Written by Sojung Lee
Rolff was a student in my first period. Every morning, he walked into my classroom about 20 minutes before the bell to put his backpack down at his seat. At first, he would shyly say, "hi" and walk out of the classroom, only to return when the bell rang. Some days, he sat quietly to finish up last minute homework.
As he became more comfortable with me, he told me about soccer tryouts and how he was nervous that he would not make the team. The morning after he found out he had made the team, he came in smiling, ear to ear, and proudly told me, "I made the team!" He continued to tell me about games as the year went on, always with such excitement.
It was very difficult seeing Rolff, who had been so full of energy, lying lifelessly in the ICU for the past couple of weeks. However, each time I went to visit the hospital, it was also incredibly uplifting despite the sadness. The love of God and His undeniable peace was ever-present.
His parents were always so full of hope and joy. Even at the funeral, they were praising God, thanking Him for the time He had given them with their son. Rolff's life is such a powerful testimony of God's love.
Before services began, people knelt down beside Rolff, some praying and others mourning. It was hard to watch those who lingered beside him for a while… I can only imagine how painful it must have been that day for those with children of their own, unable to fathom what it would be like to lose their own child.
Rolff's classmates and teachers were asked to pay their respects at the alter. More than half of the room got up from their seats to stand in line. There must have been over a hundred, maybe 150 people, waiting in line to see Rolff.
My first tear of the day was while I was standing in that line. I had been crying so much for him, I really thought that I was not going to have any tears left for the day of the burial. But waiting to see him one last time, before they closed the coffin, I was overwhelmed with emotion and my tears did not stop until I said my final prayer over his tiny body.
Once everyone was re-seated, I saw that the room was filled to the brim, overflowing. People lined the walls and stood on the sides, and those standing in the back were outside the doors of the funeral hall, looking in through the windows. Every seat had been filled by the multitudes of students, teachers, friends and family members that had come to say goodbye.
The services begins with stories of Rolff told by family and friends. There were many good memories shared.
Service and the songs sung by various family members were all in Spanish, but it did not matter that I did not understand. The love in the room kept my heart warm.
After services, people continued to linger over Rolff, praying for him, and comforting family members and each other.
At the burial site, friends & family members carried Rolff's casket to the grave.
Balloons were let go into the sky, symbolizing Rolff's ascent to heaven.
The burial was especially heartbreaking because his teammates could not hold back their tears as they lowered his casket into the ground. They mourned for the loss of their teammate and friend. I wish I could have hugged them all and told them that Rolff was now in heaven.. that they all had a guardian angel looking out just for them.. that God was working through Rolff's life and death to bring us closer to him.
Family and friends took turns shoveling the earth on top of his casket and dropped flowers into the grave.
After Rolff had been buried, all of the flowers that had been donated by family and friends were piled on top of the mound. It was gloomy but wonderfully beautiful at the same time.
Here are few additional photos....