TetonTy

outside her comfort is her zone


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Update on the Elizabeth Tyler Strandberg Foundation

The Elizabeth Tyler Strandberg Foundation Inc.  was created in 2015 by family members to honor and remember Tyler’s legacy by doing what she did best:  Helping Others. In this Christmas Season of giving, Tyler’s spirit is among us and many others.   We are pleased that in her honor and memory in just a short period the Foundation has supported the following with donations of over $37,000.

  • St. Andrews Episcopal Church Playground, Rocky Mount NC
  • Word Tabernacle Church Playground, Rocky Mount, NC
  • Rocky Mount Parks & Recreation Dog Park Memorial
  • Angel Komenda
  • Jackson Hole Marathon
  • CV Ranch / Playground / Old Bills Run
  • Nash Health Care Foundation
  • St. Johns Episcopal Church, Jackson WY
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • Agape Village Foundation
  • Heart Math Tutoring
  • The HEARTess Yard
  • Boys & Girls Club, Rocky Mount NC
  • Teton County Search & Rescue
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • Kates Club
  • Rocky Mount Academy Playground – Tyler’s Peak
  • Old Bills Run – CV Ranch
  • Helping Hand Project
  • St. Andrews Episcopal Church Angel Tree Christmas Gifts
  • Hopeway Foundation Charlotte NC
  • UNC Lineberger Cancer Center – The Holly Fryar Project
  • Animal Adoption Center, Jackson WY


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A Letter to My Daughter

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.

Mom


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Foundation Update

Since the beginning of the Elizabeth Tyler Strandberg Foundation, over $33,000.00 has been donated from the Foundation to various charities throughout the country. Some of these charities include The Heartest Yard, Teton County Search and Rescue, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The Angel Komenda Life Long funding, The Rocky Mount Dog Park, St. Andrews Church playground, and Word Tabernacle Church playground just to name a few. We wanted to highlight some of the other special charities that have been recipients:

Kate’s Club, Atlanta

www.katesclub.org

Kate’s Club empowers children and teens facing life after the death of a parent or sibling. Kate’s Club has developed therapeutic programming to help our children and teens establish healthy support systems and develop the necessary skills to cope effectively with their grief – a foundation that we believe is critical to supporting children who must cope with a tragic loss.  We foster positive social and emotional development through four main programs including: Support Services, therapeutic group activities designed and led by licensed professionals; Club Outings to sporting events, exhibits and community service activities around Atlanta; Camp Good Mourning, a three-day overnight summer camp at Camp Twin Lakes; and KC Connects, a collaboration with partner schools and afterschool programs to bring Kate’s Club’s services directly to grieving children.

Kate’s Club offers top quality social and therapeutic programming designed specifically for grieving children and their families. Programs are led by professionals and trained volunteers and designed and overseen by a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Recreation Therapist.

Heart Math Tutoring

www.hearttutoring.org

To ensure that all elementary students develop the strong foundation in math and enthusiasm for academics needed for long-term success, by helping schools use volunteers as tutors. Community members commit one hour per week to deliver an effective, hands-on curriculum through one-on-one tutoring sessions during the school day in Title I elementary schools.

Agrape Foundation

www.agrapevillagefoundation.org

The Agape Village Foundation is a Christian nonprofit organization with the mission to provide loving care in a Christ-centered environment for orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia, enabling them to thrive and to eventually become self-supporting adults.

Boys and Girls Club

www.bgnec.com

Boys & Girls Clubs of The Tar River Region has an impressive history that began over 50 years ago with the establishment of the Boys Club in Rocky Mount, NC.  The organization has since grown to serve thousands of young people between the ages of 5-18 in three locations (Tarboro, Rocky Mount, and Nashville) in the Twin Counties.

They provide a world class club experience that assures success is in the reach of every club member that walks through our doors, with all members on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrating good character and citizenship, and living a healthy lifestyle.

Through the Foundation, we look forward to continue to help our youth in the ways that Tyler would have wanted. Thank you for your continued support and prayers for our family

 


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Happy Birthday Tyler. Forever Young! Love Dad.

 

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.


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Two Years Ago Today

As many friends know, today was the second anniversary of the loss of our sweet Tyler. I chose to spend the day by myself with her faithful companion and best friend Milly, and to reflect on the past, cherish many wonderful memories, and at the same time, mourn our great loss.

Tyler spoke to Milly as if she were a human. Because of Tyler, Milly has a very large vocabulary. When you speak to Milly in people talk she looks you right in the eyes with her big brown lab/pug eyes and rotates her head from side to side as she comprehends what you’re saying.

As we started our day I spoke to her about what happened to her best friend 2 years ago today and she looked right at me, and turned her head a couple of times. When I stopped talking, she stared away with the saddest dawgy face I’ve ever seen her make. She knows what today is and she remembers and she misses.

Throughout the day Tyler and I shared emotions and many memories.

We remembered her coming home from the hospital and Beth and I driving her through the Gardners Barbecue so we could see her name up on Poppies sign welcoming his first grandchild home.

We remembered the arrivals of her two baby sisters and how much she loved Blair and Josie and what a good big sister she was to each of them.

We remembered the first time, as a tiny little thing, when she snow skied between my legs holding onto my ski pole as we headed down the mountain. Fearless and loving every minute.

We laughed about the time on the boat when she jumped off to swim with the dolphins.

We thought about all the great family trips: ski trips, outer banks, Cayman islands, our father daughter trip to Snowshoe/Aspen, and of course the cruise. We were able to laugh about our one and only family cruise when Tyler decided to try alcohol for the first time, straight vodka, and how sick she was all the way home from Miami.

We reflected on her strong will and determination to graduate from Carolina on time despite dealing with some very difficult health issues throughout the majority of her time there.

We reflected on how far she had come, how much she had accomplished and how she had found herself with God’s help in Jackson. And of course, we remembered how much the kids she worked with at the ranch loved her, miss her and how they and staff will never forget Tyler and Catherine.

We glorified how happy she was having made home in Jackson with Milly. We gave thanks for the many great friends she had made and for how loved she was by so many. We prayed and gave thanks for the full life she was living at the time the good Lord decided to bring her home.

To sum it all up today was a day of smiles, happy thoughts, special memories and yes of course, cries and tears.

Her friends and family love her and miss her and we will never forget her. Oh behalf of the family today thank you for the texts, Facebook comments, phone calls and everything else and for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. God bless Tyler.

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Tyler’s Love for UNC Basketball & a National Championship

Tyler and I share something very special in common. We both love Carolina basketball and Carolina was the National Champion each of our college senior years. I had a very strong belief that for Josie’s senior year in 2016 that once Carolina made it to the final game with Villanova, that Josie would join our little club. Well we all know how close the Heels came but it just didn’t quite turn out like I thought it was meant to be.

When Carolina made the Final Four again this year I began to see the pieces of the puzzle falling into place. In my heart I truly believe Tyler was working her magic to put UNC back in position to win another championship. Perhaps they fell short in 2016 so she could put me and Josie there in 2017?

Everything fell so magically into place starting with us qualifying for tickets through the Rams Club, then on to the airfare and lastly the lodging. Both of the Heels games were nail biters and there were moments when I think Josie lost faith. I can honestly say I never did. I wasn’t worried. We were put there for a reason and it was to experience the excitement and the joy of winning a national championship.

We both felt her spirit and her presence there with us. Thank you Tyler.

PS: And we all know Carolina didn’t have a chance of winning it Blair’s senior year. She and her Grandfather Poppie were working hard to put their Wolfpack demon devil spells on the Heels.