For a brief second every morning when I wake up, everything seems normal, like it was before but then reality quickly sets in and I remember that another day has passed, another year, another season, another birthday and holiday are over. Then the reality hits hard that I will not be able to see that beautiful face or hear that infectious laugh or that sweet southern accent anymore, even though you tried your hardest to disguise it! The emptiness is always there, even on better days. But so clearly in my head I can hear you saying, “Mom, Don’t be sad. Embrace life and enjoy every moment of it.” So for you Tyler, I try my best every day to follow your words and inspiration. You are my constant beacon. Recently, I was reading one of the numerous notes you wrote to me throughout the years, “Embrace your darkness along with your lights”. Those there the exact words you wrote to me in 2013 when I was going through a difficult time in my life. Never did I know those words would hold so true. I could always count on you to be brutally honest with me but always encouraging. You always said you were sorry, even if you weren’t because you didn’t like leaving things unfinished. You were my biggest cheerleader and always let me know how much you appreciated and loved me. How thankful I am to have these notes to hold on to and I thank you so much for leaving that precious gift to me.
This journey called grief has been so difficult for all of us who love you. You would be so proud of your sisters for the strength and courage they have shown these last couple of years. They have helped me so much and I don’t know what I would do without their support. And your Dad, he has taken such great care of your sweet Milly, giving her a life full of activity, adventure and love, just the way you had done. She misses you by the way. I can see it in her eyes. Your amazing grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, godparents, and close family friends have kept your memory alive every day. And your friends, I don’t even know where to begin to tell you the love and support we have gotten from each of them. From your elementary school friends, all the way to your incredible Jackson family, and even people who didn’t even know you. Each of them has been such a source of comfort to your family. The memorials and tributes, phone calls, text, and hugs are personally getting me through each day. If you only knew the impact you had on all these precious lives, you would be truly amazed.
Being back in Jackson each time is bittersweet. I can always see you standing right at the door in the terminal with Milly by your side with that amazing smile. As hard as it is to go through that door without you being there on the other side somehow Jackson always seems to restore my soul. I feel you in the quiet beauty of this place, I feel you in the laughter and love of your amazing Jackson friends. I feel you everywhere there. I’ve loved getting to know the Nix Family and I know how happy you and Nix would be having our families together celebrating your two beautiful lives. Your Jackson friends will forever keep me close to you and for that I’m eternally grateful to them. This was the place where you found your true happiness and how many people can say that about their lives. You could and what a blessing that is for us.
Each day I think about all the other young lives that have gone too far too soon, Nix, Bobby, Lane, Josh, Anne, Mark, Simon, Zee, Alex and too many others to name. I now understand the pain that their families have endured every second of every day. I like to think that all of you are having the most wonderful adventure together and will be waiting for each of us on the other side.
The questions are still there though. Why did God take you before me, can you see us and Milly? Do you know how much we miss you? Are you the cardinal that visits my birdfeeder every morning or did you place that penny from heaven in my path so I would know that you are thinking about me? Do you know how loved you were? I know God always has a plan and I accept that but I sure don’t have to like it. So I focus on the truth that our separation is only temporary and as each day passes, I’m one day closer to you. Even though there is a hole in my heart that will never heal, I honor you by trying to live my life as the best person I can be and embracing each day as you did. I read somewhere that sometimes when you look ahead, you see a twisted, complicated path, then a peaceful fog comes over the path and your view is obscured only allowing you to see a few steps ahead. Maybe the fog is a protection calling you back to the present moment and God is saying to focus on him and he will guide you through the path.
In this season of praise and thanksgiving, I am so incredibly thankful and blessed that I was chosen to be your mother. It has been one of the three greatest privileges and gifts in my life. I love you and miss you more than you know and will carry you in my heart and soul always.