Our beloved Long Beach, however, is devastated and that is a fact that has been very hard for us to swallow this week. Long Beach was Ty’s home. His favorite place. I can’t tell you how many times Ty used to tell me, out of the blue, “Mommy, I memba the old how (“house,” in Ty speak). I wub the old how.” It was where he lived his life before cancer and it is where we all made the best friends imaginable. Today, at a minimum, those friends’ basements are filled to the brim with water, their cars covered in heaps of sand, their entire homes are being prepared to be gutted and rebuilt (if the house is even fixable after all the flooding and destruction). It breaks our hearts. So many people we love are homeless and it is going to be a very long time before many of them can move back in.
Lou went out to Long Beach on Halloween and again yesterday to bring heaps of supplies and help with the clean-up, but there is still so much more to do. We are heartbroken, and I worry that Ty is weeping buckets over all of this. I wish I was there to hold him and to tell him that his favorite place will be okay again. I want him to know that his Sissy and Colleen, who took such good care of him and loved him so much, are going to get a great new house. But, when I try to tell him these things outloud, I feel like I am just talking to the air. That makes me so sad. I can’t have a conversation with my son anymore. I would give anything just to talk to him again. To hear his voice. To understand, even a little bit, what he is feeling.
|SuperTy doing what he did best. Chillin at the beach.|
The day of the storm, before it began, there was an eerie silence outside my home with the exception of the sad, panicked cry coming from one lonely bird. I started crying and telling Lou that the bird was frantically looking for his Mommy. It was flying between the two trees in front of my house, back and forth, calling out over and over again. It tortured me. It finally flew to a branch right outside my window so I could get a glimpse of the bird, and wouldn’t you know it was a beautiful bluejay? Ty’s favorite color. The crazy in me actually thought I could catch the bird and keep him safe from the storm, but by the time I got outside it was gone. I just wanted so desperately to comfort the bluejay. As if I could whisper in his ear, “I know how you feel. We'll be okay? Right?” Well, the bird was certainly right to panic. That storm was pure evil. I pray for everyone affected.
Halloween this year was certainly one that I suffered through. I didn’t enjoy one second of Halloween. But, I am very proud of myself because I didn’t let Gavin know, and I put on a great show for Ty. I gave out all of his candy with a smile. A few weeks ago he picked out eyeball lollipops, fruity insect chews, gummy earthworms, booger gum and bags of rainbow “slugs” to give away and when I ran out of those things, I gave out pixie sticks paired with chocolate truffles. I was true to my word. We will always give out great candy on Halloween, because Ty wouldn’t have it any other way. I know a lot of friends and neighbors went out of their way to come down my sad, dark block in honor of Ty on Halloween and I want to thank you for coming all this way to “trick or treat.” Please come back every year:)
I didn’t get a single picture of Gavin, I feel terrible about that. But he was dressed like Thor and he was allowed to trick or treat with Ty’s Thor Hammer, which was the greatest part of his day. In May, Mely and I took Ty and Gavin to the mall – the fancy mall with the Disney store – and I let them each buy one thing from there. Gavin was still completely obsessed with Toy Story at the time, so naturally he chose another Buzz Lightyear. Ty was totally disabled, but he still chose this huge Thor hammer that makes thundering sounds when you swing it and shoots out a foam bullet. I got dozens of smiles from Ty reenacting Thor with that hammer and helping him push the buttons to launch the bullets. It was a treat for Gavin to use the hammer and he was telling everyone about it while going house to house, which made me so proud.
Forget the fact that this is a holiday that focuses on candy (Ty’s favorite thing). What made Halloween extra depressing was reflecting on the fact that last year Ty was at his absolute best since his diagnosis. He was practically standing independently. He was getting so strong. He was cancer free for four months and tolerating his daily treatments very well. Ty decided to be Iron Man because his cousin James always used to tell Ty he was most like Ironman (because Ty has so much hardware inside to keep him alive, just like Tony Stark). It makes me realize just how much went wrong for him after this. Actually, it was after Thanksgiving. Everything began to go downhill from there, but I’ll recap that whole story another time.
These days, Lou and I walk around the house with a very strong face on. We have talked about the fact that our strength may come from our lack of acceptance. We are both still looking for Ty all the time. We walk into the den and expect to see him on the couch. We enter the house and expect to hear his voice and his laughter filling the hallways. It’s as if we are just missing him and waiting for him to come home from a long trip away. I can’t wait to see him again. This life of mine is already beginning to feel long and dragged out. The only thing I fear is Gavin getting sick. Pediatric cancer is and forever will be my greatest fear. My biggest enemy.
Lou and I were talking about our future the other night. A sort of, “what do we do now,” conversation, and Lou started crying. “I know what I want, but I can’t have it! What I want are my two boys, my sons, who were a perfect 18 months apart and who were going to be the best of friends. That’s ALL I WANT!” And all I can do is agree with him. We used to have it all and we didn’t even know it. What more do you need that this adorable duo?
I didn’t realize just how much maintaining this journal has helped me survive until I was offline for a week. Instead of writing, I allowed all of the things that happened over the course of the week weigh on me. I am in physical pain because my stress has reached a high point. I was literally freaking out on Lou today because I feel so overwhelmed and all I want to do is get some alone time in front of the computer!! As always, he gave me just that (along with a glass of champagne and a snack). I have a radio interview tomorrow morning on WFAN so I have to cut this short to prepare. If you are awake at 6AM on Sunday (insert sarcastic laugh) please tune in to 660AM. I will be using this interview as another vehicle to spread awareness for childhood cancer. Although my pain is still so new and so raw, this is the stuff that keeps me strong. Getting Ty’s story out there. Raising money for the cause. That is all that matters to me now. It used to be keeping Ty alive, but now my focus needs to be saving the next Ty Louis Campbell. I need to use my oh so sad free time to fight for the next kid. Thank you all, so much, for your continued support and encouragement. You have all been so amazing.