okay, i'm late.
not that kind of late.
just blog late.
There's just been so much to process over the past week and a half.
I drove up Sunday the day of the dreadful event and attended the immediate service that evening. It was mainly designed for the college students. Baylor's former president, and interim president and chaplain spoke. The good part was that the chaplain is the former community pastor at UBC and so he knew Kyle well. He said if he'd flip Kyle the bird for leaving everyone in this position if he didn't know Kyle was standing next to the Great I Am. But that service was hard. I kept seeing people I knew from the past and present . . . Kris Freeman, Dorisanne Cooper, Jen Alexander, the band wives. To start the "service" Crowder's All I Can Say song came on and I broke into tears. That was Kyle's favorite song. Every time Crowder came out with a new album Kyle would say, "You know a band is good when you're still in love with songs from two CD's ago..." When I walked up to Ben after the service to offer my condolences and my services, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "It's so good to see someone who's not 18."
"As soon as I get my shit together, I'd be happy to help."
The next night wasn't much easier. Fortunately, I was staying with the Eades and Wes was in a reading group with Kyle and other local pastors, so he went with me to everything. Monday night was the viewing. Everyone waited in a 30 minute or longer line only to round the corner and be confronted with a table full of pictures. Cue tears. Then Kyle's brothers and then his parents.
"I'm Ann Pittman, I used to preach for Kyle." My eyes welled up. I tried to remain calm, as calm as Kyle's parents, but it was hard. "Oh honey, we know. He spoke so highly of you."
"Thank you. I'm so sorry," was all I could get out. "You're so gracious."
Then you entered a room floor to ceiling with flowers and a coffin. I stood behind the Wilibanks in line (another blast from the past - and she's pregnant with her fourth!) I walked up to the coffin and burst into tears anew. It was so wrong to see him there. I could hardly see him through my tears, but it was him and yet it wasn't. Kristi grabbed me around the shoulders in a hug. "We can't do this alone," she said.
Jen was not with the family, but in a room off to the side. I wanted to see her, hug her, let her know I cared. When I found her, she grasped me in a hug and then stood looking at her hands which nervously folded and unfolded a Kleenex.
"Keep praying for me Ann," she said. "What if in a few days when this becomes real, my hearts breaks?" My heart broke. "And the children. That they remember. I know the boys won't, but Avery, that she remembers."
"I love you," was all I could say.
Her heart will break, said Holly later that night as I laid in her bed crying. And it will be a long several years.
But Jen has such loving parents and a great family on both her and Kyle's side. And I believe she has the strength to make it through this. It will just be miserable for a long time.
The funeral brought some relief, and more friends. Jason Jenkins, Mars and Jason Mueller, Robert Pilgram, Kristi Sikes, Bushwar, Monte, Phil, Lynnette . . . For the first time, I felt good. Thanks to Crowder.
It started off painful. The family processed in, the organ played; it seemed very wrong and very un-Kyle. Then the speaker led us into the hymn, but David stopped the music and opened his mouth.
"I shouldn't be speaking. They told me not to, but they gave me a mic, so I just gotta." Then he relayed a story about Kyle always poking and hugging him (despite Crowder's distaste for physical affection or even contact) and it spoke volumes about Kyle's attitude toward life and reminded us of Kyle's playfulness. "Death has not won," David spoke into the mic. "It thinks it has, but it has not."
Finally, a step toward healing. Laughter. Theology. Familiarity.
And the road goes on.
I stayed in Waco until Wednesday night. I tried to work Thursday and Friday, but only managed a few hours. The rest of the day was spent in bed. Saturday brought funeral number two, the death of a beloved deacon of First Baptist and influential civil rights leader in Austin. He deserves a blog entry of his own. Sunday FBC celebrated All Saints Day and called out the name of every congregation member and loved one who died this year. After each name the congregation spoke in unison, "Thanks be to God." I think Roger called out "Kyle Lake" because he knew I couldn't. I stood next to Leigh Jackson and cried with her arm around me. I knew Leigh in seminary and never pictured us in that setting together, but God provides.
From Monday on, I've been better. I feel a little guilty because I know Jen, Craig, Ben, David and others are not better. But I know I can't stay sad either.
Yesterday I had lunch with Shanna Beth and we laughed at some of Kyle's sermon illustrations that were sometimes so funny, so creative, or even so bad. He was such a lively, beautiful pastor and father.
We will miss him.
As we approach this week may we love God, embrace beauty and live life to the fullest.
We will miss you Kyle. Amen.