Apr 21, 2010

Goodbye, sweet Ky

I spent yesterday morning at Kathryn and Ben's house as we all prepared for Kyser's funeral. A lot of what I experienced in their house over the last several days is intensely personal, not just for me, but for many other members of my family, so that's why I haven't really gone into that here. But as people poured in the house yesterday, I was emotionally touched over and over, and over again.

Ky's employer, Chevron, chartered a bus and sent it up from Mobile full of Ky's co-workers. Vanderbilt sent a bus full of students, and about 100 of Kyser's SAE fraternity brothers caravanned down from Nashville, too. When those SAEs walked through the door of the house and, one by one, emotionally embraced Kathryn, I just lost it. The sight of all those boys in their navy blue blazers and crisp white shirts who traveled to say goodbye to a dear friend ... it simply did me in.

Kyser's funeral was a beautiful tribute to a full, albeit short, life. The church holds 700 people, and it was packed to the rafters, with people spilling out the doors. There were video monitors and speakers set up in adjoining rooms so that people who couldn't fit in the sanctuary could still experience the beauty of the service. As beautiful as it was, we would all have preferred that there'd been no need for it. Anything to have him back.

"Kyser's Little Brother," which Harry said he feels like is his legal moniker, gave an extremely moving speech about what it was like to grow up following in Kyser's footsteps. He said that his path was always so easy, because Kyser cut away all the underbrush in front of them as they made their way through life. My favorite moment was when he was recounting all of his and Kyser's shenanigans throughout the years, and he said, "It was almost like Kyser knew life was too short to frown, ever."

And as a parent I loved what the pastor said that Ben had mentioned to him ... "You know, Kathryn and I started out when the boys were little, telling them what to do. 'Do this.' ' Don't do that.' But now WE look to THEM." Isn't that our goal? To raise our boys to be admirable young men who stand on the strength of their convictions and do the right thing? I can only hope that our boys turn out as well as Kyser and Harry did.

In a true testament to just how far-reaching Kyser's influence was, you might have noticed in the obituary that Kathryn and Ben established a memorial fund at Kyser's high school alma mater. The school's board met night before last and called to tell them that they felt like the school has so many funds and scholarships, that they were concerned that Ky's might be lost in the shuffle.

Instead, they voted to establish a global ethical leadership center that will be named "The C. Kyser Miree Ethical Leadership Center." Its purpose will be to:

  • Create more culturally aware students
  • Develop curriculum to teach ethical leadership
  • Offer an intern program for students with local professors and foundations
  • Offer global/local leadership distinction upon graduation
  • Design summer trips and classes open to the community for ethical studies

Under Goal Number One is a whole separate list of requirements that students who choose this path will have to satisfy. And upon graduation, if they've done so, they'll receive a seal on their diploma indicating that they've completed the program. To say that our entire family is proud of this distinction would be an understatement ... we are honored and humbled that Altamont has chosen to groom other young people to follow in Kyser's footsteps as ambassadors of ethical conduct and living a life above reproach.

We are still fervently hoping for a break in the case, which for now seems to be moving slowly. CBS News picked up the story yesterday, and perhaps national exposure will help. I'd very much appreciate your continued prayers that there will be success in finding the culprit and bringing him to justice.

For today, I'm trying to be content with having met so many of the people who were instrumental in making Kyser the man he became, with spending time with the far-flung members of our family, with knowing that Kyser has experienced the beauty of Heaven and is just waiting for the rest of us to join him.

And just so you know how highly everyone also thinks of Little Brother Harry, one of the guests at the house last night said to him, "You know, I bet when Kyser got up to Heaven, he said, "Hey, Saint Peter ... it's me. Harry's Big Brother."

And I bet he did just that.


Amanda said...

I can't express my sorrow for your loss, it brought me back to when I lost my cousin and very best friend 5 years ago when we were 17. My prayers are with your family.

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Amanda, Thanks so much. Being back at work today has been a mixed blessing ... it's hard to focus on work, but it's also nice to have a little diversion from the sorrow. It seems like I can't go three minutes without thinking of Kyser.

123 said...

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Sometimes, the hurt is just too big for words.

Sarah T. said...

Made me cry. Miss you.

Kristin said...

Dear Katherine,

Although I knew about the sad, senseless, & tragic loss, I purposely have not read your blog until just now. I wanted to make sure that I was in the right frame of mind to savor your words & to get to know Ky through your beautiful & descriptive tribute. My heart aches for you, your entire family & all who would have grown richer by knowing such a fine young man.

Many prayers, much love,

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Kristi, Thanks so much for your sweet words. It truly was an honor to know and love Kyser.

Jon & Heather said...

Hi! Iam organizer of a large running group in Mobile that Kyser attended. I am so sorry for your lose. This is so beautifly written. Our group runs every Tuesday night and wants to do a collection this Tuesday for the Kyser leadership fund. I would like to give people more info about the fund. Could you e-mail me so we could get in touch, or let me know where we could get more info? heatherjo76@hotmail.com
Our group in the Mobile Mellow Milers, moiblemellowmilers.com

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Heather, Thank you so much for your condolences and kind comment on my blog. We're still feeling the void very much today and appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers.

I e-mailed you with this information earlier, but just in case it went to your spam folder: I've been trying to get in touch with Altamont School to ask them how people can make donations to Kyser's fund. I haven't been able to get anyone on the phone yet, but the Web site states:

Please make checks payable to The Altamont School. You may mail your gift to:

The Altamont School
Development Office
P.O. Box 131429
Birmingham, Alabama 35213

That's not SPECIFIC to Kyser, so you would want to enclose a note and write in the Memo line of the check that it is for his fund. If I hear back from anyone there later today, I'll let you know. Thank you so much!

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