In a recent video filmed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 19-year-old Caleb Ceran shares his testimony of the 2013 youth theme, “Stand Ye in Holy Places.”
Ceran’s life changed drastically when his mother, brother and sister were killed in a car accident on Christmas Eve in 2006, while the family was driving home from a cast party for Hale Center Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol.”
Ceran recalls certain events just before the accident that he later recognized as blessings.
“It was really interesting because my older brother, who passed away in the accident, was able to go and see some of his very best friends just before he died,” Ceran said. “He saw one of his best friends in a store, and he got to talk to him, and then he saw one of his other best friends in a ballet performance.”
Ceran also remembers how he was able to spend time with his 7-year-old sister Julianna shortly before she was killed.
“Before the accident, it seemed like everybody was kind of coming together, like people were able to say goodbye without even knowing it,” Ceran said.
Ceran doesn’t remember much from the accident, but he clearly remembers when his father came to tell him about the passing of his family members.
“My dad told me we’d been in a really bad accident, and instantly my thoughts turned to my mom, Ian and Julianna,” Ceran said.
Even before Ceran asked if everyone was OK, he knew the answer. The moment Gary Ceran told his son three members of their family had died, Ceran felt what he describes as an “overwhelming peace.”
With a single tear running down his cheek, he turned to his father and said, “It’s OK, Dad, we’re still a family.”
Because of his LDS background, Ceran grew up believing families could be together forever, especially after the loss of five of his other siblings: three all under the age of 2 from a malignant brain tumor and twins who died at birth.
The moment he heard he’d lost two more of his siblings as well as his mom, Ceran's testimony of forever families was confirmed with an overwhelming peace that has never left him.
Instead of feeling anger, Ceran felt grateful for a merciful Father in Heaven who would reunite his mother with her five children who had passed away years earlier.
“I knew at that moment that God loved every one of us,” Ceran said. “There is no way my mom could have handled losing two more of her children. I can’t think of a better Christmas present for her than to see her children again.”
Ceran looks to his father as an example when it comes to being grateful rather than questioning God. Instead of asking, "Why are you doing this to me?" or "Why are you not blessing me when I’m doing what’s right?", Gary Ceran asks this question: "Why are you trying to make me more like you?" It is this perspective that has helped the Cerans understand why they go through the trials they do.
Forgiving the drunk driver who hit the car has also been a blessing in Ceran’s life that has helped him move forward.
“I’ve never even thought to be angry at him, which sometimes makes me feel like I’m not a normal person,” Ceran said. “I hope that one day he’ll be able to find that hope and joy and find forgiveness through the Savior, so he can live a meaningful life.”
Ceran strives to stay close to his mom, Ian and Julianna by trying to follow Jesus Christ and live his teachings. He often thinks about what his mom would think of his life or if she’d be proud of him.
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