His name was Tyler. He was fifteen years old, he loved BMX bikes, and he had a beautiful smile, joyful brown eyes, and dark hair that was always a little too long. He was my little brother’s best friend.
On an autumn night, almost eleven years ago, Tyler and some of my brother’s other friends piled into a car to go to a party. They weren’t drinking, they weren’t texting, they weren’t even going too fast. They were young, they were having fun, and they made a mistake. Two young drivers, inexperienced, collided early on that Saturday evening on a quiet country highway. The kids in the front seat walked away without a scratch.
The kids in the backseat were laid to rest four days later. Tyler was one of them.
My brother has never gotten over the loss. That night, he lost more than a friend. He lost his youth. He lost his innocence. He lost hope. For the past decade, his grief has cast a shadow over his life.
Until this week, when he was given a gift: a beautiful baby daughter. He, in return, gave her a gift most precious to him: the middle name Tyler. His scars are deep, and his wounds may never fully heal, but this innocent little baby has brought back for him something that has been lost for far too long: hope.
Note: I had a very difficult time deciding how to write and share this piece. I know my brother gave his daughter Tyler’s name as a way to remember his friend and to keep his memory alive. I, too, share this story with the same intention: to remember and honor a boy who continues to touch so many lives, who was so loved, and who held a special place in this world for far too short a time. May he rest in peace and know that his story lives on.