Watching from the best seat in the house

By JAMIE PATTERSON,
Like many households in Yazoo County and even across the nation, the Patterson family was beyond excited as we watched the Philadelphia Eagles reign victorious in Sunday night’s Super Bowl LII. 
But for my family, it was more than just a game. It was more than just a victory. It was more than just cheering for Yazoo’s own Fletcher Cox. It was more than just football. It was a celebration of success and reflection in memory of the late coach Kyle Wallace. 
Wallace, who thought of  Fletcher like his own son, believed in the Yazoo native when he was a little smaller yet with dreams just as large under the Friday night lights at Yazoo City High School. He was not only Fletcher’s supporter and mentor on the field, he was a friend who welcomed him inside his home, with his family and into his life. 
I was fortunate enough to know Kyle during his incredible and impactful time in Yazoo City. His wife Jamie and I were close friends, and Kyle soon became my friend as well. 
I could fill this column space with hundreds of memories and stories of our friendship. But I will take a moment to share the love Kyle had for the many students and athletes whose lives he touched in our community. 
He was more than an instructor and coach. He was a figure, larger than life, who loved those under his care among school halls and playing fields. 
And Fletcher was one of those people who Kyle left a lasting mark on in his life. Even now, news coverage shows a grateful Fletcher who is quick to give Kyle love and support. He certainly never forgot where he came from. And he never forgot Coach Wallace. 
Sunday’s night victory was great for Yazoo, no doubt. But it was a bittersweet moment filled with celebration and tears as an empty seat where Kyle would have sat during the game viewing was empty. 
After the game and few high-fives with my children and husband, I made my way onto our front porch perhaps just to settle down from the excitement of the game. 
As the chilly wind hit my face, I looked up towards the night sky. 
“He did it, Kyle,” I said to myself, looking to the heavens in the hopes that perhaps he heard me. 
Oddly enough, at that very moment, the clouds eased by in the black sky. The moon was then revealed, larger to me than most nights. And it appeared in almost a golden hue. It was surreal. It seemed like a sign that something great was happening. 
Later in the night, I noticed the moon made its way higher in the sky, looking whiter and normal. But for that brief moment, mere seconds after my silent conversation with my late friend, the moon was incredible. Perfect timing…
And then it occurred to me that Kyle watched the game from a glorious seat. It was a seat perhaps not surrounded by chips and dip or groups of excited fans. It was a seat in heaven’s arena. And it was the best seat in the house. 
I can’t imagine to know what is going on through Fletcher’s mind as he now adapts to being a Super Bowl champion. But I would like to think Kyle’s memory is there. I know it was for the Patterson family. 
Fly high Eagles. Fly high Fletcher. 
And fly high Coach Kyle. I bet your wings are amazing.