Comments from a friend who is vacationing in Wyoming and visited the ranch where Tyler and Catherine worked: Tyler’s school seems to be doing fine ! Met Samantha the Finance Manager and a guy named Steve who knew Tyler and remembers the day it happened and the shock that the entire school was in ! Steve remembered both of them and said the entire Faculty loved and revered them to this day ! The playground gets plenty of use and is a Godsend to several of the children there ! They recently sold Tyler’s vehicle to either a faculty members daughter or a friend of one of the faculty members ! A 16 year old girl will be driving it and starting out her life with the vehicle and the proceeds going towards the school ! We saw some of the students and faculty interact and I can only say that Tyler was a special person having joined this wonderful effort !
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.
My good friend Kip was kind enough to take me to the Masters golf tournament a number of times. Great memories over many years.
I picked up a couple of visors from the 2013 and the 2016 tournaments and most recently have kept them on the floorboard in the front seat of my truck. A week ago when I went for my run over on the path along the beach road in Nags Head, I parked in the public access near Jennette’s Pier which I generally do. I remember distinctly trying to decide which visor to wear. Khaki or blue. BIG DECISION. I chose the blue one, locked the truck, put the keys in the gas cap, like I normally do, and took off for a run. 30 minutes later when I returned to the truck I noticed the khaki visor was missing. I looked all over the floor board, under the seats, in the backseat: no visor. I couldn’t believe someone could have come along in such a short time and somehow made off with my khaki visor. Nothing else was disturbed. Oh well, lesson learned. The keys are now no longer in the gas cap, but instead they’re in my pocket for my run.
Yesterday for some reason during my run I started having some very strong emotions and thoughts about Tyler. Possibly caused by some of the songs that were coming up on my spotify. Not sure why. She hasn’t connected with me in a while now so I said to her “Tyler send me a sign. I need a sign right now just to know you’re close by. Anything: a butterfly, a cardinal, hell how about a deer? I got nothing. I finished my run knowing that you just can’t create a miracle on the spot when you might need it.
So today I go back for my run, park the truck, and as I go to grab my blue visor, just as clear as day comes the message: “dad your khaki visor is on the boat. You didn’t leave it in the truck. You put it on the boat.”
Of course, I didn’t remember putting it on the boat and haven’t been on the boat in weeks. Weather hasn’t cooperated. But right then I knew that is where it was. I took my run, finishing as fast as I could in anticipation of getting home knowing I was going to find the missing visor in the overhead box on the boat. Sure enough that’s where it was.
Thank you Tyler. Thank you for answering. Its ok that it took 24 hours. I will wait forever. I just need to know you are still close by. Now I do.
Love Forever sweet Tyler.
I recently read Laura Lynne Jackson’s books, “The Light Between Us” and “Signs, The Secret Language of the Universe”. Laura is a certified Psychic Medium. I found her books, her life, the stories and cases she writes about interesting and some of it down right fascinating.
A couple of weeks ago I was on the elliptical in the Rocky Mount Harrison Family YMCA reading a section in the second book about the different types of signs those who have crossed to the other side use to send us messages to let us know they’re close by, that they are with us. Of course, animals are a very common sign and deer are at the top of the list.
I finish the workout and 30 minutes later take Milly to one of her favorite spots just down the road from the Y and my office: Battle Park. Battle Park runs along the north side of the Tar River. There is an asphalt trail for walking, running and biking that runs along the river east and west. Milly likes to dip in the river and run through the woods. The park is sort of landlocked with Highway 64 to the north, the river to the south and Benvenue Road and Peachtree Street to the west.
We walk the usual half mile or so east and turn around to head back. Milly is romping through the woods, every now and then coming out to make sure I’m around. I turn a corner heading to the straightest section of the path and ahead is a deer standing absolutely still staring right at me. Only her head and neck were visible. I stopped still and we stared at one another about 15 seconds. As I grabbed my phone for a photo, she turned and headed back into the brush. I walked on in that direction and heard some thing or things running around in the woods. I couldn’t see anything because of the thickness of the brush. A moment later Milly came out from the woods. Was this a sign? It felt like it.
Fast forward to today on the 4-year anniversary of Tyler’s accident. As I was leaving the office an hour ago, I go to my truck and there perched on the window is a praying mantis, which just so happens to be another of the signs Laura writes about. Now I have seen praying mantis in my 59 years maybe 10 times. The last time I saw one? I couldn’t say but not in a long, long time.
Another sign? Thank you, Tyler, I need reassurance that you are close by from time to time. Especially today.
In honor and memory of our sweet Tyler, she wishes for all of us a sandpiper on the 4th anniversary of her crossing to the other side.
She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sandcastle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.
“Hello,” she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child. “I’m building,” she said.. “I see that. What is it?” I asked, not really caring. “Oh, I don’t know, I just like the feel of sand.” That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by.
“That’s a joy,” the child said. “It’s a what?” “It’s a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy…” The bird went gliding down the beach. Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned to walk on. I was depressed, my life seemed completely out of balance. “What’s your name?” She wouldn’t give up. “Robert,” I answered. “I’m Robert Peterson.” “Mine’s Wendy… I’m six.” “Hi, Wendy.” She giggled. “You’re funny,” she said. In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me. “Come again, Mr. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”
The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. I need a sandpiper, I said to myself, gathering up my coat. The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed.
“Hello, Mr. P,” she said. “Do you want to play?” “What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance. “I don’t know, you say.” “How about charades?” I asked sarcastically. “Then let’s just walk.” Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. “Where do you live?” I asked. “Over there.” She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter. “Where do you go to school?” “I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation.” She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.
Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home. “Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.” She seemed unusually pale and out of breath. “Why?” she asked. I turned to her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” and thought, My God, why was I saying this to a little child? “Oh,” she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.” “Yes,” I said, “and yesterday and the day before and — oh, go away!” “Did it hurt?” she inquired. “Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself. “When she died?” “Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.
A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there. Feeling guilty, ashamed, and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door. “Hello,” I said, “I’m Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.” “Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies.” “Not at all — she’s a delightful child.” I said, suddenly realizing that I meant what I had just said.
“Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you.” Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch my breath. “She loved this beach so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly . . .” Her voice faltered, “She left something for you . . . if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?” I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope with “MR. P” printed in bold childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues — a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:
A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY.
Tears welled up in my eyes and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy’s mother in my arms. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” I muttered over and over, and we wept together. The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words — one for each year of her life — that speak to me of harmony, courage, and undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the color of sand — who taught me the gift of love.