I thought it would be appropriate today to wish my friend a happy birthday. It has been nearly a year since his passing and I initially thought that I might share a funny antidote and story about some of my memories with Ty. I decided that for now I will keep those fond stories to myself except for one that has more to do with me and how his life and memory has affected my life. To me life is just our perception of these stories and how we choose to let these stories become us.
It wasn’t uncommon over the years that people would comment to me that they were impressed that our friendship remained for so long after High school and that most of their friendships drifted apart. While over time this did happen I always knew that if needed Ty and many of my other friends would be there without question or judgment. Ty sent a text to me and a dear friend of mine several months before his passing that at the time I didn’t know why but I decided to save. I would like to share it now. “My brothers heart stopped last night. They were able to resuscitate him but he is back on a breathing machine. I’m only sending this because I was really touched that you both came to the game last week and I miss you guys. I miss the friendship that we used to have and want to work on repairing it. I want some close friends that I can turn to at times like this.” To me these few words say a million things about the kind of person Ty is. The love and compassion he has for family members and his brother. His willingness to be vulnerable and ask for help in time of need. The importance of friendship and connection. His understanding that life is short, fragile, and to let shit go. That love, relationships, and friendships are important if not everything.
When Ty passed away I had been batting with a substance abuse problem with alcohol for several years with countless attempts at failed recovery. Ty was well aware of the issue and new of my new attempt at recovery and I would like to think he was excited for me I believe he said as much. I had only been in recovery a short while when he passed away. This was the first gift that Ty gave me after his passing. In the past I would have handled his passing completely different and would have been a mess. I even think to this day I would’ve been justified in my actions. Full of anger, hate, and distain for what had transpired. Trying to find my answer at the bottom of a bottle. This is when without knowing I had a shift. I learned among other things that I was able to cope to horrible situations without being altered and I have to power to choose. I felt the genuine unconditional love that I had for this person and by doing that I was able to slowly feel the love that I had for all of those I was close to and even some I’m not. Most importantly love for myself. While this was always inside me I just didn’t know where to find it or that I was even looking for it. It was never lost I was right there with me. To me this is were Ty is. There is a connectivity that I have difficulty explaining predicated with love. I had a newfound appreciation for my life and didn’t want to squander even a second of it. I was learning to begin to live without fear, not worried about judgement of others, and the value of my truth. I was realizing that I am not me but rather I am being me. I have been able to rekindle friendships lost and build on existing ones. I was able to find the joy in life. At the end of the day all we really have is love, ourselves, and our relationships with others.