Updated: Sep 24
By his father, Jonathan Betz
Tyler was diagnosed on November 4, 2015 and died on October 7, 2016. He had some sort of brain cancer that only my wife Lindsay can remember the name of. I care not to remember.
It was amazing watching him live his life as if he wasn't sick at all. He lived BIG for a six-year-old, and I don't just mean playing video games all the time; although, he did really love playing Super Mario Bros. on Nintendo and Wii. He lived his life with open hands, always giving away special treasures of his to other kids so that he could watch them smile. He had a big heart and a great smile and always set an example for the people around him.
The hardest and most unexpected part when he was here was seeing him struggle to take his last breaths. We really believed with all our hearts that he would get better until that moment he took his last breath. But I will tell you this—the true hardest part of the journey is walking the long road after he's gone. It's the everyday living, the little reminders, and not being able hear his laughter and voice. I will also say that every day we are apart is one day closer to the day we will be reunited together again. Take note, Tyler did not lose his battle to cancer; God chose to heal him, and he now takes up residence in Heaven. Before Tyler got sick, I had a very limited view of God's healing. I thought that to be healed, you had to remain here on earth. But God can choose to heal here on earth, or He can choose to heal in Heaven; either way, we are healed when we have entrusted our life to Jesus. My view has expanded now, and my vision is not quite as narrow as before.
Hope is found when you trust your life to Jesus Christ. I am a believer, and I found deep peace that in turn gave me hope when I read through the Psalms. The promises found throughout the Bible give me hope and a deep peace in my heart that everything is going to be okay. However, the things I did not find hope in were material things that have an initial high but fade quickly in time. Don't put trust in stuff.
If someone asked me for encouragement for a situation like we went through, it would be to read the Bible, get to know what hope looks like, take hold of the truth and believe it. That way, when the day of trouble comes, you too will find peace amidst the storm. You will come out as a different person at the end of the battle, no doubt, but you have to cling to your spouse, link arms, and walk through this together. Allow each other, including other kids (if you have them), to have hard days, and give them grace. Know that others have walked this hard road and that you are not alone, although it will feel like it some days. Don't give up.
We attended a Lighthouse retreat as a family before Tyler died. One story that is ingrained into my mind is the day the retreat started. We were walking down to the beach on the long boardwalk, and as Tyler and I were walking down the long boardwalk, he turned to me and said, "Dad, will you hold my hand? My legs aren't working very well." I said, "Sure, buddy." I held his hand, and it was in that moment that I knew something was not right. In the coming days, Tyler stopped walking altogether due to a tumor that went undetected on his spinal cord and was crushing all the nerves. I look back on that memory today and ask God on the hard days, "Will you hold my hand? My legs aren't working very well." He reaches down and grabs my hand and says, "I've got you.”
The Betz Family will be joining us on our annual Sunrise Retreat this month, a bereavement experience offering rest, restoration, hope, and joy for families who have lost a child to cancer.
During the month of September, we will be sharing stories written by some of the families who will be attending our Sunrise Retreat this month. We hope you will join us in praying for these families who have endured unimaginable loss, that God will use the week away with their family and Lighthouse volunteers to bring healing and hope.
Our fundraising goal for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is $30,000, because that’s what it takes to put on a Sunrise Retreat. From meals and gifts to Parent’s Night Out, sibling activities and nights of remembrance, every single dollar we receive in September is going to be invested into providing a restorative experience for families who have lost their child to cancer. When it comes to our growing Sunrise Retreat program, more funding means more families served. Whether you can give $1, $100 or $1,000, please join us in honoring the memories of the children we’ve lost by providing support for the families who will never forget them. Visit this page to learn more or donate.