Radiant, compassionate, curious, witty, unfinished
Tyler was kind, big-hearted and generous. His radiant spirit and genuine smile took over the room as he entered. His mom, Susan, described him as a “shining person.”
He loved anything adventuresome, like amusement parks, blazing new trails in the mountains and riding ATV’s. His passion was music, especially drumming in the drum line and marching band, as his father did in the Marine Corps Band. He did so well in drumming that he was recruited to the high school marching band and voted the best looking band freshman, though he was still in middle school.
Tyler couldn’t say no to a challenge and when he was 9 stuck his tongue to a pole in winter, which worked just like in the movie A Christmas Story. His sister, Mary, had to run home to get help. He could be a jokester too, one time giving his mom a figurine for Christmas wrapped in paper and 25 zip ties. It took her 20 minutes to open it! Tyler, his mom and sister could be found dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire’s song September, a song his mom and sister now hear often in the most unexpected places.
Tyler graduated from high school and attended one semester at a community college. He was always empathetic toward children who were vulnerable or struggling, and he considered a career working with special needs kids.
At 17, Tyler got his license and his first car. He was excited for opportunities to drive and for the gas money that his neighbor offered him to take him to the city. It turned out those trips were for his neighbor to pick up drugs. Tyler had been smoking pot and drinking prior to that, but his exposure to heroin started during those few trips.
Early in Tyler’s addiction, his mother quit her job to attend to Tyler’s needs full time, hoping that her efforts could save him. There were many recovery centers and rehabs after that and an 11-month period without drugs when he worked at a dentist’s office.
In May 2020 Tyler was diagnosed with endocarditis, caused by an infection that spread through his heart, lungs and kidneys. He had open-heart surgery in June and his mom thought he would never go back to active addiction after that; it blindsided her when he relapsed in August. Again, he got help, going to detox programs and living in recovery houses.
The day before Tyler passed, he had another relapse. His family called numerous treatment facilities, but he was uninsured and the options for treatment were diminishing. Tyler spent the evening with his mom, acknowledging he felt powerless over drugs; he wanted to be free from their hold. They discussed plans to make more calls the next day and were considering treatment out West. After they had pizza together, he walked to the corner store for cigarettes, and when he didn’t return, she went looking for him. She arrived at the store just behind the police and the ambulance, as they were taking off the bathroom door; it was too late.
His mom said, “Mary and I spent all of our time trying to save him. I wished for peace from the addiction, and while life is quieter now, it has been replaced by maddening grief; the pain is excruciating.”
Tyler’s mother, Susan Ousterman, provided the information for this narrative.
May 28, 1996-October 5, 2020
Age 24-lived with the disease of addiction 6 years