After the Storm

By: Morgan Marley

It was one of the worst dreams I’d had in a while. I was hovering over the world, looking down. Below me was an awful sight. There were clear outlines of the continents, terribly but beautifully lined with fire. The oceans raged and roared. Loud, cacophonous noises filled my ears while fear filled my heart. I watched, helplessly, as the world below me crumbled to pieces. Little did I know that it soon would.

The phone call came at 2:30 a.m. It was my sister-in-law, Beka, on the other end. She was frantically asking to speak to Kort. I handed the phone over without hesitation. The next 15 minutes were a blur. Kort was jumping out of bed and getting dressed. I heard some words like “Porter Fire Department”, “Keaton”, and “Bring shoes.” We flew out of the door, shoes in hand, running in the rain towards the truck. The weather was horrific- some of the worst I’ve seen in a while. Lighting tore through the sky, thunder tumbled, and rain pelted. It was definitely the setting for a tragedy.

After a 90 mph drive through the black night, we finally arrived at the fire station. The scene was heart-wrenching. Their one-year-old, Keaton, lay on a stretcher surrounded by several firefighters who were tirelessly working to save his life. Kort ran up to Adam, who quickly broke down. Beka’s eyes filled with tears as I approached her.

“He just stopped breathing,” she said. “I found him this morning and he wasn’t breathing. We rushed him straight here.”

We just stood there and prayed that God would save him. There was nothing we could do but pray. I stood there in disbelief, as if my dream were still happening. Seeing my baby nephew helplessly lying there was almost unbearable. Water soaked the floor, medical supplies were strewn around him, the lights flickered because of the storm, and all we could do was watch- watch and pray.

They performed CPR for approximately an hour, to no avail. The firefighters decided to rush him to Kingwood Hospital. We watched as they placed him in the back of the ambulance. Adam jumped in the front seat in a panic.

“It’s been too long, man,” he told Kort with tears in his eyes. “It’s been too long.”

We all knew he was right, but we still hoped for the best. Jesus could do anything. He could do anything if we just believed.

As if in slow motion, the ambulance took off and turned the corner, out of sight- no lights and no sirens. We walked Beka to the car we were taking to the hospital.

“They didn’t turn on the lights because it’s been too long. They know he’s gone,” she wept bitterly.

The scene at the hospital was unbearable. There is nothing like it. Watching your family mourn the loss of a child is something no one should ever have to experience. To let our family have some privacy in the matter, I will spare the details.

As I write this, it hasn’t even been 48 hours since we said goodbye to our little nephew. My heart is still heavy, and as I write, my eyes keep filling with tears. What is there to say?

We lost an angel. He was a beautiful, bubbly, baby boy. When Keaton smiled, he lit up a room, and everyone who knew him could attest to that. He was such a gift, and it was completely unfair that he was taken from us. And so the infamous question stands: Why?

For many families, these moments are critical for their faith. I can safely and humbly say that the whole time, we have trusted God. And we will continue to. We may not understand why God does certain things, but we do know that He is good and He is sovereign.

Does our belief make this any less painful? No. Do we blindly believe that everything is going to be perfect again in this life? No. But we have this assurance: that God, in all his power and sovereignty, is a good Father. He loves his children. And though we may experience trials, some that seem unfathomable, he is our strength through it all. He is our hope. He is our answer.

We were blessed with Keaton Marley for a short period of time. Now, he is with his heavenly Father- free from pain, free from suffering, free from heartache. And though we have been left behind, it is only temporary. We will see him again. When we walk the streets of gold, stroll near streams of living water, and experience God the way were meant to, we will see his smiling face once again. Of this we are sure.

In the words of scripture and Brooke Fraser:

I don't know why the innocents fall
While the monsters still stand
And our lives blow about
Like flags on the land…

You who mourn will be comforted
You who hunger will hunger no more
All the last shall be first, of this I am sure

You who weep now will laugh again
All you lonely be lonely no more
Yes, the last will be first, of this I'm sure

We live in a broken and fallen world. Horrible things happen that never should. Fathers bury their sons, diseases take the lives of thousands, millions live in poverty while others turn their backs, children are orphaned, wives are widowed, and evil continues to corrupt. Still, there is good news.

Jesus bore all of the brokenness in this world so that we would no longer have to. He took it upon himself, and in return, he offers us a life of true joy and pure love. Does this mean that we will never experience hardship on this earth? Obviously not. But it means that we can experience hardship and still have hope. It means that fathers and mothers can bury their one-year-old sons and wake up in the morning with the strength to face the day.

Even in this impossible time, the truth of God’s word stands true.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…” –Matthew 5:2-5

Though I am no longer dreaming, in many ways, it feels like I am. And I am certain that for our family, our world does seem to be crumbling around them. But this storm only lasts for a little while. In one of my favorite songs, Mumford and Sons says it perfectly. One day, when it is my time, I will have this song played at my own funeral. Keaton- here’s to you, baby.

“After the Storm”- Mumford and Sons

And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.

That's why I hold,
That's why I hold with all I have.
That's why I hold.

And I won't die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and man so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

The cause of death is still unknown. The family asks that you continue to keep them in your prayers.

Funeral arrangements will be announced as soon as possible via Providence’s Facebook. Please stay tuned.

If you would like to donate to the family, please click the link below.

When giving online, you can choose the category labeled “Keaton Marley Fund”. All donations will be tax-deductible. We appreciate your support.