Picture, if you will, a beautiful church sitting up on a hill. At the doorway of the church sits a green tractor tricycle, with lovely flowers adorning the back. A colorful array of flowers fill the pulpit, where people stand, some sitting, who are present to pay their final respects to the bravest little boy they have ever known. Some are sniffling quietly, while others allow the tears to flow freely, and some just struggled to keep their composure.
And in the center of the pulpit sits a small white casket, with a green tractor embroidered on the back. And there inside the sea of white lie Eli Sims, the smallest cancer warrior many had ever known. No one would ever guess by looking at his sweet, angelic face that this child had fought more battles in his short three years on this Earth than most men had seen in a lifetime. There are no marks on the outside of his thin little frame, yet if we could see on the inside, it would confirm the battle scars of his brief Earthly presence.
At Eli’s feet, lie two handmade cards from his older brothers, Noah and Colin, along with two rubber bracelets that read “Prayers for Eli”. Standing beside the casket are two of the strongest people you will ever meet, and not by choice, I assure you. Throughout the last 16 months, Kelcey and Jason Sims have clung to their undying faith in God to get them through the nightmare that cancer put their son through, and their family. If one had never met these wonderful people, they would not be able to see the tiredness in their eyes or the pain in their hearts, but I could and it was all I could do to get through our brief condolences without breaking down like a baby.
Behind Kelcey was a recliner, which had to be brought in since she was still recovering from her second surgery, after complications from a hernia repair several weeks ago. She will still undergo more surgeries too in the near future. What these parents have went through will change their lives, and the lives of their children forever, for the loss of a child is something that cannot be explained…at any age.
And of course, nearby as always was their family, close friends, and their church family. What a support system this family had! It was nothing short of inspirational the way this tight-knit congregation had enveloped the Sims’ family with love, prayers, and faith. I’m quite certain this family could not have made it without them. That’s what a difference a devoted church family can make in your life and Barfield Baptist has an amazing one, without question.
When Eli was diagnosed with Stage 4 Liver cancer in late December 2015, the very first thing this church did was hold a huge prayer rally. They coordinated fundraisers, helped with the children, and was never far away if the Sims’ needed a helping hand, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
For sixteen months, Eli fought a courageous, valiant battle. He was given every type of chemo out there to rid his body of this wretched disease. And nearing the end, when Jason and Kelcey were told there was nothing more they could do medically, they set out on another path to search for alternate means to save their son’s life. This journey took them to different states for clinical studies, but sadly, the end result was same….so they brought Eli home to spend his last days with his family. They watched as his little body grew weaker and weaker, until finally it could take no more. Eli passed on April 10, 2017, and even though it was expected to eventually happen, it still didn’t make it any easier.
Tomorrow, Kelcey and Jason will lay their sweet baby to rest. I can’t even imagine their pain. I don’t think anyone can unless you’ve been through it and my heart goes out to them. Losing a child is not how the natural order of life is supposed to go, but we really never know what hand life is going to deal us.
Eli’s battle has touched more people than one can count and Clay County has rallied behind the Sims. I think I can safely say that hearts are breaking all over this county tonight for the loss of this little hero
Tomorrow, Thursday, April 13th, those who wish to are welcome, and encouraged to join in forming a line along Hwy 9 from Benefield Funeral Home in Lineville to Barfield Baptist Church ( the route of the procession) beginning at 9:30 am.
The procession will begin at approximately 10:00 and will be led by two big green tractors, that Eli loved so much, fire trucks, and a police escort. So, please come join us and show love for our fallen hero and his dear family. But remember to be safe. Please stay out of intersections and watch for traffic. This event has not been approved, nor will they be responsible, by law enforcement, Benefield Funeral Home, or Barfield Baptist. We invite you to pay your respects, but we don’t want to see anyone hurt.