go, Kala? Where is your soul? If it’s “out there” somewhere, where does “out there” end? What’s beyond “out there” and beyond that and beyond that and beyondbeyondbeyond?


Where are you now, Kala? If you’re with God, where is God and who made God and who made the God that made God ? And while we’re at it, when was the beginning and what was before the beginning and on and on?


These questions are not new. What was new for me is that in Kala’s death, I ran up against the ultimate reality. That for all my pouting and screaming and stomping my feet, I was not going to get a signed affidavit from God that attested to the location of my beloved stepson.


In this I can see a mercy that points to a benevolent God. How can my small brain comprehend the vastness of the heavens and the intricacies of Earth? I would short circuit, like a tiny computer processor trying to take on a global data system. I don’t have the capacity or ability to begin to understand where the Departed go.


Kala’s death released me from my indignation at Life. It’s as if I had been saying to Reality, how dare you not tell me everything about you? Life, how dare you insult me by hiding your answers from me as if I couldn’t handle them? How dare you, God, to say you love me and keep the secrets of the universe from me? I guess no one could ever accuse me of having too much humility.


Well, Kala, your sudden disappearance splashed all these questions up into my face again. Only this time, the answers were in the questions themselves. The indisputable fact, that I don’t know for certain where you are, that you may be “out there” in the beyond or perhaps right here beside me has given me a bedrock of faith. I am now comforted by the existence of not knowing. Nobody on Earth can tell me what is beyond the gate of infinity. There are many faiths that declare they know and many self-proclaimed prophets to argue with them. I have no argument with any of them. Many base their faith on feelings, an inner knowing. I have felt things, too. But I need proof. No one can argue with no beginning and no end.


If there’s an Energy or Consciousness, a Creator who hangs out in endless space, then why couldn’t it know everything about me and why couldn’t it be all the stuff the mystics and poets write about?


Why couldn’t I be enveloped in its peace, wisdom, and love as much as I am in my own self-loathing, confusion and fear?


People used to tell me Faith was a choice. But I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand what I was choosing between – one myth against another? I wanted to know the truth about everything. I now know I will never know all the answers in this life. But just as surely as Kala Weaver is no longer in his body and as surely as I cannot understand the universe, I am sure that somewhere “out there” and “in here,” in every living thing, there is an infinite, positive presence which I choose to call Love.


When I touched the hem of Kala’s sleeve and realized he was not in it, a profound transformation began in me. Faced with the reality of his absence and the absence of answers, I began to make peace with unending reality of my questions. My heart opened. When my beloved Kala died, I did not lose my faith. I found it.



Kristen Skedgell’s poems and essays have appeared in Ibbetson Street, Nine Miles, Variant online, Chicago Tribune and other publications. She is the author of Losing the Way, a Memoir of Spiritual Longing, Abuse, Manipulation and Escape. A writer for both screen and stage, her latest play was a semi-finalist at the Ashland New Play Festival. She and her husband, poet and playwright, Afaa Michael Weaver, share a website dedicated to horses, creativity and spirituality (www.magichorses.org.) She is currently absorbed in forming a relationship with her new horse, Sky.







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