It is hard to say “No,” to my mom who is 4 hours away and I only see a few times a year. I know she wants all of her kids to be together with her on the holidays, but I just couldn't muster the energy to drive the day after Tyler’s funeral.
|My mom and sister's kids at the grandparents house for Turkey Day. |
They are spying on the deer in the yard.
I decided last weekend when the accident was reported to us and the deaths were confirmed that I needed to cancel everything for the Thanksgiving holiday week.
I knew that getting the staff and clinic through the week, (thank goodness it was a short week to begin with), would be difficult enough. I didn't feel right about traveling and I wanted to be home.
Wednesday was Tyler's funeral. There was not a dry eye in the packed chapel. Tyler’s mom stood to tell us all what we already knew, that "she loved him more than life," and that when he would say “I love you mom,” she would always reply “I love you more.” If anyone thought they could keep it together through that service they were proved wrong when she spoke. The grief in her heart and the pain in that chapel was palpable, inescapable, and ominous.
Every member of Jarrettsville Veterinary Center, past and present, was at Tyler’s funeral. We all remembered his funny, quirky, demeanor. His masculine obsession with keeping the lawn and landscaping perfect (which none of us women understand to begin with. After all, the dogs just pee and poop on it anyway). His love of long hair, his inability to eat anything “until every last task he had to do was done to his perception of perfection.” He was compulsive about cleaning and keeping the kennel in perfect order. It was “his kennel" and we all had to remember to put "his" stuff back just where "he had left it." Which was "just where it was supposed to be.” He knew every pet in the kennel by name, personality, preference to bedding, bathroom, eating, drinking, and play. He also knew every boarding client by name. Where they were going, and when their pet was going to be groomed, or picked up.
Every year I would ask him if he had made any decisions about working his way up the vet clinic ladder? I even tried at one point to cross-train him so that he would be able to perform the duties of the rest of the veterinary technicians and staff. I had him spend a few days as a technician and a receptionist. Oh, my goodness, did he hate those days. After 2 days of answering phones he begged me to never make him do it again.
“Don’t you want to move on, move forward, do something else as you grow up?” I would quizzically ask?
“Nope, I’m good.” He would smile contently back at me.
It took me three years to figure out that that boy was doing exactly what he wanted to do. And that he didn't want to move out of his parents home. He wanted to stay just as he was. Doing a job he knew he was very good at, with the animals he loved, and spending his free time working on his car, playing disc golf, or going to Cape Hatteras.
It took me 35 years to figure that out. To just be happy and not feel like I had to accomplish something. Especially when that ‘something’ was for someone else. (Lord, what a waste of time).
Saying goodbye to Tyler, knowing that work won’t be half as much fun without his smile, his obsessing, and his laughter is hard. Wondering how to replace even a piece of him? Impossible. And trying to provide my staff with any kind of support while they adjust to life without him is about all the strength that I have left.
After the funeral we went out for dinner to toast a life cut tragically short, and to spend a last few moments remembering Tyler’s impact on all of us.
Thanksgiving morning was met by the alarm clock so Joe, Amy, and I could be in Bel Air at 8 am for the annual YMCA 5K Turkey Trot. I made a shirt so I could run in Tyler’s honor. I know that many of the other runners know of this accident and it was my last good-bye to him publicly. I ran feeling lucky to be alive, healthy, and to have had such an amazing journey. I ran to let him know that we still carry his memory with us, and that I am grateful for all of my life’s stumbles, friends, and family. It was a beautiful chilly morning and I got to share it with 2,000 other early risers.
My husband and I went to the crash site to say our goodbye, and try to reconcile our grief. It is a horror to witness. There are pieces of his prized Mazda scattered over a 200 plus foot area in the ravine. At the bottom is a fence decorated with memorial flowers, cards, discs, one of his shoes, a pile of random car pieces, and notes from dozens of friends. It is a surreal site to witness.
I said my last goodbye to this place too. I have to move on, keep living, and love him for the free happy spirit he always was. I won’t go back. There is no place for life in that place of three people’s death.
I spent the rest of the day with my family; my four cats, my three dogs, my pig, and my husband. I hugged each of them and told them all how much I love them.
|Oh, those pesky kittens. There is no reprieve.|
|Little Oriole. The newest member of the clan.|
|A perfect day at home.|
|In love already.|
|And very comfortable in her new home.|
May you all have someone to snuggle with and love this holiday season.