From February 2007; Reposted August 2014 because we often don't know how much of an impact one life - however short it may be - makes in this world.
For Todd's mother, Ellie and his sister, Lisa
My encounters this weekend have left me feeling raw and vulnerable. I wanted a night in: no phones, no work. Just time alone to regroup - space for solitude. My 200 songs were on shuffle when Cat Stevens' Lady D'Abenville began to play. I burst into tears. It had been more than 20 years since I listened to it over and over again one September evening in my senior year in high school.
I had moved across the country and so I hadn't heard the bad news until my best friend, Lindsay, called.
Everything of that September, of the closing winter, and the depression that lasted the whole year came flooding back with that Cat Stevens song and rose again from from the depths of my heart, from places that have been secreted away for many years.
I was just 15 years old. A boy I knew, Todd Kyle, a beautiful, incredibly bright, handsome, sexy, rebellious, gifted young man with the most promising writing I've ever seen "walked off a cliff" on one of the last lingering days of summer. What and how it happened, I never learned.
Todd was a rebel and an individual in the truest sense of the word. He had a devilish sense of humour and I loved that he nicknamed me Young 'N' Russian. He made me proud, for the first time, of my own heritage.
Above all else, he had integrity; he did what he knew in his heart was right and he spoke out against tyranny of all types. He was the most intelligent boy I have ever known.
Todd was the only boy who ever stood up for me. In a writing class where I was accused of plagiarism, Todd somehow knew I was being unjustly accused and stood up to our teacher and refused to take a passing grade as long as my writing would be failed because the teacher doubted its authenticity. Cynics out there may say it was a ploy to 'get the girl'. But this young man was, in many ways, too self possessed and forthright to bother with ploys. This was a boy who joined the cheerleading squad dressed in a tiger suit and parodied the gendered nature of sports and cheerleading. He acted heroically in so many ways.
Todd passed so briefly through my distracted, hormonal, hyper-sensitive, moody teenage years. But decades later, I think of him still. I've written about him several times - in seminary - in memoriam - and now here in this blog. He truly deserves a place in written posterity, even if he wasn't able to live long enough to write it for himself.
A most tender spot fell out of my heart when Todd Kyle died. Every now and then I think it is fitting to remember a great boy who would have been an even greater man, and to remember all the children, like Todd, who slipped away too soon. Gone, but never forgotten.