My heart has been heavy this holiday season as we had to say goodbye to an extraordinary woman. Marolyn Tyler Lasuzzo. Born September 21, 1948, to my Great Uncle Ernie and Aunt Hazel. According to my family tree, she was my second cousin, but she and her sisters were always like aunts to me. Growing up, Marolyn was my favorite of the Tyler sisters (sorry, Mary Ann ;)). Marolyn oozed kindness and compassion and her creative spirit was not lost on me. But what I remember most is how supportive she was when Gaga was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She would call me and check in during Gaga’s surgery and eventually checked on Gaga on a regular basis. Her care and concern meant the world to Gaga; therefore, it meant the world to me.
Last Friday, I drove to the small town of Minden, Louisiana, for Marolyn’s funeral. In the past, I have been unable to tolerate the strong emotions that obviously come up in times of loss. The voice in my head would say I did not ‘have the right’ to be sad or cry because it was not my mom or my friend. This time was different though. I gave myself permission to be sad because I was and am sad. My heart was crushed for her husband, her children and grandchildren, her sisters and most of all her mother, my sweet Aunt Hazel, whom I love so very much. I found comfort in the family around me as we gathered to honor the life of a beautiful soul. In the midst of such sadness, there was laughter through tears and hugs all around. It is no secret I love family, but last week I was reminded of just how amazing a family tree is – even if its branches are sometimes crooked, broken and duct taped together. Time, distance, divorces and even death cannot make that tree crumble. I know I am beyond blessed and I count my lucky stars to have been born in the Tyler tree.
Today, more than ever, I am proud to say I am a Tyler woman. A Tyler woman is ferociously strong yet sensitive. She is stubborn yet willing. She loves to get dolled up, but can a hook a worm in a flash. She travels the world, but knows where home is. She is vulnerable, authentic and lives with a twinkle in her eye and love in her heart. She is Tyler Strong.
To Marolyn: thank you for loving my Gaga. Thank you for being a sister to my momma and forever an aunt to me. Thank you for living by example and showing us all what it means to be Tyler Strong. You fought a courageous battle. Give Uncle Ernie a big hug for me. See you again one day.