‘Forever 18’

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“I know he’s an angel. I know we’ll see each other again one day and it will be for eternity.”

JENNIE McKEON @JennieMnwfdn

FORT WALTON BEACH — On the morning of Feb. 12, 2017, Lynn Jimenez and her 18-year-old son Tyler Sharon went grocery shopping while the rest of the family was still in bed.

“I told him to pick up whatever him and his brother (Nicholas) would want,” Lynn recalled. “We were talking and laughing. He seemed fine.”

The family had just moved into a new home. That afternoon Lynn and her husband went to clean out her old residence, but decided to give the boys a day off from moving.

When she came back home, she started cleaning the garage to make a gaming spot for Tyler. When she yelled for him, he didn’t answer. That’s when her husband, Jesus, pushed open the locked door and found his lifeless body.

“Our whole world collapsed,” she said.

Lynn said there were no warning signs. She did see a message on Tyler’s phone from his girlfriend that said something along the lines of “get over it.”

Tyler had struggled with anger issues for years and he’d been at the center of a custody battle. Like many teens, he drank alcohol and smoked marijuana. But his biggest crutch was video games.

“He was addicted to his Xbox,” Lynn said.

In June 2016, Tyler was arrested after he attacked his stepfather, Jesus, with a knife after his Xbox was taken away. Tyler stabbed his stepfather repeatedly before fleeing the home, according to a report from Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Despite his issues, Lynn said her son was a “good kid with a good heart.”

“He brightened up the room wherever he went, he knew no strangers,” she said.

Lynn asks herself why. She wishes there was something she could’ve said. Nicholas, who is 15, said he didn’t know how to react at first.

“I went to a counselor who said I was in shock,” he said. “I miss my brother … but I feel like I’m getting better.”

On Nov. 11, Lynn will join hundreds of others in the annual Out of the Darkness Walk on Okaloosa Island. Alongside her will be Nicholas and Jesus. She’s made t-shirts with Tyler’s picture for the occasion. On one of them has the words “Forever 18” airbrushed in blue on it.

“I feel like it’s going to help me a lot,” Lynn said. “He was so young, I don’t understand it.”

On Aug. 2, the family celebrated Tyler’s birthday at the beach by setting off floating lanterns. Lynn said she knows her son is watching from heaven. She’s quit her job to spend more time with Nicholas, to try and find a new normal.

“I wonder when I will ever stop crying,” she said. “I don’t think I ever will. Everyday I pray God will give me the strength to climb back up this mountain. Every day I make it to the top, but when I wake up the next morning I’m right back at the bottom.

“I know he’s an angel. I know we’ll see each other again one day and it will be for eternity.”