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Kindness and the Sweetness of Caroline

Note: This was a letter we received from the mother of one of Tyler’s friends I made the names anonymous since it was a private message

…I have two memories I’d love to share with you…
…Like many kids during middle school, my son had tough time figuring out who the good kids were and who would have his back. So often, boys this age are all about being cool and not being kind. I volunteered in the school bookstore at least once a month where I was able to sit and watch the kids come and go during lunch and how they interacted with each other. Many times, I would see kids that my son had known for years walk right by him without even a nod, as if he didn’t exist; however, when Tyler saw my son, none of that “too cool for school” bravado mattered. Tyler would light up when he saw my son and fist bump him or pat him on the back, as if my son was the greatest person he’d ever seen. My son would light up at seeing Tyler. I will never ever forget watching those two joking around with each other. As a parent, you hope for that type of inclusion for your child. It has to happen on its own, and it happened with Tyler. While the boys did not see each other often at Godwin because they didn’t share classes or lunch, my son said Tyler continued to smile and fist bump him every time they saw each other in the hall or at a football game. Tyler always included, Tyler always cared.
For my second memory, let me return to the evening of the Celebration at Tuckahoe Little League. This was also the night of my husband’s semi-annual men’s’ tennis league party. I wasn’t sure I would be up for heading over to the tennis party but both my son and I left the celebration comforted by the memories of Tyler and the positive messages throughout. Most of all, we were comforted by watching the two of you embrace and dance during “Sweet Caroline”. It was immediately clear to me how Tyler had grown into the fine person he was – guided by love and family. We knew Tyler was dancing with you that evening and that lifted us up.
Inspired by your strength, I got myself together and headed over to the party, which was already underway. I felt oddly out-of-place, like I really shouldn’t have gone. It was a festive group of 30, already several drinks under their belts and I was told shortly after arriving that we’d be playing a game. I’m not a huge game girl — I prefer to chat (a lot) and I had just walked in the door; however, the game was beginning. The host started walking around with a hat filled with paper slips. Each person was to take one. The instructions were to “find the other three people who shared similar slips of paper.” My slip of paper had a verse on it that I recognized but couldn’t immediately place. Everyone began walking around, trying to find their other teammates, still not sure what the point of the game was. I still wasn’t really into the game so I stayed over to the side chatting with a friend about the service. Finally, my group found me and the point of the game became clear.
Each team had song lyrics to a sing-a-long song and would now have to perform their song for the party. Imagine my disbelief and joy to discover that my group’s song was …”Sweet Caroline”. Once again that evening, I was lifted up by your very special boy.
Please know that the memories of Tyler are what sustain all of us during this difficult time. We wish you peace and comfort and the knowledge that he will always be with us, whether through fist bumps or “Sweet Caroline” or through any of the immeasurable ways that he touched others’ lives.


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