In April 2013 I was just finishing up my mental health rotation at a local facility. I enjoyed my time so much during that rotation that I was planning on being a mental health nurse in the near future.
On the last day of my mental health rotation, something happened on the drive home. Stay with me here, I tend to take awhile to convey my experiences. Have you ever experienced a cloudy day? How about a cloudy day with patches of sunlight shining through the cover? When I was a little girl someone told me that it was the grace of God, almost as if it was His hand reaching down to comfort the hurting down below. Over the years, I have always been in awe of the heavenly spotlight shining down and at times felt a pang of jeolousy that I had yet to experience it.
On the drive home that April afternoon, I finally felt the spotlight suddenly shining on me. It was incredibly wonderful. I found it peculiar that as I was smiling my eyes were absolutely sobbing and I was a bit thrown off as to why. I didn’t know it then but hours later it would make perfect sense.
I met Tyler in the 6th grade. You never met a funnier kid than Tyler. His blonde hair and scrawny figure with clown sized shoes was a sight that would make the toughest drill seargent grin uncontrollably. He was so in love with my best friend Sara. He would follow us around at school and would always chime in when Sara would tell someone something. “Yeah you heard what she said!” I can hear him say as if it was just yesterday.
Around 9 pm on April 11 2013 I got a call from Sara. I hadn’t spoken to her in over a year and immediately was worried. “Hello?” I immediately knew from the uncontrollable sobbing on the other end that something bad had happened.
“Tyler tried to kill himself!” Just earlier I had asked a kid of 17 yrs age if he was suicidal and did he have the means and a plan….talk about strange timing.
“Sara slow down…what happened?” I should have been crying but for some reason it just wasn’t coming.
“Tyler hung himself…he hung himself and now he’s on life support and we need to get down there,” she said.
“Sara I’d really like to go but I cant …the kids are still up and I have an exam to study for….maybe tomorrow I will be able to stop by after I finish with study group.” Boy did I regret my avoidance right away. It was obvious that my lack of urgency to rush to Tyler hurt Sara. She sighed,” OK well I will call you if anything changes.”
“Please do! I love you Copper,” I said.
“I love you too Tod.”
I put the kids to bed and as hard as I tried I just couldn’t stop replaying memories in my head of every moment Tyler had spent with me and I with him. I still hadn’t cried and couldn’t understand why.
At 1030 I put my son in the car and headed to the hospital. I sent Sara a text asking her if she could pick me up on her way and she told me she was already there. I drove as quickly as was safe for that night for the first ten minutes. 5 minutes away from the hospital, my phone rang. Sara was crying, “It’s our last chance to say goodbye!”
As I was picking my son up out of his seat I vaguely remember seeing a friend of ours, Mike walk to his car with a blonde haired girl at his side. He walked so out of sorts. For a moment I remembered him and Tyler in middle school and how they meandered through the halls. “Oh Tyler what in the world would make you want to do this. Why old friend…..why?”
Lucas and I got in and off the elevator and saw Ash on the bench. She stood up and when I asked her how she was she stated, “not good at all.” I asked her where I could find Sara and she pointed the way. I had seen Sara cry many times in our friendship due to a friend dying and yet this was different. Maybe it was the length of time since I had seen her last. She looked so lost and utterly bewildered. My son was bashful and for a quick moment Sara smiled and reached her arms out. Lucas wouldn’t let her pick him up. Just then a grief counselor came in and said,” OK I can only take one more group in so who hasn’t gone yet?” I wished I had left Lucas at home so that Sara and I could say our goodbyes together. Two sobbing girls were going with me so that Sara could hold lucas. The counselor tried to prepare me and I honestly don’t remember what she said.
I was expecting a private room but the ICU is much like a box with a nurses station in the center and small square rooms along the walls. Very out in the open. His bed was to the right and two beds in. The first thing I noticed was how red he was. I recalled how white he was the day I met him. Then in 8th grade he had gotten such a good tan that he looked almost golden. His face was to his right and he was covered with blankets to his chin. Immediately when I saw the fans pointed at him I put two and two together. They were trying to keep his temp down. I walked up to him and held his hand. I almost pulled my hand away. He was on fire! I knew then that he wasn’t coming back to us. He had been gone too long and the temperature of his body told me that even by some miracle he did come back it wouldn’t be the Tyler any of us knew.
“Hey old buddy. I’m here. I love you Ty.”
I wanted to say so much more but my son was surely freaking by then so I took a deep breath and whispered,
” Godspeed sweet boy!” The counselor was shocked at how short I spent but I told her that I was in nursing school and I could tell he was already gone. She said,
“oh OK well if you need to talk we are here and thank you for understanding”
I didn’t cry that night or the next morning or even a few weeks later. I put a smile on my face and tried to act like it was nothing but inside I knew the levy was soon to break. I spent many days staring at the clouds for a sign that Tyler was OK I looked up one cloudy may day and to my amazement I saw the letters TrC. His initials were literally written in the clouds. I couldn’t stop smiling as my heart just about leapt out of my chest.
“Oh Tyler, I love you too old friend.”
His service was on June 28th and I figured I had dealt with the brunt of grief Since I hadn’t cried yet I surely wouldn’t at his service.
Boy was I wrong. I cried in the church I cried even more during the video. And I cried so much on the shore that I had to excuse myself before I passed out with everyone there watching. I walked to the benches above and just sobbed and said every thing I was feeling. I looked at the setting sun and whispered again,
” till we meet again old friend…please save a place for me up there. Oh how your missed and loved Ty. I just don’t understand how it came to this. I forgive you and I promise your death won’t be in vain……”
Tyler had problems just as the rest of us do. He had a good heart and kind soul and spent much more time in anguish than not. Yet he never turned a friend in need down. He was so sweet and he will be forever missed. I believe that everything happens for a reason and maybe its just my way of making sense of a senseless situation but I feel like its up to us…those left down here that love him to make a difference thereby bringing some purpose to his tragedy. I don’t think I can save the world or even a handful from his fate. Just one and I would be OK. But I’d be overjoyed if it was more or many….not for my glory but for the glory of God who is with Tyler and forever loving and forgiving and mending.
In October 2013 I will be walking with Team Tyler in the AFSP Out of the Darkness 5k walk downtown. All proceeds go to suicide prevention. I’m hoping that someone will read this and be touched to help someone else. If you feel the call to sponsor our team the link is below. All donations are 100% tax deductible and if you are a sponsor for $250 your company name will be on all the marketing items….pretty cheap advertising but more importantly you will potentially be saving thousands from dying at the hand of suicide. If you’d rather just donate something small…..remember everything counts. Our fundraising goal is $7500 total. So far we have only raised $375. Please will you help us to honor sweet Tyler and save lives at the same time??? I promise you that when you help others it will change your life for the better. God bless your and yours and may you be spared of depression and torment and loneliness. Your life has a very real purpose and you only need to look up to find it.
In Gods love always and forever,