A Smile

November 17, 2008
I parked my car in the drive way and walked through the garage. My mother met me at the door. She wore an expression that I couldn’t read, that scared me. She was clutching her chest trying to tell me something but the words seemed to collect stubbornly in her throat. They wouldn’t come out. As I was soon to find out, they were words that should never of had to come out. The words; “Tyler“, “killed“, and “himself“, should have never been linked as one sentence, one idea, one truth. Yet they were forced to be spoken and my mother said them, her voice quaking as she choked them out. I heard myself swear. My mom knew what was coming next so she waited patiently for the heavy load of her words to take full effect and suffocate me. She knew I would need her. Then I sobbed. I didn’t stop for a week for I was only left the option of remembering Tyler.

It was back in October 2000, I was in the fourth grade and bored to tears as I sat on a rock in the middle of what was supposed to be my new home in less then a year. Visiting the bare lot my parents had just bought was something we did far too often. It sat at the foot of an intimidating mountain and nothing but dirt, sage brush and tumble weeds surrounded it. That crept me out. Where were all the kids that normal neighborhoods had? As if as an answer to an unspoken question, a family of six came trekking across our lot and the parents waved at me. My mother and father came to meet them and I was introduced to all of their children, including their smiling son Tyler. He was a boy but hey, he was better then a tumble weed. His family was going to buy the lot right next to ours. We played while our parents chatted. Tyler was disappointed to find out that I was not eligible for a future crush because he was three months younger then me and that would just be weird. But being friends would be ok. I left for home that night with the satisfaction that I had made my first friend in my new neighborhood.

After a long day of sixth grade I jumped off the school bus into brain numbing coldness. I started the climb up my steep neighborhood as fast as I could as to miss the whizzing snowballs that were now being thrown by Adrian Goulart (aka Adrian Gooeyfart) and Tyler. I had grown to sincerely dislike these boys over the past couple years. When were they ever going to grow up?! A tightly packed snowball flew by my head, missing it by a few inches. I turned around furious.

“Wow Gooeyfart, you throw like a girl! Actually on second thought, I am a girl and I can throw ten times better then that!” I taunted him.

“ Oh ya?” he replied.

Adrian started running at me as fast as the snowy sidewalk would let him. When he got to me I threw punches at him but before I could do any real damage he had me on the ground and was threatening to shove a snowball in my face.

“You do and my dad will punch your face in!” I screamed.

He rose his right arm and was about to allow the icy snowball to collide right in between my eyes when Tyler yelled at him.

“Goulart come off it! Leave her alone!” he shouted.

I glared at Adrian then kicked him off me. Tyler was the only guy that Adrian listened to. I muttered a thanks to Tyler who returned it with a beautiful smile. I then walked up the steep side walk to my house. Maybe he wasn’t that bad.

The nights were getting colder I realized as I walked up a dirt road to a pavilion in American Fork Canyon. My church organization was having a barbeque and somehow I had managed to make it. Being one of the oldest in my church’s youth program gave me the same “senioritis” condition that being a senior in high school did. All the youth in our ward seemed to easily annoy me and I tried to keep a safe distance from them. As I searched the pavilion, hoping to see someone that wouldn‘t give me a headache, I saw Tyler. Over the years Tyler and I had really grown to be good friends. Unlike most teenage boys, he actually talked. Not only did he talk, but he could talk about deep things and wasn’t afraid to let some emotion show. I went over excitedly and sat by him. He greeted me with one of those smiles that even as a sixth grader I couldn’t help but love. He wore a Mexican poncho with embroidered llamas on it. He always wore that. We talked and laughed. He was happy. He made me happy. After awhile my friend Marissa pulled me away to play a game of Frisbee. I thought she knew me better then to think I would actually enjoy a game of Frisbee. But I said good bye to Tyler and witnessed the last beautiful smile he would give me. Three days latter he killed himself.

Tyler took his life without realizing it wasn’t his to take, without knowing how many souls would quickly erode when he left them without his smile, like a flood tearing at a once peaceful landscape, like the storm after a time of peace. While I live through the small Hell he’s left me, while I try to reestablish peace in that Hell, he reestablished his life in Heaven. How is that fair? How is it fair that he lives in bliss while the people who love him try to sew up the painful wounds he’s caused? I know Tyler is happy now, but that doesn’t make everything better. His family will suffer and continue to do so for the rest of their lives. What he did will not go away. Each day his mother will remember him. She will remember how much she gave him. She’ll remember his smile and how much money went into making it look perfect. She’ll remember how much she taught him about life and about not burping in public. She’ll remember how much love she gave him. She’ll remember the pain it caused her to see when he was sad. She’ll remember how much food she had to make for his growing body. She’ll remember the hugs she gave him that he always returned. She’ll remember the good times she had with him. Surely his mother will remember that all of that seemed to not be good enough for him, because Tyler ended his life.

At a time like this where the world seems untrustworthy, it is easy to lose hope. One would think that no good could come out of a tragic situation such as this. That isn’t true. I have never seen people come together as much as I have seen the ones that love Tyler and his family. It is a miracle to see hundreds of luminaries line the streets of my neighborhood in honor of Tyler, meals continually exported in and out of Tyler’s home, neighbors acting as family, Tyler’s family coming to church every Sunday with smiles on their faces and hope in their eyes, and the general feel of love that is more present than ever before. Hope exists in every part of what seemed to be strictly an awful situation. I have learned that through trials we never have to be alone, that there is always hope and that a smile means everything.

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