Too Young to Die

I found out last night that a former 4th grade student of mine passed away this week.  I had just seen her post on Facebook the previous week about loving her friends and family.  Of course I “liked” the post, but had no idea I would not be seeing her around on Facebook anymore.  Her name was Kylie, and she was one of the sweetest girls I ever taught.  I remember her getting sick the year I taught her as well.  She ended up at the hospital for about a week and I remember taking her work and a stuffed teddy bear.  This week she was back in that same hospital at age 18, a freshman in college.  This time she did not make it back home, but passed away due to complications of pneumonia.

(Kylie on the left around the age I taught her)

I was in shock when I saw the post come through yesterday of people tagging her in candlelight vigil pictures (her name spelled out in candles with a beautiful picture of her in the center).  I didn’t know what to make of it at first since I had just seen her post on Facebook days before.  Why were they tagging her in pictures and having a picture of her surrounded by candles?  I went to her main Facebook page and got some answers.  She passed away at the hospital in Norman, OK on Wednesday.  I saw some posts from other former teachers, and one in particular from a high school teacher that mentioned she had been sick and hospitalized while in high school as well.  I was in shock, saddened, and confused all at the same time.  I could this happen to a bright, beautiful, young girl with her life in front of her.  She was so sweet and caring.  How does this happen?

I was thinking back a funeral my husband attended a few years back of a co-worker whose son died of Leukemia at the age of six.  Why?  What did that little boy do to deserve that?  I thought of my good friend whose sister just lost her baby daughter at 39 weeks.  Her room was set-up, clothes were ready to be taken to the hospital, there was so much hope for a new life into this world.  Why?  Why did she not have a chance to enter this world?  What’s the reason?

Unfortunately, there are no answers as to why.  Nobody did anything.  Nobody deserved anything.  There is no rhyme or reason of why people are taken at different ages and for different reasons.  This is where your beliefs come into play.  What do you believe?  Even if you are religious and believe in God it can be a hard concept to wrap your mind around.  I asked my mom last night, “What do you think Heaven looks like?  Do you believe in a Heaven?”  She said she did and that she believed it was the most beautiful place surrounded by no pain, but only by love.  She said she spoke with a friend about reading the book “90 Minutes in Heaven,” and that her friend claimed to have a similar near death experience.  She said to my mother, “Don’t ever be afraid to die.  It’s beautiful.  It’s comforting.  It was the best thing I have ever experienced.  I saw my loved ones who had passed on.  I saw the tunnel and the light.  I am not afraid to die when the time comes.”

Those words were comforting to me but confusing as well.  I am a person who likes to see to believe, and with religion it is more about faith than evidence.  I do believe in God and a Heaven.  I guess I just need to have stronger faith in that faith.  It’s hard to imagine that with young ones dying at such a young age that there is some purpose in their death, but I guess we must leave that up to something or someone greater to decide.  The most we can do as mortal individuals is to take life and cherish it when we have it.  Pay attention to the beautiful things in your life, cherish your children and family members, help others and take care of your community, know what is important in your life and what is not worth worrying about.  I am guilty of letting small things get me upset.  Unimportant things.  I think everyone can be.  When I think of these young souls it helps me to cherish what I have here on the Earth now.  Go hug your kids, leave the dishes dirty for a day, spend time outside in nature, be with your family.  Live your life to the fullest each and every day!  Know what is important and focus on all you have in your life.

Kylie’s last Facebook posts said:

Kylie Johnston If I have you on my Facebook you are on there for a reason. You have either taught me a lesson, been there when I needed a friend, given me advice, or taught me patience. For whatever the reason, I am glad that we are friends. I love all of you.· October 6 at 1:15pm via mobile ·

Kylie Johnston Thanks everyone for your love, support, and prayers. I am beiginning to feel better and I appreciate the kind words.· October 7 at 10:07pm via mobile ·

Kylie Johnston BOOOOOOOMER!!!!! · October 8 at 2:46pm via mobile · (Kylie was an OU fan!)

Kylie Johnston Really sick. Listening to the rain, watching lifetime movies, and eating soup. Happy Saturday everyone.· October 8 at 6:48pm via mobile ·

Kylie Johnston So sick I can barely lift my head off my pillow. Thank you mother nature for the beautiful rain that I plan to fall asleep listening to. · October 9 at 8:15pmvia mobile ·

Kylie Johnston Delete Facebook or not? Such a hard decision! · October 11 at 12:08am via mobile (So many are glad now that she decided to leave her page so they can visit her and talk to her there!)

* Kylie passed away at 2am on October 12th.  It’s fitting that her funeral is held on the “Sweetest Day,” as Kylie was such a sweet and caring person.

(Kylie’s Facebook profile picture)

Kylie:  Rest in peace sweet girl.  You are in a good place without ailments.  I pray for you and for your family.  May their hearts heal from the emptiness they must feel without you.  You were a bright light on this Earth and you left such special memories for everyone that knew you.  Rest well.  Your Teacher, Mrs. Wheeler

(One of her Senior pictures)
* Have you lost a loved one at a young age?  How do you deal with the pain of losing someone so young?

 

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Kristin Wheeler

About Kristin Wheeler

Kristin Wheeler is a stay-at-home mom of a 7 year old daughter and 4 year old son. She was previously a teacher for 8 years (in Virginia, Oklahoma, and California). She taught elementary and middle school, with a focus in technology. Kristin received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and her Master's in Middle School Education from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Her husband is a professor at The University of Rhode Island.