The cards, emails, texts, phone calls, and social media posts over the past weeks have truly been remarkable. It means so much to me and my family to receive so much love from so many. Thank you. It is helping.
God and sweet Tyler’s presence and spirit have been very close to me and I wanted to share some of my experiences with you.
In Blair’s eulogy to her big sister she said “If you knew Tyler, you knew she was fearless. Who goes snorkeling with a torn ACL? Tyler. Who goes hiking on crutches? Tyler. Who dives off a moving boat because she saw dolphins and wanted to swim with them? Tyler. Who spends an hour hiking up a mountain with her dog Milly, just for the thrill of a 30 second ski ride down? Tyler. I swear sometimes I wonder if one of us was adopted.”
On our first night back to the outer banks, it was an absolute beautiful evening. The sunset over the sound was magnificent, the water as they say was “greasy” it was so calm and slick. The colors in the sky that illuminated off the water were astonishing. So we decided to go for a boat ride (btw Milly loves the boat). At a reasonably slow pace as we passed under the pirates cove bridge, I saw something break the surface of the water to our starboard side. I looked again and it was a dolphin. Milly saw it too and I thought she may jump off the boat. I cut the motor and we waited and watched. A minute later, it broke the surface of the water again. And as it did so, its mate surfaced too. Tyler’s presence was among us.
Last night, once again our first night back to the outer banks in several days, we decided to take Milly to the beach. She loves to chase crabs and dig. We had been on the beach about 10 minutes and Milly was fetching a throw toy in the ocean when a young girl, probably about Tyler’s age, got up from her beach chair and walked over to me. A complete stranger. She says to me “did you see them?” I said to her “pardon me?” She says “the dolphin”. I asked “what are you talking about, what dolphin?” She said “the two dolphin swimming right out there. Look there is a pair and there they are again”. And sure enough, there was Tyler’s presence once again, touching me, comforting me and letting me know “dad I am still here. I am close by”.
I asked the young girl “why did you get up and come over here to tell me this, what caused you to get up off of your chair and approach me?” She says “the dog. I had a dog that died recently that reminded me of your dog.” I said to her “this was my daughter Tyler’s dog. But now she is my dog. And I am getting ready to rock your world.” And with that I told her about Tyler and the accident, and about the dolphin in the sound last week. I hugged her and told her that she had just blessed me. The feelings and the exchange at that moment were beyond comprehension. She said she remembered reading about the accident and she said she was praying for us. I told her to visit tetonty.com.
Tyler has been with me in so many other ways. I wanted to share another small one. Those close to me know I can be a bit of a neat freak. (Sorry Tyler, yes you got that trait from your dad). However, I have backed off considerably now that Milly is in my life. Dog hair is ok. Its not going to kill me. But there was this one spot on the inside of my windshield of my car in my sight line that I could not clean away. I keep trying to wipe it away and it just keeps coming back. Finally, I just had to chuckle. Ok Tyler, I know you are messing with me. I got it. I won’t try to wipe it away any more. I now know it’s there because of you.
Milly is my new shadow and I love her. We are getting along so well. She is so easy. Tyler did a wonderful job raising this sweet dog. I took her to the City lake in Rocky Mount so she could swim and chase the ducks. She could have cared less about all the ducks who were running for cover. All she wanted was the bread from a lady there feeding the ducks.
I was with Beth a week ago in Raleigh and we took her 2 dogs, Stella and Sully, and Milly to the dog park to run and to allow us some time to visit with each other, catch up and share our thoughts and feelings. One thing I shared with Beth was the feeling I have now that time is flying by. Each day is racing by. Before I know it, the day is almost gone. There is such a strong feeling that I just don’t have enough time in the day to do everything I need to do. Before losing Tyler, I already had these sort of feelings, but now it’s amplified considerably. Beth said to me “yes. I know exactly what you are feeling. I have it now too”.
Pastor James Gailliard of Word Tabernacle church in Rocky Mount lost his son Kyol in May of 2014 at age 27 in a tragic car accident. Within days of Tyler’s accident I reached out to James for help knowing he and I now share a common bond. James responded immediately with love, care and advice and has been an important resource for me during this time, as have so many others.
I am slowly catching up at work and with all the mail sent my way, and I wanted to share just a small piece of something that James sent me this week that I find so important now.
It’s a short life
The first and obvious lesson is that life is shorter than we realize. Who doesn’t know this, right? But in actuality few of us live like this is indeed the case. Take it from a dad who has preached his son’s funeral, committed his body to the ground, pronounced the benediction and helped cover the grave with dirt – You don’t have time for some of what you are doing. You don’t have time to argue. You don’t have time to be bitter. You don’t have time to be jealous. You don’t have time to be petty. You don’t have time to work all the time. You don’t have time to not say, “I love you. “You don’t have time to live someone else’s life. You don’t have time to act like you don’t love when you really do. You don’t have time to be unforgiving. Be more selective with how you spend everyday and with whom you spend it because you don’t have time to waste.
This message resonated so strongly because this is how Tyler was living her life and now how I intend to try and live mine. It is what she wants me to do. Her presence and gift to me are guiding me to live my life in this manner.
Saturday was 3 weeks that all of our lives changed. God Bless all of you for reaching out to me and my family. It is making a difference. And God Bless Tyler.
J. Buckley Strandberg