CNN/WHAM — A woman in upstate New York will remember her eight-year-old son as a hero.
The boy died trying to save his grandfather from a fire, early Monday morning.
"It makes me really proud, it really does, but just want him back," said Crystal Vrooman, the child's mother.
The last time Vrooman hugged her son, Tyler, goodbye, he had a smile on his face. He had talked his mom into spending the night with his grandfather.
"It was his best friend, and he tried to save him," said Vrooman.
Vrooman has pieced together the story of her son's final minutes with the help of family members who were there. Tyler's four-year-old cousin woke with his blanket covered in flames. Six people made it out, but Tyler went back to get his grandfather, who is disabled. His aunt tried to stop him then followed, ending in the grandfather's room surrounded by smoke.
"My sister had his hand," said Vrooman. "And I guess he let go of her and tried to get to my dad. She opened the window, and he wasn't there anymore. She couldn't see and was going like this through the smoke. All I keep thinking about is how he couldn't breathe and how scared he must have been."
Tyler was found in the rear of the home.
"They were lying in the bed together, trying to get to the window," said Vrooman. "And I am so grateful he went with people that he loved, that he didn't cross over alone, and I'm so glad that he was with his best friends."
Now, Vrooman is waiting for the medical examiner to release her son's remains.
She may not ever be able to hold him or even see him again, but this she wanted us to know:
"You never know when it's going to happen," said Vrooman. "Just hold your babies close and don't let them go."