My speech, without the ad libs, for Kyle's funeral service.
Elizabeth Smart, a sister in the LDS faith, was taken from her home as child. She was forced to endure the unspeakable, until she was rescued. Parents saw, and were afraid. Doors were locked. Strangers were turned away. Alarm system installed. Schools speak of “stranger danger”.
We install fire alarms. Schools check IDs before children are picked up. We shred personal information. We do everything within our power to keep our families safe. Harder to see, to feel, to detect, is the threat from within. From within us. From within our own minds.
We have science to explain all of this. Depression is a disease. We talk of medicines to control this, we understand the chemical imbalances, that, when professionals detect and treat, bring us to normalcy. Before we understood the science, we blamed the winds, the spirits. Satan. I don’t see the difference. I blame Satan for his whispers in Kyle’s ear. The one that stopped him from taking his pills that helped him. The whispers that his father would never forgive him for crashing his truck and screwing up at school. The whisper that told him that eternal sleep would bring him peace. The whisper that soothed him as he took his final breath. Tweak a molecule here, a neural receptor there…same thing.
An angel wept. His whispers in Kyle’s ear to the contrary went unheard or unheeded. Satan claims another victim. On to the next one.
Kyle James Thomas Fascaldo. My son.
Kyle was not my flesh and blood, but he was my son. I remember when his mother and I first started dating, and he was causing his mother pain with his defiance. So, Army guy I am, I smoked him. Push-ups, sit-ups. Front back goes. We figured each other out, and grew to respect and understand each other. He grew to love me, as I grew to love him. He made me breakfast once. At the age of six. Pop Tarts.
We were goofy. Silly things to make each other laugh. He grew eyes in the back of his head to keep me from pinching his butt. He took pride in sneaking up on me. He made meals we enjoyed as a family. He loved to build, as you can see from his Legos. He loved math. He slept through zero hour seminary. He loved JROTC, until he felt it no longer loved him. He loved archery, and talked about the target and arrows he was going to get so he could practice here in Virginia. He loved military fighter aircraft. His Yu-Gi-Oh cards. I don’t get it, but he built a deck that was good. I guess. He would win. It was a language I didn’t understand.
He went to homecoming once. A girl asked him. She wanted to bring a friend. Another girl. So, Kyle brought two girls to homecoming. Well. Mormon. You know. Became a long standing family inside joke. Like many. Like the dozen or so odd things, like “fatting” each other, or the different silly ways of pinching each other in the rear. Chasing around the island in the kitchen. Laughter.
Kyle and I talked about faith. I asked him if he ever felt the Holy Spirit, and he said no.
He struggled in school. Math, good to go. Anything that was in words, not so much. It was a struggle to get him to comprehend, to understand. To speak. To write. He would give the blessing over sacrament, and stumble over the words. Brother Price, at the Huachuca Ward, would look over, nod his head no, and Kyle would start over. Until it was close enough to right.
His senior year, he had two online classes with BYU. Failed them both, which he needed to graduate. He failed to understand the instructions…you know, reading…
He sat in his classroom, depressed. But he felt an itch. A whisper. A feeling. He did something he never would have done. He opened his transcript and went to his comfort zone. Math. He counted. He counted again. He knew his numbers. He found a credit that had went uncounted. In 24 hours, he went from failure to graduating with honors.
I asked Kyle again. I asked him about that itch, that whisper. You know what that was, Kyle?
That was the holy spirit. He understood that God reached out and spoke to him through his Son.
I wonder now if I failed him, as I did not teach him the difference between wisdom and seduction. They both come as an itch, a whisper.
There is such loss. No college graduation. No mission to spread the word of Jesus Christ. No wedding. No grandchildren. No leadership in church. A life unfinished. There was no time. Julie and I struggle to understand. I feel strongly that Satan stayed his tongue, and blocked his ears, and could only see the path laid out by mankind’s adversary.
My sons. Spencer. With eyes that turn girl’s knees to water. Teague, with your thousand megawatt smile and common sense beyond your years. I wish I could give you advice on where to go from here, but you are doing it. You are men in every sense of the word. I do ask, beg of you, to drop a line to your brothers now and again. I will ask Josh and Jake to do the same. They need your knowledge, your experience. Your wisdom. How to be brothers. I do ask that you forgive each other.
Josh. You little sneak. You have been hiding this reservoir of strength all along. You are amazing, in the comfort you are providing, and you’re learning to be a big brother to Jake. This is all on the job training.
Jake. Let Josh be a big brother to you. Forgive his faults. Pray for understanding. His struggles are real.
Kyle’s life had meaning. All of our lives have meaning. I want his death to have meaning as well. I want Kyle’s death…his sacrifice…to be a covenant between him and all within the sound of my voice, and can read my words, that if you struggle, seek help. I know that Satan will stay your tongue and block your ears as well. Scream. Shout. Throw something. Someone will come to help you. Just hang on. Help will come. We teach compassion. Forgiveness. Redemption. It is there for the taking, if you ask for it.
Your sister, Elizabeth Smart, endured the unendurable. She now speaks of the unspeakable. Married, with children, she goes on. She endures. You can as well. It can be done. We will as well. It will be done.
We, as a family, asked that in lieu of flowers, money be donated to the General Missionary Fund, to allow a young man or woman who wants to perform a mission but does not have the money to go. Not in Kyle’s place, but answer, when God asks, who shall I send, who will go for me, to let them answer, “Here I am. Send me.”
I choose that today I will ignore what I’ve been taught, my own firmly held beliefs. That Kyle is asleep, waiting on the resurrection. I choose that today, today I believe that Kyle had now finally flown on his own, to go to heaven and touch the face of God. That his ears have been unblocked, that his tongue is now free to express himself. That he now understands all. That he forgives us, as we forgive him. That he has made amends, and is welcome in the kingdom of God.
The novel “Peter Pan” starts with the line, “All children, but one, grow up.” Kyle was our Peter Pan. He loved being a kid. As graduation grew near, he gazed through the looking glass to see his future. He saw his reflection, darkly, and did not like was he was seeing. I asked of him, to recall 1 Corinthians 13, that as a child, he talked and thought as a child, but now, as a man, he needs to put away childish things. He felt the burden of adulthood. The bills. Responsibility. We think he, in part, collapsed under the weight. I wanted to be his Hercules, to spell him when he needed a quick break. He kept his burden. Julie and I would joke that we could get Kyle so far, but his wife would have to take over. His Wendy. He simply, could not. With his ears blocked and his tongue stayed, he could not see that “life would be an awfully big adventure.” He just never could quite get the hang of it.
Kyle, my son, it was better than close enough. It was good. You are beautiful in all of our eyes, and you will be missed.