Not the most artistic photo but what it does to my heart.
These were the last shoes Tyler ever wore. They sit outside my kitchen door on the deck, my husband slips them on and off when he goes out to water. They are left exactly as Tyler wore them and every time I see them a little voice in my head says “he’s come home”. Tyler died alone in a bathroom on January 14,2016 of a fentanyl poisoning. His older brother Rian died August 21,2011.
Tyler was an amazing man. He loved to scuba dive and climb rock cliffs, surf, ski and play football. He was an adventurer and totally fearless. He first left home to live in the Caymans. After the Caymans he went on a holiday to Thailand and stayed there for ten years. He spoke fluent Thai and became one with the locals. Tyler was hailed a hero when in 2004 he saved a drowning Thai boatman during the Tsunami that hit the coast of Thailand killing thousands. After that Tsunami Tyler returned to Canada with a wife and a young son. We had no idea that he was suffering PTSD. In 2010, Tyler ruptured his Achilles playing football. Post surgery he was sent home with a bottle of OxyContin. After his brother died his opioid dependence escalated to heroin. His suffering was so terrible, he fought so hard to regain some of his former self.
Sadly he lost that battle. I look at these shoes and remember the boy that wore them, I remember the beautiful brown eyes, the infectious grin, the love he had for his children and his family. I also remember his pain and his heartache. Those shoes are a constant reminder that this remarkable man lived and I had the good fortune to have called him son. On bad days I find myself looking at those shoes, silently wishing he had come home, waiting for his, “ hey Mom, can you make me a grilled cheese?” I think of him on the top of mountains and below shining oceans. I will never forget his hugs or his, “ I love you Mom.”
Street Health is pleased to be part of Twenty/Twenty Arts Weathered photography exhibition. Our thanks to everyone who shared photo memorials of family members and friends who have died from overdose. Your photos are a powerful statement that more must be done to prevent these overdose deaths that are killing an average of 55 Ontarians each week.
Street Health’s Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) is a part of the effort to save lives.
We provide service to those who are experiencing homelessness and stigma in Toronto’s south east region. The Ontario Government eliminated funding for this site in March, 2019. Since that time numerous individuals, family foundation and community groups have been instrumental in maintaining this service. Your donation as part of the Weathered campaign is vital to maintain this site in the coming year.