How exciting that it is time for Kylee to graduate from her undergraduate program in college. I have watched her through these last four years of college to grow and learn in such exciting ways. I remember 18 year old Kylee who headed off to college. Kylee had been through incredible trauma losing her dad when she was 14, and her big bother PK at the age of 16. These deaths of our guys were so painful and hurtful for Kylee. There have been so many times through the years that she has and continues to desperately miss our guys. I have watched her persevere through her pain. I have watched her learn to be more open and vulnerable in her pain. I have witnessed such a deepening of her faith and such tremendous growth in her desire to reach out and to help others. I have witnessed a deepening of gratitude for those that we continue to have in our lives, for the blessings that she has individually, and for the blessings that we have together as a family. I have watched her grow and change in what she wants to do in her future. I am in awe of my first born daughter. She has grown into such an incredible young lady. I am so excited to see what her future holds and for all of the ways that she will truly be a blessing in her life. I do believe that her life will touch many. I could not be more proud of my Kylee Markelle.
As many of you know Kylee has been on the track team at her university throughout her college career. Kylee came into the university program throwing discus and shot after participating in track for one year in junior high and one year in high school. I watched her as a senior in high school get 5th place in the state track meet after very little training or track experience. Kylee has a strong work ethic, and I have witnessed this manifest itself greatly in her track program. Each year Kylee made goals of how far she wanted to throw and of the distances that she wanted to conquer. Kylee has steadily met her goals and has set new records at her university in the indoor season for weight throw and in the outdoor season of hammer throw. I have watched my daughter not only set new records at her university, but she has continued to beat them and make her records harder to break for future, upcoming throwers. I am so proud of her hard work and dedication. I am convinced that these strengths of Kylee’s will carry her through many things in her life. So proud of you Ky!!
As we got closer to the end of the semester, then Kylee shared that her track team would be gone for her college graduation and would be at their conference track meet out of state. She shared that the coaches informed them that at the last home track meet on April 12-13 that their graduation would occur at the track meet. Kylee and I shared this with the people around us. My parents drove in from North Dakota to be there. They wanted to be there to support Kylee and to witness this milestone in her life. As many of you have heard or read my thoughts on my parents then you know that I have the best of the best. They have stood with the girls and I through our losses and have cheered my daughters on in whatever they were experiencing or participating in. My late husband’s family made plans to attend as well. We weren’t quite sure who was planning on coming from our large, wonderful family, but we were excited to see. My husband grew up with 7 brothers and 3 sisters and one of the hardest working mamas around. The girls and I love when we have time with my late husband’s family. The family is full of love and joy, and we love to be with them whenever we can. They have also stood with us throughout our trauma and have continued to show up for the girls and I. Our time together is a double blessing. It helps my girls feel a little closer to their daddy who they miss so much after he has been gone now for 7 ½ years. It also helps his family members feel closer to him when they are connected to his children. I am ever grateful for the loving relationships that we share with them all.
We knew that they were forecasting rain for that Saturday when Kylee’s graduation at the track meet was to be. Kylee participated in her hammer throw late Friday afternoon, and the graduation was to be at noon on Saturday. My late husband’s mother, his oldest brother and part of his family, Kirk’s oldest sister and husband, his youngest sister and son, and one of my sister-in law’s and two of her children were there. We all planned to meet at the track close to noon as the forecast was playing out as predicted and down came the rain. Approximately 30 minutes before graduation was to start then I received a message from Kylee. She said that the president of her university had just canceled graduation due to the weather and that they would graduate them instead in two weeks. I could not imagine the lack of thoughtfulness in this decision. For just our family, we had family that had driven from North Dakota, St Louis, and from cities around our state to be there to see Kylee graduate . Kylee had family members that wanted to witness this milestone in her life and to celebrate with her. We were disappointed in how this was handled. We wished they would have just moved the ceremony inside. After all, it was just a small group of senior track members and their families.
The family members knew how hard Kylee had worked to accomplish this goal and all of the pain and trauma that had surrounded her as she continued to meet her goals and deadlines. They wanted to be there to celebrate with her. I was truly in shock. I was not surprised that they did not have it outside in the rain; however, I did think that they would have moved it inside so that the families who had traveled so far would be able to participate in this event in Kylee’s life. It hurts my heart that her grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins who had traveled so far to be with her would not be able to see her graduate. I could not imagine this cancellation 30 minutes before. Kylee shared with me that a family was there from Germany for the graduation. My dear mother is planning to write the president a letter, and I am sure that she will not be alone. The other senior track members are from different places and had family members there as well. I have been formulating my own letter as well.
However, despite whatever feelings a variety of us may have been having, true to our family’s form, we were determined to celebrate anyways. We all met at the place where we were going to eat and celebrate Kylee’s graduation at 4 pm. The girls and I were so thankful that all of the family stayed around to eat with us. We had a room reserved, and our time together was filled with joy and laughter. The family hummed the graduation march as Kylee walked up and down the aisle between the tables at the restaurant. MiKayla proudly presented Kylee’s diploma (which I believe was a wallet) to her sister and made it sound as formal as she was able to. We all had great joy and laughter during this time. Kylee did not have any other items for her graduation being it was not actually time yet, but she put on her cousin’s cap and gown, and we took pictures with all of the family members that were there. The room was filled with joy and laughter. Kylee was surrounded in love. Kylee’s accomplishment was celebrated. How blessed we are to be surrounded in love and with such a wonderful family!! We are so grateful!!
There are many challenges to our grief journeys as we miss our guys so much in the moments and milestones that continue to happen in our lives. We all wish so much that Kylee’s dad and brother could have been there celebrating with us. I have no doubt that her dad and big bro are beyond proud of her accomplishments and most of all of the incredible young woman that she is. I have to believe that they were smiling down and celebrating with us as we celebrated Kylee. I can see them both brimming with pride at this incredible young lady and all that she has overcome and continued to accomplish. I am beyond grateful for the family that continues to stand with us and stand in for their son and brother being he is not here with us. What a priceless gift in our lives and what a true witness of what the love of family is all about. Thank you to our sweet family members who took the time to come. We are so sorry for the President’s decision to cancel the graduation, but we sure thank you with all of our hearts that you have been determined to celebrate with us anyways. Thank you for making sure Kylee knows how special and loved she is. What priceless gifts that you continue to give to her and to our family.
Graduation has been moved to April 26, and we are unsure of who will be able to come now. We are thankful for those who came to what we thought would be her graduation and that we celebrated Kylee in spite of the canceled ceremony.
There are always so many life lessons to be learned. We had a choice that day just as we do each day. We had a choice to not become discouraged with the turn of events that were out of our control. We had a choice to continue to be in the moment and to celebrate Kylee and all that God has done in her and through her. We had a choice to choose joy and laughter. We had a choice to let our love shine through no matter what was happening in our circumstances. We had a choice to choose thankfulness for all that Kylee has overcome and accomplished! Praise God for a loving family who was there with us and chose these wonderful things with us. Kylee was so blessed with your presence. Kylee’s college graduation Take 1 was wonderful even without the graduation. Let’s keep choosing gratitude, joy, and love…
Thank you all for your prayers, love, and support!! The girls and I are ever grateful!!
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Maya Angelou
So proud of you Kylee… you continue to show and create great beauty… I know the changes that you have had to go through to achieve that beauty… could not be more proud of the incredible young woman that you have grown to be.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Maya Angelou
Keep jumping hurdles, leaping fences, and penetrating walls Kylee… keep loving… May you ever be filled with hope and know how special and incredible that you are!! Praying and cheering you on my sweetheart! I love you with all of me…