Our Caleb James Neff was born on September 22, 2016. As soon as he was placed on Mama’s chest and held Dada’s hand, he was calm. Mama and Dada couldn’t love him more. Caleb was introduced to his very eager big sister, Elena, who smiled and giggled as soon as she met him. She loved him at first sight. Caleb made our family feel complete.
From day one, he was so easygoing and joyful. He would coo in a singsong way for long periods of time as an infant. He always had a smile for everyone that would light up the room. He loved playing and manipulating things to figure out how they worked like his Daddy. He always wanted to be near Daddy whether he was fixing a car in the garage or cutting the grass. He loved creating. He would always want to help Mama cook dinner or dance and sing while Mama played the guitar. He loved laughing and playing with his big sister Elena. He was enamored by her. No one made Caleb laugh like Elena. Toward the end of his life, he was trying to return the favor by jumping off his Mickey car and landing on his bottom, saying “oh” as he landed. He would look back at Elena and wait for a laugh. Then he would laugh because he was so proud of himself. Caleb’s life was full of promise. He was empathetic, smart, strong, inquisitive, creative, helpful, and downright hilarious! We were all eager to see what bright future laid before him. The sky was the limit.
Caleb brought a light into our family that we didn’t know we were missing, but now that he was here, we couldn’t imagine life without him. Why would we imagine a life without him? Mama and Dada were in awe with how blessed they were to have two happy, healthy children. They would be so overwhelmed that they would sing and dance as a family and praise God for the blessing he had given them.
Our last evening together was typical. Mama made pasta We sang and danced, got our pajamas on, and Caleb gave his big sister and mama a goodnight hug and kiss, and he wanted Dada to put him to bed. Dada rocked him for a minute, Caleb pointed to his crib, and Dada put him down for bed. We had no idea that would be the last time we saw those piercing blue eyes with light behind them.
For some reason, Caleb didn’t wake up the next morning. Writing and thinking about that morning is beyond painful. There are parts that are clear and parts that are fuzzy. Our Caleb was suddenly and unexpectedly gone. Our entire world was flipped upside down. Not just our little family’s world, but the lives of our extended family, our church family, and all of the lives Caleb touched in his short 18 months on this earth.
By the grace of God and the support and love of our family, friends, community, and the SUDC Foundation, we continue on our Earthly journey. As we move forward, we will always carry our beautiful Caleb with us. We will always share Caleb’s love and light with the world. We will continue to tell his story and hope to help others find their way in the dark.
The Neff Family