Sunday, April 14, 2013

All for you, Ty

Earlier this week, I started writing an update on the foundation efforts, the announcement of the Pediatric "Dream Team" during our trip to DC, the rally for medical research, the launch of the Muddy Puddles Project and more, but I never had a chance to post it before life started getting hectic. 

Gavin got sick.  I secured some exciting media interviews that required some scrambling on my part.  And, most importantly, Lou and I got wrapped up in planning the final details for Ty's long overdue memorial service in Long Beach.  So tonight, I feel like I have a book to write because I want to share so much :)  I will share the beautiful details of Ty's celebration of life, and save the updates on foundation activities for later this week. 

 
As some of you may know, when Ty passed away we scheduled a memorial service to be held at the church he was baptized in.  We wanted to celebrate his life in the place he called "home," by the beach that he loved the most.  Then, our beloved home became victim to Sandy.  She tore up the homes of our great friends and loved ones.  She roared through the church.  She destroyed the boardwalk and dragged our beaches into the streets.  But, she only made Long Beach stronger and more united.  As angry as I was when all of this happened, cursing "what next" to the skies above, now I can walk through these streets with a pang in my heart and see the significance of  perseverance.  Ty weathered his own storm, and now Long Beach is doing the same.  Everyone is rebuilding, making it even more beautiful in time, and that brings a broken but genuine smile to my face. 

Of course, we couldn't imagine arranging to hold Ty's celebration anywhere else, so we waited until the time was right.  Finally, this weekend, we were able to gather with friends and family and give Ty the tribute he is so worthy of.  Thank you, so much, to all of you who were there.  I regret that I didn't have more time to catch up with everyone, but we hope you know how grateful we are.

The last time I was in that church, Ty had just been diagnosed.  I was obviously devastated, frightened and barely even able to comprehend what was happening to us.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, I took the boys out in the double stroller, they fell asleep and I made my way to the church as if guided by instinct (or maybe God was calling me there).  It was dark and damp inside and I cried my heart out begging for Ty to get through this.  Having no idea what this journey was going to be like.  Not knowing that I wouldn't even be living in Long Beach for much longer, and certainly never imagining that I would be holding Ty's memorial there just over two years later. 

Walking back into that church yesterday.  Seeing Father Donald.  Hearing him talk about how Ty and Gavin were baptized there and pointing to the very place where he poured water over their baby soft hair.  It was one of the hardest places to be, yet it also felt so very appropriate. 

It was near impossible to find the right words from the standard scripture packet that every family is handed when planning a funeral.  Nothing seems right when talking about a beautiful, five-year old boy who suffered so innocently, and died.  Because of this, we broke from tradition several times during mass and added some very beautiful readings on behalf of Ty.  Lou was so brave.  He gave a beautiful eulogy.  His words moved everyone in that room.  My sister read "The Brave Little Soul," by John Alessi.  Ty's Uncle Rich read a reading from the Gospel and Aunt Debi read "I Still Would Have Chosen You," by Terri Bannish.  Julia Larkin, a very special friend of ours who is more mature at the age of 15 than some are at the age of 50, performed the Taylor Swift song, "Ronan" and we had a slideshow of Ty's life in pictures.  She has a beautiful voice and she is just so talented.  Finally, Ty's cousins all gathered together at the alter to read the General Intercessions before the close of the mass.  It was all so beautiful. 

Afterward, we asked everyone to gather down at the oceanfront for a ceremonious distribution of Ty's ashes before the reception1.  In advance, a great friend worked with the City of Long Beach to make sure they would plow a clearing through the dunes to provide our group with easy access.  I was so grateful for this, and asked if she wouldn't mind going down to the beach before the church, and writing Ty's name in the sand so that it would be there when we all arrived.  Not only did she do that.... she went ahead a recruited an entire crew of our Long Beach friends to prepare the beachfront.  With incredible detail, they arranged for a beautiful display of everything TY. The kids painted sand dollars for Ty.  She framed photos.   I couldn't control the tears when I saw this.  The words "thank you" will never suffice. 



There were ladybug kites in the dunes.  Trails of sand dollars.  Ty's name written in huge letters by the seashore.  Gold balloons flying high.  It was so incredible and so perfect.  I know it was a lot of hard work and I was just blown away.  After taking in the beauty of this tribute, Lou and I asked everyone to move down to the seashore for another reading and to witness our distribution of Ty's ashes.  We asked everyone to place a flower by his name, as Julia sang a song she wrote just for Ty.  As soon as she posts the song to YouTube I will share with you all, it was just so amazing.  We poured Ty's ashes over his name and into the ocean, and we felt at peace knowing that all of it would be swept away later that day.  It was truly beautiful. 

At the reception I laughed, I cried and I hugged hundreds of loved ones.  We had a candy table in honor of Ty that was mind blowing.  It was two-tiered and twelve feet long!  We had pictures of him everywhere.  We asked everyone to write a message to Ty that Lou and I will put in the bottle and send off to sea when we return to Long Beach in June (after making copies of them to keep in his project treasure box).  It was, truly, a celebration.  And that is how it should be.  Ty's life was too beautiful, how could we not smile.  He brought so many wonderful people together.  Even his doctors and nurses were there and I was just so happy to see them. To see everyone.  There were friends I have made through this journey that I finally got to hug in person (Mary P.!)!  It was all so special. 



At night, when all was quiet, I had the giant canvas picture of Ty in our hotel room and I just let it all out.  I cried for what felt like hours.  Until my head throbbed, my eyes swelled shut and my lips felt like balloons.  When we woke up this morning, Lou and I simply couldn't bring ourselves to go home.  We took Gavin down to the beach, we walked around town, and we decided to stay one more night to just decompress from what was such an overwhelming experience.    I can't stop looking out the window, watching the waves roll in.  Knowing Ty is there, in those magical waters, under that humbling sunset, makes me cry, smile in awe of him, and just miss him oh so much. 

In his eulogy Lou said, "today we envy Ty" and that couldn't be more true.  Be free, baby boy.  Be happy.  Know how loved you are. 

47 comments:

  1. That sounds like such a beautiful memorial. Ty was smiling though out it all. He is so at peace and seeing all of this family, friends, doctors, nurses and community gather must've made his heart burst with joy. Ty will always be remembered as the sweet and loving boy he was. Thank you for continuing to share his beautiful story. xoxo Sharon

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  2. What an amazing tribute. I am so glad Ty is home. I would of loved to be at the church. Being from Long Island and a Long Beach lover I know what you mean and how it feels there. My kids first beach was Long beach. My prom pictures and after prom there. As well as the day my husband proposed we went there. I think of Ty whenever I go there. When you had the memorial service by you, my family went to Long beach and lit a candle for Ty. I would like to send you the picture. Being that the boardwalk is gone I feel it has such a significance. I have never met you, but have learned how to be a better mother because of you and of course Ty. I know things will never be the same but I admire your strength in such hard times and love that you have resolved to find a cure. I think of your family every day. Xoxo. Please find comfort in knowing you are not alone and I truly believe all your "visits" from Ty are real!

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  3. Cindy, your tribute to your son is beyond beautiful. I went to Marist with you although we only knew each other through friends ( Taylor Ave...) Your son was a beautiful and amazing child. I pray for you each day and think of your incredible son. He really is an inspiration to us all!!!

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  4. Wow! Just wow! Cindy, please know how beautiful your sweet Ty is and how much his life has impacted so many around the world. Amazing celebration of his life, and that candy table brought a huge smile to my face. I got goose bumps as I read your blog today. And I agree with your husband Lou, we should envy Ty. He's with The Lord having the most awesome time!
    Marcia, CA

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  5. Please know that your current home town loves and certainly supports you all, too! It's OK to come home to us, cuz we are all here for you!

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  6. Cindy thank you once again for sharing this beautiful tribute with all of us. I wish I could have been there to see it all myself but am happy to be able to see it here.I cried as I read it but it was a good cry,a cry for how special Ty was and still is thanks to you and Lou and all the things you do to keep him alive in our hearts and minds,Love to you all and give Gavin some extra hugs and kisses for me okay! ....Jean <3

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  7. Wow! You know how to do everything with such perfect style but most importantly with heart! What a great showing of love! Thanks for always sharing, keep making me appreciate this crazy thing called life! Love and Prayers, Terri

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  8. This post is beautiful. I haven't cried through your posts for awhile but that is not the case today. Your words are beautiful, you describe the scene so well I can picture places that I have never seen. We can't begin to understand your pain but know that our hearts break for you!!

    I know this is not the same but when you described returning to the church it touched me so deeply. I will never forget walking into my Grandma's church for her funeral. It was as if a barrier was in front of me and it took my breath away. This church was in my Mom's hometown where we had traveled to as children for summer vacations and to celebrate so many masses and happy times and where my faith was passed down to me even though I was raised hours away from there. Now at that moment I was an adult expecting my 3rd child and this cathedral in all of it's beauty was scarying me to enter. It was the strangest feeling I have ever experienced. But at the same time in that great sorrow it was also where I felt nearest to her. Like she was kneeling next to me in that pew. Sorry for the long post, I just felt like I understood what you meant, as much as I could without having lived your experience. Thank you so much for sharing that detail with us.

    Praying for God's blessings for all of you!
    The Stewart Family
    Nebraska

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  9. Unbelievable..that is the only word i can come up with to descibe yourlove and commitment to your son. You are truely an amazing person. Thank you for sharing your life through this blog. You have made me want to be a better mother to my son.

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  10. Ohhhh Cindy was a beautiful tribute for such a beautiful boy
    My eyes tear up and im so humbled by the love and kindness of humanity in times that hurt so much
    May God continue to give you strength courage peace and love may You Lou and Gavin the Great always know that your prayed for always and so truly loved
    God Bless Always
    Karen from CT

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  11. Beautiful.
    Ann Arbor, MI

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  12. Beautiful tribute to a beautiful boy.

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  13. We should all be so blessed as to love and be loved as Ty has been and always will be. As I have felt so often, you and Lou are incredible. You just never stop sharing and showing the deep feelings of your heart. Wow, how blessed I feel just knowing you via the internet!

    A day never goes by that I don't pray for you all, feel blessed because of what you share and desire and feel inspired to support you and other families fighting or who have fought this way.

    I am convinced Ty is smiling at you & Lou tonight...knowing how loved he is.

    God bless you all!

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  14. Ty is truly free. God bless you, Campbell's.

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  15. Love you cindy,Lou,Gavin and of course TY. He is free now and will always live in everybody's heart. I will continue to pray for strength for you all.

    Laura

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  16. Thinking of you and your family
    I will always think of Ty when I am on long beach
    A beautiful tribute to a special boy and his amazing family.

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  17. Wowww I'm sobbing. Simply beautiful! Xxoo peace n love, lora

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  18. It was a beautiful service - Ty has touched so many lives - I am forever changed because of him. Thinking of you guys always - sending love to you all.

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  19. Phil called me to tell me about how beautiful the course of ceremonies was (from the church to the beach and so on). I am so sad to have missed this but there is truly never a day that I don't think of him and all of the Campbell family. Long Beach is such a special place and I can relate to the sense of comfort you feel there and in the fact that you can call it Ty's eternal home. As always, sending my love and support........

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  20. This is the most beautiful ceremony ever. I am so glad that you could say goodbye to him in such an appropriate and loving way. Your friends and family are truly amazing for all they did for you.
    Hugs!!

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  21. Rest in Peace Beautiful Ty. God bless you, Campbell Family. What a beautiful celebration of his beautiful life.

    Much love,
    Shawna

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  22. Once again, moved to tears by your beautiful words, and Ty's beautiful life. Your family is such an inspiration. I hope you have a peaceful day today, with some genuine smiles.

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  23. Your strength and courage amazes me...what an amazing celebration of Ty's life.

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  24. The beach was the perfect place to celebrate Ty's life since he loved it so much! Your description of the memorial service brought me to tears and I am sure Ty was smiling when he saw the beach display. A beautiful memorial for a beautiful soul. God Bless You, TY!

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    Replies
    1. Loved SuperTy's Candy Land too - what a great, fun-loving tribute to your sweet boy!

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  25. What a wonderful way to celebrate this very special boy who has touched us all. God bless you, Campbell family!

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  26. How beautiful does it sound to honor Ty, such a special little boy. My heart goes out to you and your family, takes alot of strenghth and courage. Ty showed us all how to be brave and truly is a super hero. God Bless Ty in heaven - prayers, love and courage from Mahopac, Ny

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  27. This took my breath away. So perfect. I am happy that you, Lou and Gavin were surrounded by so much incredible love, faith and support as you celebrated Ty at his most favorite place on this earth. He was there, splashing in the waves, laughing, smiling and reaching out to you all. Promising you that the circle of life doesn't end at our bodies passing from this world. There is a "beyond" and I could think of no better place to connect with that truth than at the shore. The tide comes in, the tide goes out.....always in motion. Always strong. Always majestic. Always beautiful.

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  28. Ride the tides, Ty!

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  29. Good article. I will be facing some of these issues as well.
    .

    Here is my web blog ... men edge magazine

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  30. I broke down yet again. i never knew i could love someone i never met, i could get a heartache and feel the pain of a baby who is not mine. Ty, I know you are a brave soul who chose to come here to do just that, to create love that is so strong. You are amazing in everything you were, are and will be. I really dont know how my life would have been havent I "known" you. I want to thank your bravery, i want to thank your family for having you in this world and for making my life so much better. at the same time i realize how messed up and selfish it is to bring a baby into the world where the suffering he endured is unbelievable. I wish it wouldnt have happened. i wish we didnt need your suffering and your death for us to appreciate life. I hope we learn from that and find cure and learn to really love and care without seeing babies suffeting and dying. I love you. You are loved and you are free to live forever.

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  31. Always moved to tears. I think about Ty so often. Keep it coming. I hope we always remember a beautiful boy that makes the world a better place even after his trip to Heaven.

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  32. Beautiful is all that can be said and perfect in every way. Ty is flying free, free from the pain. Sending tons of Hugs from Long Island. xoxo

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  33. What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful son. You never seize to amaze me with your strength and grace. I know Ty must be so proud of you ❤❤❤

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  34. Absolutely an amazing post. I am too, moved to tears. I read your posts and cannot control the emotions that come over me through the flow of your words.... the beauty and loss. Amazing things are being done through your incredible devotion and commitment. Blessings to you and your family.

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  35. Simply beautiful. Wishing you peace ~

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  36. What a beautiful day for Ty. he deserves nothing less. It amazes how much I love someone i never met.

    Cindy, have you ever thought about having blue (in honor of his fav lollipop) rubber bracelets made for superty? I wear a purple one for Ronan and my wrist feels empty without a blue one for Ty. Please consider it.

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  37. I think about you often...and when I see a post from you, I can't wait to read it to see how your doing. This was such a beautiful...and touching post. My heart aches for you, Lou and Gavin. I do know that Ty was right there with you's..smiling and playing in the sand and water. The way you honored him, was perfect! Prayers are always with you and your family! Love, Betty Warren, Beacon NY

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  38. Cindy, I stumbled upon your blog when a close friend of mine was raising money for St Baldrick's. He shaved his head around St Patrick's day, and I have been reading your blog ever since. I have been captivated by your story - both amazed and heartbroken. Amazed by your strength and passion to want to do something and the way you share everything you feel. Heartbroken because Ty was such an incredible little boy and because of how little we see pediatric cancer in the media. You have truly inspired me to do something! I have already shared your story with several family members and friends. Thank you for sharing your story, and for also changing my perspective. I can't wait to share my son's muddy puddle pictures as soon as he is old enough. Praying for you and for all the young cancer patients out there.

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  39. Hey There. I found your weblog the usage
    of msn. That is a really smartly written article. I'll be sure to bookmark it and come back to learn more of your helpful information. Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

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  40. Oh my God what an incredibly beautiful tribute to your beautiful baby <3

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  41. Absolutely beautiful, what an amazing day, just incredibly perfect in every way, just like sweet Ty. He can see all that you do and I know that he had a HUGE smile on his face as he saw what was done in his honor. The Brave Little Soul is the most beautiful and heart wrenching story I have ever read, it touches my heart so and I love that you chose this for one of the readings at his mass.
    Always thinking of you all..every day...much love to you guys. I miss my sweet baby boy Ty every single day. I call him "my" because I love him like I love my own son even though I never met him. That's how special he is and you all are. God bless you Campbell's xoxo

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  42. Good Morning,

    Many thanks for continuing to share " SuperTy's" and your family's courageous and heartbreaking journey.

    My continued thoughts and prayers are with " SuperTy " and all of his family and friends.

    God Bless.

    Rob Swan

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  43. I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blog award.
    http://knittingraysofhope.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/very-inspiring-bloggers-award/
    We have been following you on your blog & feel a personal connection to your story and share your passion to spread awareness.
    We think the way you express yourself on your blog is very inspiring and motivates us personally. Keep at it!

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  44. Hi Cindy,

    That was so beautiful. The ocean has a special way of healing and calming our souls. Perfect choice for the memorial. Everything sounds perfect. But I have to admit I have stayed away from your blog for a while. I check in occasionally. I still pray for you and your family & think of Ty with love. I guess I purposely have taken a break from reading your story because I spend so much time crying and being sad for you. SO selfish on my part, I know. It's not like you can take a break. Not really. I wish you could. I wish you could turn everything off for a while and not have to feel the pain. I wish your family could be whole again. Just wanted to share with you that even though I might wait a week or two to read your blog every time I come back I am more and more inspired by you and I love Ty even more each time I read your words. Ty is so easy to love :) Ty is happy & free I really believe that. He is waiting for you without the constraints of time that we have. He is not stressing about when you will reunite like the stress & pain you must feel here on earth bound by time. God bless you and your family. Praying for healing and comfort to your hearts. Love, Christine S., Ohio

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  45. what an amazing tribute to Ty, you have a wonderful group of friends and family around you..i believe Ty is around you every day, whispering in your ear moma i love you i am here...He sees all the hard work you both are doing he knows how loved he is, he knows he will see you "tomorrow" and until he wants you to be happy to be able to enjoy life..keep him in your heart smile when you smile i'm sure he is smiling back at you...God bless you all..

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