Hundreds from the Lynden community gathered at the North County Christ the King church and thousands watched online to celebrate the life of Kailia Posey, 16, who died by suicide on May 2.
“This isn't just a time to reflect and grieve and cry together, but it's a time to celebrate,” pastor Matt Bateman said. “It's a time to remember the joy that is Kailia.”
The Lynden High School student was known for her success in the pageant world and for appearing on the TLC show “Toddlers & Tiaras” several years ago. She was a talented contortionist, future Lynden cheerleader and the second runner-up for Miss Teen Washington.
At her celebration of life, her friends and family reflected on her life beyond her accomplishments. They focused on her contagious smile and laugh, her bright confidence and the impact she had on others in her 16 years.
Her brother, Kai Posey, a student at Squalicum High School, reflected on their close bond and the memories from their childhood, from watching her excel in pageants to her cheering him on at his football games on Friday nights. He recalled the last time he saw her, standing in the doorway of their home late at night with an Ice Cherry Limeade in her hand.
“I’ll never forget just seeing her there, saying ‘I love you,’” Kai said.
Darryl Littlefield of Las Vegas, Nevada, knew Posey from the pageant world — his daughter was her first coach when she was just 2 years old. The relationship blossomed into a familial bond.
He reflected on how she was one of the few who could pull him out of a bad mood.
“The name Kailia is Hawaiian and means ‘calm ocean,’ but we teased her that she was more like a tsunami — her presence was always felt,” Littlefield said.
Posey's best friend, Kali Chanik, reflected on their instant connection and the endless laughter she provided. Her other brother, Kyle Parker, shared memories of Posey's love of dance and her positive attitude.
Family member Buddy Hedrick was the last to speak and left a resounding message to the crowd and to the high school students about mental health, support and where to find it.
“If you have a friend who’s hurting at all, it’s not your job to fix them,” Hedrick said. “It’s your job to find them support. It’s your job to listen and encourage them to get the help they need from a professional. If that’s not working, you go out and you find it. You talk to a school counselor. You talk to a teacher. You call one of the many numbers out there and say, ‘Look, I have a friend out there who’s hurting.’”
A slideshow followed the speakers, flashing images of Posey smiling with the many she left a lasting impact on.
“God knew what he was doing when he imagined, and the world will always carry a part of her legacy and be better because of her,” Bateman said when closing the service.
The Whatcom Community Foundation is raising money for the Kailia Posey Teen Crisis Intervention Fund.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number is 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.