DeKALB – Derry Sexton, who at points was at a loss for words, wanted the memorial service for his son Kal-el, and the boy's mother to be a celebration.
Many of the Sycamore High School students who showed up Saturday to the service told humorous anecdotes, which caused the attendees to erupt in laughter inside Barsema Alumni and Visitor's Center, which sits a block west of Northern Illinois University's Huskie Stadium.
"It's wonderful to hear how he touched so many people's lives," Sexton said about Kal-el, 17, who died with his mom Dalahn, 46, Dec. 21 when their car went off Plank Road, just east of Lukens Road, in Sycamore.
Sexton then let the room of more than 200 people know he appreciated their presence at the service.
"From the bottom of our hearts, I want to thank each and everyone of you," Sexton said.
Some might wonder how Kal-el – which is Superman's name from his home planet Krypton – got his name. His father told the story.
Sexton and Colley were watching "Superman 2." The line "Kal-el, my son," struck a chord with Colley, who was pregnant with Kal-el at the time.
By all accounts, Kal-el was just as powerful as Superman in life, although he didn't have the physical traits of Superman.
"He inspired hope," Sexton said about his son. He said Kal-el made him better.
Micah Kurtzman, one of Kal-el's best friends, gave three words to describe his friend.
"Love, laugh, positivity," Kurtzman said. "It's everything Kal was."
Micah then shared a funny story about Kal-el from when they were in the same "tag group" – meaning they played the game tag.
"We didn't have the same lunch [period]," he said. Micah's plan was to surprise Kal-el and tag him. He looked and didn't see Kal-el.
"All right, the coast is clear," he said.
Micah said how a big guy then came charging at him.
"[He] lifts me ups and says, 'You're it,' and leaves," Micah said.
Kal-el, who was 6 foot, 2 inches, according to his dad, was the one who charged Micah.
"He lived up to and surpassed his name," Micah said.
As did Kal-el, his mother had a big personality, too.
Sexton told a story about when he and Colley were out seeing "The Exorcist," at a movie theater. He said the crowd was at least as big as the one that showed up to the memorial. He said the theater where they saw it was "so quiet you could hear a pin drop."
The scene from the movie where the demon makes the girl's bed elevate and move all around comes along. Sexton explained the girl's mother throws herself on the bed to stop the demon from making the bed move.
Sexton told the crowd that Colley said out loud in the muted theatre, "Stupid [expletive]." Sexton said the movie theater crowd erupted in laughter.
"That was how she was," Sexton said about Colley. "She let it all out."
Sexton bragged about his ex-wife Colley a little bit. She was a talented lyricist who once went toe-to-toe with world-renowned rapper Common in a rap battle.
Sexton told the crowd how Colley was once in talks with Chuck D from the rap group Public Enemy, to find a hip-hop mentor.
In addition to being a funny and talented woman, Colley was also a mom to more than her own children, Shaolin and Kal-el.
Davon Bishop, who used to debate anime with Kal-el in the spirited way people debate about sports, said Colley was like his mother, more so than his biological mother.
In the next room, Kal-el's urn lay on top of a desk. His ashes were placed into a blue and red urn with the Superman logo emblazoned on it. The urn had a loving inscription.
"Kal-el, my son …" it said. "A wonderful son, young man, brother and human being. The boy who taught his father how to fly. I will always love you."
Nearby, a black frame, with a message from Kal-el to his father, sat.
"Dear Dad, thank you," it read. "A real father teaches his son how to be strong. A true father rises above his limitations in order to become better for his kid. A true father deserves the Nobel Prize, but this will have to do! Love, Kal-el."