Child Loss Grief

Graduation Without Our Graduate

Graduation Without Our Graduate www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Missy Hillmer

How does a person prepare for something they have never experienced? I have planned and prepared for my oldest son’s graduation. I have been to many graduations, but I had never been to a graduation for my son who would not be there. You see, my son Tyler died on August 23, 2013, due to a car accident and wouldn’t be graduating. We wouldn’t be pinning a flower on his gown or waiting with the other families and taking pictures before the ceremony. He wouldn’t be walking down the aisle or celebrating his big accomplishments. I know he would be proud of us for our support and being there for his classmates as they struggle to put a smile on and enjoy their BIG DAY! Tyler was just that way. He was always looking out for others, especially the ones who had no one. He was not physically with us that day, but I know he was there in spirit.

We were blessed to have family and friends sit with us at graduation. There were tears, sadness, but also joy. We were prepared for what would happen. We knew when we walked in the gym everyone would be watching– where we sit, how we act and what we do. If I were in their place I would be thinking and doing the same thing. But my heart would be breaking from knowing they are not going home with their graduate to celebrate. As we sat and prepared, we knew there would be a slideshow of the graduates and Tyler will be on there. His class asked that he be placed in the order he would have been if he were here. The only difference was his picture had “In Memory of Tyler Hook Hillmer Aug. 20, 1998- Aug. 23, 2013.” The emotion of sitting in the darkness, hearing the music, knowing we would see his pictures on the same screen in the same gym we had his funeral was hard to wrap my mind around. With all of that being said, we were somewhat prepared for those tears.

But, the next set of tears took us by surprise. It was the rose ceremony when the graduates give their mom or special people in their life a rose. To our surprise a rush of orange and black gowns came our way first before heading to their parents or friends. We were surprised with flowers, hugs, love and tears from Tyler’s classmates. It was at this moment we knew Tyler was very real in everyone’s minds. It reminded me of a volcano preparing to erupt and at that point it did.

Wow, there were so many emotions running rampant that afternoon. I remember feeling like the whole ceremony was in slow motion. I felt numb almost to the point of thinking this was not real. I looked down to see what I needed to prepare for next. It’s the “Farwell” speech from one of Tyler’s good buddies. As he started to speak he was doing good– bringing laughter, memories of current situations and then there is the ending. He is thanking us for all we have done to support Tyler’s class these last four years. These were words of gratitude, appreciation, and love that brought buckets of tears to everyone’s eyes. Words he could barely get through and hard for me to believe he was even saying. Once again the realness hit, Tyler was really not here or graduating.

Quickly after the “Farwell” speech the graduates were awarded their scholarships, diplomas and the class was presented as the 2017 graduating class of Palmer High School. The kids flooded off the stage to the song, Don’t You Forget About Me, by Simple Minds

…Don’t you forget about me

Don’t don’t don’t don’t

Don’t you forget about me

 

Will you stand above me?

Look my way, never love me

Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling

Down, down, down

 

Will you recognize me?

Call my name or walk on by

Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling

Down, down, down, down

Hey, hey, hey, hey…

 

The song seemed to be a play on words in so many ways. Don’t forget about the graduating class of 2017 and for me, don’t forget about Tyler Hook Hillmer.

There are times like these that I know with all my being Tyler’s memories will live on in our hearts forever. His class has told us that so many times. I know after awhile things are forgotten, but I hope as Tyler’s class grows and moves on they can say because of this sad loss they have grown stronger. I hope they will go out there to make a difference in someone’s life for the better. I hope they remember him when they see a hook, a dragonfly, and the #22 or just hear the name Tyler.

About the author

Missy Hillmer

My name is Missy Hillmer. I’m married, live in a small town named Palmer, NE and have 3 children. Jake is our oldest who is 19 years old and Gracie is 11 who lives here with us. Tyler which was 15 years on August 20, 2013 is now in Heaven. He was killed in a car accident just 3 short days after his 15th birthday.

I am very honest, very real sometimes to the point of not being fun, I guess that’s because I’m a black and white kind of girl. I like to look at the positive in every situation. I really believe there are two ways to look at things. Look for the bad or the good. The “bad” does me no justice and can spiral out of control in a heartbeat. The “good” however gives me hope and it connects with my belief that God is with me through everything.

I believe my faith has gotten me through life and especially since my son’s accident. I pray a lot more, watch for the signs that God gives me, listen to my inner gut feeling, as my husband calls it and really focus on living a simple life. Family means everything to me, I love to laugh and think it’s the best medicine for any problem. Music soothes my sole and being outside in the sun brings me great joy!

I have learned that many times you cannot control the storm in your life but, you can learn to dance in the rain. I really mean it when I say DANCE in the RAIN! The summer before Tyler’s accident, Tyler, Gracie & I danced in the rain. This memory I will never forget!

Since Tyler’s accident I am passionate about telling my story with the hope that it will help or inspire at least one person.