After Kim's Funeral...
Sent: Monday, September 20, 1999
Subject: I’m back
(Upon returning from Kimberly Jones’ funeral in Ft. Worth, Texas, shooting in the Wedgwood Baptist Church on September 15, 1999)
What an experience I have had; such sadness, tears, grief… and yet such love, such strength, such faith, and such rejoicing in the knowledge that Kim is now with her best friends, her true love, Jesus Christ. She was so loved by everyone, it showed in all ways - from the beautiful laminated collage that was placed on the “Wedgwood Baptist Church” sign out front, to the many letter Stan and Stephanie received stating the “impact” that Kim had on their life. It is so hard to imagine having Laura be taken from me by such a senseless, hateful crime. I woke up at 3:00 Saturday morning and began crying and just got out of my bed and crawled in beside my 23 year old (same age as Kim) and hugged her so tight.
We went to the viewing, which was open casket, on Friday and stayed from 7:00pm until 10:00pm. The beautiful white casket has handwritten messages from all her friends and family. The casket was made for that purpose. Her brother Tim wrote about his love for her and ended by a favorite Star Wars quote, “You may strike me down, but I will simply come back twice as strong.” Her dad wrote, “Let your light so shine.” Laura and Beth drew a triangle of friendship with each of their names at a point and stated, “Friends Forever”. So many beautiful thoughts and sayings we shared. I didn’t think I could look at beautiful Kim in her casket, but somehow I was able at the end of the evening. Beth Ratliff and I walked up and talked with Kim. It didn’t look like her because that beautiful smile and dimples were not there. I kissed my fingers and touched her forehead and said goodbye. She carried with her favorite jewelry and a book with a rose, but I cannot remember the name of the book. Seems like it was “A Hiding Place”, but I am not sure.
Next day was the Lunchen provided by Bennigans for all family and close friends before the Funeral. The pastor of Wedgwood Baptist Church, Al Meredith was incredible with his warmth and his sense of humor. He explained about Kim’s smile and her love of Jesus and went on to tell all that she was a little bit of a “nut”. He went on to say, “What lies in this casket is simply the shell. The little nut, Kimberly, is with her best friend in heaven, Jesus Christ.” He said she was probably dancing in heaven and explained that in heaven Baptists are allowed to dance. He made us laugh and cry - but most of all what he wanted to share was a message of hope - hope that Kim’s death as well as the others’ was not in vain. That through this tragedy, many people would re-think their need for Jesus, that because of Kimberly Jones death here on earth, that many will come to know Jesus and have life everlasting. That is the hope of the entire Jones Family, and was expressed many times.
I MUST tell you that I was simply amazed at the strength that a sense of FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST can offer a family. The Jones family has definitely made Kim proud. I know that she is in Heaven saying, Mom you go girl...take HIS word forth for me - allow me to be a cause and you the messenger to glorify Jesus.” Stephanie has done that with an awesome strength. As Stan, Kim’s dad said, “There has to be some serious GOOD that comes from this loss, and We need to make sure that it does. They both believe that God has a purpose for calling Kim home and they are 100% SURE she is full of joy being with him now.
We also attended the memorial service held at AMON center on the Texas Christian University campus. That is where Kim graduated from and where her brother Tim now attends. The service was televised in its entirety and if you did not get to see it, you missed a beautiful service. All faiths came together to try to offer healing words. Two students from Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado offered their help and support to students that were in the Wedgwood Church at the time of the shooting. The last song offered was the most moving and beautiful song I believe I have ever heard. - The gentleman who wrote the song and sang it on stage was Steven Curtis Chapman and the song was “We Can Cry With Hope” - it was written after a similar tragedy in Kentucky and I found it comforting.
On Saturday evening, about 9:30pm, about 12 of us gathered in Stephanie’s sister’s room and watched a video tape that I had recorded in December 1987. The film takes place at Lowry Park, and Sharon, Stephanie and I took our kids for a “day at the park”. It showed the three girls laughing and being so silly as they did the teeter-totter together, rode a roller coaster, sat on swings, climbed on monkey bars and simply loved life and their family and their lives on that day. Laura and Beth laughed and cried as they watched their friend who would not ever laugh on this earth with them again. SO I REMIND YOU - if you do not have a video camera, get one if you can - if you have one, use it to record special moments in your life and your children’s lives, your grandchildren’s lives, or your parents lives. Be there and make memories - good ones. Stephanie said that was one of her greatest regrets, that they did not have a video camera and did not take tapes of Kimberly - of course I am having a copy of this one made and sent to her, as I am sure anyone who has a tape of Kim is doing the same thing.
As I was saying by goodbyes to Stan and Stephanie to return home, Stephanie gave be a copy of a video tape a friend had made of Kim taken in July 1999. She was giving a sermon and it was awesome. She spoke so beautifully about Jesus and living a PURPOSEFUL life. She invited all to get to know Jesus and spend time with him to develop a strong relationship. I watched it when I arrived home and cried for all the good on Earth that Kim would have done, all the young people she would have influenced, and for all the teaching she never had a chance to share.
Well, that is about all. I wanted to share this with you as well as put it down so my memory does not fail me as it sometimes does. I wish you all the happiness and peace that your heart can hold. But I believe - we need to make it happen - be pro-active in our happiness - We need to surround ourselves with people that make us laugh and challenge us to be the best we can possibly be. Over and over it has been said that “Kim is in a much better place now, and will have life everlasting.” I want more than anything to believe in that statement the way that Stephanie and Stan believe in it. I am sure that I can find someone who has a relationship with Jesus to point me in the right direction. I am not entirely sure where I am heading with my faith, but I promise myself to begin my journey in search of it - I simply owe Kim, and myself that much.