In some ways it seems like so long ago. In other ways it seems like it was only yesterday.
In remembrance of the life she lived, a eulogy:
On behalf of our family we thank you for your thoughts, kind words, and your prayers. The enormous love we are receiving from all of you will help us through this.
From the minute Beth and I laid eyes on our first baby girl, we thought Tyler was the most beautiful baby in the world, as all parents do. As a toddler and then as she grew to a beautiful young lady, she became even more beautiful on the inside than on the outside.
Tyler was an honor student, a member of Chi Omega sorority and a Carolina graduate with a Psychology degree. She put her knowledge to work in Jackson WY working with developmentally disabled kids. She loved those kids, she loved what she was doing and those kids loved her. She made a difference in those young people’s lives and they will miss her dearly. One of Tyler’s hobbies was knitting, such things as toboggans, gloves, scarves, blankets and sweaters. And she was really good. One year for Christmas she knitted a toboggan for every one of those kids she counseled, many whom had never received a Christmas gift.
Upon learning of Tyler’s untimely death, in a very emotional conversation with the director there at the ranch, she said “we will never ever have another counselor at our school like your lovely daughter Tyler. She had such heart, such love and such care for these kids at our school who had never, not ever had love in their lives.”
Like most kids and parents we had some tough times along the way. And Tyler was the hardest of all on herself. As a young girl, she thought she had to be perfect. Everything she did and everything about her just had to be perfect in her mind. Consequently, although Tyler had a deep love for others, at that time she just couldn’t allow herself to love her whole self. These were some hard times for our family and especially hard for sweet Tyler. But you know what? Our daughter found an inner strength and a strong will and the ability to overcome. Tyler opened up her heart and she found the lord and let God come fully into her life. She journaled, she prayed and with God’s help, Tyler learned to love herself and to accept herself for the wonderful, loving, and caring person that she truly was.
Okay though, for as bright as she was, she could also be a little quirky at times. As a family, we called these Tylerisms and boy did she keep us laughing.
Once upon a time she was feeling sick on her way to school. She made it to the Academy parking lot, jumped out of her car, and got sick. Three hours later a classmate meets her in the hall and says “Tyler not sure why your car was running in the parking lot but here’re your keys”. Tyler’s response “oh yeah, I knew I forgot to do something today”.
At the young age of 16, Beth was away for dinner so she left a casserole with instructions with Tyler for our dinner. With casserole on the counter covered with foil I asked “Tyler how do we cook it?” Tyler’s response “dad you put it in the oven”. “alright how long? “Well dad mom just puts it in the oven and when it beeps, its ready!” The blind were definitely leading the blind that night.
When Tyler moved to Jackson Wyoming after college it was then and there that she developed a tremendous love for the outdoors. She loved biking, hiking, running (including marathons) and rafting the Snake River with friends. Tyler was a good snow skier before moving to Jackson but in a fairly short time she became an expert snow skier. With friends she would hike the mountain for hours at a time and ski down in waste deep powder. And she always had with her one of the greatest loves of her life: her faithful dog Milly. Tyler adopted the absolute perfect rescue dog and together they built a relationship far beyond any normal human dog relationship. Tyler and Milly were inseparable and at a level of true love and adoration for one another none of her friends, family or anyone else had ever seen before.
Tyler visited her family and friends in North Carolina as often as she could. Fortunately she had just visited and was able to be with those she loved in Raleigh, Rocky Mount and on the outer banks. When it was time to go, most always, Tyler wanted to extend her trip and of course she mentioned the H word “homesick”. But everytime she and Milly finally boarded the plane and were pointed west, Tyler knew she was going home. Tyler and Milly had made their home in Jackson.
When we arrived at Tyler’s house on Sunday night, we had an opportunity to grieve with Wyoming friends and her roommates while about one hundred Jackson locals gathered on Snow King mountain to show their love and respects for Tyler and Catherine. One of her roommates, Glenn said to us “Mr. Strandberg I just want you to know those 3 girls are experienced climbers. They did it often and knew what they were doing. This was an accident. A freak and tragic accident. Nothing more, nothing less.” Glen delivered these words with a gentle calmness and clarity that helped bring in a sense a bit of closure to questions that were tormenting me. I shared Glenn’s words with Catherine’s father, Peter, on Monday and he was thankful and he said it helped answer some of his questions also. Our hope in sharing this with you is to do the same.
We were able to spend time with Tyler at the funeral home in Jackson on Monday. I held her hand and I kissed her face and we prayed. Looking down upon our daughter’s beautiful face there appeared a small smile. It warmed my heart and we took a moment to give thanks and praise to God that Tyler was in peace.
She’s in heaven now and she’s there with a grandfather, granddaddy Stran, whom until now, she never got the chance to love and vice versa. Granddaddy Stran is now with the grandchild he never got the chance to be with. Together now they will love and comfort one another from this day forward.
Friends, our hearts are torn as we grieve this tragedy and loss of such a special loving person. Will we miss her? Of course, we will. We will think about her? Of course, we will. Everyday. Is it easy? No, it’s hard and its painful. Tyler’s laugh was constant and contagious and she was able to laugh with friends and more importantly laugh at herself. Here’s that contagious laugh with her youngest sister Josie when she was here on her last visit.
Jackson was her home. Tyler was happy and she had built an absolutely wonderful and fulfilling life for herself there. She was doing what she loved doing and she was doing it to the fullest all the while touching others and making their lives happier and more fulfilling too. Tyler’s moto may very well have been, and listen closely now, it may very well have been “Outside my comfort, is my zone. Let me repeat that: Outside my comfort, is my zone”. Tyler’s wish for all of us would be to have goals and set those goals high. She believed there was nothing in life that you cannot achieve with strong will and determination. And she was living proof.
Just the other day a picture was posted on Facebook of ravens perched on the summit of Teewinot at 12,000 feet. This was the mountain Rebecca, Catherine and Tyler were climbing. It’s known that mountain people believe that when a climber passes away on the mountain, their souls go into ravens, so that they may fly above these mountains for eternity. On Sunday when these climbers reached the summit, there were two ravens perched there at the top.
We will survive and will do so knowing Tyler is in a better place, a place without pain, and a place where she is at peace while all in the presence of our savior Jesus Christ the lord.
Please bow our heads to pray:
Elizabeth Tyler Strandberg may God bless you and make his light shine upon you. Rest sweet Tyler knowing how loved you are and how much love you gave. Rest knowing your mother, your father and your sisters miss you and will always love you. Amen.