Pastor Clive Walters has a soothing voice. The hint of a Jamaican accent that still remains gives a warmth to his words.
But even Walters admits there were no words, no combination of soothing voice and gentle speech, that could provide much comfort to the family and friends of Kesean Williams. The nine-year-old boy was fatally shot through a window while he watched TV in his Brampton home two weeks ago.
"Because of the nature of his death, his age and the care that his family had for him, words are inadequate to do justice to the situation," he said.
'Listening to the testimony of Kesean's life was really encouraging. I think they got strength from that. He was kind, caring and showed great leadership. He always looked for the little things to do to help.' —Clive Walters, pastor
Still, it was up to Walters to try. Delivering the eulogy at Kesean's funeral at Hamilton's Peoples Church last Saturday wasn't easy, he admitted.
"No one can ever be too prepared to go through these kinds of situations," he said. "They find themselves asking, 'why me? I'm looking at my child with his greatest days ahead of him. Why is this happening?'"
Kesean moved to Brampton from his childhood home of Hamilton with his family in September 2012. They had moved into the townhouse where he died just weeks before the shooting. A known area of criminal activity, police believe the bullet was intended for a former tenant. So far, no arrests have been made in the case.
On Saturday, the three hour funeral service for Kesean was overflowing with mourners. Family, friends, schoolmates and community members were all shocked by the sudden violent death of such a young child. Walters said he tried to encourage those grieving by focusing on spirituality and the idea that we must all face struggles in our lives.
A campaign is raising money to offset Kesean Williams' funeral costs and to start an education fund for his brother, Kajan. Donations can be made to the campaign's indiegogo page, or to a trust fund that has been set up at TD Bank. The branch number is 0250 and the account number is 6393534.
"I wanted to assure them a level of hope that Kesean has gone home to be with his maker. He's in a better place, a safer place," he said. "I felt that gave them comfort."
But more than his words, Walters felt what brought hope to Kesean's mother, Tanya Garvey, and brother, 15-year-old Kajan, were the fond memories shared of the kind of person Kesean was becoming.
Family friends, teachers and coaches all shared stories of an energetic, lively young boy with a thoughtful and tender side.
"Listening to the testimony of Kesean's life was really encouraging. I think they got strength from that," Walters said. "He was kind, caring and showed great leadership. He always looked for the little things to do to help."
Moving forward and finding peace will be a long, difficult process, Walters said, not only for Kesean's family, but also for the communities in Hamilton and Brampton where they lived. He's offered his ongoing support to the family and said he was glad to hear of other efforts — for one, the funeral home has offered counselling services and plans to follow up with the family to see how they're coping.
As well, he has learned the Peel District School Board has planned to create a scholarship in Kesean's memory, something he thinks will help his family find peace. But it's only with time, counselling and "a lot of love" that the family will begin to heal, Walters said.
"I told his mother, above all else, she should feel really proud of her son."
Clive Walters gave CBC Hamilton permission to publish his full eulogy, below:
Kesean Ashley Williams By Dr. Clive Robert Walters
King James Version (KJV)
Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.
He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
We realize that no one is immune to trouble, it does not matter what your status is in life you will not escape. Trouble comes in different form and measure, it comes unexpected and it hits to the very core.
In the case of Kesean, a nine year old boy, the question is asked, what did he do to deserve this?. I submit to you that no one knows the answer to this simple but complex question. This proves that you don’t have to go looking for trouble, but trouble will find you.
King James Version (KJV)
The Lord hears thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defends thee;
Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion;
We get comfort in knowing that God does help us in our trouble. We can make a 911 call to God, He knows what we need, and he also fills that need.
King James Version (KJV)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
This psalm reminds us that no matter what we face in life, we have an anchor in Jesus Christ, the systems of earth may fail us, but you can be certain that your cry will be heard, and it will be an immediate response.
Keseans’ life was short lived; he was cut off so soon, cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Yet his testimony lives on, he has touched many lives, family, his teachers, and friends, people traveled from Jamaica and the United States to pay their last respects to this outstanding young boy.
Kesean has challenged us to be good in every circumstance and to be kind to all, his life was so full, he did not do things to be seen, he did not ask to be rewarded, he was just a .gifted child. Kesean would be disappointed if each of us failed to live up to his expectations I urge each of you today to ask yourself this question, what can I do to make this world a better and safer place.