To lose your best friend as a teenager is a life-altering experience and something very hard to come to terms with. This young boy helped overcome his grief by setting out to buy a headstone for his lost buddy, and his one wish was to get it done by Christmas.
Kenneth “KJ” Gross was only 1 year old when his family received the devastating news that their baby boy had leukemia.
After many years of chemotherapy, he finally succumbed to the cancer at the young age of 12. By his side for the journey was a very special friend, Kaleb Klakulak. The two had bonded in second grade, in Warren, Michigan, and were like kindred spirits.
Details on KJ'S service are in. If you want to know please contact me
“It was fun because he liked almost everything I liked,” Kaleb said, reports CNN.
“They were like two of a kind,” said K.J.’s mom, LaSondra Singleton.
“He was that ray of hope that KJ needed when he was depressed, Kaleb was there even when KJ couldn’t speak,” Singleton said on Fox5.
“When he couldn’t go out and play, Kaleb would come to our house and play,” Singleton said. “They were inseparable from the beginning to end of their relationship.”
“I think they liked each other because they ‘got’ each other,” said Kaleb’s mom, Kristy Hall. “They were both able to just be themselves and be together without having to impress the other one.”
Reminiscing on times past with KJ, Hall said, “K.J. coming into our life was amazing. He had all this excitement.”
Also, the two mothers had formed a strong friendship.
“We were both single moms at the time, sharing our stories and taking comfort in each other,” Hall said.
When KJ was in the hospital after he suffered from congestive heart failure, Kaleb would come to visit him.
“I would bring Kaleb down there once a week to paint and play games with him,” Hall said. “The hospital kind of bent the rules a teensy bit for him so his best friend could hang out with him.”
Singleton had given up her job so she had the time to care for her son, and when the young boy died from congestive heart failure in May 2018, there were a pile of unpaid bills to take care of.
This bond can never be replaced. I love you so much Kj
KJ was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, and there just wasn’t the money to pay for a headstone.
That’s when his lifelong friend Kaleb stepped in.
“I love Ms. San,” Kaleb told The Detroit News. “I was sad she couldn’t afford it. I wanted people to be able to find (K.J.’s grave) when they went to see him.”
“He slowly started saying things like, ‘Mom, how much does a headstone cost?’” said Hall.
Kaleb Klakulak and Kenneth “K.J.” Gross had been best friends since second grade before K.J. died in May after years of chemotherapy. K.J.’s mother couldn’t afford a headstone, so 12-year-old Kaleb took odd jobs to raise money. Then he got some help. https://t.co/t3K9Ww15uj
— AP Central U.S. (@APCentralRegion) December 12, 2018
She set up a PayPal account allowing people to donate towards the headstone in December 2018, and Kaleb began doing odd jobs to help reach the target of $2,500. He collected soft drink bottles after Hall put out a notice to the neighborhood for collection, and the pair filled the car many times with the empties.
When donations reached $900, they presented Singleton with the money, who was overcome with emotion.
“I cried because it was unexpected. I cried because I’m trying to figure out things from day to day,” said Singleton. “I can see his final resting place. I have a place I can go and be with him.”
I have been weepy for days. The feel good kinda weeps. God has truly blessed. For those of you who have given toward KJ…
It is enabling her to have some closure.
“It’s a bittersweet thing because it’s finalizing everything for me,” she said. “I’ve wanted to get his headstone, but at the same time it’s making everything final for me.”
Since then, the donations have surpassed $2,500, and Kaleb is finding it pretty rough without his friend beside him.”
He’s not made another friend since,” said Hall. “I believe it’s hard for him because he’s afraid. He doesn’t want to lose someone else.”
Singleton is hoping KJ’s story will help others in the world close the gap between different races.
“At a time in the world when there’s so much division and hatred, I hope that this brings some sort of closure of the division—that people will be able to see people of all races can get along,” she said. “And we do love each other.”
Watch the report below: