There wasn’t a dry eye in the Worship Centre Thursday afternoon as friends and family of Jordan and Evan Caldwell gathered at the Centre Street Church in northeast Calgary to say goodbye.
The room, which can seat up to 2,300 people, looked to be at capacity as loved ones shared memories of the twin brothers.
The pair were killed on Saturday after attempting to make their way down the bobsled track at Canada Olympic Park with six of their friends.
Daniel Spalding was one of the teens who managed to leave the track physically unscathed, and he served as a pallbearer. The five others from the group were listed as honourary pallbearers.
Among those in attendance was former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had been invited by the family. A spokesperson for the church said one of the boys had volunteered for Harper during his campaign.
“To everything there is a season and time for every purpose under the heaven,” Pastor Miriam Mollering said. “We come today not because Evan and Jordan died, but because they lived.”
“And we know there isn’t a single person in this room who hasn’t made a regrettable choice. Many of us today have also experienced the grace and forgiveness of God through others,” she said.
Memorial tables set up in the hallway displayed the boys’ love of politics, church, family and their lives at school.
“We come today not to say good-bye, but so long for now,” Mollering said.
One of the hardest moments for everyone had to be when the twin boys father Jason Caldwell took the stage.
The boys’ father, Jason Caldwell, compared the bobsled track at Canada Olympic Park to life, saying “no one knows what lies around the corner.”
“The endless pranks and teasing between the two was out of love and affection for one another,” Katie Caldwell, the twins’ sister, said. “If only this was some cruel, cruel prank.”
“Their jokes would have never have gone this far and would have never have been this cruel. The hearts of Evan and Jordan were so pure, so sensitive to every single person they met.”
Their sister said it was unique to watch identical twins grow up, saying they were similar in their passions.
“I’m the luckiest girl in the world, that I was the one chosen for this life,” she said. “You two were my protectors, my examples, my heroes and my best friends. I looked up to you in so many ways and not because you surpassed me in height.”
“Look at how other people live and love them, all I can say is that your sister loves you,” she said. “I’m terrified of the days to come without you, but I know this morning, you two were still making those morning announcements for all of heaven to here.”
“This is Evan Caldwell and Jordan Caldwell signing off,” she said as she ended her tribute.
Their father fondly reminisced as how the boys loved to wrestle and as they got bigger, he would have to make more visits to the chiropractor.
“They excelled at service, kindness, love. They lived loves that reflected the true nature of God, selfless, kindness and justice,” he said.
He also thanked those mourners who chose to leave a letter behind at one of two memorials, telling the room he’s found solace in reading a good deal of them.
Caldwell said they took no credit for how unique and giving his boys were, crediting the twins’ values to their faith and God.
“Action is what describes our boys and they showed it by showing the precious commodity of all on others: time,” he said. “They always had time for you, they had time for their sister, their parents, all of their friends, teachers, everyone who is here today.”
“Jordan and Evan finished early, may we, may you… finish well,” he said. “17 years was a gift of countless memories.”
After a video tribute that showed pictures of the boys throughout their lives, the principal of Westmount Charter School, Dr. Janneke Frank, took the stage.
“There have been a myriad of stories that have helped us heal,” she said.
Frank laughed as she reminisced about how the two would try to switch places during their yearbook photos.
“It was in his role as student council president that Jordan was truly loved,” she said. “Relationships are all there is. Jordan accomplished his final work through relationships. He held space for all of us, that he had a brilliant mind was clearly evident.”
“I was waiting for the day when Jordan would become the Prime Minister of Canada. Jordan and Evan were my best friends,” Noah Bensler, one of the boys’ classmates, said. “I remember the countless games of Monopoly and Risk, making bets with Jordan at school and trying to make the bet small because I knew he’d beat me by about 10 per cent or higher.”
“When I think about Jordan and Evan, I would think about all of the fun and ridiculous things we’d do over the years,” he said.
“I’ve known Evan since he was a toddler and over the last couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching with him at a refugee centre in Calgary,” Laura Swart of the I AM Refugee Ministry said. “From the moment the students met Evan, they adored him. He carried with him something in his spirit that transcended language.”
Swart said after every English class, Evan would take out his guitar and show the children how to play.
“Camp Chestermere has a heavy heart as we grieve the loss of Jordan,” camp director Shannon Dean said. “Jar-jar (Jordan) was so loved, there would be a group of young girls who would post a sign on their cabin window that read ‘no boys allowed, except for ‘Jar-jar’.”
“During the summer if you couldn’t’ find him at beach time, it was because he was going to change so he could be in the water with the kids.”
The service ended with a musical tribute by Jennifer Nudd and a message of hope by Pastor Glen Nudd, two people who knew the twins for their entire lives.
The family thanked first responders and chose to pay special tribute to the three boys who are still in hospital following the incident.
The Caldwell brothers were buried during at a private service for family earlier Thursday.
After the ceremony the family issued the following statement:
“The Caldwell family wants to express their deepest gratitude for the outpouring of support and love from the Calgary community and across the country.
Many have expressed their desire to support the young people who are still recovering from their injuries. If you would like to make a contribution, please visit this website https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/316Fy5”