~September 8th 2015
The post that follows was one of the first posts I ever composed. Yet, it has remained in my drafts folder all these many months. I wasn’t sure I was ready to share this part of our story just yet. It’s pretty powerful, one of the most important things to come in the wake of my brother’s death. It may even be the single most influential event to finally convince me that you are indeed with me if not all of the time, then with me quite often and whenever I am in need of your presence.
I will get to the original post, but for you, the readers of this blog, first a little insight into why I am choosing to share this portion of our story NOW . . .
Something happened to me recently. Something that convinced me that now was the time to share.
On a solitary drive to an appointment, as I do whenever I am alone in the car, I talked to my brother. Sure, as if he was sitting right beside me. Told Tyler how much I was missing him. Expressed gratitude for how wonderful my new living situation is. But then as it always seems to, in the stream of what rightfully could be just a one sided conversation, I found myself back in that place; a shake of my head to clear it and wonder if I just might be crazy, a place I was so familiar with for so many years, in a world where souls don’t live on, (that’s crazy!) where it’s impossible and idealistic and too fantastic to believe that my baby brother could still be with me, just in another form. And so I asked him to forgive me. And told him that if he was listening, I needed a sign, a sure way to recognize his presence, to remind me that it’s okay to believe. I told him I needed something unmistakably “Tyler”. All this I said aloud. And then, in the quiet of my head (because that ole familiar shame came back, the voices of my childhood) I added this: “and if it’s fair to ask, I need something today, before the end of the day. Please.”
Hours later, in the car with the rest of the family, on our way to dinner at our favorite Thai place (You would’ve loved this place, Ty), we stopped at a red light. In my view, on the car in front of us, was stamped “Bob Tyler Auto “. Your name! I smiled to myself and made note of it.
After dinner, I remembered we needed something from the grocery store and we made a quick stop on the way home. I got into the checkout line and loaded my few items onto the belt. When I went to put down the divider bar, I noticed it.
Clear as day amongst the items on the belt in front of me. The guy in front of me was purchasing one single, solitary item; a bottle of Coca Cola with the name Tyler printed on the side.
Once is one thing but twice is too much to dismiss. I asked you to show me your name like you did in the beginning. I told you I needed it that day, by the end of the day. And so, in perfect humorous, mischievous little brother style, you squeezed it in at the last minute, but you gave me what I asked for. You proved to me once again that you were listening. You proved to me once again that I am worthy, that I am loved. I thank you for that.
~And so, now as further proof to both myself and the world, here’s that original post written in May 2014 . . .
One of the ways I am reminded of you, one of the ways I dare to believe you are still with me, is the amount of times (and most when I need it, just like those times you’d text me) I see your name. So much so, I started to actually keep count and began to document it with pictures. Though at first it was just for my own personal reasons, after so many times, I began to wonder (as I have before, as I felt compelled to start this blog) if I might have a reason to share.
And so with you, World, I share this particular “Story of Tyler”
On a flight home from North Carolina this past spring, thinking about this new chapter in our lives, beginning a new adventure in a new place, how it would’ve been such second nature to share it all with my brother, reflecting on all that has happened since he left here. How much I miss him. How much I long to feel his presence and some sort of proof he is still with us, . . .
In that solitary moment, something suddenly and very clearly occurred to me. That proof I was seeking had been there all along.
The story of Tyler’s name goes back to that very day I spent on the beach just days following his departure. That day on the beach, when I went back to that spot in Malibu, to connect with Tyler, to bare my heart in the hopes of some sign from him that he is still here with us, I told him I didn’t know what I believed, that I was afraid to believe and be let down, that I needed some clear sign from him, maybe something physical, like an object on the beach that I would be drawn to or something. I walked up and down that beach with my head down surveying the sand, I raised my eyes to the horizon, watched the waves, for something, I didn’t yet know what. I had heard about experiences of loved ones who passed on leaving objects in our path; feathers, rocks, coins, etc. I guess I was hoping to spot something that I would know in my heart he left just for me. After many times back and forth, I walked away from the shore and back up the beach, collapsed down defeated and cried. I felt confused and disappointed. I didn’t know whether there was nothing to see or whether I was just too blind to see it. And I told him so. I also very clearly thought to myself (and I believe now, with him listening) “I wish it was as easy and as obvious as you just writing your name here in the sand beside me”.
And I picked up a twig and wrote it for him. His name.
And unbeknownst to me, just a way’s down the beach, Alivia had written this message in the sand. A message to leave behind. There it was, his name, written big as life in the sand.
(I would realize later, in the very spot we had spent our last moments together that beautiful August day in 2013.)
That was the beginning. And there was more. But I didn’t really fully grasp the meaning and importance.
With him in my thoughts, this past weekend in Asheville, I experienced something. Just as we turned into the parking garage, I spotted a building on the corner, a sort of art gallery place.
On the front of the building, towering just above me, the word, the name Tyler. My heart leapt a bit but I did as I always do and tried not to attach too much importance to it. Then quietly asked him for a further sign. After lunch (an Indian buffet that made me think of his first experience with Indian food with me, hehe) the first stop we made, at an Urban Outfitters (it’s signifigance you’ll see in a bit) we made a beeline for the records section. First stack I was drawn to, I separated and pulled an album out.
This was the album I randomly drew. I knew then it had to mean something but it only really came together for me on the flight home yesterday morning. All this time, I have been hoping wishing searching for a way, just a special way he uses with me, to let me know he’s still here with us. Blind to what that is. Until now. Tyler lets me know he is here, still with me, by “writing his name in the sand for me”. I asked him for that and he has given that to me.
It’s ever more obvious when I think back to what happened that same day, after we left the beach. It was and is to date the loudest and clearest message he has ever sent to me. His first answer to my tearful and beaten down request that day.
We took Livy for one last stop before we were to leave California and return home to New York the following day. Her favorite store, Urban Outfitters. I believe now that it’s no coincidence that it was the same store 5 months later he would show me his name again. Maybe to jog my memory? , It was there that I received the biggest of my signs from Ty. As I turned from the register to leave the store, there it was.
His name big as life written for me on the nail polish table. And there were sightings after. And not just with me.
My cousin Melanie, while on a special trip to New Mexico just last month, a trip I was supposed to take with her, sent me a photo. A display of bracelets atop a table, each bearing a name. There it was, right smack in the middle.
I was still grieving pretty intensely and I was so heartbroken at not having been able to go with her. When I needed it most, there it was. Your name.
You are always with me, reminding me in so many ways and even when I default into my old pattern, you manage to step up and reassure me. Time and time again!
Thanks little bro . . . your big sister sure does love you!
UPDATE: Tonight as I prepare to publish this post, just one day later from having written it, Tyler is at it again. Watching a movie tonight with my family, the main character stops at an intersection. The street name: Tyler ❤