If you are a follower of my blogs, then you will know that I have recently fallen in love with my small town again. I have had a love/hate relationship with my town for the entirety of the almost 25 years that I have lived here. Recently, I have discovered that I appreciate the quiet, the open space, the abundance of wildlife, and, in my case, the virtually drama-free state of my little cultisac. I mean, it is already well-known that Colorado is one of the coolest states ever, (that is why so many are flocking here), but there is so much more to the red-state than the majestic Rocky Mountains, our Superbowl 50 Champions: The Broncos, and legalized marijuana! Sometimes it may seem to be hard to find, but nestled away in little pockets all over the state, are these tight-knit small-towners who have known each other for most of their lives and still tend to cluster, still think of each other as family–The Elizabethians!!
Now I am absolutely sure that my small town isn’t the only group of people who still claim their hometown friends, still live with their hometown friends, and who only seem to party with their hometown friends–no matter what city they are in, or whether they intentionally ran that far away just to escape the hometown friends! Despite everything, Elizabethians still tend to travel in packs. We gravitate towards each other, and we cannot seem to escape nor forget. There may be different groups scattered here and there, but when we gather, we GATHER!! And I love it.
Me “loving it,” wasn’t always so. It was another of those love/hate aspects of being an Elizabethian. But, like several other characteristics that I had once loathed about my town, I have very recently come to absolutely adore this quality. How? Where? At one of the most unlikeliest–or at least surprising–of places: A fellow Elizabethian’s funeral.
Exactly one month after I passed the 6-year anniversary of my mother’s death, the Elizabethian community suffered another loss–Kyle. (I will not include his full name, nor his picture, out of respect for the family’s privacy.)
Kyle was honestly the most genuinely joyous people that I had ever met. Witty, outgoing, and a bright engaging goofy smile that you just couldn’t help but return. He was a jokester, and he had a knack for making people laugh despite their best intentions. His own laugh was hilarious all on it’s own–a pure chortle that just invited returned giggles. Even when he was getting into trouble, he’d manage to make the authority figure laugh, or smile, or at the very least, take away their fire so as to make them slightly guilty instead, that they have to punish such a likable guy. In fact, the former in-school-suspension-supervisor was the pastor for his funeral, and there was nothing but love from his lips. Yes, pastors are supposed to only spout love, but knowing this man personally, I could tell that he genuinely liked Kyle. But who didn’t? Kyle was golden. A truly beautiful soul. Obviously not perfect, but just one smile or stupid joke, and he could melt the coldest heart, ease the most bitter pain.
The turn-out was utterly amazing for this guy! It was a sizable church, and we had it packed! A lot of people had to stand. A lot of tears. A lot of familiar faces. But what really surprised me was the generational span of Kyle’s mourners.
Three years separated Kyle and I in age, maybe four in grade, but I was not the oldest of his high-school acquaintances, and Kyle’s age group definitely was not the youngest. If I had to venture a guess, I would say at least twelve years of Elizabethian graduates attended! I mean, I am Class of ’02, and I recognized some of my brother’s class, which is Class of ’10, and even younger. How can a person be loved by that vast of an expanse of ages? Because he was Kyle. And because we are Elizabethians. And this particular faction of alumni, is one of the largest and close-knit. I cannot even begin to comprehend how many hugs I gave and received yesterday. How many, “Oh my gawd! How have you been?” ‘s that I heard. It was beautiful. And I know that there were a few bad feelings for particulars–grudges–that have endured throughout the years for a few of this giant group of people, but it did not matter. None of that mattered, because of Kyle. At least, that is what I think. We were all united in the loss of Kyle, and we were united in remembering Kyle for the type of person he was.
I’ll admit, I was not as close to Kyle as most of the people there (I was on the outskirts of the cool kids until my brother initiated me once he became a cool kid, hahaha!). Kyle and I rode the same bus. However, what got him a permanent place in my heart, was that he never forgot me and never turned on me. Whenever I saw him, I was rewarded with his bright goofy smile, and an embrace that made me feel like I was loved and cherished. Maybe he really did love and cherish me–or maybe he was just that awesome, that he made everyone feel loved and cherished. Which in turn, made people love and cherish him. Never before have I seen such an amicable anything (least of all service), with that diverse of a crowd. Yeah, we all know each other, but still…
So Kyle, you have once again performed an act of beauty–you made me love being able to call myself a part of this particular crowd of Elizabethians. We probably are one of the craziest groups–wild and weird and down for whatever. Thankfully, by putting ourselves in the situations that we have, we are even more connected because we have seen each other at our very worst, and we still have love. Thank you Kyle. You will be sorely missed by so many hearts. To truly know you, was to love you. Just can’t help it.