Tyler - 17 year old fighting cancer!

Tyler - 17 year old fighting cancer!
Ready for Battle!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

In Loving Memory of Tyler Joe (part 2)

This will be my last post, so I wanted to again thank you all for following Tyler's journey. Many thanked me for the blog, but I'm just glad that Tyler's story was out there and he became an inspiration to so many. Mostly, though, I'm thankful for all you prayer warriors that helped us get through this last year. We'll still be relying on you to pray for us as we mourn.

Please do not forget those that suffer so much with this loss, namely his mom, grandma Didi and Papa. They were closest to Tyler and are mourning deeply. Of course, that is not to take away from the pain his aunts/uncles, dad, cousins, friends and others are feeling as well. Please continue to pray for them and if you know them personally, reach out to them and let them know they are in your thoughts and prayers.

If you would like to make a donation directly to Michelle, the online fund is still active here: http://www.gofundme.com/1drbvk

Another opportunity to bless someone else, in Tyler's memory, would be to donate to the Ronald McDonald house in Ann Arbor. I know you can't read this from the picture, but his Aunt Tammy wrote his story for them and it is on their fundraising letter this winter. Our family stayed there over 315 days, which cost them over $23,000 in operating costs. But their cost to us was $0.00!!! Here is their website so you can see all of the ways you could help them: www.rmh-annarbor.org.

To finish the blog, I thought it most appropriate to share with you the heart felt words that were shared at his funeral service. 

Tyler's aunt Patty wrote a letter that her cousin Dee Marie read so nicely. I don't have the exact words, but she always called Tyler her storm trooper. So, she told Tyler how he would always be her storm trooper. And although it was his dream to join the army and fight a war, God had a different battle for him. A battle where he could rest in his mom's arms, and strength, through the whole thing. She ended it with saying that now he's one of God's soldiers and we will miss him so much. 

For the very few times that Tyler was on facebook, he recently posted this picture of a storm trooper that came to his room at UofM, with a caption that said: "This is for my aunt Patty".  

His aunt Tammy read her letter that shared some character traits she thought about Tyler, before his illness. Things like shy, quiet, kind...and how those words instantly changed to things like warrior and fighter. But the most important trait his journey brought, was that he became a unifier. He brought our family together and so much closer than we could have ever imagined. His journey taught all of us so much. She went on to say the ways that she will miss him. How he was always willing to play with her kids and would "put up" with all of their annoying questions. She said she'll always cherish the memories of the "North House" where he was always around to take the kids for a golf cart ride or remove a fish from their hook. She laughed about how she wouldn't have anyone to water her plants anymore, because secretly he was her best water-er...and she appreciated how he cared for the things she cared for the most. She told a funny story of when Tyler caught her secretly crying while the National Anthem was playing while watching football. She said she'll never forget the face he made at her. She also mentioned how proud Rob was to be his uncle and how much they will miss their football talks and hanging out to watch the games. She ended by thanking him for how his journey taught her children courage and perseverance, something that as parents they could not have showed them, in such a powerful way. 

I love Tammy's word "unifier" because that is one of the many things people mentioned at the viewing. That the strength and commitment our family had for each other was astounding. Dr. Murphy even told me that our family is "not normal". I laughed and said that we had been told that before. He said he meant it in a nice way...that in all his years, he had never seen a family come together like we did for Tyler.  

Tyler's Aunt Cheri had her best friend/cousin Mary read a letter about what an honor it was to be his Godmother. And how she too will miss how kind he was and all of their football game nights and times at the north house. What stood out to me most in her letter, though, is how reassuring she was to Tyler that she would take care of his mom for him. This is something Tyler was worried about, even on his last day. She told him that she would protect her and make sure she was okay. She also told him that she knew he would be watching over his momma, up in heaven.

Since I have mine typed out, I'll end the blog by posting it here. 


I’m Jettie and I was honored to have Tyler call me Aunt, even though I was technically his mom's cousin. If you’ve been following his blog, you’ve probably noticed a few things by now…I’m rarely at a loss for words, I cry quite a bit and I want to bring glory to God. Today will be no exception.

There was so much that I wanted to tell you, like how he was the first little boy to steal my heart (with his chubby cheeks, squeezable thighs, bald head and little passies in his mouth all the time). Or how Michelle and I took him to his first concert and he didn’t like it because of the crowd. Or how he was always quiet and kind and never got in trouble. Or how when he played football as a kid, the coach would try to get him to be aggressive and mean out there on the field, but our sweet boy just didn’t have it in him.  

All of those things are really fond memories, but I wanted to get to the meat of what this life is all about. There’s this Christian rap song that has a line in it that says, “When life and death go to battle, aint no telling what will happen.” I always think of Tyler when I hear that line.

Life and death went to battle over this boy this past year and as we sit here in this room mourning Tyler, it may look to you like death won, but I tell you, I believe life won this round. You see, it wasn’t just a physical battle that Tyler endured, but also a spiritual battle.

On Oct 4th of last year, I received a devastating call that Tyler had been taken to the ICU and they weren’t sure what was happening. Shortly after I arrived, he was rushed into emergency surgery, and our lives would never be the same. Many of you started following his story after this post on the blog, I’m sure. This is the night we were told that Tyler was “minute to minute” and probably wouldn’t make it through the night. I can tell you that I’ve never pleaded with God more in my Christian walk than on that night. Not just because I physically wanted Tyler here with us, but from the Spiritual aspect, I had no idea if Tyler knew Jesus and I was broken. I begged God to let him live so that we could share with him the path to salvation. I was so upset with myself for taking this life for granted and not taking every opportunity with my loved ones, to tell them about eternal life.

Thankfully, God answered that prayer. And not only did Tyler live, much to everyone’s surprise, but he became a fighter, a warrior, even. Throughout the last year, I took as many opportunities as I could to tell Tyler about what Jesus had done for Him on the cross, taking his punishment for his sin, so that He could be reconciled to the Father and have eternal life. I know others did too. I’m so thankful that God is gracious enough to give us time because He wants that none should perish but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life.

A few weeks ago, when Tyler knew he was nearing the end, he admitted to his mom and grandma that he thought he was losing this battle and that he was scared. He asked for the doctors to talk him through what was going to happen to his body and he asked if my pastor would come up again and talk to him about what happens spiritually, when you die. Pastor Joe blessed us by coming and talking to him the very next day and spent a lot of time with him, telling him what it means to have faith in Jesus. Tyler had made a profession of faith, in believing in what God did for him through Jesus, and it is for this reason alone, 
that I believe he is at peace and free from all of his suffering.

This is the reason we’re here! If you’re in Christ, I urge you to tell others about the gift of eternal life. Don’t just show it, tell it. You don’t want to feel the anguish I felt that night of knowing you had never told the one you loved about the most precious gift we have. And if you’re not in Christ, I urge you to repent and be reconciled to God. Not everyone gets to know that they are dying. Not everyone gets phone calls like that, followed by time to understand and reconcile. Don’t wait!

Because of Tyler’s profession of faith, I believe he’s in heaven and that’s why I say, death didn’t win this battle, life did!

Rest in peace, Tyler.
Finally, I can't finish this blog without one more mention of Michelle and her incredible strength. You're a shining example of a mother's lover. My heart hurts for you, my dear big sister. I love you!

For those of us that are left mourning, I encourage you to listen to this beautiful song.

"So here I am. What's left of me.
Where glory meets my sufferings....
Jesus come and break my fear.
Wake my heart and take my tears.
Find Your glory even here"...

With an abundance of gratitude and love for you all, God bless,
Team Tyler


In Loving Memory of Tyler Joe (part 1)

Matthew 5:4 - "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

I wanted to end the blog with some of the details of our final celebration of Tyler's life and a demonstration of the love that you all have poured out on Tyler and Michelle this past week.

So, sit back, grab a cup of tea and get a box of tissues ready...this is going to be a long, emotional post. In fact, I'll break it into 2 posts for you, since I have a lot to say.

As difficult as this week was, we were so blessed by many of you attending Tyler's services and offering your time, your hugs and your donations. Some of you even flew in from far away places to honor Tyler and be with your friends who were suffering, and we appreciate that more than you know.

Our family was so touched when Tyler's nurses and doctors came to pay their respects as well. This is more than a job to them, it is a calling, and they have touched our lives in ways we never thought possible. Even the therapy dogs that Tyler loved so much, came to the funeral home to say their goodbyes. It was heartbreaking and touching at the same time. These doctors touched Tyler's life so much, that Michelle decided to have Tyler buried in the LSU sweatshirt that Dr. Murphy had given him, to wear when he got better. Tyler never got the chance to put it on, but now he will wear it forever. We are more than grateful for UofM Mott's hospital, even though Tyler was still rooting for OSU in the big game. He was glad UofM got greedy and went for the 2 point conversion ;)
The message the nurses wrote for him the day he was passing away.

Some of you may not know, but Michelle's best friend Kelly, tragically lost her young daughter 7 years ago to an epileptic seizure. This is a bond that no 2 friends should have to share, but Kelly is 7 years ahead of Michelle on this painful journey and is by her side all the way. Tyler is buried next to Dakota now, so they can visit their children together. We can't say thank you enough for the love and support you've always shown Michelle, especially now, Kelly (and your family).

The funeral home was filled with hundreds of pictures of Tyler, much to our surprise. When we gathered on Saturday night to put them together, we weren't sure what we could even come up with, knowing that Tyler hated his picture taken. Once we all gathered, we were overwhelmed with what we had found. We even had to go out and purchase more poster boards to get them all out there. Thank you to all who contributed to the pictures and flowers that made the funeral home full of personal touches.

The funeral services on Wednesday were beautiful. Tammy helped to pick out some songs with Michelle and somehow they picked the most fitting songs. My friend Darla, opened the service with her beautiful voice, and amazing talent, singing "Blessings in Disguise" by Laura Story. The words cut deeply.

Then, Tyler's aunts and I shared some personal thoughts and memories of Tyler. Those I will share on the next post. 

Pastor Kohler gave a compassionate message about how God is still good and still loving, despite these circumstances. He explained that the god that most bookstores sell is one that wants to make you happy, wants to give you things...and that is all washed away when something tragic like this occurs. He talked about what God's love is from 1 John 4:9-11 "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." I'm paraphrasing here, but he talked about how we are sinners, God tells us not to lie, we lie. God tells us not to steal, we still. And disease and death is a result of that rebellion against God because he cursed the world for it. Yet, He made a way and He demonstrates His love for us in that even in our rebellion, He sent his only Son to be a substitution for us...to take the punishment and God's wrath, for our sin. If we repent and have faith in Christ, we can have Eternal life through His sacrifice and resurrection. 

Darla then finished the service with a beautiful and powerful version of Amazing Grace. The family then said our final farewells to Tyler and a huge procession followed us to the grave site. There, we had more prayers and were reminded of the promise from Revelations 21 that awaits those who have faith in Jesus:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

What a promise! I believe Tyler is in Heaven with Jesus now, free of pain and suffering. Praise God!

I know I talk a lot about the women who surround this boy, but the men in his life served as his pallbearers - Josh, BJ, Chris, Rob, Dennis, Aaron, Jason and David. And one more woman to mention, Kelly's mom, Madeline, led the way as the honorary pallbearer. It was beautiful!

Part 2

Monday, December 9, 2013

Funeral Arrangements

Good Morning,

Here are the funeral arrangements.

Tyler Joseph Kurkierewicz 
October 28th, 1994 - December 5th, 2013
Age 19, on December 5, 2013

Loving son of Michelle and Tim. Dear grandson of Bill and Diana Zanetti, and Eveline and Robert Kurkierewicz. Half brother to Cooper. Dear nephew of Patty Strader, Cheri (Chris) George, Tammy (Rob) Martoni, Karen (Fred) Buttke, Cindy (Don) Fields, Juanita (George) Willard, and Sandi (Dean) Blevins.

Memorial Contributions to the Wishes of the Family, payable to Michelle Kurkierewicz, are greatly appreciated.

If you would like to make a donation online, please go to Tyler's page on GoFundMe to make a secure donation: http://www.gofundme.com/1drbvk

3:00PM to 9:00PM on Monday, 
December 9th, 2013 
3:00PM to 9:00PM on Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Arthur J. Van Lerberghe Funeral Home 
30600 Harper Ave
St Claire Shores MI

In-state at 9:30AM, Service at 10:30AM at Arthur J. VanLerberghe Funeral Home on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Resurrection Cemetery
18201 Clinton River Road
Clinton Township, MI 48038