No Matter How You Do The Math, Death Just Doesn’t Add Up

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on August 2, 2015 in Anecdote, Family, Kylene |

Ky TeenToday would have been my sister Kylene’s 30th birthday. She died when she was 16, so it’s hard to even imagine what she would have been like at 30. We – her family and friends – all knew Kylene the girl and were just beginning to get a glimpse of the woman she was becoming.

Ky ModelKylene the girl loved to sing and act. She played the flute and was a multi-sport athlete. She worked hard at school and was a honor student. And Ky was kind, and so very giving. I think she worried a lot about things, too. As a toddler, she was prone to tantrums, and never did lose her flair for the dramatic. Kylene was also a devoted Girl Scout, and she was on her way to earning her Gold Award (the highest achievement in Girl Scouts). She loved the Harry Potter books (though she only lived to read the first four) and shared them with everyone, and I mean everyone, making many a reluctant reader into an avid one.

Ky and KTWe used to go to the beach and play volleyball with our friends, cranking up the music (usually Fuel) on the way. We played soccer, basketball, and track together for that one year we were both in high school together. I used to jump down from my top bunk and into her bottom bunk when I got scared at night. She never made fun of me for it, never even would mention it to me the next day. She used to wear my underwear when they would accidentally end up in her pile, much to my disgust.

The truth is Kylene was so many things, more than I can ever write about, more than I ever even knew about. I knew her as my often annoying little sister. At 16 and 19, respectively, she and I were really just learning how to be friends outside of the sister realm. I think we would have become best friends as adults. But she will always be 16 going on 17.

Ky and DavidThis year on her 30th birthday, I can’t help but think about how pretty soon she will have been gone as long as she was here.

My mind gets all twisted up over the fact that my oldest nephew turned 16 this year, so he’s been alive almost as long as his Auntie Ky was. He seems so young; he is so young. How could Kylene have only been alive an equally short amount of time? Her influence on my life seems far more profound than could possibly have happened in 16 years.

I’ve already lived more than two of her lives. My great grandmother at age 96 died two years to the day after my sister. She lived 6 of Kylene’s lives.

For some reason, this year I keep thinking about all these numbers. I think it’s the way the logical side of my brain is still trying to make sense of my sister’s death. The truth is, the numbers are just numbers, and no amount of calculating will make it make sense.

Ky and KT 2The creative part of my brain wrote a whole book trying to make sense of my sister’s death. That helped me mourn Ky and it helped me heal, but it didn’t make the death of a 16-year-old make sense. Nothing can.

So today (and most days) I think of her. And today on her birthday I memorialize her. I remember how she made me laugh and cry, how I wanted both hit her and protect her (not usually at the same time), how I tried to explain to her how to be more like me and how she was always herself anyway, how I try now to be more like her: empathetic, caring, kind.

KY Raise a glassI think about how The Boy’s temperament reminds me so much of her at times, and it helps me understand him better. See, Kylene is still teaching me and inspiring me to be a better person, even though she’s been gone for so long. She will never meet my kids, but she is part of their lives all the same.

She is my sister, and I miss her…always. So let’s all raise a glass to my sister. Happy birthday, Ky!

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  • I am so sorry about your sister. This is a beautiful tribute to her.

    Happy Birthday, Ky!

  • You girls were so cute together!

  • Mary Waibel says:

    What a lovely post, Katie. Love seeing the photos of the two of you as you grew up. You two looked quite alike.

    Wishing you good memories and happy stories to share.

    Happy Birthday, Kylene!


  • Kylie Bloxsom says:

    Such a beautiful tribute.

  • Meradeth says:

    Happy birthday, Ky! Hugs to you, Katie. Your sister seems like an amazing person, and it’s so heartwarming to see your tribute to her. I love how she lives on with your children. Glasses up to that!

  • Shannon Worcester says:

    This is beautiful. And so was Ky. She’s in our thoughts often, she’s effected so many more lives than any of us could realize. Happy birthday, Kylene! Thanks for sharing your sister with us, Katie!

  • Kai Strand says:

    Beautiful words, Katie. I’m so sorry that you lost her so young, but the way you keep her active and alive in your life and share her with us so that she can touch our lives too, is so inspiring and encouraging. Thank you for sharing. And big cyber hugs for making me tear up and grin at the same time.

  • Kelly says:

    I wish I could be as eloquent. Thank you for the post.

  • Laura Franze says:

    Such a great tribute. Thanks for sharing! Happy birthday to Kylene! I think of Ky often and miss her very much. Cheers to her!

  • Betty Franze says:

    Thank you Katie for this wonderful and heartfelt tribute to Kylene. Yes, she was an amazing girl and I might add her mind was never idle. You are so right the math will never calculate for her leaving us so young. We miss her, we miss her smile, we just miss her! Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family on her special birthday!

  • I just wanted to say how much it means to me to have so many people read, comment, and send their love out to me and my family. To hear from Kylene’s childhood friends and their families, to have people who never met Ky say they feel like they know her, and to have so many people read my thoughts about Ky on her birthday truly does make me feel like her memory is very much alive and still making an impact on the world. It reminded me how much love Ky experienced in her short life. Thanks to each and every one of you who spared a thought for her yesterday or any day. It made me smile to read all your comments throughout the day.

    We spent a beautiful summer day, sunny and warm just like Kylene, at my parents’ house. There are so many little ones running around now that there was lots of laughter and fun, and maybe a quiet tear or two in private from a few of us. Days like yesterday are always missing something, but I have lots of wonderful things to fill up my heart as well. I’m thankful to have so much support.

  • Sending hugs to you. What a wonderful way to remember her life and thank you for sharing it with us. xo

  • Such a lovely tribute to your beautiful sister. So sorry you lost her so young. It’s amazing how in this day and age, the internet, through your special words and pictures can introduce who she was to lots of new people who care, as well as bring back memories to those fortunate enough to have known her.

  • Corvus says:

    Hell, I never met the gal, and now I’ve heard so much about her, thanks to you Katie.

    Just ditto Marcia’s comments above!

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