I write this piece with tear-filled eyes and a heavy heart. You never expect to lose someone at the young age of 18 and you certainly do not expect it to be a friend and a classmate – someone you’ve known since kindergarten. You never expect to understand the true significance of the cliché, “You’re never promised tomorrow,” until you experience it’s truthfulness first hand. And you certainly never expect to find yourself writing an article about the death of a friend and classmate, but somehow that’s where I find myself now.
Kyle Baker was an 18-year-old senior at Pangburn High School where he was proud to be a Tiger. Kyle enjoyed hunting, the outdoors, and spending time with his family. He was a devout Christian who believed in the full salvation of our worldly struggles and sins through Jesus Christ; he was an active member of the Lighthouse Full Gospel Church and C.O.R.E. Drama Team. In the summer of 2013, just before the beginning of a new school year in a new building, Kyle got a new beginning he and his family did not expect. Kyle was diagnosed with pleomorphic sarcoma. Upon news of his diagnosis, Kyle fought a challenging and honorable 15-month battle with the cancer that few knew about, including his doctors. On Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014, Kyle lost his battle and went home to be with the Lord.
Friends and family of Kyle learned the news of his passing during the day on Wednesday. I was in my 7th period class. I remember thinking that I had prepared myself for this moment, but I truly had not. I don’t think there is an adequate way to prepare. I spent for what seemed to be several days, but what was only the rest of the day Wednesday, in tears and shambles about Kyle’s passing. I knew the tears that flowed from my eyes were but puddles to the rivers that bled from the eyes of Kyle’s family. Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 is a day I’ll not soon forget.
Those that knew Kyle understand the difficulty of such a loss. Kyle had a rare, indefinable characteristic about himself. He had the ability to make you smile when you were frowning and laugh when you wanted to cry. Kyle had a smile brighter than the sun, a laugh so distinct you would recognize it in a crowd of millions, and a heart bigger than him. I can visualize looking across the classroom to see Kyle’s beaming smile and hear his contagious laughter; it was truly heart-warming. Another trait I think Kyle himself was very proud of was his always perfectly combed hair – there was never a strand out of place.
In the days that followed Kyle’s passing, I found it hard to cope with such a profound loss; I spoke with classmates that felt the same way. I searched for a peace and understanding that seemed eternally lost. I read many touching tributes to Kyle and poems about losing someone close to you. Those never seemed to mend the wound that was left – the wound that still is and will forever be. I finally found a bit of that peace and understanding when I clicked to the “Prayers for Kyle Baker” Facebook page where much of his family was posting. The Baker family found their comfort in faith, and that’s where I found mine. Knowing that Kyle was such a devout Christian and knowing that he was celebrating a new, pain free life with the Father brought such a comfort to me during this time of sadness.
I know I, and thousands of others, will not forget Kyle. How could you? Kyle was an extraordinary kid with an extraordinary story. Years from now when I’ve graduated and we’ve gone our separate ways, married and had kids, I’ll tell them a story. I’ll tell them a story of a friend and classmate. I’ll tell them a story of a supporter and encourager. I’ll tell them a story of one kid who changed the lives of thousands. I’ll tell them the story of Kyle Baker.