A gentle breeze is blowing. I see a dragonfly dancing in front of me as I sit here on our porch and stare into the distance. It’s a view I see in my head many times. It’s the view of the road my son Tyler lost his life on. The road is one mile from our house. We drive it every day and can see everyone who is on it from there. As I sit on our porch I can remember seeing lights come down that road the night of August 23, 2013 and then just stop.

The car never came through the trees, Tyler never came home.

I remember getting up the next morning, after not sleeping. Knowing I would be the one to tell our daughter Gracie the news. I remember going over the plan. I would wait until she gets up to tell her. But I knew I couldn’t wait too long because the news would be out and our house would be flooded with people. So I waited and prepared. But how do you prepare to tell your 9-year-old daughter that her brother whom she did EVERYTHING with is gone? He is not EVER coming home. Plus, this was a big weekend for her. She had made it to State Fair in the Pedal Tractor Pull and her cheer group was performing on Sunday as well. So many fun, exciting things she was waiting to do when she got up. But I had to be the one to give her the bad news.

The time had come. She woke up and with just enough time before the first car came flying up the driveway. I took her into our bedroom and held her tight and slowing, gently told her. I told her that Tyler was in a car accident last night and he did not make it. I will never know how I did it because I can’t even type it now without crying. I can remember seeing her eyes so confused. For the longest time we just sat on the bed crying and holding each other.

She had so many questions, but so did everyone. I did my best to answer what I could and reminded her I also had lots of questions. However, many times our questions never get answered. That is when we have to learn to trust God will get us through this sad time. I mean, how did I expect a 9-year-old to understand “Trusting God” when I don’t understand? I just reminded her that we will get thought this as a family. That it’s ok to show tears, it’s ok to be mad, it’s ok to not understand, but don’t stop talking.

I can remember trying to be strong and not show my tears around her. But then I had this little voice in my head saying, “You just told her it’s ok to cry.” From that moment on I just hugged her, cried with her and many times when she asked me questions I couldn’t answer. I simply said, “I don’t know and we may never know the answer, but we have to keep our faith and trust God.”

Since that day there have been many times I look at her and see sadness. There are other times she wanders, as if she is looking for someone or something she had lost. I know it’s not having Tyler here to shoot hoops with, watch a movie with or just hang out with. It’s that older brother who was like a friend. He paid attention to her, included her in things and reminded her that everything was going to be alright.

I know she misses him SO MUCH! They had so many plans! She couldn’t wait until she was in junior high and he was in high school because they would be on the same side of the school and could see each other throughout the day. They even made plans for her to move into the basement after her older brother Jake went to college. Plus new experiences like the few times Tyler drove them to school and special memories she told me about how he always shared Starburst candy on the way there. She even has recorded messages and video she made of him not knowing those would be the last. But now she treasures them forever.

It will be four years that she has been without him on August 23. She is now 13 years old and in the 8th grade. Gracie is living out one of their plans by being in junior high on the other side without him. She has told me many times how much she misses not having him there to say “hi” to her daily and driving her to school. Somedays I look at her and still see the sadness. I know a part of her heart broke just like mine the day he didn’t come home. However, I know for a fact he is with her all the time. She feels the breeze blow just like I did the night of the accident and knows he’s there. She sees him in the dragonflies that float in front of us this time of year. She is reminded of him when she hears his favorite songs play as we are shopping or on the radio. Yes, her life will go on. She will continue to grow, experience new things, but deep down inside she will take a part of Tyler with her every bit of the way.

Missy Hillmer

I am Ma to the four Shorties. I am married to Craig, fellow educator and college football fanatic. Jesus and a good cup of coffee make me a happy girl. Teaching middle school science and front porch rockin’ are two of my many daily adventures.