Archive for June, 2012

Faith In God’s Timing

I have been struggling for weeks about writing a post on this blog…. My mom does such a wonderful job. She’s amazing isn’t she? So I hope those who read this are not too disappointed by my post today, for I already know it will not measure up to previous posts written by my mother. But I have felt as if I need to share my thoughts- maybe for my own sake and healing.

This is Tyler’s sister, Erika. I was blessed with an incredible family. I have kind and loving parents, and three younger brothers who are way cooler than I could ever be. My husband and I have a sweet little boy who brings us so much happiness. We have also been blessed with another child on the way- a little girl who should be arriving any day now. My family means the world to me….. And losing one of them has been hard.
Tyler and I were extremely close. I felt protective of him. Maybe because he was the baby of the family. As he grew older, he became one of my best friends. I think I’ve spent more time at my parents house hanging out with him this past year than I have anywhere else. I would often wake up to a text message that would say, ” Bring Caleb over today (: ”  Oh how I miss that boy and those texts.
Ty was the best uncle…. Caleb adored him and I’m pretty sure he had Ty wrapped around his little finger. Those two were inseparable. Shortly after Caleb’s first birthday, Ty began to ask me when I was going to have another baby….. One of the things I love most about Tyler is that he is not shy in the least….. In true Tyler fashion, asking soon turned into pestering. Every single day I would hear, “Hey Erika, when are you going to have another baby?” I would laugh and tell him it was none of his business!
When Tyler was diagnosed with cancer in May, I knew I would not be having another baby for a while. I needed to focus all of my time and energy into helping Ty beat this disease…. He had to get better first. Of course this didn’t stop Ty from begging me. All summer he continued to ask when he was going to get another nephew or niece…..
As time progressed and our family realized the severity of Tyler’s cancer, I got scared. Our time with Ty was limited…. Deep down I knew this. But I continued to pray for a miracle for Tyler to be healed.
I told my family on Christmas that we were expecting another baby. I wish I could have recorded Tyler’s reaction because it was priceless. Needless to say, he was thrilled and already had a name picked out for us.
My prayers began to change after I was pregnant. Instead of asking Heavenly Father to heal Tyler, I was begging Him to prolong Tyler’s life long enough to see the baby. As Tyler’s health started to decline, my prayers intensified. I cried to my Father in Heaven every morning and night, “Please let Tyler live to see the baby.” I could not even bear the thought of having this baby without Tyler here. Tyler wanted this baby so bad. Surely the Lord would hear my prayers.
One morning, after I had prayed intently to my Heavenly Father, I was overcome with the most overwhelming and peaceful feeling. I could almost hear Heavenly Father tell me that he was listening to my prayers and that all would be well when this baby came. From that moment on, the feeling of uneasiness left me. I knew that everything would be okay in July. I knew that Tyler would be here.
In May, I felt completely blindsided when we got the news that Ty only had a week left. My sweet little brother passed away 8 weeks before the expected arrival of his new niece. He told me before he passed away that he was going to miss Caleb so much and that he was sad that he wouldn’t be able to see the baby. This completely ripped my heart out. Why did I feel so confident that Ty would live to see the baby? Why couldn’t Heavenly Father have given Tyler just a little more time here on Earth? Did he even hear my prayers? I was so heartbroken with not only the loss of my brother, but the thought that this little girl would not know him. Elder Richard G. Scott said, “It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness. Whether it be overcoming an illness or loneliness, recovery of a wayward child, coping with a handicap,or seeking continuing life for a dear one who is slipping away, it seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired result.”
Tyler’s death was and still is hard for me to understand. Especially the timing….. And I might not fully understand it until the next life when I am reunited with him. I look forward to that day very much.
After Tyler passed, a sweet friend emailed me and told me that although she was very sorry for my loss, she couldn’t help but smile as she thought about Tyler and my sweet baby girl up in Heaven together. How Tyler was preparing her for her mortal stay on Earth and telling her everything she needed to know about the family that awaits her here. This brought me a tremendous amount of comfort and I started to realize that just because my prayers weren’t answered the way I wanted, didn’t mean they weren’t answered. Tyler knows this baby better than any of us realize. After a lot of study and prayer, I know without a shadow of a doubt that they are together right now and that Tyler did indeed “live to see the baby.” Because of the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, all of us will live again. Tyler lives right now. He is strong and healthy and free from the terrible disease that plagued his body here. He is preparing this little girl for her new life on Earth and I’m sure being every bit the doting uncle to her as he was to Caleb.
I am very much looking forward to the arrival of this baby. What a blessing it is for me to bring a little spirit into this world, knowing that she was just in the presence of Tyler and her Heavenly Father. I am still holding on to the confirmation I received that Tyler will be here when she is born. I have a feeling that he is going to be the one to escort her here to me.
Even though Tyler will not be here physically like I prayed for, he WILL be here. I know that in order to have faith in God, I must also have faith in his timing. Someone on the other side must have really needed Tyler for him to leave us so quickly. I have faith that I will someday understand.
Elder Richard G. Scott also said, “I testify that when the Lord closes one important door in your life, He shows His continuing love and compassion by opening many other compensating doors through your exercise of faith. He will place in your path packets of spiritual sunlight to brighten your way. They often come after the trial has been the greatest, as evidence of the compassion and love of an all-knowing Father. They point the way to greater happiness, more understanding, and strengthen your determination to accept and be obedient to His will.”
I believe that this new baby is our “packet of spiritual sunlight” and she will help to brighten our lives as we try to adjust to life without Ty. What a special day it will be for our family when she arrives…..

This was the last picture I took of Tyler and Caleb together three days before he passed away.


“This is gonna hurt…”

I love to exercise.  I have gone out 5-6 days a week for probably twenty years.  This last year, since Ty was diagnosed, I was lucky to make it out maybe twice a week.  I really missed it.  There are so many reasons why I love to go outside – not just the weight-benefits, but it is cleansing to my spirit too.  My brain just works better when I’ve been out in the morning and had fresh air in my lungs and blood pumping through my veins.  It is truly my therapy.

I decided that it was time to get out again and try to clear my head.  A few days after Ty had passed, I laced up my shoes and headed out.  I really needed some clarity and a place to try and talk to Heavenly Father.  I headed to the trailhead of the Hobb’s Pond walkway by my house.  For those who don’t know where I live, it is at the top of a hill on the east end of Layton, and Hobb’s is a steep walk down into a gulley – then there are a couple of miles of running trails that are pretty flat down in the hollow.  I figured this was the perfect place to go – where there wouldn’t be many down there and I wouldn’t have to see anyone I knew, or who knew what I was going through.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone, just get frustrations out and try to make sense of what had just happened.

I made my way down the steep decline and then started going back and forth on the trail – two or three times – praying in my head, crying to myself – and not realizing how long I had been down there, just going back and forth, back and forth.  Finally, I realized, “Hey, I’m completely exhausted!”  I had probably been down there an hour, and for someone who hadn’t been exercising much the past few months, that’s alot.  I was spent. If you know Hobbs, you know there are about three or four ways out of there.  The only problem is…they are all drastically uphill!  I surveyed the situation and realized the only way I was going to get home was to climb a steep hill.  I could climb out the way I came – that was brutal.  Didn’t want to do that.  I could go down and come out and climb Antelope Drive, but that was the extra long way home.  Didn’t sound too fun either.  I could go out the parking lot and climb out over by Highway 193, but that was not only a climb, but put me a quite a ways from my house.

I came to the realization that no matter how I got myself home…it was gonna hurt.  I had used up everything I had going back and forth along the flat path, just getting nowhere.  Now my time was spent and I needed to get home quickly and the only way out was uphill.  It quickly hit me that this was such a metaphor for my life!

The only way to get ‘home’ is going to ‘hurt’ to get there.  It’s going to be good for my lungs and my legs, and my body will thank me someday for working it so hard, but it’s going to hurt nevertheless.  I’ll develop muscles that will serve me in many ways, but I won’t develop any muscles without going through some discomfort.

Same with my life.  My ultimate goal is to get back to my Heavenly Father, and to be able to be reunited with my entire family when we all get there.  But if I just sit here and ‘go back and forth on the easy trail – just spinning my wheels’, I’ll wear myself out doing nothing productive.  I’ve got to develop some ‘muscles’ through discomfort and maybe even some big-time pain to get there.

I think I’m really getting great spiritual muscles right now.  Today marks the one-month anniversary of Tyler’s death.  I have to say that it seems to be getting harder every day, not easier.  I kept thinking in the beginning that it was just a dream, and that he would be coming home soon.  Well, it’s no dream, and I’ve realized he’s not coming home.  It hurts…it hurts bad.  Every thing in the house, every song on the radio, every thought in my head reminds me of him.  The pain is very real.  It reminds me of the hurt my stomach gets when I’m on a huge roller coaster and it’s going down the biggest hill – except it doesn’t let up like a roller coaster would.  It is just constant.  I really don’t want to do this anymore, but I don’t have a choice.  I am going to have to just remember ‘I can do hard things’.  It was easier to say that and mean it when Tyler was here.  Sorry, but it’s true.  Sometimes it’s hard to take your own advice, huh?

In talking with my friends who have lost children also, they do tell me that time will help me manage the pain – it probably will never go away, but I’ll learn how to tuck it away and live life with it in there.  So I guess I’ll try to see the pain as developing my spiritual ‘muscles’ and remember that the only way ‘home’ is  gonna hurt.  Someday, I’m told, I’ll look back on this and see that this experience has made me stronger and better – I look forward to that day.

This is one great reason to smile - Caleb with 'Ty Ty' on Father's Day

“Sunday Will Come”

As our family tries to learn how to manage the new phase of our lives – living without Tyler, I grasp onto stories, quotes, anything I can find online, or sent to us by our loved ones to help ease the new pain in my life.  I have received so many cards and letters from people we know and care about all over the country – I have been overwhelmed with all the expressions of love.  I have also received many quotes and stories that have brought me comfort.  Thank you for thinking of us!

One such letter came today – my amazing niece who lives in Virginia.  Her little family has endured more than their share of heartache, yet she continues to move forward with a smile on her face and determination to perservere.  She has always been an example to me, and she is young enough to be my own daughter (I love her like she is)!  She sent me a talk by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin from a conference address in 2006.  Elder Wirthlin talks of losing loved ones in his life, namely his beautiful wife of 65 years, Elisa.  His tender stories of their life together illustrated perfectly how much he loved her, and how the pain of losing her was nearly unbearable.  When President Hinckley spoke at her funeral, he said, “It is a devastating, consuming thing to lose someone you love.  It gnaws at your soul.”  Our family is feeling that gnawing now.  Life without Tyler feels very empty.  As our children have been our greatest joy, losing one of them is now our greatest sorrow.

Elder Wirthlin said that after his sweet wife passed away, he spent a great deal of time thinking about eternal things and found great comfort in the sermons on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He, I’m sure knew every detail and event of that Easter week.  I plan to study this in much more depth now.  His testimony of Christ’s resurrection struck such a chord in me as I listened to this talk again today.  I know what he spoke of is true.

He spoke of the terrible, dark Friday that Christ was lifted up on the cross.  The earth shook and grew dark – there were storms that lashed at the earth.  On that Friday, evil men who sought His life rejoiced.  On that Friday, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus were both overcome with grief and despair.  In his words “It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.  I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.”

“But the doom of that day did not endure.  The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death.  He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.”

As I read this talk, the paragraph that almost jumped off the page and into my heart read:

“Each of us will have our own Fridays-those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces.  We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again.  We will all have our Fridays.  But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death – Sunday will come.  In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.  No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come.  In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”

In these lonely days now that the hospital visits, funeral planning, and details are over, these words bring me a measure of comfort.  On this ‘Friday’, I feel lonely, apprehensive, and afraid of the future without Tyler here.  But these words do whisper comfort to me.  Although we, as a family are definitely living in the pain of ‘Friday’, the only peace I can lean on is that our ‘Sunday will come’.  How grateful I am for that.

You can watch Elder Wirthlin’s  amazing message by clicking here – wirthlin talk.

You can read the conference address here.


Until we meet again Tyler

My sweet boy


The balloon launch


He lives!

Forever Friends

Forever Friends

I am both so saddened and relieved to announce the passing of Tyler’s and our family’s sweet friend Brandon Winger.  Brandon and Tyler met in the hospital last July while they were both in the hospital having chemotherapy.  They didn’t get to talk in personal as often as they would message each other on Facebook.  I remember laughing one night when Brandon sent Tyler a FB message when he was in the room next door and asked Tyler if he wanted to have a wheelchair race!  They both had nasty, rare cancers that baffled the doctors on the most effective way to treat them.  Brandon had a cancer called Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor (MPNST), one that strikes 40+ year old men, not 12 year old boys.  He fought valiantly alongside Tyler and I am so, so grateful that they had each other through this cancer journey.

Brandon has suffered terrible pain, and the past month has lived through misery, enduring it with complete bravery!  Two days before Tyler passed away, Brandon’s parents brought him over to the house to say goodbye.  It was sad but comforting to listen to the boys talk about meeting each other on the other side and what they would do.  We have another friend who is close to leaving this world as well, and she came over to say goodbye to Tyler while Brandon was here.  She has always loved and cared for Tyler.  She promised me and Brandon’s parents she would take care of these two boys while they waited for their parents.  Her and Tyler talked about their adventures toilet papering last summer (unbeknownst to me!) and how they would continue that “TP-ing” on the other side!  They also talked about going cow-tipping (this boy did things I had no clue about!), but the smile on Brandon’s face was priceless when she told him she would take him cow-tipping if there was any way possible!  She had a way of talking about death like it was just the natural, next step, and I think her candid conversations helped both these boys with some of their apprehensions.

The day Tyler died, Brandon sent him a sweet text and told him he loved him and to wait for him – he wouldn’t be long…Well, my heart feels a bit of joy thinking of Tyler waiting and these boys finally seeing each other healthy and happy.  Such a relief to know neither one of them is in pain anymore. They have a great work to do, these two boys.  I am sure of that.  I can’t wait to hear all about their adventures and their time away from us.  Brandon, thank you for making Tyler’s cancer journey a little more bearable.  We love you and your family!

Beautiful Tribute to an Amazing Boy…

Tyler’s funeral was held Friday morning, May 25th.  We were so overwhelmed with the support of our friends, family, and whole community.  As we left the house Friday morning, both sides of the streets were lined with balloons – all the way to the church.  What an emotional sight for us.  We heard later than many, many volunteers got up at 6:00 a.m. to put these out.  We are so humbled with the love that has been shown to our family…no words can express this.

Once we arrived and hurried to have a few minutes with Tyler alone before the line began to form, I had the distinct impression from Tyler – “Hurry Mom, I need to go.”  I don’t think I was mistaken in what I felt…it came very clear to me.  I felt in a bit of a rush the entire viewing before the funeral – like Tyler was in a hurry.  Now, those of you who know Tyler know that he was in a hurry from the time he opened his eyes in the morning to the time he fell asleep at night.  The boy never stopped…

The family prayer was beautiful and very emotional.  Hard to know that we will not see his beautiful face until we meet again in the next life.  I dreaded that moment the entire week before the funeral.  It was as hard as I anticipated it would be…Following Tyler into the church was a very overwhelming feeling – so much grief in my heart, but I could literally feel the love and support of an entire building full of people who have loved and prayed for our family for the past twelve months.  I immediately felt buoyed up with all the heartfelt prayers for us…thank you.

Tyler had pretty much planned his whole funeral.  He had asked the three speakers who spoke and wanted my brother and his family to sing.  The song that was sung at the end of the funeral is Tyler’s favorite church song.  He told me earlier in the week that it would never work – that the teenagers would never sing and the room would be silent – well, thanks for proving him wrong this time!  I have never felt such a powerful spirit as when the entire congregation began to sing that song.  Make no mistake that what you felt in the room was the spirit manifesting that what was said in that funeral was true.  Kyler, Becky, and Bishop Dutton all delivered exactly the message that Tyler wanted to have delivered…it was his, as well as our intent to have this funeral be one of healing – making sure that all realized that Tyler completed the mission he came to earth to fulfill.  I hope everyone left with the same conviction that our family did – Tyler truly ‘Fought to the Finish” and it was his appointed time to return to his Heavenly Father.  As hard as this is for us to face because we love him and will miss him, we know that this is true.

Once we stepped outside and before we left for the cemetary, everyone was handed a green balloon and we had a balloon launch for Tyler.  The sky was completely overcast until the balloons were released.  As soon as they started heavenward, the sky parted and the sun came out just long enough to scoop the balloons into heaven.  I asked Tyler before he left us to send me a sign and let me know he was okay…thanks Ty…I love you!

After the graveside dedication, the funeral director brought our family back to the church to our car.  He asked me if he could share  something with me.  He told me he had the distinct impression at the funeral that Tyler had already received his assignment and was ready to go to work.  I believe this is why I had my impression at the beginning of the morning that Tyler was in a hurry.  Tyler, like his usual self, is in a hurry to go to work.  Some things will never change.

As far as I was concerned, it was a beautiful day and everything I think Tyler would have wanted it to be.  Our family will miss him with every ounce of our being and will spend the rest of this life trying to figure out how to keep going without him, but we will keep going.  We know he is there making sure we all get there together when the time comes.  I can’t wait to find out what he has been doing, and I hope I can live my life so that we can all be together forever someday.

Thank you to all those who have given our family strength and hope the past twelve months.  My biggest fear is that Tyler’s life will be forgotten.  Please remember him always and live your life the way he would want you to – F2TF Forever!

Getting ready to send them off!

Look at the clouds parting!!!

We were so touched by all who came to the cemetary - thank you!