Always & Forever: A Story of Life and Death – Part II

Dear Readers,

This is my first time since owning the newspaper that I felt compelled to let some one guest column in this space.

When I met Letisha, I knew she was a special person.  In person, she is stunningly beautiful.  She has the kind of beauty that works its way from the inside out.

She is currently attending Michigan State University and is working in the field of social work.  This woman is one phenomenal person, a diamond in the rough? Yes, but I could not conceptualize how humongous the “Precious Diamond” would be if ever found.

She is currently going to school to obtain her Masters in Social Work (MSW).

She like, Kyle was, is always caring about the needs of others who are hurting.  Well enough of my bantering, God has great plans for Letisha..

Rina Risper

Dear Readers,

When Rina asked me to write about my relationship with Kyle in my own words, I was pleased with the opportunity to share with you my memories of my beloved Kyle.

There are no magic potions or pills that can be taken to provide me with immediate closure and my undying love for Kyle will never go away.  It is all still very difficult for me and I miss him more than I could ever express.

The outpouring of kindness and well wishes from the community has been overwhelming.  I knew he was special but I thank you all for really showing me how special he was to you.

We have started a foundation for youth in his name.  He loved the youth and volunteering especially at the YMCA.  He did so much for everyone but he never made me feel as though I were sharing.

Everything about my relationship with Kyle was so special to me, even our beginning.

In the fall of 2001, leaves were falling and changing colors and I was still single.  The first lady of my church, Sis. Helen Green at Paradise M. B.C, came up to me at Sunday school and said, “I have someone for you to meet”. Of course, Immediately I thought, “What is wrong with him?”  She must of heard what I was thinking because she responded with details that she was good friends with his grandmother and he comes from a good home.  She continued the conversation with “His name is Kyle Powell and he is a nice young man”.  It’s the first lady of the church I thought, my choices was limited, I reluctantly gave her permission to give him my phone number.  I guess this is what many would consider a “holy hookup” (when people date or meet through the church).

I was very curious, I asked everyone I knew if they had heard of “Kyle Powell”.  Of course, they had not, all I could do was wait with baited breath.

Just as fate would have it, Kyle did not call that week.  The next Sunday at church.  Sister Green asked me if Kyle had called and I told her that he had not.  She told me she gave him my number. I later discovered from Kyle that he had stopped by his mother and grandmother’s home and it just so happened that the phone rang and it was Sister Green.  She told him that she had a young lady that she would like him to meet and then proceeded to give him my mother’s number.  At the time, she was under the impression that I still lived at home but I had my own apartment.

The following Sunday, after Sunday School, I had just come back from McDonald’s, sitting in my car watching people enter the church.   My interest perked, when I saw two women walking in the church with a young man.  When you belong to a small congregation, you know who are members and who are not.   So I hurried and finished my breakfast and went into the church.

My heart was flutter as I stood in the back of the church.  I stood in the back hallway checking him out.  My sister joined me in the back of the church were we both continued to whisper like we did when we were children about the visitors in the church. So we made a plan.  My sister said “Go in the church and walk down the isle and I will go through the side door and see if he notices you.”  I remember walking by him and slow enough for him to notice me and for me to notice that he was impeccable.  His hair freshly cut, as he wore a blue suit that was made to fit him perfectly.  My first impression was, “All right, this is a possibility.”

Then it was time for the visitors to stand and he introduce himself.  He stood before me, my church family with confidence to state he was a member of Union Missionary Baptist Church and he was glad to be there and looked forward to coming back. I was impressed with his confidence as he smoothed the front of his suit and sat down.  Even though he said the standard visitor response, somehow it seemed so sincere and as I look back in retrospect I hoped he would visit again soon.

After church we were introduced by Sister Green and exchanged phone numbers.  We talked during the week and decided we would go to the Applebee’s restaurant that was by my apartment because I wouldn’t let him pick me up.  I purposely arrived at the restaurant 5 minutes.  As I sat in my car, I pondered about how disappointed I would be if he was not there.  I knew that if I walked into the restaurant and he was not there, it would be over before it started.   Even though deep down inside, I wanted him to be there. I remember walking in the restaurant, he stood up looking very neat,  I will never forget the smile on his face or the cream sweater and the brown pants he was wearing.

We went out several times before I would let him pick me up.  I still remember our first kiss on our fourth date.  We stood at my front door feeling awkward but in his eyes I understood the magical nature of our first kiss. Within a month, we were so in love with each other, he became my “Sweetie” and I became “Precious”.  We were truly inseparable, we spent so much time together that I can count the days we were not together.  At the time we met, we were both so ready to love, commit and give.  We both wanted to get marry and start a family.

On a brisk January day, we met at the same Applebee’s restaurant where we had our first date.  Kyle being the hopeless romantic, passed the waitress a note in his menu that read, “When you come and offer us dessert, say you have a special dessert today, “It is Diamond Ring A La Mode”.  I am going to pop the question.”    I still have that note along with so many precious memories of my true love.   When the waitress came back and read the note, I was not paying attention because I did not want dessert.  Kyle then got on his knees and began professing his love for me.  By the time I realized that I was being proposed to everyone in the restaurant was paying attention to us.  When I finally got my bearings and said yes, the entire restaurant started to cheer.  It was so amazing, but Kyle always did things in an amazing way.

On April 9, 2005, we were married at Paradise Missionary Baptist church with over 300 friends and family watching.  The day was perfect, the weather was gorgeous, we experienced the most emotionally beautiful and spirit filled day of my life.  I had finally met my soul mate and our day was just wonderful, a dream come true.  My life with Kyle was definitely a fairy tale, he was truly a prince and treated me like I was a princess.

Our honeymoon was different, Kyle had requested to go to Disneyworld.  I recall thinking that it was not really a place to honeymoon, but Kyle was truly young at heart.   I wanted to go on a cruise but we decided that a cruise would be our next trip.

Kyle was diagnosed with his liver disease months after we started to date,  He would often ask me why would God give him a disease when his life seemed so perfect.  I would joke with him that God knew that no other woman besides me would be able to handle it.  When he was diagnosed , there wasn’t a liver specialist in Michigan and the closest place was at the University of Chicago.  Kyle never had the physical symptoms of his conditions, so every year we would go to our yearly visit to Chicago, go shopping downtown and go to our favorite restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory.  As the years passed, Kyle’s liver condition worsened, our Chicago trips became more frequent, yearly, every nine months, six months and then weekly towards the end.

Kyle was a very unique case, he did not have any physical limitations, which decreased his chances of receiving a transplant. After we later learned that a living person could donate a portion of their liver, we immediately research the possibilities.  I had my blood tested and found that we were a perfect match.

On August 9, 2006, we went to Chicago for a routine check up or so we thought.     While visiting with the doctors we learned that Kyle’s condition had worsen and we needed to have surgery soon.  Although, Kyle still did not have any physical limitation, his lab results showed that his liver was not functioning well and he was at a greater risk of cancer. With much prayer, we begin to immediately prepare for the next step.  We were in Chicago weekly getting tests done on me to make sure that I was physically and mentally ready for this procedure.  On September 19, we had surgery, all went well and we were both home within 8 days.  We were looking forward to closing this chapter in our lives and starting a family.

The doctor later reported that after examining the liver that was taken out of Kyle’s body they found a cancerous tumor that had not spread.  God’s favor had been on us, the surgery was done at the right time.

October 3, 2006, was the last day of life as I knew, my beloved husband died.  On the last night of Kyle’s life, I remember getting up at 1 a.m. both feeling the discomfort of surgery sitting next to each other and just talking.  I remember getting ready the next morning for our check up in Chicago and washing him.  I cherish the memory of getting on my knees to wash his legs and back.  I took his temperature and made sure he was all right.  True love seemed to calm the pain that I created for myself by doing those things.  I love him so deeply that the physical pain from my surgery could not stop me from caring for him.  

Kyle was really big on holidays, big on surprises and many gifts, but I miss the little things. I miss his smile, his daily call to see how my day was going, hearing him call me “Precious”.  His laughter, Kyle was truly funny and always told a good story with much animation. Each Sunday, we would cut out coupons, although we would forget them each time we went to the store.  He would always cut out coupon of things that I like, he was always looking out for me and making sure I was OK.   I would wonder how he as a jewel of a man was kept so pure.  Then again, he was waiting just for me.

Each Sunday we would watch, "Desperate Housewives" and if I had to study, he would watch it for me and later describe every scene with vivid details with his special animations.

Although I am grateful to have his voice on our wedding Videotape and CD, I miss his touch terribly.  It’s very difficult to explain this cavernous feeling of loneliness, I miss him so dearly, at times overwhelming.  

I am filled with such sorrow, but I would not change my life with Kyle.   I am grateful that I was able to experience a love that was so unique and rare.  I am grateful that our life together brings me more memories of smiles than tears.  At this time, I am going through a healing process, both emotionally and physically. I am left here with the scar of the surgery, a scar I will always consider my “love scar”.

Today I live my life day to day, realizing that this is a journey that God has designed just for me,  a journey that will test my faith.   I know that no storm last forever and this test will eventually turn into a testimony to help someone one day.   I pray constantly for strength to just make it through the day.

I’m trusting God each day that the hurt will lessen and the tears will get few.  I know that God knows what the future holds for me.  I’m grateful and blessed to have so many wonderful memories,  I know that Kyle was created just for me and our love was truly special.  I am truly thankful that God trusted me with his heart.

It is ironic that we went on our first trip together to Chicago and it was also our last…

Letisha Powell