Monday, July 29, 2013

A Tear in the Fabric

I haven't posted in so long. I blame Facebook for my months-long lack of creative writing and thought musings that are probably only read by my family, and even that is questionable. But I feel the need to write today. Maybe it's more of a way for me to organize my thoughts rather than share any profound revelations, but whatever the reason, I need to feel the keyboard at my fingertips and see my thoughts flow onto the screen. Maybe then I can make sense of my emotions over the past 48 hours.

Our flight home from the Dominican Republic had just landed an hour prior to my logging onto Facebook. We were in the car, headed home, after a week of fantastic vegetation beach and poolside where copious amounts of local rum may or may not have been consumed. In post-vacation mode and only half-conscious after a full day of travel with three exhausting kids, I stared at my Facebook feed in disbelief: Kidd Kraddick is dead.

As a lump rose in my throat, my immediate reaction was to assume it was another elaborate celebrity death hoax. Just in case, I Googled it. (I still can't believe Google is a verb.) Nothing. Nada. I breathed a sigh of relief - it must be a hoax. But then I checked Twitter. I checked Facebook again. Too many sources were reporting it true. Then the networks began to report it. It was true.... Kidd Kraddick was dead. How did this happen?? And why did I care so much?? I was (and still am) devastated.

I'll tell you why.

I started listening to Kidd at 16 years old, the second week he was on the air at KISS FM with then-co-host, Jocelyn White. For 21 years, he has been a constant presence in my life. I have spent most of my teen years and all of my adult life, sharing in his life, grieving with him, laughing with him, and crying with him. But mostly laughing. Kidd was a story telling genius. He could take a 5 minute semi-humorous interlude with a stranger and weave it into a tale so hilarious I found myself in tears from hysterical laughter. Phrases or words like "ridicilou" and "give the under-carriage a little how's your father" began creeping into my vocabulary. I felt part of a group; part of the cool crowd. I felt included. Mostly, I felt like Kidd was talking only to me.

Kidd was a constant in a world of uncertainty. The one thing that stands out the most to me about Kidd was his consistent presence. Save for the few weeks a year when he (God-forbid) took an actual vacation and I was relegated to listening to "best-of" shows, I knew that when I turned my radio on between 6-10 am, I would hear his familiar voice. It was comforting, almost like the soothing you get from your parents' voices or the voice of those most special to you. I came to depend on that more than I realized until just this weekend, when that voice was silenced.

Kidd had an uncanny ability of always knowing the right thing to say and the appropriate way to handle any given situation. I remember after 9/11, my husband was stranded in another state after air travel was shut down. I was alone and scared, grieving and trying to make sense of the death and destruction that had just been forced on our country. I remember turning on Kidd Kraddick on Sept. 12, 2001, and Kidd was addressing the attacks. He was just as horrified and confused as the rest of us, but somehow, he sounded confident and strong and made me feel safe. He brought normalcy to the most turbulent experience of my life. He handled the days and weeks that followed with such professionalism and consideration for the emotions of his listeners, many of whom were grieving a loss. When we were unable to formulate our thoughts and reconcile our heartache, he did that for us. He gave us tools to grieve with and and outlet in which to use them. He was a rock for myself and so many others.

Kidd made us care. He helped so many people learn to see the value in other humans, despite what their outward appearance might be. He enlightened us to look past the wheelchairs and chemo-stricken bodies, past the burn scars or deformities, and into the hearts and souls of the differently-abled and chronically ill. He made us see worth and he made us want to do more. He made us want to be a better society and he did this by leading by example. Kidd was at the forefront of multiple causes, many I'm sure we don't and might possible never know about. He fought for the less fortunate and encouraged when he could. He was a cheerleader for making a better world. He inspired and touched millions.

I had the honor of meeting Kidd on several occasions. I liked him tremendously. I know I speak for many when I say I feel as though a family member has died. I also feel like a part of my own voice has been silenced. Kidd spoke for me so many times when I couldn't formulate the words on my own. I will miss his presence and his outreach beyond measure and the percussion left by his loss will be felt by multitudes from all walks of life.

Godspeed, Kidd. Gone, but never forgotten.

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