Happy Birthday, Tyler. It was exactly one year ago today that you and I went up to Ottobar in Baltimore to see Anthony Green in concert. We listened to William Shatner's "Ponder the Mystery" CD on the way up and back, and had a wonderful seafood dinner in the inner harbor. I really enjoyed spending that time with you. Little did I, or anyone else for that matter, know that your 25th birthday would be the last birthday you would get to celebrate on this earth. I am privileged to have celebrated it with you.
The Lord blessed me with 25 years of Tyler Reed, but your passing has left a big gaping hole that can't be filled. Pearl Harbor Day 1988, the day you were born, was one of the most joyous days of my life. I miss you, Tyler; nothing will be the same without you. I don't think that even a single waking hour goes by that I'm not thinking of you. Sometimes it's happy memories of times gone by (like when you were a toddler, explaining to a customer in the National Geographic store how Sri Lanka used to be called Ceylon); too often it's the sadness of knowing I'll never see you again in this life.
Your family misses you. Not just your sisters and your parents, either: your cousins miss you, your aunts and uncles miss you, your grandparents miss you, and your friends miss you. You made a huge impact on a great many people in your short life. We all miss you. Even your kitten, Princess Peach, misses your company and your acoustic guitar playing. She is being well cared for by your roommate Robert, though, and she seems to be quite content now.
Your employer, the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, thought highly enough of you that they shut down their restaurants and catered your Celebration of Life, and many of your fellow employees attended. I'll bet you didn't expect that. You boss Steve framed a Washington Nationals jersey with your name on it, and put it up in the Evening Star Cafe where you used to sit between shifts while you read books that you carried in your backpack and kept an eye on the baseball games. I'll bet you didn't expect that, either. The Washington Nationals sent us a very nice letter expressing their sorrow at your passing. A number of people expressed their desire to commit their lives to Jesus at your Celebration of Life.
Your friends and fellow musicians got their (and your) CD released. They borrowed a lyric from your song "Fare Thee Well" and named the CD "I've Got Someplace Else To Be." They also got a nice canvas print of the picture that Jon Fleming took of you, playing at the Epicure Cafe in 2013. We bracketed it with some beautiful artwork from Laurie Fields at the Torpedo Factory, where you had gone with your mother and expressed your desire to purchase something nice for her.
What happened, Tyler? I keep wondering what took you into the Anacostia River on that rainy evening in May, but the investigation, which recovered your body, your wallet, your phone, and your iPod, was inconclusive (they never did find your backpack). Like the elephant to which your mother often compared you, you had no natural enemies. You enjoyed life, and lived in the moment. You were thick-skinned, but you still felt a tremendous amount of compassion and respect for other people. You would probably be surprised at the number of people who have given us testimonies, all positive, about how you influenced them.
You often questioned the deeper meanings of life, and indeed your own life purpose. You thoroughly enjoyed having deep discussions about life purposes with anyone and everyone. You didn't believe in coincidence; you could sense the influence of God in everything. Several years ago, you asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. God has now called you home, and you get to have really profound discussions with the Author of life himself (All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. - John 1:3-4).
I miss you greatly, Tyler, but I believe that if it had been God's will to keep you alive, you would still be here with us – Father knows best. I look forward to seeing you again in heaven (If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. - I Corinthians 15:19) when my time comes. In the meantime, I pray that the Lord will grant me, your family, and your friends the faith, the resolve, and the strength to continue without you.
Fare Thee Well, Tyler.