On Tuesday morning I got the call that no one ever wants to get. The call that tells you someone you love has passed away.
With three octogenarian grandparents, it's a call I knew was coming. Except it wasn't any of my grandparents. It was Tyler my 27-year-old cousin who died of an accidental drug overdose.
Tyler is the third of six kids and he and his two older brothers grew up just down the street from us. Our moms, who are sisters-in-law were friends and swapped babysitting on a semi-regular basis. I played at my aunt and uncle's house and JR, Garrett and Tyler played at mine.
I don't remember how old we all were when Tyler's family moved to West Valley. But I remember still seeing them at Thanksgiving and swapping cousin Christmas gifts, etc.
My very favorite memory of Tyler was at Thanksgiving one year. There had to have been nearly 40 of us sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner when Grandma asked everyone to go around the room and say one thing they were thankful for.
I remember being annoyed because I wanted to eat dinner not sit there and let it get cold. I also remember being worried if I could say the right thing. I didn't want to sound stupid, but I also didn't want to say too much. I had gotten through my turn alright and was still breathing easy when it was Tyler's turn.
Tyler had some kind of growth problem. He had a heavy upper body, but thin, short legs. He had to wear a halo thing around his leg and turn screws to make his legs grow right. He was in his pre-teens and this has been really hard on him. If you knew him as well-proportioned, nice-looking adult you'd have no idea what he went through growing up.
But here we sat at Thanksgiving and Tyler, after having had such a hard year, talked about how thankful he was, in particular, how thankful that he could walk. I don't remember exactly what he said, but I know exactly what I felt. This small boy had a powerful testimony and was full of gratitude for the things the Lord had given him, even through the struggles. I felt awed by his maturity and his depth.
But Satan was listening to. And he worked and worked on Tyler. The devil convinced Tyler to get angry and then led him to rebellion, drugs and addiction. Once Tyler was addicted, his agency had be hijacked and was no longer his own. But in recent years, Tyler had been fighting back. He had been working on his own recovery from addiction through 12 Step programs, rehab and others.
But ultimately his addiction cost Tyler, one of the very elect, his life.
I like to think now that Tyler, free from his body, is also free from his addiction and is now able to make spiritual progress that he no longer could make in this life because of the bondage he was in.