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Saying goodbye to a friend

Posted: April 29, 2014 10:56 a.m.
Updated: April 30, 2014 5:00 a.m.

I’ve used my column to express various opinions, ideas and experiences I’ve had. I’ve used it as a way to make others smile or laugh and a way to share my passion for various aspects of life. Today, I use it in a more somber way, to remember the life of a friend who was recently lost.

I met Kyle in Charleston about four years ago. I had just moved there to start graduate school at the Citadel and I took a job waitressing at Longhorn Steakhouse. Kyle was a cook there at the time and I remember immediately feeling a kinship to his kind smile and his friendly nature. Even though I was brand new there and many of the other wait and kitchen staff were somewhat territorial and unwelcoming, that was never the case with him. He would always ask me about my day and always had a funny remark to make me laugh.

We would often chat at the end of our shifts when he was cleaning up the kitchen and I was rolling silverware. He always asked me about school and other things going on in my life and when I’d had a hard day at work, he reminded me what I was doing wasn’t forever.

He had a gift for cheering people up. He left that job before I did, but we stayed in touch. My boyfriend at the time was a source of constant stress upon me and I would often ask Kyle’s opinion on why guys do the questionable things they do. Kyle was always fair and always kind.

He was always a good friend to me in those times and helped me see the other side of the story. One afternoon I was particularly distressed with the boyfriend situation, Kyle said I just needed to get out and told me to meet him at Chick-Fil-A. Over a spicy chicken sandwich combo, we discussed the woes of dating, broken hearts and the path towards moving on.

As time went on and I got busier with a new job in Charleston and the increased work of graduate school, we inevitably lost touch. It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve of 2012/2013 that I saw him again. By chance, he texted me that day to see if I had plans and I invited him to be my date to a large party my friends and I were attending.

We had a wonderful time that night and words can’t describe how thankful I am for that precious memory now. I will never forget standing outside with all my friends, Kyle right beside me, with our champagne in hand, the beautiful Charleston harbor stretching out before us, counting down to 2013. If I had known this moment would have been my last with him, I would have tried to make it last forever, as cliché as that may sound. In the face of tragedy and loss, clichés begin to make a lot of sense.

Sadly, we lost touch again after the New Year’s party and it wasn’t until about a month ago that I talked to him via Facebook.

Again, I am grateful, more than grateful, for that brief conversation now. We checked in with each other, and he was doing exceptionally well. He had left Charleston and was living in Tennessee. He described his life with great joy and said he was enjoying his time with his son and girlfriend. I was happy to hear he was still doing so well.

When I think of Kyle today, I think about New Years and Chick-Fil-A and bonfires and all the other happy moments we had. He was a talented cook and a loving father. I never met his family, but I cannot imagine the pain they must be going through during these times, dealing with such a great loss.

Today, my heart is heavy (to quote another surprisingly appropriate cliché) with his loss, but I don’t let myself think about him as gone. He is still with me and everyone else who knew and loved him, alive in our memories and our dreams. God bless you, friend. I hope to see you again.

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