Today is Kylie’s birthday. At Perimeter Christian School, they are celebrating by committing to the kindness, joy, and selflessness that embodied Kylie (and of course, wearing yellow). For new children who didn’t know her, one of Kylie’s favorite teachers, Jean McConaughy, wrote this beautiful Introduction to Kylie so that they would understand the purpose behind the day:
Let me introduce you to a very special young lady, Kylie, known around the world as “Smiley Kylie.” All of her young life, Kylie loved to smile, but more than that, she loved to bring smiles to the faces of others! Kylie loved Jesus with all of her heart and oh, how she loved to sing praise songs to Jesus. She even created some of her own! When she was in my classroom, we started each day with songs. One she often asked for was a simple chorus written by Honeytree, one of the first contemporary Christian artists. “I’m gonna believe that God is up to something good. I’m gonna believe that God is up to something good. When I don’t understand the things that happen in my life, I’m gonna believe that God is up to something good.”
We didn’t just sing praise songs though. We sang silly songs to wake up our minds and bodies and enjoy being with each other! Kylie loved to dance and laugh with her classmates. No one was a stranger to her. She had a heart that reached out to anyone sad. She would often appear at my side and grab my hand, look at me with eyes of concern and ask me to help her find out what was bothering someone that day who seemed unusually sad or lonely. It broke her heart when mean things were said or done. Kylie wanted us to find the joy in each day given to us by God.
Kylie adored her family. She was the youngest of 4 sisters and she always had prayer requests for them as well as for her parents. She was so proud of her daddy’s mission trips and loved to find ways to help him care for people. She looked forward to serving Jesus around the world with her family. Her sisters were her very best friends and they watched over and cared for each other with fierce love.
Kylie loved read aloud time. We’d keep the bright lights off and the kids would doodle and draw as they listened. Kylie loved to draw penguins and all things “Mickey.” Seldom a day went by that her drawings didn’t become a card for someone!
When one of her classmates got seriously ill with a disease called cancer, Kylie became her number one supporter, no matter what it involved! Cancer is a bad sickness. You can’t catch it from someone. You don’t get it because you ate the wrong foods or did something wrong. It’s here because there is sin in this world and it affects everyone. The treatment is super hard on your body and it doesn’t always work. It is not a disease that kids usually have to think about. Kylie was determined to keep Bailey joyful. She carried heavy loads for her, always looked to be the first to welcome her in the morning; no matter what Bailey’s mood; weary, sick, out of sorts, bald. Kylie was so excited to tell me that she knew God was allowing her to be Bailey’s special friend. See? Bailey loved sports. That was NOT Kylie’s love, so she knew how hard recess and PE would be for Bailey. Kylie always would sit out with her to keep her company but more than that, she made it her mission to make Bailey laugh and she was great at it! She always set aside her own time to be a friend.
When Kylie found out that she had cancer, it was a dark day. She’d watched her friend suffer through so much. It was scary to think of what lay ahead. Her family knew immediately that all of us who loved her would be the ones to rally now to her side and bring smiles to her face. We sent silly face pictures, crazy pet pictures, pictures from every part of the world. Kylie was an actress, a future star. She adored the theater and Broadway adored her, sending her pictures, videos and much love. We wore yellow, her favorite color, and prayed and prayed. Kylie knew that God had a great big plan for her life! One of the great mysteries is wondering why God took Kylie home to heaven to heal her. We all so desperately wanted her healed on earth. It wasn’t because we didn’t pray enough or say the right words. The Honeytree chorus comes back to me. Trust in God means that somehow God’s wisdom and plans are way better than ours. It’s o.k. to be sad about that and talk to Jesus about it, but knowing Kylie, she sure wouldn’t want us to spend our lives angry and upset. Her legacy, the big plan God truly has for her life, is unfolding with those of us touched by her short life.
I can feel her grabbing my hand again and saying; “Miss Mc, we need to do something to help everyone smile again!” So, in honor of our beautiful girl, we fight and battle to fix our eyes on Jesus and in honor and memory of Smiley Kylie, we look outside of our grief, our pain, our only thinking of ourselves, to instead bring smiles to others. We will always love you Kylie!