Ty's Story

On October 4, 2007, Ty Louis Campbell came into this world, and our lives changed forever. We never knew love like that before. Then, on August 11, 2010, our lives changed forever again. A mass was found at the base of his skull and Ty was later diagnosed with an extra renal rhabdoid tumor; a very rare and aggressive cancer. Since the diagnosis, we have been flooded with an outpouring of love and prayers. We created this page to keep our friends and family up to date on his progress, and to share our experience with our loved ones. Ty passed away on October 17, 2012, but his legacy lives on. Thank you all for your tremendous support.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bedtime Prayers

Tonight I put Gavin to bed.  99% of the time, that is my husband’s job.  He gets home later from work so it his alone time with Gavin, but tonight he just didn’t get home in time.  Gavin always thinks it’s an open invitation to party if I’m putting him to bed and he just can’t control himself from tossing and turning and TALKING the whole time…

You see, we lay with Gavin every night until he falls asleep.  I know, he is almost six years old, but the habit started when Ty was on hospice care and Gavin just upgraded out of a crib and into a big boy bed.  He was constantly getting up and coming into our room where Ty was sleeping and in pain, so we started lying with Gavin until he fell asleep soundly for the night.  After losing Ty, Gavin took his place in our bed and we don’t mind one bit (except for when his elbow is in my face while Lou and I cling to each side of the bed to accommodate his sprawling position). 

We found ourselves in a routine that works well enough each night, and neither of us want to go through the torture of breaking Gavin of this security.  He falls asleep in his own bed with one of us, we sneak out, then at some point in the middle of the night he climbs in between us to snuggle 'til morning.

For our bedtime routine we read a book, turn on the nightlight and the fan, lay in bed, say our prayers and go to sleep.  When I am with him, he just doesn’t stop asking questions and hugging and kissing me once prayers are over.  I love it so much, but it can make me crazy, too.  The last thing we do is tell Ty something about our day.  

Tonight we prayed for all of our loved ones, and we prayed for a cure for cancer – especially for the children.

“Does that mean Ty will be able to come back to life?”

“No honey, but it means other children like him won’t have to die from cancer.”

“What happens to your body when you die? What does it look like?”

I explained that people die in so many different ways, but no matter what happens their spirit leaves their body and the soul goes to heaven.

“How will I know to go to heaven when I die?  How do dead people know where to find God?”

Duh… I have no idea…

“I’m not sure but I think the other angels and spirits will help you find your way?” (cringing)

“Can you try not to die before me? I want to die at the exact same time as you.  Can we die together?  I would be so scared without you.”

That, Gavin, is exactly what I feared for Ty all those years he was fighting cancer.  It was the first thought I had when the reality of his cancer diagnosis was first explained to me in 2010.  I pictured my curly haired little baby alone in death and scared to let go of my hand.  The idea still haunts me sometimes, even though I am certain he is at peace.  

The only response I could muster was, "Okay."

Ty feeding Gavin ice cream.  This was 7 days before his diagnosis.

Baby "GaGa"

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Goonies and a Hockey Game

I started writing this post last Wednesday...

It’s been quiet here at the Campbell house.  We just keep on keeping on.  Life has fallen into a very busy routine and of course part of that routine will always include missing Ty.  Thankfully, "our new normal" (or so they call it) has been pretty normal lately.  After some serious rough spots around the holidays, things have fallen into place and we are doing well. 

On Wednesdays, I work at the TLC Foundation all day until I have to leave to get Gavin off the bus.  It is the only day we don’t have anything to do after school so I like to cook a nice dinner and plan for a movie.   Tonight I went with some of my all-time favorites – fried chicken cutlets with sautĂ©ed bacon brussel sprouts, followed by The Goonies

We picked up the movie at the library, which is something I love to do with Gavin.  Of course we have Netflix and it’s easier to point the remote, but I still enjoy the act of going to the library with him.  I love the familiar musty smell upon opening the door.  It feels almost like walking into a vacuum - the silence that hangs in the air almost sucks you in from the cold outside air.  We often pick out a book or two and read together in the children’s section before heading over to the DVDs.  The selection is sparse and dated, but there is something about the tangible DVD case that makes Gavin’s eyes wide.  He loves to look at the pictures, to hold a stack of DVDs and to debate his options out loud as I try to shush him the entire time (“quiet, we are in the library!”).    

I recently decided that I want to introduce Gavin to Star Wars.  It is something I’ve been avoiding for over a year because I know that means a whole new world of toys and lego sets and bedroom decorations that he will be begging for.  But after 3 years of super heroes, I’m ready for a change and so is he.  After consulting with my neighbor, it was decided that we will start on 4, 5 and 6 (the originals) before watching prequels 1, 2 and 3.   I was ready to spend the night on the couch with ice cream and Han Solo, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  The collection at the library only included the Ewok Adventure and The Clone Wars.  Sigh. That’s the one downside to the library…

Never fear!  While searching for an alternative, I noticed Goonies on the shelf and gasped with excitement.  Gavin looked at the pictures on the back, saw the pirate ship, and he was hooked.  If I were to pick one movie from my childhood that stands out as a favorite – there is no doubt it would be The Goonies.  It stands alone!  Watching it again for the first time in probably 20 years, I could still recite my favorite parts, and Gavin thought they were as funny as I did.  He especially loved how many times the kids say “oh shit!” with the references to "Boobie" traps coming in a close second.  I swear, I still want to be a Goonie.  Don't you?  

Then on Friday night...

We attended a Trinity Pawling Hockey Night in memory of Ty.  Gavin wore his awesome "SuperTy" hockey shirt, and he threw out the puck.  It couldn't have been more fitting that the students and attendees chose to honor Ty by wearing SuperHero costumes of all sorts, and as a result Mellissa had a great idea that we should push to have "Super Hero" fundraisers in schools across the state!  We often have Pajama Day fundraisers but after seeing all of the great kids in costume - all for Ty - we realized we could do better than that.  Super Heroes for SuperTy and all the super kids fighting cancer today.  It's just such a perfect fit.  What an incredible honor it was.  If you are interested in presenting this concept to your school, club or daycare, please email mdivitto@superty.org.

What a great night, and an even greater group of guys.  When I looked around the hockey rink that night, I saw posters hanging that read "We Love SuperTy" and "All for Ty" and I cried a happy tear.  He is remembered, and I can't tell you how much that means to me.  It's all that matters sometimes.  The only thing that keeps me going.  Because I made a promise to myself that his all-too-short life will have greater purpose.  Thank you all, so much, for helping me make good on that promise.  And to Spencer Strauber, who wrote an article on SuperTy in the school paper, The Phoenix... I hope you continue to write.  You have a powerful written voice, and you will continue to inspire others with your words.  Thank you for taking the time to pay tribute to Ty on a day you didn't have to (headmaster called an impromptu holiday) and thank you for choosing to by-pass Tom Brady and "Deflate Gate" and instead write about my son.  

"Ty not only naturally adopted his admiration for super heroes as a young boy, but little did he know he would become one for the whole community. SuperTy was as super as they come."  

I couldn't agree with you more, Spencer.  Thank you.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

All Things "Crimpy" (Christmas)

Last Friday night, the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation was selected to be a beneficiary of the ERJADT light display in LaGrange, NY.  ERJADT stands for the initials of Tim and Grace Gay’s three children, because their passion for bringing Christmas joy to the community was ignited after their first child was born – and it has grown into something truly incredible over the years.  And by incredible, I mean record-breaking!!  The Gay family home holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most lights displayed on a residential property.  That’s right (as I told Gavin 100 times while driving through it), they have more Christmas lights than anyone else in the entire world! And believe me, it is something to see.  I couldn’t hold back the tears every time I drove through (which was several times) because I just know how much Ty would have loved every second of it.  In one night, cars driving through were presented with a good old fashion bucket and our best Christmas wishes.  By the end of the night, our donations amounted to way more than a drop in the bucket.  We counted $3,892 – and Mr. Gay wrote a check for $108 the next morning to bring the TLC Foundation to an even $4,000 sweep. WOW!  We are still blown away from the incredible generosity of the Gay family and all of the wonderful people who drove through and made a donation. And to the Divitto's for braving the cold to collect for TLC.  It has completely warmed my heart during this bittersweet time of year.  

I like to think Ty has been spending a LOT of time here this Crimpy season
This is our third Christmas without Ty.  It’s hard to imagine that he was only here with us for 5 of them.  His incredible laughter, contagious smile and vibrant spirit could light up a room.  That special little boy changed the way I look at Christmas forever.  It’s like he opened up the box of Christmas magic.  It’s so incredibly hard without him here.  Hard as Hell… but I am so grateful for the memories, and I truly mean that.  My greatest gift was being his Mama.

Every Christmas with him was pure beauty – even after his cancer diagnosis.  He was only 3 months for his first Christmas, but that didn’t stop us from having several different Christmas outfit changes in one day, and about 15 “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments adorned the tree.  It was so exciting to finally have a baby in the house on Christmas morning!  The next Christmas he was walking, and on his third Christmas he had his little brother crawling around to celebrate with him. In 2010 we celebrated his first Christmas post-diagnosis knowing that he had 3 new tumors in his spine and would likely lose his battle just weeks later.  BUT HE DIDN’T.  Those tumors (or whatever it was on that MRI) miraculously disappeared and our baby began to thrive in 2011.  By the next Christmas he was scooting across the floor to open present after present – practically back on his feet for the first time in over a year. What a gift from God that was! I never believed in Santa Clause more!

Then, by Christmas 2012 he was gone.  Just GONE.  Where is he?  For real?  I know, I know, his spirit is all around us and Heaven is a wonderous place, but I can't sit here and make pretend it doesn't blow my mind to have my baby here with me one day, and simply gone the next.  Leaving me here to keep putting one foot in front of the other and live this life that has turned out to be very different than what I planned.  I have learned that life is like that.  Plain and simple.  Life is hard and bad things happen to good people and I have no choice but to completely accept that.  Life is also absolutely, breathtakingly, beautiful.  A gift.

I don’t remember a single bit of Christmas 2012.  I don’t even know how we did it – but I guess we had to do it for Gavin.  We had a tree, I suppose.  Bought him gifts.  I don’t remember any of it.  Last year was a little better because Gavin was 4 and really started believing in Santa Claus, but it’s still pretty blurry.  Yesterday morning, was totally great; but I would be lying if I said I was genuinely happy. I can’t ever be 100% happy as long as the weight of his absence is all around us (which it will be forever).  Gavin, on the other hand, was SOOOO happy.  He loved all of his gifts and seemed so surprised by all of the leave-behinds from Santa (including the letter he left by the empty plate of cookies, and the footsteps by the fireplace).  It was so fun to watch him open all of those toys.  As he played quietly in his toy room for hours on end, I couldn't help but try to imagine how much louder it would be if Ty was here to play with him.  There is so much less excitement in the house, it’s hard to explain.  The silence is just another reminder of how things are not as they should be.

I am not trying to sit here and write about the gloom and doom of life.  Not at all, and I hope it doesn't sound that way.  Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I love it still.  I love it for Gavin and I love it for TY!  I make sure he is remembered and I smile real smiles when filling his stocking with blue lollipops and chocolate coins.  I close my eyes, shut out the world, and I hear his voice.  It is beautiful and I know I am blessed.  Not the least of my blessings are the people who have surrounded me during my most difficult days.

That first Christmas with cancer, our life was a complete whirlwind of hospital stays, clinic visits, chemotherapy, at-home care, scans, bad news, more bad news, moving into a new house, frantically rushing off to Disney for our Make-A-Wish trip, welcoming Mely into our family, and relishing in the generosity of friends and strangers who loved us and took care of us in any way they could.  I rarely cooked because meals were constantly delivered to our front door (thank you!).  I was spared having to go shopping during the frantic holidays because our incredible friends in Long Beach sent us boxes and boxes of gifts for Gavin and Ty – already wrapped – and that Christmas morning, Lou and I enjoyed the surprises just as much as the boys did. We didn’t have to decorate our house because when we pulled up to our new house after our Disney trip it was lit up from top to bottom in the most elaborate decorations I’ve ever had (I can’t even begin to tell you how much Ty loved that). PEOPLE ARE AWESOME, RIGHT?  Now that is what Christmas is all about.

This was the first year we had Ty's urn.  It took a long time for the artist to complete it, and he sits on our bedroom dresser - exactly where he belongs.  On a whim, I remembered this tiny hat and scarf that adorned a bottle of wine that was gifted to us last year (thank you, Mellissa!) and I placed it on him.  It's totally silly, I know, and maybe you think it's weird.  All I know is that Ty would have thought this was sooo funny, and that alone makes me incredibly happy.  This is sure to become a tradition of sorts :)  On Christmas morning we visited his statue in Magnolia Park and did the same thing.  Ty, baby, I know you love it!  We do, too...

Merry Christmas friends.  Thank you always for your love and support.  XOXOXO.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's YOUR Muddy Puddle?

My eyes are filled with happy, sad and excited tears.  This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  Thank you, PBS #cancerfilms, for seeing the beauty in the Muddy Puddles Project, and explaining it in the most perfectly simple way I could have ever imagined.  Thank you for making sure Ty was remembered, that his incredible perspective is being shared so widely, and that all children with cancer - all everyone with cancer - are being honored in your work.  Click below and watch the video in full screen.  I bet you can't keep a dry eye, either :)


“Everybody says to me, ‘I can’t imagine, I don’t know how you could stay so strong.’ The truth is, when you’re faced with a child with cancer, you don’t have a choice.”
Ty Campbell was two and half years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. The diagnosis was a complete shock to his mother and upended the life of a healthy, athletic young boy.
In the midst of his fight against cancer, Cindy asked her son, “What are we going to do when you get all better?” Ty defiantly declared: “I’m going to jump in a muddy puddle.”
Cindy’s story is the latest in a series of intimate video profiles from PBS and Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies about the impact of cancer on countless individual lives.
You can join the conversation and share your story of how cancer has impacted your life by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter using #CancerFilm. You can watch more profiles like Cindy’s on The Producers’ Blog.
Video produced by Redglass Pictures for PBS and Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.
Thank you, Redglass Pictures.  You all are amazing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Now that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, we thought it would be appropriate to reach out to friends of the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation with our annual appeal for donations on the day that is now dubbed, Giving Tuesday.
Giving Tuesday is a reminder to make a charitable contribution at the start of the holiday giving season.  Thank you for continuing to support childhood cancer research by donating to the TLC Foundation in memory of Ty and in honor of all children fighting cancer.
We set up a fundraising page specifically for Giving Tuesday with a year-end goal of $10,000.  Last year we far surpassed our goal of $5,000If everyone on this distribution packed a lunch or skipped the Starbucks and instead made a donation, we would reach that goal in no time!  We will be giving out prizes to random donors throughout the day including t-shirts and PRET*TY bracelets!
All donations are tax-deductible.  Be sure to claim your donation if your company has a corporate match program to double the impact of every dollar donated. 

$25: funds a researcher in the lab for one hour - let's keep them working toward a cure
$50: if your company matches 100%, a $50 donation could equate to 4 hours in a lab
$100: helps fund the purchase of innovative lab equipment and technology

TY - Thank you.  In memory of Ty and all of the children who lost their lives to cancer.  In honor of all the littlest fighters who are currently in the trenches of treatment.  And, in support of those children that will be diagnosed tomorrow.  Thank you for your support.  


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The other love of my life... my husband

Relationships often become casualties of crisis.  Even the strongest of couples, when faced with life-changing crisis, can find themselves forced apart due to a range of reactions, different levels of coping, or conflicting outlets of grief.  I first saw this when my best friend broke off her engagement following a serious accident that had a tremendous impact on her family.  Her fiancĂ© simply couldn’t relate.  He sank deeply inward to give her space, instead of grabbing hold tight and trying to lift her up out of the dark hole.  I didn’t understand it then, but I can entirely relate now.  Relationships can be blindsided by life.  I have seen too many relationship casualties of childhood cancer and child loss, and I am so incredibly grateful that mine is not one of them.

I was 27 years old when I met Lou (or as he likes to say, when I picked him up at a bar).  He was bartending at Bliss Bar in Manhattan, and I was stopping in after work to visit with my friend Christina and her Dad for Happy Hour.  It’s funny how she knows things.  She told me in her insistent way “you are gonna love this bartender.”  Well, I didn’t know how right she was until years later.

Lou served me a drink and he chatted me up a bit.  I silently approved of how he made sure Mr. Brunn’s Guinness was always full and treated him with a genuine kindness without even knowing how badly he needed the conversation.  Mr. Brunn lost his son on 9/11, a debilitating tragedy that I couldn't begin to imagine until it happened to me.  During the early days I tried to meet up with Christina and her Dad often because I love them so much and worried about them tremendously.    

I spent the night enjoying the company of my friends but whenever I returned to the bar Lou met me with a smile.  At the end of the night, I drank enough to surrender my phone number and he called me the very next morning.  He had just moved to Brooklyn and I was living on the Upper East Side.  I lamented over having to cross a bridge (!) but I didn’t let that get in the way of our budding relationship.  Our story unfolded as it was supposed to.  We dated for a year before getting engaged on my birthday in Central Park.  Fast forward another year to a perfect September wedding on a vineyard.  We would live in the city another year before moving to a house and starting a family.  We were going to have it all!

During all the ups and downs of my dating years prior, I used to reassure my mother, "Don't worry, Mom, I am going to marry a doctor from Westchester."  These days I joke with Lou, who is technically Dr. Louis Campbell, because he first told me he was from northern Westchester. He tricked me!  I realized later he was a Chiropractor from Putnam, but by that time it was too late :)

When I look back to my wedding day and imagine the person I was, I realize that I had no idea whether or not I was marrying the love of my life.  I knew I loved him, absolutely.  I knew I wanted to marry him with all of my heart.  It was the right time, he was the right kind of guy, and I couldn’t wait to move on to being a married person, then to start a family, etc.  To live my life the way it’s supposed to be lived.  We were young and relatively successful.  The world was ours for the taking and we couldn’t wait.  But, “love of my life” depends on what “my life” turns out to be, right?

What about those inevitable curveballs?  How would our relationship handle that?  During the 5-year period where my friends began dropping like flies into the abyss of married life and questioning the big commitment, I used to ask, “Can you imagine yourself reading the paper and eating buttered toast across the table from this man when you’re 80?  Because I worry about that.  I want this to be forever!”  How are you supposed to know the person you will be 50 years later?  How are you supposed to know whether or not a relationship can withstand any unexpected devastation that life might throw at you?

There was an article circulated recently about suffering, and what it does to people in a relationship.  It focused on the most overlooked traits to look for in a husband, and how too many people forget to imagine how a relationship might withstand the greatest of hardships.   Because let’s face it – the majority of us are going to face tragedy at some point or another.  Really bad things happen to good people, and no one is immune.  Out of all my closest friends, I can count on one hand the few that have been spared really difficult hardships at one point or another (knock on wood a thousand times).

Before cancer invaded our lives, there was the typical arguing and stress over regular, every day “stuff.” As if it was a competition over who had a more stressful day at work.  We were both hot tempered, emotional, stubborn, and stressed out.  He would rightfully call me out when I was being irrational, but I always refused to concede (I still do that), and I used to respond to his criticism by joking about the “perfect girl” waiting out there somewhere for him.  The one with an outstanding income, whose family is worth millions, who is an incredible cook and will dote on him head to toe.  She is totally agreeable, thinks he walks on water - oh, and she has perfect breasts, a tiny waistline, and a 23K golden you-know-what.

Petty, emotion-driven arguments would be sparked by the tiniest, unimportant of incidences, but we were still in love - we were just feisty newlyweds.   Little did we know what real problems we were going to face.  We had no idea what real stress even feels like.  And it was that experience – that true understanding where no one else can possibly understand – that made our relationship the rock that it is today.  I thank God every day for him.  I couldn’t imagine surviving the pain of losing Ty with anyone else by my side.

We have arrived in a place of mutual understanding.  We acknowledge that we can’t control this new, incomplete life of ours so we might as well just live it with acceptance.  We always say I love you before we hang up the phone and we look forward to seeing one another after a long day at work.
All of this being said – OF COURSE we still get stressed out over everyday things, and of course we still argue.  But when heated conversations begin to cool down, I overhear him saying bedtime prayers with Gavin, or I watch him doing the dishes from across the room and I think to myself how lucky I am.  Ty could not have had a more loving, more involved father. Gavin could not have a better Daddy.  And, I could not find a better person to share this crazy, sad, beautiful life with.

I recently posed the question to Lou, “do you buy into the theory that you can’t truly appreciate happiness at its highest height, unless you have grieved in the lowest of depths?”  I do.  I believe you can’t taste how truly delicious an orange is unless you are suffering from hunger.  You can think you love the way it tastes.  You can be grateful for it.  But it will never taste as good as it does to someone who is truly starving.  True love is real, but I think impossible to find unless it is taken to the edge.  For me, it took the most painful loss to find the greatest love waiting on the other side.

I am so blessed and lucky that our hardship only made us more in love instead of tearing us apart, because honestly, it could have gone either way.  I miss my son, but I am still grateful that my life is filled with so much love. Happy (belated) Birthday, Lou.  You are the only one I want to share breakfast with when I’m 80.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Is October over yet?

It's a tough month.  It's as simple as that.  I thought I would be okay, because in general I've been getting by pretty well, but I was wrong.  Lou was wrong, too.  I am borrowing this from my friend Andrea (Riley's proud mama), because it couldn't be a more appropriate depiction of how we have been feeling for the past 4 weeks.

But despite these feelings, we prefer to tell everyone, "I'm fine."  Because it's easier.  For all of us.

How fitting. Lou just walked past me as I was typing and saw the graphic posted above.  He joked, "You're not fine... You're crazy."  I told him to take another look at what it reads.  He leaned in closer for a double take and he laughed out loud at the perfect irony.

Colleen and I always shared our awesomeness - both of us having birthdays in October and simply adoring the fact that we are Libras.  Because - as all Libra's know well - being a Libra is simply the best.  When Ty was born just days after me, I relished in the fact that we were guaranteed to be two peas in a pod.  He would totally "get" me, and I would totally "get" him, because our beautiful little Libra minds were wired the same way.  On my birthday Colleen texted me a "Happy Craptober" message, and I laughed and cried simultaneously as I thought about how much I can't wait for this month to be over.  Hope you all had a happy Craptober.  Just a few more days and I'll be fine.  Like a zombie on Halloween at midnight, I will emerge from under this dirty pile of grief with my arms in the air - a survivor once again (just before I eat some brains) :)

All month long, I walk outside to a beautiful day that is neither hot nor cold.  No humidity in the air, and the leaves on the trees truly couldn't be more beautiful.  I am reminded... this is just like the day we brought him home from the hospital after he was born.  This is just like the day I took my favorite video of him running in and out of the ocean in Long Beach.  This is just like the day Mely, Ty, Gavin and I ventured to the walkway over the Hudson (we had never been before) and noticed his labored breathing on the drive home.  That was they day we first suspected the worst but refused to say it out loud.  This is just like the day I held him in my arms when we went outside for the last time - when we sat on the bench that I have since engraved with the words, "Ty was here."  This is just like the day he died.  This is just like the day we cremated him.  This is just like the day I sat on the steps in my yard with his Monster Blankie over my shoulders and cried myself into a puddle because he was gone and never coming back.

heart-shaped leaf for my Ty
Lou just pointed out that there is a ladybug on the ceiling right above me as I write.  There has certainly been no shortage of ladybugs this month.  In fact, there hasn't been a single day since October 17 (the anniversary of his death) that I haven't been able to find at least a dozen in my house.  In fact, the other day was a particularly tough one for no particular reason so I took the video camera out to document the fact that there were 52 ladybugs in my kitchen alone.  52 - that is not a typo.  And like I posted earlier - it's not just the ladybugs.  I am fully aware of the science behind the ladybugs and why they are here under these weather conditions and such.  I am aware that my house is not the only house that has been invaded (and, PS, if yours is one of them you should remember they are a sign of good luck and spirituality).  It's the fact that they are here when I need them.  They won't leave!  But by November 1st I am pretty sure they will be gone. Not because the temperature is dropping or what-not, but because Ty knows we will be better when October is behind us.

But don't worry.  I am certain that on a cold winter night, out of nowhere and maybe just after I talk about Ty, I know one will appear above me once again.  Because it always seems to work that way, and that is Ty's promise to all of us. There is something so much more than "this."

Halloween is the last tough day to get through and I just can't stop the memories from pouring in.  They are intense and I am actually very happy about that.  Knowing that I remember every year, every costume, is something that I am beyond grateful for.  Because my greatest fear (and any bereaved mom will agree) is the fear of forgetting.  I remember the Halloween parade at Memorial Sloan Kettering.  I never shared this picture because we look terrible.  We had to go to clinic for our weekly post-chemo check-up and Ty had mouth sores - it was about 3 weeks after his 3rd birthday.  He was too uncomfortable to wear a costume for the hospital "parade" so we went with Spiderman PJ's.  I thought I looked like such a train wreck in this picture and refused to share it ever since. HA!  I had no idea what was ahead - I didn't even know what trainwreck meant yet.  I also didn't share this picture before because his eyes were swollen and red underneath, he has a mouth sore, and he just looks sad.  But it sits in my office on the board above my computer and I have stared at it many times when talking to him.  This is a fond memory of mine, even if it's hard to look at.

Lou and I went to a Halloween party the other night that was hosted by one of our incredible board members, and all I can say is "Thank you."  We got out, it was so good for us, and I got to see so many people who I love and who I want to be in touch with more often but just can't find the strength to put myself out there sometimes.  I'm happy to say we shared some a whole lot of smiles during this otherwise difficult month.  (thank you, Mellissa).

I am disappointed with my Halloween loot this year.  Ty would be, too.  And that makes me mad at myself.  But I let my mood get the best of me and I didn't buy the candy I always promised I would (the eyeball chocolates, the gummy earthworms, the booger gum and the marshmallow insects) but after I realized how disappointed Ty would be, last night I invested in several bags of Ring Pops (lucky kids will get the blue ones), Starburst (pink were Ty's favorite - and everyone's, really, right?) and sour patch kids.  Not as cool as the years before, but I hope he is still proud of his mama for picking out his favorite things.  Tonight we carved a Jack-O-Lantern that Gavin designed and I just know he would have approved.  I feel he was with us.  Which is also why I was compelled to write after such a long silence.  Thank you for waiting and caring and sharing and supporting us through all of this.  XOXO.  Happy Craptober to you all :)

another heart leaf for my boy - on our "date" bench

2009 - Janice's house.  I just want to go back to this place.