"My little buddy. My best friend. My helper."
That's how Whitfield County Sheriff's Office Lt. Wes Gibson described his son Wyatt on a Facebook page post.
Wyatt, 5, passed away Friday after a short battle with COVID-19 and other illnesses, according to a statement from the family.
"He loved to play outside, help in the yard, and help with the horses," wrote Lt. Gibson. "He loved the horses and the dogs. He was full of love, and brightened everyone's world. Wyatt would wave to strangers in the grocery store because he knew that it absolutely made their day."
He wrote that Wyatt "was nothing (but) joy and happiness. We loved having fun and going on adventures together. He loved his momma and his sister so very much, and he was always looking for ways to help."
Wyatt was the brother to 9-month-old Alyssa.
On her Facebook page, his mother Alexis wrote, "There are no words."
"He was my 'all days every days,'" she wrote. "Wyatt was nothing but pure love and the perfect overload of happiness. We see you everywhere we look Bitty Wy and I still feel you holding my hand. I know you're here with us, and thank you for guiding us home yesterday with those five beautiful rainbows, each one bigger than the last. God's got you building all kinds of things already."
In a statement, the family said it began with what they thought was simple food poisoning.
"A day, two. No appetite, a little vomiting, a bit lethargic," the statement read. "He'd barely had more than the sniffle or two as prior illnesses go. ...
"Alarmed, he was hustled off to the local hospital. Then the next day to (the children's hospital) in Chattanooga. He was diagnosed with strep, staph and COVID. We'd been so careful this whole time for it to find us now?
"He was fighting for his very life. His mother, up for four days, never leaving between cajoling him to keep moving and fighting and begging him to stay. His father, the backbone of the family, coughing from COVID now himself, stood beside in silent worry, beyond believing what he was seeing."
The statement said Wyatt was "the joy of his family and younger sister ... a smart child who could look at anything and build it ..." and who was "a joy to all he met"; "exuberant, enthusiastic"; "always polite, always kind"; "never hesitated to share"; "a bright light."
It talked about how his mother had "gathered him softy to her chest ..."
How "all the animals are grieving too, Cupid, his mini horse the most."
And how the family will miss "the quality of (Wyatt's) life. That was pure bliss."
Sheriff Scott Chitwood said "the entire department is heartbroken over the loss of Lt. Gibson’s precious 5-year-old son. I have had a number of individuals from the community express their sorrow during this difficult time for the Gibson family."
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help cover the family's medical and funeral expenses at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-a-family-who-lost-their-5-year-old.