Family and friends farewell Kyle
“MY name is Kyle and I like to party.”
Father Rex Hackett stands before the congregation and there is quiet laughter.
Then he claps his hands once. Then again. Quickly the packed St Mary’s Church gathering joins in and a slow hand clap escalates into applause punctuated by yells and cheers.
“Welcome to the celebration of Kyle Mathew Clifford’s life,” Fr Hackett said in greeting the congregation gathered for the funeral of the 18-year-old Grafton youth who died in a car accident in the early hours of last Sunday morning.
It was a fittingly irreverent way to bid farewell to a young man who touched many lives in his brief stay on earth.
“Today we are gathered around the human remains of – only the shell is there – that was Kyle Clifford,” he said.
“It’s only a shell because the true spirit of Kyle has left him.
“I know you would like to have him back in that body. The one you laughed with, the one you smiled with, the one you went to confide in. The one you loved.
“The body was not able to contain that wonderful spirit.”
In his address Fr Hackett drew parallels with Jesus on the cross and the comfort that people can take from the knowledge that Jesus has assured the world there is life after death.
He also drew parallels with the pain and grief that Jesus’ mother Mary must have felt when she witnessed the death of her son.
“We all know the saying that no parent or grandparent should have to bury their child,” he said.
Kyle’s sister Jamie Lee Clifford, close friend John Want and family friend Bruce Callaghan all paid their tributes to the spirit of their brother and mate.
Jamie Lee read a poem outlining all the people her brother’s life had touched.
She spoke of her brother’s spirit and concluded that he would prefer that after his funeral that everyone have as good a time as possible.
John read from the many tributes that flooded into the Facebook site that was set up after the accident.
Bruce recalled the experiences he had with a young Kyle as a neighbour and young sportsman who excelled at soccer, rugby league and union and surf life saving.
He also paid tribute to Kyle’s special friend ‘Rue’, or Ruel Muldoon, who had been an important part of his life.
He painted a picture of a likeable larrikin who packed as much as he could into his short life.
Pastor Greg Holder told of how he asked God to help him know this boy.
He thought of his favourite song, Nickelback’s If Today Was Your Last Day. Then he found that the song had been chosen to be part of the service and he realised God had spoken for him.
At the conclusion of the service the huge congregation lined both sides of Victoria Street to cheer him on his way.
“Let’s send this boy off the way he wanted,” a voice bellowed.
Loud applause broke out and then there were three cheers for him as the hearse carrying his specially decorated coffin turned out of the street.
There were tears, there were smiles and there were plenty of hugs as people realised that their son, brother, cousin and mate was gone for good.
The family hosted a wake at the Grafton Golf Club where they shared reminiscences of Kyle.