I tried to update the blog for days! I have had so much on my mind, so many people to thank since Ty's memorial, so much pain in my heart that I wanted to "release" through this whole blogging process - but life has been so chaotic this week! Good things, but so incredibly time consuming and stressful.
Immediately following Ty's ceremony, Lou and I jumped face first into a downward spiral. All week we have been crying ourselves to sleep, on edge with one another, impatient with Gavin. We feel like Ty's memorial provided closure for friends and family... as if it's okay to move on now... but for Lou and I it only made our wounds more raw. Don't get me wrong, it was perfect in every way. But we will never move on or put our loss behind us, so closure just isn't in the cards. Healing is, though - we realize that and that is good. We are getting better, slowly, we are. But losing Ty and all he went through just isn't something we can ever accept. Which is why we try so incredibly hard to raise awareness and funds in Ty's honor.
The great news is that I interviewed on national television yesterday. The Doctors :) It won't air until June 12, so I'll keep you posted! We talked about The Muddy Puddles Project, and of course, Ty. Why he is the inspiration behind the project. I am so grateful to Melissa for making this happen, and so grateful for the producers at the show for making it such a memorable experience. In addition, I interviewed with WPLJ-FM and WHUD-FM recently. I will post the audio to those segments soon. They came out really good, and I'm just so happy to be getting the word out about childhood cancer. Even if it's just one listener at a time, it will be one more person who changes their perspective on life because of what Ty Campbell showed them in his five short years, and that makes me happy to imagine. If I didn't have such wonderful validation that Ty made a difference in this world, and that he inspired goodness, I would never ever be able to survive the haunting memories of his pain and suffering over the past 2+ years that I revisit every single day.
I have the most incredible friends. I thank God for them all the time. Even though I am typically slow to respond to emails and texts, and I rarely answer the phone, they get it. They help me by simply being there for me. They take care of me.
Two friends in particular, are the reason why Lou and I are feeling better today. Thanks to their generosity and their willingness to open their doors to us, I am watching the waves roll in while I type this. We are recovering in one of the most beautiful, tranquil places we have ever stayed. It worked out perfectly because we were able to coordinate our travel to the West Coast with our appearance on the show, and we will stay a few extra days to shake it off and enjoy the view :)
I think Ty is here, too. Ty knew that we needed to connect with this family and I am so grateful for that. He brought us together and we are certain to be great friends for life. Thank you, Kass and Rocky, we love you :) I feel we have been lifelong friends and we met only two years ago. I swear Kass always seems to save me when I need it most. I open a funny card from her or I get a heartwarming email about Ty and I instantly feel less alone. We are so grateful for this chance to unwind, think about Ty, and enjoy some time with Gavin minus the usual chaos. Gavin's fourth birthday is on Monday. We already took him to the zoo, and on Monday we will show him LEGOLAND. He is so excited!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that every detail at Ty's memorial came to fruition thanks to another one of our amazing friends, Beth. She works like crazy, travels all the time, and still made time to solicit candy donations, purchase supplies and decorations, work with designers and printers to have signs made, research and find the perfect bottle for Ty's messages, attend site checks at the hotel and liaise with the church on our behalf even though she is Jewish and unfamiliar with some of the church routine. We shared several giggles about that :) On the day of the event, she arrived hours early with her family in tow to help set-up, she dragged around the projector and made sure everything was packed up and returned to our hotel room at the end of the day. She was tireless and she did it all with a smile. She recruited the beach team, she recruited the candy table team, she made sure every detail was just as we wanted, and it was. It was perfect in every way.
The other day I was in the middle of a good cry on my way to work. My childhood friend Caryn called and I thought twice about it before deciding to pick up the phone. I'm so glad I did. We were able to cry together, and then she even managed to make me laugh. She loves Ty so much, and she has done so much for my family. She lives in DC, has two small children, and still managed/manages to make the trip upstate for every important event. Even just for a quick surprise visit where we barely exchange more than a hug. We talked about Ty this morning. How I was reeling over flashbacks from this summer when he proudly ventured into the pool with me. How scared he was to go anywhere because he was always afraid of his head hurting, and how much he truly suffered for half his life. He was a perfectly healthy, happy 2 1/2 year old boy, then he got cancer and experienced constant pain, agitation and discomfort for the next 2 1/2 years of his life. I cried and yelled about how it would have been easier to accept (obviously) if he survived and grew up to be the witty, inspiring young man I imagined he would be. Even if he was disabled, I knew he would do amazing things and he would always make people laugh. Caryn said, "you're right! You should cry! It's sad as shit! And, you know what? That kid really was funny from day one. I mean, he pooped in your shoe... on purpose... and that's hysterical!" I can only thank her for that, because it made me smile and laugh the rest of the way to the office.
When Ty was potty training, I used to let him roam the house without a diaper on so it was easier to run to the potty quick, avoiding accidents (or so I hoped). One night I saw a very suspicious looking two-year old giving a sly smirk from around the corner. When he saw that I spotted him, he ran away giggling and whispered "I made a poop." "Oh my God, WHERE?" His hand was dirty, but I didn't see a poop anywhere. I washed him up, I kept grilling him about what happened, until his hysterical laughter turned my attention to one of my adorable pink shoes. And so, there it was. He put his terd right inside my shoe. As gross as that is, I know, it's also friggin' funny - and he knew it :)
I have been friends with the same group of girls since elementary/middle school. They are always there for me, and they always make me smile. They traveled from Florida, Virginia, LA and San Diego to be with us at Ty's memorial. We have been jokingly calling ourselves the GLOW girls since 8th grade (there used to be a Saturday morning program called GLOW and it stood for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, so we used the acronym to represent the Gorgeous Ladies of Wantagh - so silly, i know, but it was 8th grade and it stuck. They were all there in full force last weekend, and I will be seeing some of them again this weekend! When they walked into the church, we shared big hugs and I told them how incredibly surreal it all felt. How I still doesn't feel like he's gone. Then I said, "I mean, He's in my purse!!" They looked at me totally confused. "Ty. He's in my PURSE - how ridiculous is that!" We all paused for a second, having no idea how to respond to that, and then we just laughed. "Why are we laughing?" we giggled and cried at the same time. You know why? Because they understood that we could either laugh at the absurdity of it all, or breakdown and fall apart right there. I'm so glad they helped me to laugh instead because THAT is what Ty wants. Laughter. To laugh in the face of the pain, death, unfairness and absurdity.
Then there are the people who Ty brought into my life. Like Kass and Rocky. Kristi who writes a letter to Ellen Degeneres every single day. She has become such a huge supporter of the cause. Marilyn coordinated our meal train for almost a year and always checks in on me. Melissa and all of the volunteers at the foundation spend so much time building up this incredible foundation of ours. The entire community at Christ Church. Christina who calls me, emails me and texts me to check in constantly, even though she knows I am terrible at responding. (I was with her when she lost her brother on 9/11 and now she is taking care of me). Elaine drove up four hours to meet me at WingBowl just so we could finally hug. Catherine and her mother had her whole church praying for us, and she came out for Ty's service even in the middle of her brother's full-blown wedding weekend. Ty's nurse emails me weekly just to see how we're holding up, as do many other friends and neighbors.
There are countless friends to thank. So many I could write a book. I just wanted to take some time tonight to express my gratitude to all the beautiful people in my life. During my worst days, when I feel like the most unlucky person on the planet, they help me to remember that I am still blessed. I don't love life anymore - that's just the truth - but I do appreciate the goodness and beauty in this world of ours and I believe Ty made the world a better place in the short time he graced us with his presence.
T.Y. Thank You.