Kids are so curious. They all love Ty so much, and so many children have become really passionate about the cause. But I am also learning more and more that many kids are confused about what happened to him. They don't understand how or why he got sick (neither do any of us). They question where he is now. They really have such an innocent and true love for Ty that I have come to realize is a testament to the wonderful adults they will become. Check out these soccer uniforms. Go Pawling Hurricanes :)
I have such guilt because I've been too busy to post in over a week. It feels like I'm betraying Ty a little when I can't find time to write about him. I hope he knows that I am thinking of him just the same. Of course he does, but writing remains an important part of the grieving process and I need to find more time lately.
I've been so quiet this week because the foundation has had a large number of fundraisers to juggle, and because we returned to Long Beach on Friday to spend a couple of weeks in our favorite place. I can't even begin to describe how it feels to be here without Ty. Not just here in Long Beach, because we were here a couple of months ago for his celebration... but here. In the same house that we rented last year... that we decided to rent again last June when Ty was still with us because we expected Ty would be with us again this year. Here where we sprinkled his ashes across the sand on the beach and in these same waves that I'm watching roll in and out each day. Here, where I can see our church out the front window, where the beachfront is the same one that bore his name written in the sand and flowers piled high in his honor.
On our first visit down to the beach this weekend we set out a blanket, rested our heads, and Lou said: "Ty is right underneath us. This is the exact same spot" Our eyes filled with tears, of course, but we both agreed that it felt good knowing that he was mixed in with the sand and sea that was right under our feet. Good and horribly, terribly, gut-wretchingly sad all at the same time. I am at peace here, regardless, but I see my handsome boy everywhere I look. And I love seeing Gavin enjoy the beach. He missed out on so much normalcy when he was little, in fact, this was his first time ever flying a kite :) Thanks to his Uncle Billy who got it up in the air - something I was never good at.
"Hi! How are you? Where's Ty?" said a little boy we know well. He and his parents bumped into Lou yesterday on his way back home from the beach.
We first met this little cutie back when Ty was 6 or 8 months old, and he was just a little bit older. "Aw, how cute, they will go to school together!" we said. "They will be friends," we thought. Yesterday he saw Lou outside and naturally asked about Ty. Why wouldn't he? And you know what the truth is... I promise you... it makes me happy because I am relieved to know that the kids are still thinking about Ty and asking about him. Lucky for Lou, he eventually followed up with the question, "is he in heaven?" Lou answered yes with sigh and a smile, and he survived the awful pang to his heart. Like I said, we are both glad when kids ask about Ty, no matter how hard it may be.
Does it make me sad to recognize another little boy riding his two-wheeler on the sidewalk and realize that he was christened on the same day as Ty when we all sat proudly with our babies in our arms, all dressed in white, filled with the greatest hopes and aspirations for them. That he is the same boy that we watched surfing with his Dad the morning after we set Ty free in those same waters? The healthy, athletic, beautiful 5-year old boy who is everything that Ty was supposed to be? Yes. It hurts. It cuts me to the very depths of my soul. But I can't change it and I am so grateful for how vivid my memories remain. And how they come rushing back when I'm here. The good and the bad. I want to remember it all like it is still happening right now. Like he is still here with me. In a lot of ways he still is.
Lou went home for work while Gavin and I stayed on Long Island, so we didn't have a car today. It was kind of nice having absolutely nowhere to go and nothing to do! It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon but Gavin refused to go down to the beach so we instead agreed to get some exercise and take a nice, long walk into town. He was a really good boy. He didn't whine or pull on my legs insisting that I carry him. I was consumed with remembering Ty, looking at all of the houses and assessing the damage from Sandy while he happily collected rocks and sticks and put them in my bag. I walked by our old house twice. I'm a little obsessed with doing that. Then, wouldn't you know it started to rain on our way home. The gray cloud came out of nowhere and I pointed it out to Gavin so he would walk a bit faster, but I never imagined the actual rain would start so quickly. It was a pretty severe downpour! We still had about six blocks to go, and I just laughed. Gavin, too. We ran a little bit, we sang songs about rainy days, and Gavin said he wanted to have a picnic in the rain when we got home (to which I would have happily obliged but the rain stopped when we were just two doors down).
Our first few days here have been very busy, but now it is slowing down and I look forward to settling in at the beach, taking long walks, riding my bike, watching the waves, and spending time with all of our old friends. We have been so overwhelmed by the incredible friends we've made in Pawling and how many people are working so hard for the foundation, and every time we come back to Long Island we are also reminded of how many wonderful friends here want to get to work for Ty, too! Great things are happening, and it's all because of you. Because of your love and support.
In fact, one of my friends that I made since Ty was sick is all the way out in California and we have yet to meet in person. However, she supports the TLC Foundation and has worked really hard to conduct a number of fundraising activities in conjunction with her son's football team. Her most recent activity was hosting a car wash and she shared with me this beautiful story...
I wanted to share a story from the carwash that really illustrates the goodness that can come from giving so much to a great cause such as our boys fighting for other children so that someday they can play a sport or live a life. While Joe and I were setting up the car wash Sunday morning a young man rode up on his bicycle and asked if we could wash his bike. Joe said of course and the young man asked what it was for. Joe explained that we were raising money to support our boys going to San Diego and 50% would go to fight kid’s cancer. The young man whose name was James was so touched by this he asked if he could help wash cars with us! James ended up staying and washing cars the entire 4 hours in the 115 degree miserable heat, he even rode his bike to the store and bought a case of water for the boys and parents. He said he needed to do something good that meant something.
Our kids fighting for other kids touched someone else’s life yesterday and showed us and the boys what a great thing they are doing. It does not matter the amount of money we raise every penny counts and just spreading the awareness and doing good as often as possible is what we want from our wonderful football players. Thank you all again for working so hard to make this happen.
Thank you all so much for this. These stories help Lou and I cope, and keep us working so hard on Ty's Foundation because we see that it is making such a difference on so many levels. It means so much that what happened to our baby boy matters, and that he continues to inspire great things no matter how big or how small.
THE DOCTORS AIRS TOMORROW!!!
The Muddy Puddles Project will be featured tomorrow morning, June 12, on national television. The Doctors will air at 9AM on CBS here in NY, but the times vary depending where you live so you can check here for local listings. My segment is toward the very end, and I will be sure to post the link the following day. Thank you all for your support - I am nervous. I hope I don't look/sound foolish!! I have been holding off on heavily promoting the Muddy Puddles Project because we were waiting for this segment to air. Hopefully it will jumpstart this terrific campaign and drive lots of people to the August event!
Thanks to our great friends at Buzz Creators, I was also featured as a "Today's Honoree!" on Friday. It really was such an honor and I was so flattered to have been nominated, let alone selected :) As these media placements continue trickling in, I get excited that some day all of this attention will start an awareness avalanche!