The day before the day before a New Year of 2017: Remembering St. Kyle Jennings
Tomorrow, Dec 31 – it will have been one year since Kyle died. I’m pretty sure. You know that feeling of wanting to remember a detail, or double check a date, and then you stop – and realize that is the last thing you want to do – because just remembering the deepest parts of loss is enough – who cares about precision in the face of pain.
Kyle was not only my best friend and the best of all of our friends. We shared an endless amount of adventures together in his short time on this earth.
Fuck. I’m crying now. Why do I not want to cry? Who gives a shit. It is what it is.
Kyle loved Jesus, blues music, graphic design, and camel cigarettes.
As 12 months have passed since he’s been gone – I think my favorite memories of Kyle are the ones that no one knows but me. The private moments. The inside jokes. The long road trips. The hugs. The tears. And the intimacy that is achieved, as only can be, between two good friends. The type of intimacy where you can read each other’s minds and seemingly have full conversations with only mannerisms.
A new good friend of mine is St. Alex Early. He’s a real author. I only pretend to be. The other night my family and his family got together. As Alex was nice enough to read my book and write a little blurb for it – which he only did out of sheer undeserved grace – I wanted to give him and his wife a hard copy of my book Sinners, Saints, and the Furious Love of God by David Leo Schultz …I handed the book to his wife Jana Bradford Early and I said, “I’m not an a real writer. The way your husband is – but what I have found is that I am able to write with great ease and passion about things which I am passionate about – and that’s my friends.
I really only wrote that book as a way to grieve. I started writing it when I found out Kyle wouldn’t be around much longer. And even as I was finishing up the book and I literally wrote the words, “any day now I will get the inevitable phone call, email, or text letting me know that he’s gone”…and sure enough I got a text: Kyle’s not alive here anymore. He’s now alive in heaven.
Or something like that. Again, fuck details.
In 100 years no one will remember me let alone these digital scribbles.
Kyle always got a kick out of me being a Christian that gravitated towards not playing bullshit religious games. He would often laugh and shake his head when I would accidentally – on purpose – piss religious people off.
Kyle got it. He knew I too loved Jesus, but also knew I wasn’t the type of Christian that good old fashion baptist protestants were. I wasn’t convicted the same way. Didn’t look at the Bible the same way. My theology didn’t fit into their paradigms of how a Christian should behave.
Even if he thought I was just using grace as a license to sin instead of operating out of just being who I am and where I am at…he would have loved me anyway.
That’s just who he was.
I think it’s very unfair that I’m still here. I’m still walking around with air and my lungs and he’s not. He was a father too. Just like me. He had future dreams and desires – just like me.
It’s not fair. I wonder if Kyle can hear my whispers on the other side of eternity. I wonder if he heard of my prayers before he died, “Take me. Not him.”
But I also know that I live inside of time surrounded by eternity. To be human is to be Two-dimensional. But if I were Three-dimensional – able to see what is still yet to come – I wonder if I would be able to hear Kyle – I wonder if I would hear him whisper the same thing, “It’s not fair”…”It’s not fair that all my friends, family, and loved ones can’t be here to experience “What’s Next” and they are still there.
Kyle and I had more time in the car traveling the country than we did anything else. More time in the car…than we did in our dorm rooms our freshman year, or sleep-overs growing up, or even our comedy shows.
We traveled the country as if we were Jake and Elwood blues – on a mission from God. We both drove like Elwood blues too – that’s for damn sure. Matter of fact that’s where I think we got it. We wanted to be the Blues Brothers – and maybe we were. Who knows? Who cares? Maybe we never got to be the real Blues Brothers – but we at least knew we were brothers. Not by flesh and blood, but perhaps the better kind. The kind that welds your heart and history together.
I don’t have to stretch my heart or memories to far to remember what it was like to be on a long road trip with Kyle. I can still his blondish brown hair styled the way he liked it. His oversized goatee. His smile. His laugh. The holes in his ears where his ear rings used to be. His eyes that were truly the gateway to his soul. The quiet way about him. His, stronger than life itself, faith. The faith that more resembled an intense, focused, warriors bravery. The kind that doesn’t need words, because it has something better. Determination and faithfulness.
You know one of the things I learned in the last 7 years about making movies about two men who really lived, breathed, and died. Is that everyone knows the one who died better than anyone else. It’s their version that counts. Not anyone else’s. I never really understood it, as much as I thought it was a mixture of unresolved grief and maybe even a dash of close mindedness.
But, now, after loosing Kyle – I get it. It IS their version that counts. It’s the one that counts because it’s all they have. The one they lost was unique to them, in the way that no two people see the same sunset. While it’s the same sun – it’s not the same perspective of that sun. And because of that unique combination that comes out of two people’s experience – only WE know our loved one the way We do. And it’s not the same as anyone else. And that’s okay. It has to be. After all, now that they are gone, t’s all we have.
Fuck. I just miss my friend.