Sagebrush is a family-owned business. The business and you, our customers, have become such a part of our lives that when something personal happens, I feel like it is almost dishonest to not share it. That is why I decided to send this email. The last 2 weeks have been some of the most difficult I have experienced.
On Monday, October 12th, I was working in our new shop preparing it for an end of month move-in, when I received a phone call from my brother. Josh and I are about as close as two brothers can be. We only live a couple of miles apart. He is a home coffee roaster and Sagebrush Unroasted customer, but smoking meats is where he really shines. We are both on the pastoral board of our church together. Being 5 years younger, his family is a little younger than mine, but that hasn't been a hindrance to the cousins having close relationships with each other. Josh was our kids' youth pastor for much of the last 7 years, which gives him a unique insight into my home. It also positions my family in close proximity to his. I receive calls from Josh all of the time. When he called on Monday I knew he had spent fall break at the family's ranch and I was guessing he had just gotten home and we were going to catch up on the trip. I was ready to hear about the deer that Asher (his oldest) had just gotten and was ready to catch him up on the status of the new shop. I was wrong, the call was one I would never have expected.
Josh was on the line and desperate. He cried out through obvious tears, "I know God is good! But there was an accident. Caleb (his 5-year-old) is terribly hurt. I don't think he'll survive."
The next few minutes and hours were a blur. I called Jenna and then a couple of the other pastors of our church, a few of them were at the shop within minutes. I had a conversation with my mom. Then Josh called again and shared that the paramedics tried everything they could, but Caleb had died. I put him on speaker and all four of us prayed with Josh and his wife Julie through tears.
Jenna and I dropped everything and within a couple of hours were on the road to the ranch. My kids were so sad, sweet, and gracious knowing that Jenna and I would miss sending them off the next day to their first day back at in-person school since March. Then everything up until yesterday became a bit of a blur.
That Friday (10/16) Josh published a blog post that gave the details they were comfortable sharing and helped all of us think rightly about God during this difficult time.
On Tuesday (10/20) we had a memorial service for Caleb. I have had many people share that it was the most amazing service they've ever seen (only by God's grace).
The shop took the back burner and that's OK. Sarah, Hailey, Jonathan, & Zoë have done an amazing job keeping things going at Sagebrush these last two weeks and have freed me up to help Josh and his family. On Friday I was back to work and Jonathan and I spent a bunch of time getting the new shop ready, but all of that seems a bit inconsequential at this point.
I would like to encourage you to read Josh's blog and watch some of the memorial service (especially the part where Josh shares about Caleb and the accident). It has been a very sad time in the Kellso households this week, but the outpouring of love from our church and friends has been amazing. Many at the church have given their time, of their finances, and have given much-needed hugs. We set up a GoFundMe for the funeral, medical, and other costs and it was fully funded within a couple of days.
Seeing the way Josh and his family have mourned the loss of their sweet boy while continuing to honor God with their lives and thoughts has been remarkable. We are all grieving deeply but with an unshakable hope in our loving God who cares for us better than we could ever comprehend. Losing Caleb this week will be such a significant part of our life and story so I wanted to keep you in on that story. But most importantly, it has been a blessing to see someone like Josh, who is so grounded in his faith be able to cling to a good God in the midst of terrible circumstances. This may be a proud older brother speaking, but I am blown away at his spiritual maturity in this and think this story is worth knowing, even if you don't know the people involved.