On Cultivating the Lovely this week, we have a little different show than what we normally do. Our host MacKenzie Koppa's brother, Kaleb, unexpectedly passed away recently, and in light of that, she wanted to honor him and talk a little about how she and her family are coping. MacKenzie is joined by her good friend Chelle Bruzas for this conversation, in which they also share some ideas on how to support someone in the early stages of grief.
- MacKenzie shares what it was like to grow up with her brother having significant physical disabilities, primarily Spina Bifida
- She talks about the strength and courage her parents have had throughout Kaleb’s whole life
- Chelle shares a little of her own family’s story of advocating for her brother when he had leukemia
- MacKenzie shares about Kaleb’s incredibly full life and his ability to find the joy and humor in situations
- The gift that it was for MacKenzie and her children to have so much close time with her brother last year
- How much it meant for their family’s pastor to meet with them and understand their feelings
- Holding the heartbreak along with the mercy of healing and wholeness
- Facing the truth of how hard and ugly grief is instead of throwing platitudes at people
- The ways God has shown His love and provision in the midst of intense difficulty
- MacKenzie talks about her family’s tendency to choose laughter over tears, even in tough times
- She shares how important it is to give others the space to grieve in their own way
- Some practical ways that people have reached out and been a blessing:
- Just being there to listen
- Providing meals for the family
- Giving flowers for the funeral
- Helping with technology and practical aspects of the service
- Not being offended when an offer is turned down
- Check back in next week for our more light-hearted episode featuring the Cultivating the Lovely Gift Guide! And here are the link to the gift guides if you would like to view them prior to the show-
- CTL Christmas Gift Guide for Toddlers
- CTL Christmas Gift Guide for Boys
- CTL Christmas Gift Guide for Teen Girls
- CTL Guys Christmas Gift Guide
- CTL Ladies Christmas Gift Guide
January 29, 1986-November 13, 2019
Kaleb was 33 yrs old when God reached down and scooped him up to heaven. He slipped away in his sleep on Wednesday, November 13th, 2019. Kaleb was born on January 29, 1984, and at the time of his passing lived with his parents, Jeff and Lori Koppa, in Kendall Yards in Spokane, WA. Kaleb is survived by them as well as his older sister, MacKenzie; her four children, Roman, Judah, Emmerson and Elliana; his grandparents Ida Collins, Linda Collins, Jim and Jeannette Koppa; his aunt and uncle Michelle and Rick Pettina and their son, Jackson; as well as many other loving aunts, uncles and cousins.
Kaleb had a life rich in experiences- his disability never held him back from trying new things. Though it was assumed by doctors that he may never walk, by the age of three he could walk confidently, unaided, and he did so until the age of 13 when complications from his Spina Bifida necessitated a wheelchair as his new mode of mobility. As a child he was known for his incredible memory and proficiency with electronics. He was always the guy who took care of all the technological details and foibles of his family. In his youth he acted in plays, water and snow skied, rode horses, and even tried indoor rock climbing. In high school he played on St. Luke’s wheelchair basketball team and participated twice in the Para Olympic Trials for a variety of sports including track, table tennis, weightlifting, and archery. He was even known to command the dance floor at high school dances with his amazing rhythm. After graduating from Mt. Spokane HS, Kaleb went on to receive an AA Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from SCC, and worked for a number of years with youth at the YMCA.
Kaleb is best remembered, however, for his love and care for people and animals. He never realized how inspirational he was to so many and how he made us stop and embrace things we all take for granted. He left an indelible mark on everyone who met him. His infectious smile, contagious laughter, positive outlook, and penchant for doling out hugs to anyone and everyone, were hallmarks of who he was. Though Kaleb endured 24 surgical operations, his body was held together by a litany of rods, screws, bolts, and plates, and he daily faced the struggles inherent of life in a wheelchair, it’s hard to recall him ever complaining. While his body may have been broken, Kaleb was incredibly smart and possessed a sharp wit and sense of humor that, while often dry, always looked for the funny side of life. There were few things as fun as watching him have one of his uncontrollable episodes of laughter, when he would laugh until he cried, and were often brought on by even the smallest, silliest of things. People were drawn to his magnetic personality and his welcoming hugs could soften even the hardest disposition. You just couldn’t help but love his generous, kind spirit.
Special thanks go out to Don and Diane Weber, Donna Scheidt, Woody and Linda Sams, Luke Schwartz, Janice Abramson, Kathy Lipe, Mary Binder, Mary Tangi, Jackelyn Young, and Kendall Gibbs for their help with planning and preparing for the service. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to the vast number of family and friends who have come so close in support during this difficult time. Thank you all so much. We would also like to extend thanks to a few key people who had a monumental impact on Kaleb’s life- Theresa Skinner, Dr. Joann Hillary, Tom Johnson, and Tim Olson.
Acts 3:7-8 …Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God… We cherish our memories of you and will hold you in our hearts forever. We can’t wait to see you again… it’s only a matter of time. Jeff, Lori, and MacKenzie Koppa
You can find MacKenzie Koppa on Instagram, Facebook, and the CTL Facebook Group, of course! Join us on Patreon at Patreon.com/CultivatingtheLovely. You can also listen to her family-friendly podcast The Same Page!
Thanks to Our Sponsors-
Cultivating the Lovely is also sponsored by Honey, the smart online shopping assistant. Get Honey for free when you go to joinhoney.com/lovely.
Today’s episode of CTL is brought to you by BioClarity. Right now you can save 40% off the Ultimate Skin Care Bundle, plus 15% off everything else at BioClarity.com when you use coupon code LOVELY at checkout.
CTL is brought to you by Plan to Eat meal planning service. Their big 50% OFF sale is happening from November 29 – December 2, 2019! Visit PlanToEat.com/LOVELY to start your free 60-day trial instead of the normal 30-day trial.