A Teacher’s Tribute

This is the incredible speech that was given by one of Kyle’s former teachers at his celebration of life.
Tribute by Susanne Whitehouse
November 5, 2011
My name is Susanne Whitehouse. I had the privilege of being one of Kyle’s teachers at Sunrise Valley Elementary School. I also went to preschool and high school with Kyle’s older brother, Adam, so I have a double connection to the Burger Family.
When I got the phone call from Adam and Mary a couple days after Kyle had passed away, I cried, as most of us probably did, and continued to cry throughout the rest of that day. But as I went about my day, an image of Kyle kept popping into my head that would take the sadness away for a moment.
It was an image of Kyle in Heaven, running. Running and jumping and shouting and smiling. There were no seizures taking over his body and no wheelchair to be found. The image gave me great comfort and I felt like God was whispering to me, “Kyle is free!”
At Sunrise Valley, he was always a positive presence at the school. He was a joy to have in class and a good friend to his classmates. When students from the general education classes would work with our class as peer helpers, he taught them in his own quiet way about people with disabilities. He sweetly let them help him and be with him.
As I looked back through old photos from the school, I did come across several pictures of girls standing next to him or holding his hand on his wheelchair tray. Whether it was a classmate or a peer helper, Kyle could be quite a flirt and definitely seemed to attract the ladies!
Kyle taught all of us in his 26 years on Earth to be strong and to fight even when the odds are against you. On Earth, Kyle was limited by his body and his health but his spirit was always strong. Now, Kyle is running. He’s running and stretching. He’s dancing and cheering. He’s playing games with his friends. He’s probably flirting with the girls up there right now.
And one day when we go to Heaven, I know Kyle will be there with the angels to greet us. He will wrap his arms around us and smile and he’ll go on and on about all the angels he knew on Earth. His family: his Mom, his Dad, Adam, Todd, Cleo, his teachers, his therapists, his friends. All the people that helped make his life better while he was on Earth.
I know it’s all right to be sad, because Kyle touched all of our lives and he will be greatly missed. I’m sure that he is missing all of us too. But I think it’s also all right to feel joy for Kyle, because now he’s with a new set of angels. I’m going to continue to take comfort in the image of Kyle with a body that no longer limits him. Kyle is running. He’s running and laughing. He’s talking and smiling. Kyle is finally free.