April 5, 2012 marks 15 years without my little brother Tyler, who lost his battle to cancer at the far too young age of 8. As a family we usually write a note, poem or story for the paper on this day, as a reminder that we will never forget what happened, but since I started writing a blog I’ve made sure to post something about him on his birthday and his death day. This is one of my least favorite days to write about him, but I’ll never stop – because once you stop writing and talking, you start forgetting. We never want to forget about the 8 years he graced us with his joy, happiness, laughter, love and humor and trust me, he was FUN-NY!
When I was in high school, I was part of a grief group with a few other people who had lost loved ones, it’s not a club I wish anyone to EVER be apart of! I remember we used to talk about where we were that day they died, or how we found out etc, because everyone’s loss was different. I will never forget April 5, 1997. The few days before are some what of a blur to me, lots of days spent at the hospital with Tyler. I briefly remember the doctor pulling me and Jesse to the side trying to explain what was going on, honestly I couldn’t tell you a word he said. Anything he told us I didn’t want to believe or accept, it just wasn’t possible. How could someone so strong be losing his battle?
I woke up on the morning of April 5th, the weather was dreary, dark and pouring rain; looking back it seemed very symbolic. Our nanny Stef was with me at the time, as we drove to Ridgedale to continue our shopping excursion, I picked up the phone to call and check in on Ty and my parents. Most people memorize their friend’s phone numbers, I had the hospital number down by heart, so when a person other than my mom or dad answered I was confused. A nurse answered, I asked, “Is my mom or dad there?”, she replied with “I’m sorry, they actually went home.” My heart sank, I dropped the phone and looked at Stef to say “they aren’t there.” Obviously we put it all together, because why wouldn’t my parents be at the hospital with Ty if he was there. We drove home as fast as possible to be with my family, but from the moment we walked in the door my memory is completely blank – I wonder when we grieve if our brain shuts down to save us from remembering the hard and heavy moments.
One thing I will never forget about those weeks afterwards was the outpouring love and support we received from friends and family. Tyler touched the lives of so many people and continues to every day; it makes my heart so happy to hear people come up and tell me a Tyler story or even just to mention his name. It is an honor to be his sister, I will forever be the eldest sister to two brothers… always. We miss you Ty.
No matter how many years go by I will never forget this face and how much he impacted my life, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without everything he taught me.