I was feeling warm in my sweater today, and when I took it off to cool down in my tee shirt, I noticed how incredibly soft and chubby my arms have gotten. I can’t even explain how sad that makes me on so many levels. It’s natural for most people to feel disappointed when their pants feel too tight, or when they’ve gained weight, but for me it is more than that. It makes me sad because I haven’t taken care of myself by eating well or exercising in months on top of months. Yesterday I worked so late at the foundation, dinner was from Ty’s candy cart! But the much more significant reason why my fat arms are beyond depressing is because they were never this fat in the five years that I was lucky enough to carry Ty on my hip. Not that I was eating healthier when Ty was sick – I fed my cancer mom nerves on coffee, chocolate and wine for more than two years – but because my arms were never empty. I carried my precious boy with me everywhere I went. We were never, ever apart and I am not exaggerating. I didn’t go to the gym. I didn’t get my nails done. I didn’t even go to the supermarket alone no matter how disabled he was. If I was going somewhere, he was coming with me. I carried him with me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We were inseparable.
|Right where he belongs <3|
As he grew heavier, I became so strong and I truly had the muscles to prove it. I was always shocked at how strong I was when I caught a glimpse in the mirror – I practically had Madonna arms! All that my soft chubby arms tell me now is that it has been waaaaay too long that these arms of mine have been empty. Long enough for my muscles to dissipate and my skin to sag. Is this for real? As funny as it sounds, I feel betrayed by my own body. In only five months, my arms already look like this? How quickly they’ve forgotten about Ty.
Old-looking fat arms are generally a depressing realization for any woman, am I right? But for me, noticing the reality of my new, fat arms is even worse because of what they signify. If Ty were still here, like he’s supposed to be, my arms would still be rock solid and my heart would be overflowing. I would be way too busy carrying Ty around to sit at the table with Gavin and eat Oreos with milk like we do now. I never had time for such a luxury when Ty was around! No way! I catered to him, didn’t worry about myself, and I was happy to do it. I swear.
They say that when a person loses a limb, like an arm or a leg, they experience something called “phantom pain” where they believe they are still feeling physical pain in the arm or leg that is no longer there. Well, I can honestly say that my shoulders are killing me and I’m dragging my feet, too. My pain is not just emotional, it is physical, too. I feel like I’m falling apart. I have no energy to do the things I want to do. I believe it is phantom pain. I am feeling the physical pain that I would and should be feeling if I was carrying Ty around all day.
Reminders of Ty find us everywhere. My mom says that she has a backyard filled with blue jays and cardinals this year – she never had that before. We have heard and spotted a woodpecker at our house 3 out of the past 4 days, always in the morning. I love that because our last couple of weeks in the oxygen chamber, just weeks before we ended up on hospice care, our wonderful and loving nurse would tell Ty stories about her woodpecker that keeps waking her up in the morning. He always smiled, but he never had the chance to see a woodpecker in his life. I’m glad we have one in our tree now and I like to think Ty is right next to me and Gavin, watching it and giggling with us as I know he would have.
My mom and I took a walk tonight and she asked me how I’m doing. I held back the tears pretty well, but I can’t lie to my mom. I’m not great, but I am okay I guess. I can’t change things so I’m doing my best with what I have, but it’s still hard to live knowing that we couldn’t save him. We all worked so hard and tried with every ounce of our beings, and he’s still gone. It has left me changed forever in so many ways. I’ve lost my innocence about life in general. I used to believe you can have anything you dream of if you just try hard enough. I used to believe life was so beautiful and FUN! I was passionate about life in general. Now I think everything is bittersweet. The world around me is still so very beautiful, but Ty will never enjoy these things again. And I am not alone in thinking this way. Life is so hard and as we get older I know more and more good and kind people who have tragic, unfair stories about loss, heartache and struggles.
I have received so many wonderful letters and comments from people who were moved by a recent post; where I talked about how people choose to live with blinders on rather than fall in love with these kids and support the cause. It’s too painful of a reality to face for so many people, and they don’t want to share in my pain (or that of others). I do believe that such avoidance also keeps them from experiencing a greater appreciation of love and beauty and all things happy. When you open yourself up to sadness, you also allow yourself a greater understanding of happiness. Thank you to all of those that reached out to share stories of how they are changed by Ty and will never turn away.
If you are wondering where I’ve been for a week, I’ve been sooo busy! I’ve been happily distracted by some very exciting things at the foundation. First off, we have so many exciting fundraisers planned for the foundation, including a Horse Ride in Carmel for Ty on May 5, a Bouncy House Star Wars party (also in May), a fundraiser/auction in Dallas on May 17, a Motorcycle Ride for Ty in Brewster/Patterson/Pawling on June 1 with a huge auction, and we have received approval to host our first “Ty-Athlon” tri around Lake Mahopac this fall. We have had some incredible individuals who are raising money for their athletic achievements AND we have an exciting line of children’s apparel aligned with Nickelodeon star Cymphonique that we will be launching very soon!! Finally, on top of all that, we are counting down the days to launch the Muddy Puddles Project (we are aiming for MONDAY, APRIL 1!!). Fingers crossed that we can get some media attention around the launch :) All of this hard work is truly paying off. I have an incredible team of volunteers and interns, near and far, who are making magic at the TLC Foundation. I truly feel blessed and lucky despite the pain in my heart.
CLICK HERE for a quick video of Ty shooting silly string. In my arms, of course. His giggle at the end makes my heart hurt.