Gone too soon, but always remembered

I sat near the back of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in New England on Wednesday morning.

Like most people in the church, I was somewhere that only a few days earlier I never thought I would have to be, honoring a man I never imagined we would lose so young.

Forty-five minutes before the funeral was set to begin, there wasn’t a seat left. I looked around and saw people crowding into the back of the church and squeezing into pews. I patted my hand on the shoulder of one of my oldest friends and said, “Look around.”

We didn’t know what to say. I wanted to smile, knowing this man had touched the lives of so many people, but couldn’t muster one.

The funeral directors wheeled his casket into the church.

The casket bearers — many of them my friends — stood there, awaiting their duties. None of them had a dry eye. We watched as a high school classmate and friend stood over her boyfriend’s casket and wept with his family. Most of us could no longer help it and joined them.

It isn’t often that you have to face your own mortality and realize the fragility of life by saying goodbye to a friend.

But, people in the New England area and many of us who grew up there felt just that when we learned that Kyle Binstock, our friend and one of the most likeable people I’ve ever known, died at just 29 years old in an accident the morning of Friday, April 11.

About 600 people — almost the same population as the town — attended Kyle’s prayer service at Ladbury Funeral Home last Tuesday. Even more came to his funeral.

The sheer amount of people who came to honor Kyle, remember his life and were there to support his family showed how great of a person he was and how much he meant to others.

There aren’t many people in this world like Kyle. He was always smiling, always had a joke or a sly comment ready to go, and you won’t find many people who ever said a bad word about him.

It always seemed that Kyle’s goal in life was to make everyone around him happy. He was the one who kept things lighthearted when it got a little too serious. He was the guy at the party who made sure everyone was having a good time, and smoothed things over between people if a fight seemed imminent.

Kyle was one of those people that you imagined growing into the goofy old man who told stories of his glory days to his kids, grandkids and anyone who would listen.

Sadly, we laid him to rest on Wednesday and pondered what people will say about us when we join him.As we walked into the post-funeral luncheon at St. Pius Verian Hall in Schefield, one of Kyle’s casket bearers cracked a movie reference joke that got a small laugh out of a large group of guys. After a few seconds, another added, “You know if Kyle was here, he’d have been the first to say that.”

We all laughed a little more heartily at that thought, knowing he was right.

Kyle wouldn’t have wanted us to cry over him. He would be happier that we were telling stories, laughing and celebrating the life he lived, no matter how short it was.

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