The Homily at the Funeral of
Kyle, Emma and Katie Coble
May 12, 2007
by Reverand Robert Coble
I am Robert Coble, Chris’ Father and pastor of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Norristown, PA. Chris and Lori have asked me to speak on behalf of our families. Over the last 36 years, I have spoken at many funerals, but this is by far the most difficult situation I have ever faced as a parent, grandparent or as a clergy person. But I am determined to do offer the homily for the sake of Kyle, Emma, Katie, and Chris and Lori Coble. Bear with me as I may have to pause occasionally to regain my composure.
First of all, we want to thank all of you for the incredible outpouring of support from the neighbors and the community at large. We are most grateful for the gifts to the Washington Mutual Fund and for the thousands of emails, cards and notes which have arrived from across the country and beyond.
We were also deeply touched beyond words by the compassion and care offered by the doctors, nurses and staff at Mission Hospital, especially Chaplain Roger Rustad. Finally, we want to thank the clergy and congregation of the Presbyterian Church of the Master, who upon hearing of our need, said come to our house to pray and to give thanks for the lives of Kyle, Emma and Katie. Pastor Jack Loo, please extend our sincere gratitude to your congregation.
We chose as our reading from scripture today Psalm 23 and even though the Psalm was written more than 2000 years ago, it still speak to us in profound ways. The Psalm is very realistic about our earthly journey as it speaks about good times and bad times.
Our families have been so blessed! We have walked through the green pastures and we have stood beside the still waters. And this past week, we have walked, like never before, through the valley of the shadow of death.
I wondered if we would ever smile again, and when we eventually did for a brief moment, we all felt guilty for doing so. Our hearts have been literally broken in half. Some day we will heal, but the scar tissue will always be there to remind us of the great loss we suffered.
I overheard someone say this week, “When we lose an adult, we lose the past, but when we lose a child, we lose the future.” All of the grandparents and great grandparents just hoped we would live long enough to see Kyle, Emma and Katie grow up, turn age sixteen, and maybe, if we’ll lucky, attend their graduation from high school.
For our family, May 3, 2007, will always be remembered as a day of great sorrow and great gratitude. Sorrow, because in the blink of an eye, we lost three beautiful children. Gratitude, for the five years we had to love them and be loved by them.
Joseph Gallagher once said: “The longest life is short…and the shortest life is miraculous.” The lives of Kyle, Emma and Katie were miracles to us…they were gifts from God, entrusted to Chris and Lori and to all of us.
In an attempt to understand why this has happened, some have found comfort in believing this was God’s will, God’s plan. That answer is not comforting to me because the God I know and love want us to live life to the fullest.
The Good Shepherd I try to follow loved little children and held them in his arms, likening them to the Kingdom of God. The God I believe in is crying with us right now, sharing our sorrow and bearing our pain.
Katie Coble -- She was a precious little girl who has just turned two years old. Full of life and energy, she wanted to do everything her big brother and sister did. Everywhere she went, she took with her three small teddy bears and a frog whom she referred to as “my guys.” Some of them are beside her right now. I wish you could have seen her at her second birthday party which was in a warehouse type room filled with inflatable slides and bouncers. As we entered the room, Chris put her down and off she went. Moments later Chris turned to me and said, “Dad, where’s Katie?” We looked around and spotted her at the same time, half way up the ladder on the seventeen foot slide. Chris said, “Oh no,” and off he went to be with her. I watched her that evening and she was having the time of her life. It was written all over her cute little face, “This is all about me. This is my party and I’m loving it.”
Emma Coble – Emma, who was very generous with her hugs and kisses, was also very brave and courageous, willing to try anything. She was well-mannered and sweet. She loved playing with her “My Little Pony” accessories and dressing up like a princess. Emma and her best friend Sydney loved to model bathing suits – something they could all day long. She wanted a princess birthday party and that was the theme for her fourth birthday celebration in April. For all of us, she was a sweet, beautiful child, inside and out. No wonder we called her “our princess.”
Kyle Coble – Kyle, a very sensitive child, was so outgoing and social. He, too, was very generous with is hugs and kisses. Described by others as a very positive child, some thought he was going to be a politician or a minister. At his fifth birthday party, after blowing out the candles, Lori noticed tears in his eyes and she asked him if he was OK. He replied, “Yes, and well…this is the best day of my life.” Several weeks ago he was playing in a park with other children when he befriended a little girl. When announced by the adults it was time to go home, Kyle said, “Maybe we can meet again tomorrow.” The adults said, “Well see.” Kyle said to the little girl, “Hey, I have an idea. How about if you give me your phone number and I can call you and we can plan to meet.”
Chris and Lori – You gave so generously of your time, energy, affection and love to all three of them. You were such good parents and you had clear expectations of how they were to treat each other as well as others, and you nurtured them in that direction with such gentle, caring ways. The love and affection you instilled in them helped nurture each of their personalities into three beautiful souls.
Some believe that time heals all wounds, but I am not sure that is exactly true. I think that in time, with lots of love, our brokenness and woundedness can heal. We’ll probably never be the same, but compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation can help us moved toward wholeness and new life.
So we are people of prayer and people of hope. Our prayer is that God will grant to Chris and Lori the strength to move forward and build a “new” normal life; that God will give them courage to face the days ahead to do their grief work, and to struggle through all the hurt, pain, anger and sorrow in order to move forward in the healing process.
I hope the day will come when you will be parents again. I know you will make it because you are so committed to each other, so concerned about each other’s needs, and so open to receiving help from grief counselors, neighbors, family and friends. The love you have for each other and the love of family and friends will carry you through the tough times ahead.
Please help me end my homily by repeating after me, “Amen…Amen…Amen”
Homilist: The Rev. Robert H. Coble
Rector of All Saints; Episcopal Church
535 Haws Avenue, Norristown, PA 19401-4542Office: 610-279-3990