Today, Perimeter School will celebrate Kylie Day in honor of our baby. I’d like to share what her mother wrote to describe what Kylie Day represents:
Joy In Spite Of
Perimeter School was one of Kylie’s favorite places. She was less than a year old when her oldest sister started first grade. So, Kylie spent her entire life making carpool runs, attending poetry recitals, and watching play rehearsals (long before she was old enough to audition herself). She loved Perimeter School deeply, and Perimeter School loved her well. Our family is tremendously grateful to this precious school for honoring her on her birthday week with Kylie Day.
What is Kylie Day?
The ache of missing Kylie is with our family with every breath we take, and it will be until we are together once again. But that is not why we have Kylie Day. It’s not about Kylie’s death, but rather about how she lived her life. Kylie loved fiercely, and she radiated joy and sunshine. Truly, she was like that from the moment she was born. She was always smiling, and she searched for ways to make others smile, too.
Over the last several years, people have shared their Kylie stories with us – stories we had never heard before. They are snapshots of who she was, and they are priceless treasures to our family. One was about how Kylie went out of her way to befriend a student when she was new to the school. One was about how Kylie purposefully encouraged a younger ballerina who needed a boost. Another was how she sought to make a fellow cast-member feel welcome and comfortable during her first play. Almost all of them were about how Kylie sought out opportunities to spread joy.
During those 10 ½ months of horrific cancer treatment, joy was a quite a bit more elusive. Kylie was in tremendous pain. She couldn’t walk or eat. She was almost always terribly nauseous, and she constantly battled ghastly side effects from treatment. Nothing about her circumstances promoted joy. But Kylie knew a secret… joy – REAL joy – doesn’t depend on circumstances. It depends only on God. So with unwavering determination, Kylie held onto the joy she had in Christ, and she LOOKED for moments of joy IN SPITE OF her circumstances – for glimpses of light in the darkness of cancer. And she still found it most often by trying to share joy with others.
That’s what Kylie Day is all about – spreading joy and sharing a smile. It can be a little gesture. Sometimes those are the very best ways to brighten someone’s day. Kylie would be thrilled to know that through this day, she is still having a small part of bring joy to others.
While she was sick, we watched her extraordinary gift for joy with amazement. It was quite humbling to be taught by the one suffering, especially when she was only 12 years old. Often in my grief I struggle to find joy; but I had an astounding teacher, and I don’t want to forget the lesson she taught me.
Sometimes choosing joy is a daunting task. I will admit that right now I frequently find it utterly exhausting. Nevertheless, it is worth it. And when I fight for it – like Kylie did – and embrace it even when it is mixed with the hard and ugly of life in this broken world, I find that the process has drawn me closer to Jesus. It somehow reminds me of the deep and abiding joy waiting for us in our eternal home, and the smiling face that will be waiting for me when I get there.