Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hold Me Tight - RIP Kyle Du Preez Lowry

I have a wonderful friend, who I have known since school. We first sat next to each other in Standard 8 biology and instantly became friends. As much as we loved the friendship, our teachers were not as enthused because we were a bit disruptive in class. We laughed. A lot. Actually we laughed and chuckled so much that we both somehow took to being called Chucky and we have seldom referred to each other by our real names since then. Right now if you check my phone, her number is listed under "Chucky".

Fast Forward 20 years. We've both had ups and downs and I've mentioned in a previous post how we lost touch for a few years and would bump into each other from time to time and have a quick catch up. Then when I was heavily pregnant with Lettuce, we bumped into each other at the mall. She was buying an iPad for her son Kyle. He was starting high school the following year and the school was moving to iPads instead of text books, and I was slowly pushing a grocery-laden trolley. I remember her saying "Oh my gosh, when are you due?" and I said "12 days ago!!" We just laughed. I gave birth that night!

We are standing directly below the ball - it's enormous!!
Since that day we have met quite often, she has been a wonderful friend and is such a beautiful, fun, kind, friendly, giving, loving woman. She adores her 3 children and has the most positive outlook that I have ever come across. She started her own business in her early 20s, in a male-dominated industry and has won entrepreneurial awards for her efforts. Against all odds, her business is still thriving under her leadership. She has a beautiful home that she decorated herself and the welcome mat is permanently displayed. Just 2 weeks ago she bought the biggest mirror ball in the country and threw a massive party to celebrate and let everybody see it.

The ball at night
We were supposed to go to dinner with a mutual friend last week but we couldn't get it together. So we were planning for this week, probably tonight. We always have such a good time and usually laugh until we cry. And we always go to the same place, it's ridiculous but we love it.

So this morning started out as a beautiful spring morning, but very soon became one of the very worst days of my life. One minute I was finishing up with a bit of admin, promising my rowdy kids that I would hurry and take them somewhere special because they are on school holiday, and the next minute I was speeding towards a hospital, praying for my friend's son's life.

My friend's 16 year old son Kyle had been riding his scooter and was hit by a car. He was rushed to the Flora clinic. A nurse told us that she would keep us informed every 20 minutes and true to her word, she did just that. Firstly she told us that he was undergoing surgery as he had damaged his spleen and it would need to be removed as he was losing a lot of blood. He had also fractured his pelvis and had possible head injuries but these issues would be dealt with at a later stage, the surgeons needed to stabilise him first. We waited and prayed. The nurse came back and told us it didn't look good, we hugged our friend and prayed harder. Then there was some positive news, he was being sewn up and taken to ICU, the immediate family could see him.

The family went upstairs for a long time and when they returned, it didn't look good. We were all in shock. Kyle had not regained consciousness. The doctor called us and we all went up to the ICU where the surgeon told us "there is nothing more we can do, his injuries are too severe and he has lost too much blood." He had no blood pressure and he was being kept alive on the medication that they had given him, but it would wear off.  It just didn't seem real. If the doctor's words were foggy for me, I can only imagine what my friend heard as he delivered the words that would rip out her heart and change her life forever. I cringed as my friend asked, how long she had with her boy. The surgeon gave her approximately an hour. How do you say goodbye to your beautiful child? In an hour?  How can anyone be expected to do this? She kept asking if the surgeon was sure and he kindly answered each time, that he was very sure, there was no hope of recovery. Each time he said it, it jolted through me.

What struck me was that Kyle was lying there, with tubes and pipes everywhere and his head in a red, steel vice, so there was nowhere for his mother to touch him. His granny held his hand. Words are insufficient to describe the feeling that overcame everybody in that room as his mom lay over him and hugged his lifeless body and his parents, grandparents, uncle and friends said goodbye to this beautiful, precious soul, who has been a part of their family for what must feel like a lifetime. We left the family and shortly thereafter the kind nurse came to tell us that his pulse was fading and minutes later, he was gone.

8 October 2014, the day that started out as a beautiful spring morning, will be emblazoned on this woman's heart forever. The day that she held her beautiful, precious baby boy in her arms for the very last time, told him she loved him and that he was her angel and finally had to say goodbye and leave him in that cold, stark, hospital bed and to go on without him.

How does this strong, fiercely-loving mother go on?  Friends and family can hold you, pray for you and with you, but what could ever repair this mother's heart?  Parents are not supposed to bury their children for a very good reason, it's not the natural order.

I found this quote and thought it sums it up completely:

Incredibly, life goes on and after leaving the hospital, they had to go home and break the terrible news to Kyle's sister, 10 year old Megan, who was blissfully unaware of the life-changing events that had occurred earlier that day while she was at school.

A lesson to take from this, and I believe there is always a lesson, is that we should not take life for granted, nothing lasts forever and our children are lent to us for a finite time. Live your life to the fullest and enjoy each day that you are blessed to spend with your loved ones, especially your children.

I know that when I got home, I just hugged my BLT (children) close and cried and cried for the hugs that my friend won't ever have again.

R.I.P. beautiful Kyle Shaun Du Preez Lowry


The above blog post was posted on the day of Kyle's death. This has impacted me much more than I had thought possible. Facebook immediately became flooded with images of Kyle and the most heart-wrenching messages from people who cared about him and knew the side of him that was shielded from his family. So many images and stories, that his family hadn't seen before, surfaced. This gave enormous comfort to his mom and sister.

On 14 October we all gathered together at Kyle's school hall to celebrate his life and bid him a fond farewell. 741 people were counted at the memorial service for Kyle. There were many school friends, family and people who knew and loved him. Kyle's life was all about lights and music and his mom arranged for a send off in true Kyle-style with lights, decor and beautiful music.

Gordon Harrison then got up to speak:

"Kyle, my boy.
It seems like yesterday that we realised mum was pregnant. Her winter cravings for gherkins on a train bound for France were a give away... we were there.
When you made your debut into the world with a distinct yellow tinge, we were there.
We have watched you go through all the stages of pre school, primary school and most of high school, we were there.
Our ski trips and Italian lunches (that we are still paying for  ) we were there.
Watching you grow into an amazing young man who along the way dealt with some really tough challenges. Seeing you become the little man of the house looking after mum and Meggie and watching you face the difficulties young adulthood brings and taking them in your stride, we were there.
Listening to you talk about your passions.. Lighting, sound, motorbikes...we were there.
On Wednesday when we received the call to say time was running out... we could not be there.
My boy, so many words left unspoken.
Know that we love you and are very proud of you and that you will be in our hearts always.... forever young.
All our love uncles S and G... Your favorite aunts/godfathers"

Kyle's godfather (and principal of his school) gave the eulogy which was so personal and beautiful. This is what he said:

"Today, I stand here as a godfather, an Uncle…a friend. Most certainly not as a Principal. You see, the only fights and arguments I ever had with my godson, Kyle, was as his Principal. So, today I am just his godfather. Many parts of this speech had been prepared in my head for his 21st. Today, I share them with you in celebration of his life.
I want to take you back just over 16 years. Picture this, a train, in the middle of the English Channel, the European winter of December 1997, we were crossing underneath the Channel as we were on a freight train transporting our bus that was returning us from our recent skiing adventures from the French Alps and in the middle of all of this Jo-Anne wants gherkins! Not one, not two…but an entire jar…. demolished, eaten, devoured. Less than 10 minutes later she was feeling ill. This ill sensation had started a few days earlier. Of course Jo put it down to the hundreds of gherkins that she had consumed over the past few days. Not a store in Courcheval, our ski village, had any jars of gherkins left. Gordon, called it first…Jo-Anne was pregnant with our dearest godson, Kyle.
Being born in winter is tough! Being born on the Highveld in winter is even tougher. It’s cold! On the 21st July a baby boy was born to proud parents Jo-Anne and Kurt Du Preez. To my great honour, he was given the name Shaun as his middle name.
Being the oldest meant that neither Mom nor Dad had any experience in the ‘baby’ business. From bottles, to changing nappies to feeding. So dear old Kyle was fed, clothed, changed and medicated, sometimes by trial and error. Picture the next scene. Jo-Anne and I were in the room with Kyle, not even a week or so old. I look at this little thing and start thinking that he has a pretty mean tan for a Highveld winter baby. On closer inspection, I see that his skin is a serious tinge of yellow. “Jo-Anne”, I ask with alarm, “does Kyle not look very yellow to you”? “Oh”, she replies, I thought all babies are this colour when they are born. Fortunately, it was a mild form of jaundice and a few days in the flirted rays of the winter sun soon sorted out his tan.
Within days of returning home from giving birth to Kyle, Jo-Anne was back at her company, Upstage, running things in her usual inimitable manner. Except this time, there was the pleasant sounds of a newborn baby boy gurgling and often not so pleasant sounds of him crying in the background.
His early years were at another private school. However, Kyle’s character never suited that school and despite our recent heated discussions on his current high school, he knew that his uniqueness suited the personality of Crawford. I clearly remember giving the then Principal, Jopie Maasdam a call and asking if he could make space for my godson in Gr 3. Jopie’s own tales tell the stories of Kyle’s exploits at Primary school. Every time when Kyle saw me after he moved to Crawford Fourways, he would thank me and tell me how much he was loving school.
Kyle was born to be involved in some form of lighting or sound work. From a very young age he was in the warehouses, tinkering with electronics and lights and sound systems. Most kids had jungle gyms, Kyle had scaffolding. How many of you remember coming into this very hall, only to find him dangling from high beam or straddled across the scaffolding several meters up.

We all have a fond memory of Kyle. Some, shared his passion for motocross. As we were going through photographs these past few days we realised how many motor bikes Kyle rode and just how much he enjoyed it and how good he was at riding.
The number of times that we as friends and family headed north to the delights of the European Winter to take on the French, Swiss and Austrian Alps are some of the best memories that we have. Kyle was not interested in skiing and like his Dad, Kurt, he was determined to snow board. This he did remarkably well. We happily traversed the many ski runs with Kyle keeping up continuously and some times very bravely. At one point on a particular run, Kyle, Gordon and I were separated from the rest of the group. We spent much of the day skiing across the Swiss border into Italy. Much to Kyle’s delight we stopped at a small family run hut. Our famous last words, “if you are hungry my boy, order what you want…” we have just recently paid off the loan taken out to settle his lunch bill. He was 10 years old.
Lately,it was his passion for DJ’ing and how he fought his Mom to try and convince her that it was absolutely OK for a 16 year old to be DJ’ing at Clubs. I was told explicitly that DJ’s are in their prime from 17 – 19 years old and he had no intention of missing his prime. Many of you here today will have heard him and I do believe that he was very good.
Kyle suffered for years from a form of arthritis. And after years of agony and operations he finally gained good health. This led to his newfound love for gym. Many of you know me well. Despite my lack of 10 full fingers, I am still useless at trying to play cricket and spin the ball or even bowl. Kyle, despite his hours and hours of playing in the swimming pool whilst growing up, tried water polo for two sessions in Gr 8 and carefully approached me to say that he was moving back to cricket. So when he told me this year that he was now hitting the gym, that really got me fired. I loved the fact that he was prepared to take the time and train with me. I loved the fact that I could keep up with him, barely. I loved the fact that we could exchange the different types of Whey Protein shakes, I loved the fact he would spot me and carefully glide the weights back into place.
His hard work in the gym was paying off. The now, infamous selfie of the triceps and deltoid extended flex in the change room at Virgin Active has graced dozens and dozens of Whatsapp profiles and Facebook pages. Of course, his ability to claim the top prize of Selfie King of Social Media is a given…Snapchat and Instagram will never be the same again.
So many of you will remember that out of 10 times that you saw him, he was probably smiling on all 10 occasions.
How do you talk about someone’s life in the space of a few minutes? I wrestled with that question over the past few days. I understand now, that you can’t. You just can’t. In the video that we put together, you will hear two songs. The first one is from City of Angels. A movie that Jo, Megs and Kyle watched again and again. The 2nd, Was one of his favourite songs.
Each and every one of us has special memories of Kyle. The number of you that have shared these with his family over the past few days has been just wonderful. Your care, love and support has been the biggest comforter for his family.
To his amazing mother, Jo-Anne. You are indescribable. I have watched how you have hosted so many of his friends over the past few days. How you are concerned for their well being and happiness and how even when you are grieving, you take the time to call one of his friends late at night just to reassure him that everything will be OK.
Like most of you, I never got to say good-bye. At first I struggled with that. But now, I understand that I did not need to say good-bye, he will always be with me and in the same way, with you."

Click here to view the video played at Kyle's Memorial Service - unfortunately You Tube removed the video due to the "Faded" song being used (Copyright issues)

Kyle's sister Megan was strong enough to read the following poem:

Never Alone
I feel you in the morning
When at first I awake
Your thought is with me
With each decision I make
You'd been around forever
Since the first breath I took
Now I have to go on alone
But for love, I need not look
Cause by what you bestowed
In our short time together
Will last in my heart
Forever and ever
Although you've left
And now walk above
I'm never alone
I'm wrapped in your love

Then his mom bravely stood up, took the mic and gave this tribute to her son:

"I am standing here living every parents worst nightmare and I am broken. But I am also the proudest mother anyone could ever be. I have received literally hundreds and hundreds of messages, emails, facebook postings and sms’s these past few days and the love that we have felt has been overwhelming and I thank you all for this and for being here today.

To Kyle, my ratbag, my sunshine and my Angel, you made me so proud. You were the most amazing and brave son, kind hearted loving big brother, gentle grandson and loyal friend and have left a huge hole in so many lives. Your passion for lighting and music will remain your legacy. The Angels in heaven have put down their harps to listen to your ‘deep house’ music and the Upstage flags lowered to half mast in your honour, and I trust that todays event is a fitting celebration for you, and testament to the very full life you lived as we never do things in half measures in our family – there is always drama, lights and music and a production!

The picture behind me is my favourite – you made me so proud with your lighting and told me that night what a cool mom I was and used this pic on all your social media for weeks. I know you had no regrets. You lived and died happy and with passion and I have no doubt in my mind that you are watching and listening to this right now from the sound room with a smile & giving me the thumbs up!

Looking through pictures of your life, you are smiling in every single one. This gives me peace knowing you were a very loved and happy child. And after meeting so many of your special friends who truly loved you, it is an indication of the person you were, as you attract back what you give. And speaking of attracting, it has been brought to my attention this past week just how many girls had a crush on you – even Megan's 10year old friends. Your energy, humour, kindness, and wholesome attitude, along with your need for fixing your hair, stealing my spray tan, eating egg whites and salmon sushi, xxx mints and blue Energades will be sorely missed. 

I know that you are always with us and that you have become Taylor, Megs and my Guardian Angel and my only regret now is that Heaven does not have visiting hours.

Thank you for choosing me to be your mom and may you fly with the wind in your wings, music in your ears and know you will always be loved and with us."

After the memorial service we were each given a white balloon on which to write a message to Kyle and send up to him. His grade sent theirs up together. It was so sad but so beautiful. 

So as friends and friends of friends say farewell to a beautiful soul, who graced this earth for a very full but very short period of time, his family are left to deal with the massive gap in their lives. The empty seat at the dinner table, his empty room and all of his things. They will be reminded by the "first" of everything without him - the first Christmas, the first New Year, the first birthday without Kyle. And slowly the hurt will fade from a raw wound to a scar that will ache from time to time but will always be a strong reminder of his life and what would have, could have, should have been. 

Click here to view the full memorial service

I am sending love and light to his family, especially his mom, who will suffer the most. As mothers we are the very first to feel our baby's energy and then the first to feel the physical movement within our bellies. When we first hold our newborn baby in our arms, we feel an overwhelming connection and we will be connected to our children forever. A mother's love and connection is greater than any other bond. Kyle's mom knew that something was not right on the 8th of October, it was her maternal instinct. That maternal love bond and energy that a mother and child share is not only felt on earth, but for eternity. Kyle's spirit will never fade.

Rest In Peace Kyle