>PHOTOMAX FAULKNER/GETTY IMAGESTaya and her children at Chris’s funeral in 2013. Inset: With Chris in 2012.
PHOTOCOURTESY TAYA KYLE[See caption above]
From the moment I heard Chris had been shot, I wanted to go and see him. The police insisted that I not go to the murder scene, and they kept me from the autopsy as well. They kept saying it was better that I not see him; I kept insisting that I had to.
I knew it wasn’t pretty. I knew they cut him open with a saw. I got that he was murdered.
I still needed to be there.
Our friend Vincent—”V” for short—went with me. V had been with us on the book tour at different points and was a Dallas policeman; he was a calm, reassuring presence. Silent and watchful as he drove me to the funeral home, he waited with me outside as the white van pulled up. Someone had found a pair of blankets that had American flag motifs and covered both Chris and Chad with them. It was a thoughtful gesture, but it also meant I couldn’t see my husband’s face, or more than the bare outline of his body as he was carried past.
I started to follow the gurneys inside. “I don’t want him prepared,” I said. “I don’t want him cleaned up. I just want to be with him.”
“Give us five minutes,” said the funeral director. “Then you can see him.”
I stepped back.
We waited—I don’t know, probably less than five minutes, but it was all I could stand. I went inside, determined, unstoppable.
The funeral director met me. “I didn’t do as much as I wanted. His hands are still dirty from the fingerprinting.”
“His hands are always dirty,” I said.
Inside the room, Chris lay on the gurney, chest covered with the blanket. I bent to his face, tears pouring from my eyes, and kissed him.
How many times? A thousand. Not enough.
Never enough again.
Someone told me it was time to go.
“Five more minutes,” I pleaded. I stood by Chris’s body, knowing he was no longer here, yet feeling his presence as strongly as I’d felt anything ever.
A half hour later, Chris’s father Wayne came to get me.
“It’s time to go,” said Wayne gently.
“Five more minutes,” I asked. “Just five more.”
He stood back. How much time passed, I don’t know. It felt like only a few seconds.
“You do have to go,” Wayne said finally. This time, he put his hand under my elbow. V did the same on the other side.
“I can’t leave him.”
“Your kids need you. It’s night.”
“I can’t.” I thought about wives in other countries who lay down next to the casket all night. Why couldn’t I do that?
“The kids,” said Wayne.
“The kids,” I agreed.
We left. My knees buckled but against all reason I kept moving. My heart kept beating and my lungs kept breathing, all against my will.