By Ta-Ning Connai
While watching American Idol one night back in 2009, I heard the most beautiful song; a song full of enough power to put the meaning of life and death in its proper perspective. ‘Live Like You’re Dying’ was about waking up to the reality that life is short, tomorrow may never come and that it is of the utmost urgency to live everyday with unrestricted abandon, as if it were your last. And although I’d heard variations of that same message many times before, none seemed to have such an inspirational impact on me like that lyrical life lesson did. Nine years later, I can’t say I have fully and consistently manifested that mantra in my life and I can’t say that I’ve been an eyewitness to anyone else that embodied the entirety of those words either…until lifestyle and fashion blogger, Kyrzayda Rodriguez invited us on her incredible journey of living life while she was dying.
In 2013, the Dominican diva entered the social media stratosphere. It wouldn’t be long before her impeccable style, infectious personality and glowing spirit made her an instant influencer all around the world, garnering her close to half a million Instagram followers to date. Many of her fans cite her dazzling beauty and creativity as their initial draw, but were quick to often mention that her willingness to share her faith in Jesus with such ease and grace is what made their hearts soar and keep them coming back.
However, in October 2017, things would dramatically change. While the gram is often used to show one’s best foot forward and to invite people into a controlled environment reeking with the illusion of glamorous perfection, Kyrzayda decided to share with her faithful supporters that she had not been feeling well, which led to her getting some tests done. In the days to follow, before the startling news had even had a chance to sink in, she revealed that she was diagnosed with stage 4 gastric cancer and that the battle of a lifetime was about to begin.
This monumental moment was the beginning of a journey Kyrzayda didn’t plan, expect or choose, yet she embraced it with ferocious dignity and determination. The NY based blogger would suddenly become a beacon of hope and example of tremendous will, reaching far beyond her fashionista platform.
It can be so utterly painful to watch someone battle a life-threatening disease, but in the case of Kyrzayda, it was more like beholding courage personified. Yes, she expressed sorrow when forced to shave her crowning glory, but it was her strength that shook us. When her body become frail, she spoke honestly about her hard time initially accepting the drastic change. But, then she lovingly schooled the world on the superficiality of outer beauty once she learned to love the real her lying deep beyond the flesh and bones. When she felt sick, she said so, while still uplifting her followers. And when she brought the chemo to an end because it wasn’t going as planned, she asked for our support and understanding.
But MY GOD MY GOD, this woman continued to take fierceness to a whole ‘nother level! She didn’t hide in shame and she didn’t give cancer an easy win. She fought the presence of defeat by continuing to work as much as she could, serving us 100% slay to the likes of which have never been seen before. Kyrzayda proved that true love can supersede time and space and that it can be felt even amongst strangers along the World Wide Web. Every post was filled with appreciation and gratefulness for her followers, her family and most importantly, God. She showed us that death can be met with peace and that a short life on earth can leave a long lasting legacy when lived with purpose and sacrifice. Kyrzayda sacrificed her privacy in order to show us how to do what we love NOW and to do it as a blessing for others and not just ourselves.
Ms. Rodriguez passed away on September 9th, and will be sorely missed by her family, friends, and so many of us. If there’s anything to help through the pain, I hope it would be the sharing in her love for God and the joyful realization that this precious angel has been welcomed into Heaven and greeted by the words that we all hope to one day hear…
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” – Matthew 25:21
Does Kyrzayda’s journey inspire you to live a fuller life?