Life After Loss: Remembering Kyle Hubbard
Life After Loss
Remembering Kyle Hubbard
By Maria McGuire
What makes a real life hero? I don’t mean the kind in the fantasy worlds of Gotham City or Metropolis. I’m talking about real people, who live right here and now in our own beloved Paso Robles. For the past seven years, I have observed a family that inspired me to redefine my understanding of heroism.
In 2005, Gary and Barbara Hubbard received the worst news any parent could hear: their son, Kyle, was in a terrible accident and would not survive. How does one begin to deal with such anguish? My own son was friends with Kyle, and his close friend Jeff, who also lost his life on that dreadful day. I would never presume to determine the best way to process such suffering. However, as I listened to my son describe the Hubbard’s open invitation for anyone to come over if they needed to talk, I marveled at their courage to make such an offer. All were welcome at any time, including the driver of the car involved in the accident. As I dwelt on my own sadness, this family was busy reaching out to others.
On the day after the accident, over 300 teenagers lingered at Paso Robles High School in shock and grief. The Hubbard’s resolved to be with and console these students. They realized Kyle’s death was not just a loss to their family, but it was also a loss to the community. They made themselves available to others, allowing Kyle’s friends to share their grief. Increasingly, more and more kids, and sometimes parents, came to the Hubbard’s home where it felt like a safe, open place to sort out their feelings of loss. One evening a friend came to have dinner at their home and suggested they do the same again the next week. On the following Thursday, over 35 kids showed up for dinner! And that was just fine with Gary, Barbara and Cory.
From then on, groups of kids gathered at the Hubbard’s for dinner and conversation every Thursday evening for a full year. In the second year, the dinners continued every other week. By the third year, meals moved to once a month. The meals became a lifeline for a growing number of kids struggling to deal with the shock of losing 2 friends. This tradition continues today as an annual Christmas feast. Gary and Barbara told me it is an honor to cook for all their “kids.” What they learned by opening up their home and hearts was how much this helped their healing process. By giving and receiving so much love and by the physical presence of others, they nursed their grieving wounds.
As difficult as this situation was, the Hubbard’s made the decision to live on as best they could, mostly for the sake of their son, Cory. The family was bolstered by tremendous love and support from the community. They gained strength from people such as those who treated them to breakfast every Saturday morning and the trash company that allowed for free extra trash bin collection to accommodate the growing Thursday dinners.
Kyle and Jeff had been involved in 4H and FFA and were preparing to show steer at the Mid- State Fair. In 2006, a year after the accident, Cory showed Kyle’s steer, while a friend, Titus
McNellis, showed Jeff’s steer. Many fair attendants joined together to raise over $40,000 for each steer. At this emotional event, the money went towards a perpetual scholarship fund. Later, in tribute to Kyle’s love of agriculture, an annual Belt Buckle award was set up for presentation at the fair.
Because of their approachable manner, the Hubbard’s were invited to give interviews and presentations at local junior and high school responsible driving programs. In their direct way Gary and Barbara challenged kids to be responsible drivers and to get real in their relationships. As they knew, life is too precious to waste on petty arguments.
The Hubbard’s continue to offer encouragement to the community. They remain involved in activities Kyle and Cory enjoyed growing up. Barbara volunteers her time as a 4H leader while Gary and Cory are middle school basketball coaches. Over the years, they have reached out to other parents who have lost children.
In my interview with the Hubbard’s, Gary made one thing clear, “We are not extraordinary people. We are ordinary people who dealt with a tragedy the best way we could.” And that is what struck me about real-life heroism. It is about ordinary people doing things in ways that seem extraordinary to those standing by. Maybe it has something to do with the dignity it takes to courageously deal with what life brings, like throwing out a lifeline to others when it would be easier to hold on to it for ourselves. Ordinary people yes, but truly an extraordinary amount of love and concern for others.
Read Kyle Richard Hubbard‘s obituary here.
Born: June 8, 1987
Died: Sept. 18, 2005
Contact author Maria McGuire at firstname.lastname@example.org