Nick's Eulogy of Tyler
January 27, 2004
Eulogy of Tyler by His Brother Nicholas Slie
The last time I saw Tyler Thomas Murray I was on my balcony speaking with my friend Beau. When I asked Tyler why he was leaving so early-Tyler was never one to leave a gathering early-he confidently told me that, "I'm going home to study, I've got a test tomorrow." In the split second I had to react to this somewhat shocking statement I looked at Beau with a confused gaze and tried my hardest to muster the best Big Brother voice I could find and responded, "Well…alright…hmm…yeah, you go home and study!" While this news of studying was at first shocking, I have come to realize that it was a prime example of what Tyler was doing with his life: initiating change.
When he was a mere 17 years old he suffered at the hands of fate and lost his father Thomas Murray. As everyone scrambled to make sense of how something so tragic could happen to our family, Tyler, like the rest of us, began to question anything and everything he could. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one knows that suffering forces one to examine the things in life that are truly important. Tyler, at 17 years old, at one of the most important times in his life with regards to his future, was forced to delve into the inner most confines of himself, forced to question all he held to be sacred in life…not the easiest task for a 17 year old.
And so Tyler was left with the same challenge we all faced at the time…How to make sense out of something so senseless? Everyone deals with things in their own way and it is no surprise that Tyler would cope in his own way for the next two and ½ years. He wandered in and out of school, wrecked one…two…three…four…well who's counting anyway? He deciding that college was not his thing and finally found something that made sense in massage therapy. Anyone who really knew Tyler could not have been surprised that he choose a profession that allowed him to do something he was so good at: helping others.
Much like his father, Tyler had a soft spot for those he felt were less fortunate. I never knew him to turn his back on a friend; in fact, he most often went out of his way for people. A great example of this is the story about Tyler stopping to help Mr. Norris Landry after he collapsed crossing the street. Tyler quickly asked someone to call 911 and stayed with Mr. Landry, keeping him conscious until the medics arrived. He did this instinctively, as he had been taught to do, and would have never asked for anything in return save the knowledge that Mr. Landry was alright. Little did Tyler know then that some day someone would pay back this favor.
On the day that he died a lady named Deidra happened to pass the accident shortly after it occurred. Much like Tyler would have done, she selflessly stopped her car and began to pray. She was there when they took Tyler from his car and stayed until they took him away. Deidra came to our house on Sunday and shared this amazing story with us. I have thought about this women and her kindness each and every day since she visited. It has occurred to me since her visit that the compassion she showed towards Tyler, a complete stranger, should be the guiding principle by which we all live. Unfortunately, the petty circumstances of our busy lives force us to forget how precious the time we have with others really is.
I would love to stand here and tell everyone that there is something you can do or say to ease the pain of this terrible loss. There is not. And while it is good to know that we do not suffer alone, it will never bring back the young man who is no longer with us. There is, however, something you can do for us. If you have a story about Tyler it would mean the world to us if you could share it whenever you feel ready. When all is said and done it is through these stories that we will remember Tyler. They are how we will interpret our past, sift through our present, and look towards our future.
Yesterday, as I pondered over what to say today, my Uncle John wisely reminded me that the tragedy with regards to Tyler and Tom concerns the way that they died and not how they lived. Both Tom and Tyler lived their lives with an enormous amount of compassion for others and a strong conviction for doing what was right no matter the cost. If we are to honor their lives we must not hang our heads in sorrow; rather, we must turn towards those who are living and commit ourselves to carrying on with laughter and imagination.
To end, I will tell you a story about Tyler that explains it all for me. When I was living in Ireland Tyler came to visit shortly after he graduated from High School. One day, while walking down the street Tyler turned to my friend Eric and said, "you wanna see me do a back flip?" and before Eric had a chance to reply Tyler went airborne, turning a complete back flip, landed on his feet, smiled and kept on walking. He never though twice about it, he just did it, instinctively, confident in his ability that he would land on his feet. If you want to honor the life of Tyler Thomas Murray, begin by trusting your heart and not your head; begin by saying the words "I Love You" because its necessary, not convenient and try, try, try to approach your life with the contagious enthusiasm for which Tyler will be remembered.
And remember, though our hearts are heavy, this is Tyler's day, not ours. Let us rejoice with him today
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