On May 22, at about 9 p.m., my cousin was mercilessly beaten and stabbed to death by a group of drunk men. When he was rushed to the hospital, he was declared “dead on arrival”.
And just like that, my cousin’s life was taken away too soon – from him and from us.
Shocked and stunned, his unexpected passing overwhelmed our family and our community. Everything was so intense. It was both real and unreal at the same time. We had so many questions, one of which was: Why Kyle?
My cousin’s name was Kyle. A vibrant 22-year old young man who was full of dreams, enthusiasm, and deep concern for others. His cheerful spirit made him a friend to everyone.
During his wake, I had the opportunity to observe how his family, friends and even his community mourned for his death. So, I reflected upon how Kyle lived his life where his death was too unbearable for everybody who knew him. Kyle taught me so much about his life and my own.
1. Life is short – give time to things that matter.
Kyle clearly knows what mattered to him the most: his family, his communion with God, and his community.
He is never the person who doesn’t have time for things that are important to him. He makes time for them: he never misses a 5 a.m. mass every Sunday, he is always active in his Youth Council (Sangguniang Kabataan) activities, and he makes sure his family and friends know he cares for them. Kyle spent his life in service.
Give time to things that matter. Now, what matters most to you?
2. Speak your truth at all cost.
Kyle is blunt and straightforward. He doesn’t mince his words. For those who don’t know him, he can come off as proud and arrogant. But he unapologetically says what he thinks – and he means it. And people who know him respect him for that.
How many times have you disappointed yourself to accommodate others? How many times have you said “no, it’s fine” when it really isn’t? How many times have you kept your opinion to yourself so you won’t offend others?
Speak your truth: don’t say yes when you mean to say no. Don’t be afraid to be confrontational. Let your words come out, honestly. At the end of the day, your truth is all you have.
3. Family is ALWAYS more important than work.
When I was informed of Kyle’s death, I still decided to go to work that day. Only because I didn’t know how to process the information nor did I want to believe that he was dead. Also, my youngest brother, who was Kyle’s best friend, was with him during the incident. And I couldn’t imagine how traumatized my brother was!
As I completed my day’s work, I had to rethink what truly mattered to me in terms of my career and family. Though they’re both equally important, my family is my main thing. So when I asked for arrangements at work and my manager asked me to choose between my work and my family, of course, I chose the obvious.
And by choosing my family, I felt that I was honoring a deeply important part of who I am – and no one can take that away from me.
4. Build meaningful relationships with others.
While I was assisting our family in Kyle’s wake, people from all walks of life came to pay their last respects, to honor him, and to express appreciation for his life. His parents were surprised by the great outpouring of support. They didn’t even know many people knew Kyle and they all had memories of him to share.
My sister asked me: “Will we have these many mourning visitors when we die?”
If you think about your own death, how would you like to be remembered? Build meaningful relationships with others. Be kind. Do good. Give more. Love more.
5. Have fun – don’t take life too seriously.
Kyle is always carefree and lighthearted. He smiles and laughs a lot. People love him for his great sense of humor. He travels and drives his motorcycle around town, and he spends a lot of time with his friends. He likes to sing and dance a lot, too. He surely knows how to have some fun.
In today’s corporate world, everybody fixates on the so-called “big things”. Meetings. Quotas. Emails. Phone calls. Closed deals. Then lo and behold, everybody’s stressed out, grumpy, and overworked!
Spend some time off – and go enjoy yourself. Get outside, take in nature, and walk around if you can. Invite your family to dinner or a movie date. Go to the gym with a friend. Or, travel as much as you can.
After all, how many on their deathbeds wished they’d spent more time at work? The answer is, No one.
In loving memory of our brother, Kyle Christian.