When Kaleb Klakulak and Kenneth “K.J.” Gross first met in 2013, they developed an instant friendship, something that was not lost on their mothers. The duo loved spending time together and would visit each other’s houses as often as possible.
K.J., who lived in Warren, Michigan, met Kaleb when the latter was starting the second grade. He was the new kid in town at the time, whose parents had just gotten divorced. Also, Kaleb was shy and didn’t make new friends easily. But that changed when he met K.J.
An instant connection
According to their mothers, the two boys clicked because they were both reticent and good natured. They were also being raised by single mothers at the time. Of their unique connection, K.J.’s mother, LaSondra “San” Singleton, said at the time:
Singleton noted that the children were kindred spirits who appreciated each other’s company. Often, they would play video games, watch movies, or visit Greenfield Village, a collection of historical monuments.
an extended friendship
Kaleb’s mom, Kristy Hall, said that K.J. He brought pure love and joy into their lives. Even more special was that Singleton and Hall were also able to bond. Regarding their friendship, Hall recounted:
“We were both single moms at the time, sharing our stories and comforting each other.”
Hall shared that his son even invited K.J. to his church, where the latter became a regular and enjoyed singing. The two boys were so close that Kaleb didn’t care that his best friend had health problems.
A unique connection
When K.J. was a baby, Singleton said he was diagnosed with leukemia and underwent several surgeries throughout his life. Sometimes her allergies were so bad that she had a hard time getting out.
Singleton said that Kaleb would come to his house during those times to play with Gross. “They were inseparable from the beginning to the end of their relationship (sic),” he added.
But the youth’s fun trips and activities came to an abrupt end when K.J. he was last hospitalized in 2018.
After twice winning his battle with cancer and being disease-free for six years, K.J. he faced another health scare. The side effects of the chemotherapy took a toll on him and it was said that he had developed congestive heart failure. Singleton said her son needed a new heart and was admitted to the ICU.
a heartbreaking sight
For months, Kaleb and his mother would drop by every week on Tuesdays to visit K.J. The children played a wrestling video game and enjoyed painting.
Singleton said Kaleb’s hospital visits were the highlight of his son’s dark days. But watching his best friend’s health deteriorate was a painful sight for Kaleb.
the hardest goodbye
On May 1, 2018, things took a tragic turn when Singleton said she discovered her beloved son had very little time left. He called Hall and Kaleb, who rushed over to be with K.J. in his final moments.
Hall said her son was in tears as he sat down next to his dear friend and said goodbye. Singleton, a mother of six, reportedly quit her job months ago to stay with her son at the hospital and care for him full-time.
Because she was unemployed while caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s at the time, Singleton faced another situation. She buried K.J. on a family plot but couldn’t afford to buy a tombstone.
When Kaleb and his mom learned why Singleton was worried, they decided to do something. The 12-year-old boy, who was having a hard time after losing his dear friend, sprang into action.
A special gift
Thus, Kaleb fulfilled his Christmas wish to give his friend a tombstone. Hall said her doting boy collected soda bottles and traded them for recycling bins at the store to raise funds. Additionally, Kaleb raked leaves and created a Paypal fundraiser with the help of his mother.
Eventually, the mother-son duo was said to have raised more than $2,500 to support Singleton, who couldn’t control his emotions when he learned what mother and son were up to. A teary-eyed Singleton said:
“I cried because it was unexpected.
I cried because I am trying to figure things out day by day. I can see his final resting place. I have a place I can go and be with him.”
a sweet answer
When Kaleb was asked why he felt the need to raise money for his late friend’s headstone, he had an unusual response. The wise young man said that he did not want his friend’s mother to visit an unmarked grave. added:
A brother, son and friend
When Singleton was asked what he wanted his sweet son’s headstone to read, he replied, “KJ Gross/Dear Brother, Son, and Friend.”
The mother hoped that the touching friendship between K.J. and Kaleb would help unite people of different races, fostering love and togetherness.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the late Michigan boy and his loved ones. We are sure that your family and friends will always cherish your sweet memories and hold on to them.
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