The Memorial service for Kayla Mueller was filled with music, memories and smiles. It offered her family and friends a time of reflection and gratitude for the life Kayla Mueller lived with such grace and compassion. It provided those in attendance a time to write, just as Kayla had written. It even allowed those who loved her to break out in applause for Kayla herself.
"Give your Pain to God: A Journey of Compassion"
While held in captivity for 18 months by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Kayla Mueller managed to send a letter home to her family. Released to the public, the letter offers a glimpse into Kayla's heart and soul. The image of the letter has become a symbol that represents Kayla, but never more so than during Saturday's Memorial service.
By pulling out key phrases, the Memorial service followed along Kayla's thoughts as expressed in the letter.
"It's Hard to Know What to Say..."
Pastor Clovis Barnett from Cornerstone Church offered opening comments and a prayer; a song written especially for Kayla was shared, called, "Good bye Kayla Jean," and a reading of Kayla's letter by her mother, Marsha, whose voice was strong, only faltering as she read, "...how only in your absence, have I finally @ 25 years old come to realize your place in my life. The gift that is each one of you..."
"I have surrendered myself to our creator,"
Rev. Day admitted that it was difficult sometimes to understand, "...how someone could allow her eyes to see the suffering that she saw, and yet be a person of joy and creativity..." But, Kayla was grounded in sacred Scripture, Day said. "What does the Lord require of you? But to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God." (from Micah 6:8)
"Over the past few weeks the world has caught a glimpse of how Kayla lived when the world wasn't tuned in," Day said. "She didn't act with compassion so that people would think that she was compassionate and kind, she did it because kindness and compassion fueled her life. Strangely, she seemed most full when she was pouring out her life for others."
"What filled Kayla, was life lived... God's beloved people, that was her starting place. Kayla knew that we love God best when we love others."
"even in prison, one can be free"
"I didn't have the privilege, the blessing of knowing Kayla," Senator John McCain started out by saying. "I wish I had. I'd be a better man for knowing her, I'm sure of that... She has taught all of us, millions of strangers, truths that some of us took a lifetime, if ever, to understand."
As a former Prisoner of War himself, perhaps Senator McCain understood like no one else what Kayla experienced. "'I've been shown in darkness, light, and learned that even in prison, one can be free,'" McCain quoted from Kayla's letter. "What an extraordinarily wise, strong, brave and true thing to say."
"Our lives have dignity, meaning, purpose. Kayla knew that. She didn't just profess that, she lived it... She chose her own way. It was the way of love. We have only one life to give... And what is the key to a happy life? It is to love, and be loved in return. That is all of happiness. Kayla knew that, too... What can we do to repay her? Not enough. Kayla's life had meaning... Kayla's meaning was love... We should honor her as she would have wished us to honor her. By loving more bravely."
"Our faith may assure us that she is in a better place. But it is hard to say goodbye."
"form a bond of love + support"
Kayla's brother, Eric, admitted he wasn't sure of what to say. He said he asked himself what Kayla would do. He didn't think she would wear dark or neutral colors. Her dad, Carl, seemed to agree, and the two of them donned some of Kayla's clothing - bright scarves, suspenders, even rainbow-striped socks which they found in her room. Their natural humor and genuine-ness shone through at that moment, and they took the opportunity to thank those who had offered support, and those who were serving in our Armed Forces.
"They're doing the same thing that Kayla was doing, only in another way," Eric said. "They need to be in our thoughts and prayes as well... It's absolutely no different. When we lose somebody that's fighting for the greater good, we need to be thankful, we need to pray, we need to keep them in our thoughts. Have to."
"There are just so many thank-you's... It's just been amazing the support we've gotten from everyone, it's fabulous," Carl Mueller said. "But, today, we're here to celebrate Kayla's life and who she was. Her beautiful smile, her unforgettable laugh, her wonderful, eccentric sense of humor, and also her unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. That's just who she was."
Watch Kayla's Memorial service here: