Every day matters.
Kyle was born on 9/3/93 in Atlanta, the "Chicago of the South," as it's known by many. His mother loved him dearly, as did her mother. They doted over Kyle -- "Mr. Big" as he was affectionately known by them and other members of the family because he weighed well over 9 pounds at birth.
As he grew up, the ginger headed boy grew into a strapping 6'4" man, known by those who knew him as intelligent, witty and charming, with a really big heart for the downtrodden. I consider myself one of the blessed few to know him. Though I only had Kyle in my life for a little more than seven years, I learned to appreciate his amazingly complicated and rich life as a part of his legacy to me and others.
Kyle had finished his first semester at Western Nebraska Community College in December, earning a 4.0 GPA and a spot on the dean's list. He decided to come to Fort Knox for the Christmas holiday. He was eager to spend time with his mommy and me as well as his two younger siblings.
We hauled him around the area a few times just to hang out. Otherwise, we had nothing special planned: mostly just indoor relaxation and the occasional trip to the store.
On his last night with us before heading back to Nebraska to start his spring semester, Kyle decided to take us all out for ice cream. His treat. But first, to the comic store to get his younger brother some Flash comics. The two of them eventually came out of the store smiling and swapping stories about the treasures they had found inside. Kyle's little sister was primed for dessert by that time, so we headed to the ice cream shop.
While eating our selected flavors, we sat down and shared laughter over some corny puns and bad restaurant music. There was nothing Earth-shattering about that night, nothing hugely memorable -- no epiphany; just some lighthearted moments mixed with heavy hearts at the growing realization that Kyle would be heading home in the morning. We didn't want him to go.
Early the next morning, I drove Kyle to the airport in Louisville. He quietly climbed out of the vehicle and walked around back to grab his small suitcase and backpack. I was prepared to drop him off and drive away. Instead, I hesitated. After a minute, I got out of the car, walked around to the other side, gave Kyle a big hug and told him I loved him. He had a layover in Chicago with a connecting flight to Denver where a dear friend of his was waiting to drive them back to Nebraska. His flight was delayed an hour from Louisville, making him concerned about what was supposed to be an easy two-hour layover but turned into only one. He'd never been to Chicago O'Hare. I could have sat with him for that hour, but I felt I needed to get to work …
Kyle died this year on 1/11 in Chicago. His mother loves and misses him earnestly, as does her mother. I love him dearly, too. Now, we dote over memories of "Color" as his younger brother used to call him -- his intelligence, his wit and charm, his really big heart that touched a lot of downtrodden lives before he went home.
I am so thankful Kyle came to live with us for the three weeks prior to his death, but I wish I would have hugged him a little tighter, lingered with him a little longer. I cherish every one of those experiences I was given; the laughter, the frustrations, the obstacles, the living that we lived together in the time we had. And I praise God that He gave us those remaining few opportunities to love Kyle, to share in his hopes and dreams, to hear of his future plans -- plans that all changed in a moment.
Every moment matters.