Several Lessons Learned
I will never forget the day I got the call. Saturday October 18th 2008, around 10a.m at a volleyball tournament I was playing in I was told that a good friend of mine had been killed in a car accident. Kyle Jeffery Wickliff, the class clown, a well – liked athlete, the go to guy, and the life of the party had been taken away from me. Unfortunately, that in-particular party life he had going on had caught up with him. Kyle had left a party after drinking, thinking he could drive himself to a friend’s house, however, lost control, and killed himself. All I could possibly think about was how someone so full of life, full of happiness, and so young, could leave everyone here on earth so quickly. Hearing a friend speak at Kyle’s funeral made me realize that life is too short to get mad over the small stuff and hold grudges against loved ones over the petty things. I think to myself, why am I not living to the fullest like kyle? Or looking back did Kyle push it to the extreme a little too much?
Kyle and I met my freshman year in high school in 2006 when he took me out on a date. On our date after we went out to eat he decided to show me the place he went to the most when he needed to think. Not a typical thing to do on a date, but I thought it would be interesting. He had taken me to a memorial site where his very best friend had died just a year before from hitting a tree in a car crash. He showed me things that he had left behind, one thing being a picture of the two of them together. I myself at that time had never had a friend in high school, so close to my age pass away, at that moment I realized why Kyle acted the way he did. Why hold back, why stay mad, why have regrets when you never know when your day will come to leave this world behind? Looking back at him taking me there, I find it all very ironic. Was this God telling Kyle to slow down his crazy life style, or was it to never hold back what you do in life?
Kyle was 19 years old when he left behind a mother, a father, a brother, and little sister who loved him dearly. Around 3A.M. Kyle had left a party frustrated and confused. While driving on a country road and going extremely too fast he lost control and had hit a large pine tree with his car. The pine tree became completly uprooted and snapped in half. It wasn’t until two hours later a lady driving to work noticed his car. Kyle’s car was 200 feet away from the road in a soybean field. The site of his memorial where the crash happened will always stay in my mind due to the fact I have never seen anything like that before. Seeing the tree on the ground, the tire marks from Kyle breaking on the road, the indents in the soy field from the impact of the car, and the small cross where friends could leave memorable things behind, it was all very unbearable. It was as if I was there when it happened, and I could do nothing to stop it. It all just seemed like a horrific dream.
The night after Kyle’s death all types of people from different cliques gathered around the site of Kyle’s accident consoling each other. Kyle accepted everyone in his life. It didn’t matter who you were, he was always willing to get to know you, and somehow he always learned how he could put a smile on your face.
Rumor has it the night before Kyle died he told someone, “If I were to die tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret anything.” I truly believe that. Kyle lived life to the fullest. There wasn’t a time when I didn’t see a smile on his face. He lived in the moment, had no regrets, and was a spur of the moment kind of guy. He was always up for anything, especially a challenge. However saying that, I think that there is a limit to living life on the spontaneous side, and I don’t think Kyle always knew where that limit was. He loved to push his limits as far as he could. He was a daring young man who wasn’t scared to get hurt every so often. So yes, I do believe that Kyle lived his life to the fullest, and I know that he has taught me to do the same as well as others. However, Kyle has also taught me that there are limits to having fun and you need to know when to take a step back and think about what you are doing and know the consequences of your actions.
I met up with Kyle at our Hancock County Fair one night just two months before his death. It was a fun night with him. We mostly walked around mingling with friends we would run into. Kyle, being as open as he was, insisted that I ride the mechanical bull that night since I had never done so before, and also just to push actions over the edge. He eventually talked me into riding it after fifteen minutes of persuasion. However, they had taken the bull down due to mechanical issues. That is one example of his spontaneous side that I would love to have. I would have NEVER agreed to do something like in front of all those people if he hadn’t talked me into it. So instead of riding the mechanical bull, Kyle and I rode a ride together by ourselves. Everyone else we were with just didn’t seem that excited about a little kid ride at the county fair like Kyle and I did. I had a blast on the ride with Kyle; he made me laugh the entire time. Unfortunately, after that it was time for me to head home for the night. Kyle insisted that I should stay and hang out with him longer. School was about to start up again and we didn’t get to see each other as much as we would have liked going to different schools. After a long battle of telling him I couldn’t stay, and telling him bye I started walking back towards my car. Not long after saying bye I heard footsteps getting louder and louder behind me. Then boom, I was on the ground like that. Kyle had tackled me to the ground, and while in the process of doing this he had spilled his full cup of lemonade all in my hair. I was furious for him acting like he was ten, and left mad at the world. He sent me a text around the time I had reached back to my car telling me sorry. I didn’t send anything back. I know longer really had contact with Kyle after that besides through Facebook here and there due to the fact that my school and sports life had taken over once again. Ironically the day before he got in his wreck we ran into each other, and it was as if there was nothing wrong between us, he still put that huge smile on my face.
Looking back now that was no reason to be mad at Kyle. He was just being spontaneous sometimes childish Kyle. To this day if I get in a fight with someone I stop and think is this really worth it, is it really worth being mad at this person, because most likely it’s not. I have realized that I get mad over petty stuff sometimes and it isn’t worth it. Now when I catch myself getting mad over the small stuff, Kyle always comes to mind. There’s no need to stay mad. Kyle showed me that death can happen to ANYONE at ANYTIME! I am not, nor are any of my friends invincible. Kyle has been impacting my life since the day I met him, and still continues to this day. Was Kyle perfect? No. However, he knew how to have fun, he was very adventurous, always had a smile on his face, and I could go to him about anything. It didn’t matter who you were he would always be there to lend a helping hand. It just goes to show that no matter what you do, nothing can prepare you for what happens next in life. Kyle had his whole life ahead of him, and it all disappeared in an instant. It affected so many people he was close to as well. Although everyone experiences hardships in life, life is way too short to get tangled up in all the small stuff. I know that I am lucky to wake up every day, and since Kyle’s death, I have done my best to not get mad over the petty things. I look at things different now. Take in everything you can, don’t hold back, and live in the moment, because tomorrow is never promised.