The faculty of making stupid discoveries by accident. The name of my first Fantasy Football Team. Neither of which have anything to do with this blog. I just like the word. Deal with it !!!!!!
A year ago today.
On April 19, 2008 my “Big Brother” Kyle died. Kyle was not my big brother by blood – he was, instead, my big brother by choice. And he was everything anyone could have ever asked for in a big brother. He was always a smile when I needed on, a shoulder to cry on and a kick in the ass when one of those was warranted. He was one of the smartest people I knew, sometimes even smarter than me, which was a good thing be cause he made me see things that I never would have seen on my own. The intelligence or rather the “smarts” he possessed didn’t come from any formal education. Rather, Kyle had what I refer to as “street smarts”. A free spirit if ever I had met one; Kyle danced to his own drummer and the rest of the world be damned.
I met him in Edmonton when I was 19 years old. I thought I knew everything, like many people at 19. I knew just about nothing and Kyle made it his mission to teach me alot. I am who I am today partly because of him. I had left Toronto, going to Alberta in the boon times to find myself and my place in life. Instead, I found Kyle. It really does prove the theory that what is meant to be will be. We became instant friends. Kyle had come to Edmonton from Regina and with him came his “motley crew”, Billy and Chris. Between the three of them, Donny and my new friends we became almost a family, replacing those we had left behind in our former “lives”. Well, as things go, stuff happens and we all drifted apart but Kyle was never far from my mind nor my heart. We lost touch for a while, but my perserverance paid off and one day I got a call from him. I had written a letter to his mother in Regina and through her Kyle and I were once again together. I had moved back to Toronto, Kyle was moving around from place to place and was back in Regina to go to school. He was always going back to school somewhere, but in true Kyle fashion that never really lasted for more than a semester – something would come up and Kyle would drop out, a couple of credits short of whatever it was he was trying to attain. I always supported his decisions to leave school – perhaps not for the reasons he gave but rather because I knew sooner or later he would go back.
Eventually Kyle ended up in Victoria B.C. as a Life Skills Councellor. If there was ever anyone who knew life skills it as him. He “settled” down – this from a man who would get all nervous and shaky walking by a store with wedding dresses in the window – and I was so happy that he had finally met someone that could “tame” him. LOL. He and Lori were together and although I never met her I felt as though I knew her from what Kyle had told me. With Lori, they built a house in the “country” outside Victoria, and Kyle became the guardian of a man who was very mentally and physically challenged. Kevin was a handful but Kyle had finally found something in his life that he was excellent at. The three of them finished building the house.
Unfortunetly Kyle and Lori’s relationship fell apart and the house was gone but Kyle and Kevin stayed together buidling a new house in Sooke, B.C. And to add to the pot, Kyle took on another young man, Donny. Both Kevin and Donny had been labeled by society. Kevin was prone to verbal and physical outbursts, some very violent. Donny had his moments also – no one wanted the boys and they were left to be institutionalized. Kyle took them both home and there they thrived. He told me once, that when he first met Donny, he was not living, he was merely existing. He was on so many meds that he was a zombie, sitting in a chair everyday doing nothing but staring into space. When I met Donny and Kevin, both of them called Kyle “pops” and both of them led productive lives, each day going off to day programs and doing their chores once they got home in the afternoon. I went to stay with Kyle, Kevin and Donny for a month. At first I was a little hesitant, but I knew that with Kyle in charge I had nothing to fear. And I was right. I called them the “Three Muskateers”. Living with them for that time was one of the happiest times in my life. Everything was so simple, and yet so complicated. From who got what meds when to hiding the “real” coffee and only leaving out the decaf it was truly an experience I will never forget. I instituted an “appetizer” before dinner policy and fed them food other than red meat – this was something they were not used to. They were also not used to folding clean clothes. Kyle would dump them on the bench outsidde the laundry room door and whoever needed what would get it from the pile. Long after I left when I would call and talk to Kevin he would always ask when I was coming back to live with them. “Pops” had left the laundry on the bench and they needed it folded. Plus, “Pops” was back to red meat all the time and they needed a cook – it was nice to be wanted for whatever the reason. I left Sooke, again with hesitation but of a different kind. I knew I would miss Kyle more than ever.
See, the problem with staying with someone for more than a night or two in thier home and as part of their life lets you see a whole different part of them. At that time I had known Kyle for years but people change, situations change – Kyle never did. He was the same as he had always been. I left B.C. not knowing if I would ever see him again.
But I did. Kyle was not the type of person who just disappeared from your life. He may have flown under the radar once in a while but he was never really gone.
I saw Kyle a couple of times after that – always on a vacation somewhere. We were in Montreal for Grey Cup one year, he came to Toronto for my brother Al’s wedding, things like that. In 2002 when my life was a total mess and I really didn’t think I had anything to live for Kyle called me one day and out of the blue told me he was moving to Toronto and did I have a place for him. Did I????? Holy cow, I sure did. I had no job, no money but I did still get Unemployment Insurance at the time. We had been through worse we would be fine. Kyle showed up with all his earthly belongings – a suitcase, 2 packer boxes and a knapsack. That was Kyle. Everything important to him was packed. He was burnt out – giving Kevin and Donny up and back to being wards of the Province of B.C., something I never thought he would do. However as someone who has also suffered from burn out I do understand why he did it.
And we did survive. Kyle found a job working with Covenant House and street kids – a job that he loved but something was always missing for Kyle. He hated the impersonal feeling of a “big city”. He never really felt at home in Toronto. His son, daughter -in-law and at the time first grandson lived near, about 70 miles away and he was his happiest when I would drop him off at Cory’s on my way to Mom and dad’s in Brighton. But that was not enough for Kyle and after reconnecting with a woman he had known he became disillusioned with Toronto, packed his things and off he went back to B.C. I wish I had have known at the time that I would never see him again.
While in Toronto, Kyle became ill. We thought he had food poisoning – he was always stopping in China Town on his way home from work. But it wasn’t food poisoning. When I finally got him to a doctor – and that was a job in itself – he was diagnosed with Diabetes. Not severe enough to warrant insulin shots but he did have oral insulin he was to take on a regular basis. And, he had to stop drinking the copiuos amount of alcohol that he was used to consuming. I never really thought about it until then, but I think back now and if I had to guess I would have to say that Kyle was an alcoholic. Never mean or nasty, always in a good mood while he was drinking, unless he was provoked. I had seen that on only one occassion and it was not something that I would want to see ever again. I do know that what happened was to protect someone we both loved, and I do not condone what happened, but I do understand why it happened. We never spoke of it but I knew in my heart that if ever presented with the same situation he would defend me and anyone he loved to the death. Luckily that never happened.
After he returned to BC we spoke almost weekely by phone. Always about what was going on in our lives – he had gone back to a relationship that had a ready made family with it and in the beginning he was happy with that. But like all other things “Kyle” he became disillusioned with that. They tried something different, moving to Red Deer Alberta, and then on to Calgary but that didn’t work out and once again he ventured out on his own.
When I was diagnosed with Cancer he was one of the first people I called. Once I had assured him – or rather made him believe that everything was going to be ok and that I was going to be ok – he wanted to come to Ontario. I told him to wait until I was all better – I didn’t want nor need him to be here while I underwent everything I had to, to be well again. In retrospect that was the biggest mistake of my life. If I had let him come, he might still be alive today…
Again we talked weekly – the converstation always started out the same – was I ok? Was I going to be ok? How was I feeling? Even in my darkest days I never let him know how sick I really was. I do regret that now – maybe then he would have told me how sick he was. As always we talked about everything and he told me that he had been speaking to Cory (his son) and was thinking about moving to Ontario to live and work with Cory. Cory has his own business and needed the help. The last time I spoke with him he was still thinking about it. I was so excited, Kyle was coming home.
But that never happened.
One afternoon I was checking my email and there was a message from Facebook. Someone was looking for me. As soon as I saw the name I knew it was Kyle’s daughter-in-law, Sara. Panic set in – why would Sara be looking for me? So I called Kyle in Calgary to see what was going on.
Kyle didn’t answer the phone, a woman did and I asked to speak with him. Hesitantly she told me that he wasn’t there. I asked when he would be home…She didn’t say anthing so I explained who I was and why I was calling. Then she told me…
She had found Kyle dead in his bed…he was back in Regina and in fact, the funeral was that very afternoon. Not only had I not been there for Kyle when he died I was also missing his funeral because there was no way that I could be in Regina Saskatchewan from Brighton Ontario in less than 4 hours. I was already in a fragile state, having found my Uncle dead and going through the whole funeral thing not but 2 weeks before. I remember more about the first funeral and the time surrounding it, than I do about finding out about Kyle. I do remember speaking to Cory on the phone and I do remember searching the internet for anything I could find about Kyle. Other than that, it is a big blur. I know I was angry, a feeling that lasted longer than I would have liked to admit, but at the same time the sadness was something that I had never felt before. It was different than when my grandparents or other relatives died. This was Kyle…he was my rock and the more I found out about how he died the more angry I became. How dare he???? How dare he give up, disregard what the doctors told him. How dare he not tell me how sick he was. How dare he die on me??????? How dare he leave without saying goodbye????
It took me almost a month but when I was finally able I sat down and wrote his mother a letter. I explained thatI found out too late to be there but if I had I would have stood up in front of all his family and friends and told them about Kyle. When I was finished, 6 pages later, I had written a eulogy that Kyle would have laughed at had he been able to read it. I would like to think that he was looking over my shoulder as I wrote it. His mom, Audrey, sent me a beautiful than you card and said that she reads it often and sometimes she cries and sometimes she laughs but no matter what she feels when reading it she understands why Kyle loved me so much. And maybe thats what I need to focus on, but it is tough – I miss him so much and as I sit here and write this the tears won’t stop. I want him back – just one more time to tell him that I am sorry that I wasn’t there for him and that I miss him and love him and will never ever forget him.
Good Bye Kyle. Rest in Peace.