Emptiness is consuming

Story by Katie Biggar, staff writer

Emptiness is consuming. The feeling of utter loneliness is powerful when conjoined with fear and loss. Emptiness is blinding. It takes over your thoughts and leaves you trapped in your own head, questioning the things that can’t change. Emptiness blinded her. It took parts of her she was never committed to giving away but unlike most, she was not regretful.

Senior Khyla Lewis was introduced to her biggest fear on September 2, 2017 on the surface of a screen. The room’s illumination flickered as she clicked through Snapchat in a mosaic array of colors. Colors of life and colors of presence flashed on and off of her screen while watching college football with her father that evening. When the brightness dulled to a pitch black her eyes were caught onto the letters that laid in front of her: “RIP Leonard.” The most natural thought was denial but it was soon followed by the emptiness that rested in the pit of her stomach.

“I remember staring at the game while trying to process what had happened,” Lewis said. “I didn’t register anything until I went into my mom’s room and said the words ‘Leonard died.’ It then hit me that he was really gone forever.”

Khyla’s greatest fear was vulnerability. Truly opening up to someone with the possibility that they might not accept her was the most daunting challenge imaginable. The perception others had of her was of top priority which is why she remained reserved until she met him.

“Even though we didn’t date long, I feel like I shared and connected more with him than I have with any other guy in my entire life,” Lewis said. “From the first time we met I knew he was a really special guy and was going to become a very important part of my life.”

It then hit me that he was really gone forever.”

— Lewis

Giving a piece of her heart to someone was the biggest step to overcoming the fear that had essentially restricted her to isolation. Leonard’s abrupt death not only strengthened her fear of vulnerability but also prompted her to question the bigger plan.

“I feel like he was truly cheated,” Lewis said. “I know that God has a plan for everyone and that one day I may finally understand just what he called Leonard home for, but I can’t help but feel angry.”

Leonard’s mark on Khyla was incredibly permanent, and losing him so soon made her reconsider all of her own demons. The pressure of accepting the present and opening herself back up to someone hit her all at once not long after his passing.

“For me emotionally, I know that I will still struggle to open myself up again in fear of betraying him or leaving him behind,” Lewis said. “I feel like it would be selfish of me to move on, but at the same time, I don’t think I need to just yet.”

The devastating loss of Leonard Parks affected his friends, family, acquaintances and Tiger fans, but most importantly it left Khyla with the butterflies of a first love and the heartache of a “see you later.” His imprint on her perception of what a man should be will be forever enduring and will follow her as an unforgotten shadow throughout her life. This pain is evident but this emptiness is temporary, and his light will shine on.