Our dear friend Tyler, age 29, Tech Sgt in a security force unit, died suddenly in April. Tyler was best friends with our oldest son, Nowlan, since they were children.
Nowlan was honored to speak at his funeral. Here is an excerpt, followed by a letter Tyler sent Nowlan from boot camp in 2004.
Eulogy for Tyler by Nowlan
However you knew Tyler, we all knew he embodied the best part of each of us. As a friend, he was always willing to help. Whether that was getting invited over to the Freese house to play video games, only to find out we had to move 1,000 bales of hay. Or the time he came over for dinner, and had to pull 300-pound pigs out of a manure pit with nothing but a rope. He never once complained or said no.
Of course, I always told him it was a good way to build character. As he wrote in a letter from boot camp, “It’s not so bad compared to going to the Freese’s.”
Tyler also seemed to have a sixth sense about everything, including all of us. He would listen quietly through an entire conversation before chiming in at the very end to trump everyone.
Life is challenging. We all have our demons to overcome. But I hope everyone here knows we are all family.
No matter how you knew Tyler, he had a way of making us all feel warm and welcome. And it’s up to us now to continue that.
So as family, know that you always have someone to talk to. The rest of us are always, always here to listen. As a family, we can overcome anything together.
Letter from Air Force boot camp in 2004
Hey man, didn’t think you would actually write me since my address is like a paragraph.
Tomorrow is the start of week 5, also known as Warrior Week. Now we finally got to do fun things like live in tents, eat MRE’s, shoot stuff, and dig holes.
One of the main parts of BMT (Basic Military Training) is doing meaningless jobs and I’ve found that working at your house was exactly like being here. One of the funny things is that we picked up all those sticks as one of our last jobs before I left. I remember I thought to myself, “I’m sure glad I won’t be doing this crap for awhile.” And boy was I wrong. One day we had to clear out an entire grove of branches. It took us almost five hours.
But anyway, sounds like things are going well at your place. I can’t believe how much I miss going over there, riding bikes, and playing games. We are going to have one heck of a Christmas break when I get back. My mom said your college starts September 1, so hopefully you get this letter. See ya in a few months.
Move on from it
Tyler loved to read and sometimes borrowed books from me. We both enjoyed the works of Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry. I recently reread Lonesome Dove and found this passage. It helps a little.
"Well, Deets, life is short," Agustus said. "Shorter for some than for others. ... This was a good, brave boy. ... There's accidents in life and he met with a bad one. We may all do the same if we ain't careful.
"Dust to dust," he said. "Let's the rest of us go on to Montana."
He's right, Call thought. The best thing to do with a death was to move on from it.
-- Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
NOTE: Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. For help, please go here: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Here are my favorite photos of Tyler:
Nowlan (left) and Tyler were amused by something silly I said in my kitchen.
Last summer Tyler came over to see Nowlan and ended up baling several racks of hay at our farm.
When friends visit in the summer we spend evenings talking around the bonfire. Here is Tyler (left) and friend Matt.
Playing cards over Christmas break.
Tyler was deployed three times to the Middle East to serve his country.
The last rack.