Every single time I step outside at night, I look for Ty in the sky. If there is a bright moon, or a twinkling star, especially when the North Star is shining bright (the brightest star in the sky and the one Ty "picked" to be his star), it's like I exchange a little secret love note with him. A quick "I love you" straight from my heart to his. Every single time. Tonight I was driving home from my mom's house, which is almost a two hour drive north, and "Ty's star" was guiding me home the entire time.
I hope that never ever goes away. I hope there never comes a day where I am too preoccupied with my life that I forget to look for Ty in the sky.
Actually, I don't know why I am even worried that could possibly happen. It's almost laughable. For those of you with children... have you ever had a fleeting second where you weren't sure where your children were? I used to get it when Ty and Gavin were small babies the most. Like, if he was sleeping in the swing and I was doing the dishes lost in deep thoughts, I might jump and quick look at the swing to make sure he was still there, sound asleep. I get that a lot now, because I really don't know where Ty is. Only, there's no relief in jumping up to see him safe and sound. I don't think that will ever go away. And I'm okay with that. I don't ever want to stop looking for him.
I love this picture so much. It was during the Halloween fair in Long Beach. Ty had just finished his first round of high dose chemo. His hair didn't fall out yet. I remember we were back in the hospital a couple of days later with a fever. I just love how he is looking at me. How he is reaching for me. I just want to grab hold of that hand. He loved me so very much. He made my life complete and gave me such purpose. I love him more than words can ever do justice.
I still haven’t taken down my Christmas tree. Everything else is packed away, but I can’t bring myself to take down the now dead tree in my living room. It was the hardest thing to put up, and now it’s the hardest thing to take down. I know Ty picked it out for us. The biggest, most perfect tree I’ve ever had in my life. It is covered in ornaments that remind me of him. New and old. Candy ornaments, photo ornaments, super hero ornaments… It has become our routine to sit in what we call “The Christmas Tree Room” and admire our tree every night while Lou and I catch up before bed. We call it that because it is our living room, with my grandmother’s furniture, that we otherwise never use. At Christmastime it is transformed into our favorite room in the house. Every night Lou and I sit and talk about what Gavin did that day, about missing Ty, the foundation and all that’s going on, our friends and family.
Last night Lou found me in the chair in front of the tree crying after he put Gavin to bed. We didn’t talk at all, he just scooped me onto his lap and we snuggled and cried and felt better afterward. Sometimes that’s just what you have to do.
Thanks to a christmas gift from Aunt Debi, Gavin has discovered his love for Legos. Thanks to the generosity of our great friends in Dallas, Lou and I will be able to take him to Legoland for his birthday in April. I can't believe Gavin will be four in three months. I made the mistake telling him about it, and now he wakes up every morning asking if it's his birf-day yet.
On Saturday, we were supposed to go to a birthday party at a place called "Tumble Jungle" in Connecticut. Gavin was so excited. When we got in the car, I became lost in thought (as usual) and was driving on auto-pilot. I ended up going 20 minutes south on highway 684 instead of getting off on 84, which means I was naturally on my way to the city (the hospital). I pulled over and googled directions without realizing the address I pulled up was different than the one I pasted into my calendar. I plugged it into GPS, drove another 45 minutes and ended up at the wrong place, at the wrong kids' birthday party. Gavin was ready to go hog wild in the gym when I realized that I didn't' recognize a single person. I asked the girl at the desk, realized I went to the wrong location, and had to pull Gavin out of the birthday party while he cried in confusion. The whole thing set me off on a downward spiral. Driving home I realized I was in Newtown Connecticut (when I was supposed to be in Norfolk) and I drove past sign after sign after sign in honor of the shooting victims. I couldn't shake the sheer magnitude of the sadness that engulfs that town, and I couldn't stop thinking about all of the mothers. Our tragedies are very different, but we share the same pain and my already broken heart bleeds for them all.
We missed the real party, so I took Gavin to the carousel at the mall before going home to try and make up for it. I ended up bumping into an old friend from college and we had a really nice lunch together. She, her mom and I spoke about the loss of Ty, and the loss of her brother. We talked about butterflies and ladybugs and all of the painful beauty that has come from our losses. Gavin rode the carousel with her two beautiful daughters and he left the mall happy.
Me, on the other hand... I was still a wreck when we got home. I didn't think I was going to pull it together to go to the Wingbowl that same night. I was way too emotional! At one point, Gavin asked me, "Mommy, why are you crying? Because you miss Ty?" He knows why, poor baby. It made me sad to know that he is so in-tune with how I'm doing and why. Then I told him if he gave me a hug I would feel better. He gave me the best hug imaginable, and I faked a big smile and wiped my tears for him. Within minutes, I was crying again and he said "Mommy! My hug didn't work!" He gave me another one, and I finally pulled it together for him. I wiped my tears for real and got ready to go to the event. There was a fundraising table set-up for Ty and I wanted to be there.
Elaine, a friend of mine and Ty's for about two years, drove three hours to go to the Wingbowl just to show us her support Friday night. It was totally unexpected and our long-overdue, in-person hug made my night. I realize now, why I felt it was so important to re-apply my makeup and get to that crazy event :) It was all worth it to finally meet the woman who has been so kind to us for so long. I always say that when people hear Ty's story, they either get it or they don't. Despite having her own hectic life filled with work and small kids, Elaine has embraced the cause and she totally gets it. You all do.
I will share details about our meeting with some of our medical/investment advisers in a separate post, but I do want to close with the strongest message that I took away from those meetings. Ty - our beloved boy - was a real miracle. Our neurosurgeon, when he presented us with a surgical option after Ty's cancer metastasized, expected surgery would give us another summer with Ty (2011). Never did he imagine Ty would do so well afterward. Our other friend in the field who desperately researched treatment options for us at that time, was met with nothing but surprise that Ty was even alive. No one had ideas or answers. Instead, they fell silent when they learned about Ty's case. Much to everyone's disbelief, Ty lived for a year and 3 months with no evidence of disease after that. We made the most beautiful memories, never letting his condition stop us from taking him places and experiencing things. Whenever I question whether we made the right choice for him, I remember that he went snowtubing, he went to preschool, he went to a carnival, he met Max and Ruby, Derek Jeter and the Jets! That time with Ty was a miraculous gift and I will never forget that. I believe God answered my prayers and gave us that time with him. Always believe in miracles.
PS - I think Ty has a best friend in heaven. This morning, the first thing I saw when I sat down with my coffee was two bluebirds in my backyard. They stayed for almost 1/2 hour. Then, driving to my mom's today I saw two hawks flying above. I wonder who he is busy playing with :)