Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Death Comes Soft and Cruel

I know this is Word Count Wednesday, but I have no word count. My fifteen year old nephew, Tyler Hallsey passed away Sunday night.  I want to tell you a bit about this brave young man.

In January 2013, this athletic boy started having some balance issues.  He didn't seem himself.  Sports that he loved to play were becoming harder, even playing catch was tough.  His parents decided to take him to Phoenix Children's Hospital.  On Feb. 8, 2013 Tyler was diagnosed with Pontine Glioma which is a tumor surrounding the brain stem.

It wasn't something anyone would add to a list of good things, but after he was diagnosed, he was scared. Regardless, when his dad asked him what he wanted to do to beat the disease, he said, "Whatever it takes."

He tried really hard to live with a positive outlook, to do whatever it took to beat the disease.  His life was an inspiration to thousands as they all followed his story on Facebook.  His father's posts (on the Whatever It Takes Facebook page), as the disease progressed made my heart ache.  One especially touched me and I wanted to share a portion of it.

"Tyler is unable to get out of bed, so we spend a lot of time repositioning him and trying to make him comfortable. His physical therapist told us to think about how many times we shift our body when we stand or sit. Tyler can’t shift his body, so we do it for him. He likes to have his right hand on his chest. We prop up his elbow with a pillow, so his arm is straight across his chest. Since he has no strength in his arm, it will slide down and we reposition it where he likes it. It’s constant shifting and adjusting.

The other day he had a very determined look on his face and was straining to do something. I didn't know what he was doing, but I saw the sheet just above his right arm moving slightly. I pulled it back to see his elbow being lifted off the pillow just a little, maybe a half inch (this is the only movement he hasn’t lost). He did it over and over. He was really working hard. He was determined. He was exercising and doing all he could to get stronger and fight. Talk about being a proud dad. I told him how good he was doing and how proud I was of him. He got the biggest smile on his face. He was so determined and happy with what he was doing...lifting his elbow a half-inch. He was happy about something so simple, when he could, and probably should be angry that this is all he has left, but he chooses to be happy and excited. He teaches me everyday what it means to not just endure, but endure well. He is my hero.

How can I not look in the mirror and ask myself what I am doing with my half-inch? We can't waste anything God has given us, no matter how big or small. If Tyler can find joy, happiness and a sense of accomplishment in a half-inch then what's my excuse?

What are you doing with your half-inch?

Cherish every moment.

Tyler’s Dad
Whatever It Takes

After Tyler was diagnosed and battle plans were made, there was an outpouring of love for Tyler when his favorite sports heroes came to meet him or invited him to games.  Smiles lit up his face when he had visitors of any kind and he found the strength to fight on.

There is a clothing company that sells his designs.  You can see the inspirational shirts here.  

There was a song written especially for Tyler that shows a lot of his life (I posted it below) and how much he'd been through and how far he'd come with DIPG.  

He is a hero.

He battled hard.  He persevered through countless treatments.  He inspired everyone around him to do better and be better.  

He will always be a hero.

Tyler passed away on July 13, 2014.
I'm so glad for my knowledge of God's plan.  Tyler has gone on to a beautiful place where he can run and play without any pain.  And we will see him again.  Because families are forever.

But just because we don't know when death will come to any of us, tell your loved ones how much you love them.  Hold them close.  Do "whatever it takes" to forgive, to be kind and loving.

For Tyler.


Debra Erfert said...
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Debra Erfert said...

I remember reading that post just after Tyler's dad put it up. I cried then, and I am again now. A family going through cancer puts their lives in a special kind of suspended animation. Everything is put on hold. All that matters is trying to get from that moment to the next, and praying that there will be a next, and that the pain will be less, or gone. It took 18 years before my mother's pain left her--when she passed, not from her brain cancer, but from pneumonia. It was difficult for me to read what Tyler went through, yet I couldn't stop myself. I'm sure that mixed with the tears being shed, there are abundant smiles and laughter as Tyler's family talk over the past few years of his life. I know, I've been there.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Thank you for your kind words, Debra. It's good to know there are people out there that can relate. :(

The Cube said...

Such a beautiful young men. Life is sometimes so unfair! My condolences to family...