Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Seriously, September?

After 9/11, missing person fliers covered every building, every lamppost, every parked car on my block for weeks to follow.  I lived one block East of the Armory, where families went to report missing loved ones.

So, back-to-school is in full effect and tomorrow is 9/11.  God help me get through September.  Then, next week will mark the day we drove home for the last time from the hospital. Ty's very last time in a car as I stroked his hair, covered his t-shirt in tears  and held him in my arms in the back seat.  How I wish that hour-long car ride could have lasted forever.  Like, if we never get home to where he is supposed to die, then he would never die. 

I was just telling Lou how I relish in the memories of Ty's scent.  His hair always smelled delicious, no matter how dirty and sticky from long stays in the hospital and sick spells.  Yet, Gavin can take one small lap around the house and end up with the stinkiest feet and sweat-smelling hair.  No matter what, Ty was always sweet.  Like milk and honey.  He was such a gift.  (Please know that I lovingly bury my nose in Gavin's sweaty hair with just as much adoration, I promise. I am his mother as much as I am Ty's and his smelly little boy head doesn't phase me one bit.)

On 9/11 we lost my best friend's brother, Andrew.  Andrew Brunn was one of the greatest men I've ever known.  He was braver than brave and the true definition of a hero.  We call Ty a hero, but he was five years old and had no idea what he was faced with.  He didn't have a choice.  Andrew, on the other hand, chose to dedicate his life to fighting for our safety and freedom time and time again.  He served in the US National Guard, the NYPD and finally, FDNY.  He accomplished all of these feats before his 27th birthday.  He was, indeed, too good for this earth.  A better man than most. 


On September 11th I was living in lower Manhattan, Union Square/Gramercy Park.  I was watching the news that morning and randomly caught the videos of the first plane as it hit, assuming it was a Cessna or something small. I was so confused.  I sat on the edge of my bed and continued to get dressed for work until the next plane appeared behind the newscaster out of complete surprise.  I called my mom, because that's what I do when I'm worried.  Then I took the elevator to my rooftop to see it with my own eyes instead of on the TV.  Never did I imagine the magnitude of what was about to unfold.  There was one other girl up there who lived in my building, but I had never seen her before.  She was taking pictures of the towers engulfed in smoke.  We didn't exchange a single word because it was almost as if it was too sacred to speak.  We were silenced by our own thoughts, fears and confusion.  We were deafened to everything around us other than the sound of nonstop sirens.

Not once did I imagine that I would know anyone down there.  I didn't really consider the casualties at all because I was so overwhelmed with confusion.  In fact, I had been helping a colleague plan a dinner event at Windows on the World for September 12th and had been at the restaurant the very night before for a site check.  In my state of shock and confusion, I even found myself wondering where we might relocate the event if there was any smoke damage to the restaurant.  The fact that human lives were and will be lost hadn't yet occurred to me.  Nor did the fact that the restaurant itself would crumble into dust shortly thereafter.

There was no cell phone service in the city because every single person was trying to get a hold of someone.  I was alone in my apartment, so I simply walked to work to find others.  There I could get online and IM with friends.  I learned about simultaneous attacks and messaged my girlfriends in DC and LA.  I called Christina who was working just blocks away.  "You know my brother's down there." she said. "We have to get the f*%! out of here and find him."  That was just before the buildings fell.  I still can't describe the feeling when I heard my friend say "The tower fell, it's falling!"  We all abandoned our phones and computers/email to watch the news in a conference room after that.  When the second tower went down, I shattered the silence of the crowded room when I was the first one to break into loud sobs and gasps.  I was choking and could barely catch my breath.  We had to go. 

With an entourage of friends and work colleagues who had nowhere else to go (Manhattan was closed off and they all lived off the island), we headed back downtown to find shelter at my apartment.  Droves of people walked the streets and over the bridges to get out.  As we marched down 3rd Avenue, a man covered in soot and blood ran in the middle of the street in the other direction yelling "you're going the wrong way! Don't go down there!"  It wasn't until that moment that I started to fathom just how incredibly detrimental the situation was.  Just how many people must be hurt and dying.  Before that I was locked in denial, trying to stay positive. 

Christina and I spent the day looking for Andrew.  We walked down to his firehouse where we eventually found her sister-in-law.  We waited. One firefighter came back, covered in thick gray dust, and he could barely speak.  He was the only one that showed up at all that day.  The only one ever to come back. 

The hours that followed dragged on for an eternity. Christina and I spent the entire day wandering and waiting, just me and her, while the others were all back at my apartment.  We checked all of the inpatient lists at the various hospitals and triages - but no patients were coming in.  "Where are they all?" I wondered, in my ever-positive state of denial. We finally sat at the fountain in Washington Square Park until the sun began to set.  Time to turn in, head home and watch the news for more updates. 

During our walk home, Christina stopped on the brick sidewalk at Union Square park and closed her eyes.  She stretched out her hand, and raised her head as tears formed in her eyes.  I didn't know what was happening and didn't know what to do but to watch her... entranced.  I don't know how long she stood there, but I know when she "came back" she started freaking out.  She cried and in between her tears she managed to tell me that she was sure her brother had just died.  That she saw him, that he reached for her, that he was totally and completely with her, and now he's gone.

They found Andrew Brunn in a stairwell that was still slightly intact.  His body was found covering that of a civilian woman, along with three other firefighters and another injured civilian.  His family was able to have a wake with an open casket, followed by the most breathtaking funeral you can ever imagine.  Movies can't even do such a funeral justice.  I do believe because he was found like this, it is 100% possible that he chose that time of day to go off to heaven.  That it is possible he was unconscious, but perhaps still breathing, until we gave up the search and headed home.  I like to think it was then that he found Christina to say "You can stop looking for me, now.  I am right here with you.  Forever."  This was his fire truck.  Ladder 5.  God Bless Andrew Brunn. 



I am just as convinced that Ty chose the very minute that he went to heaven, too.  He waited for the preacher to leave.  He waited for me to walk him to the door and return to the room where Lou laid next to him before his eyes shot open for one last stare into my eyes.  He wanted to leave during that beautiful day, while the sun was still high, so he could soar among those incredible clouds and over the red/golden treetops.  I know this with all of my heart, and it gives me comfort.  If I hadn't witnessed Christina's spirituality throughout her own grieving, I might not have been so open to these miraculous events with Ty. 

Gavin's first day of school was a success.  He was so happy to be back he ran off without even giving me a kiss or hug goodbye.  I love his nursery school so much, it is a special place, but driving up that hill was like knives to the heart.  Walking down the hall to the classroom just before Ty's was even harder.  I never had to do that before.  Last year Gavin was in the room to the right, not down the hallway to the left.  My entire drive there, and my entire time inside that school, I wore my sunglasses and cried thinking about how Ty loved it there so much, and how short his time was there.  He was so robbed.  And so are Lou and I.  We are ROBBED of the first day of school and everything that goes with it. 

Sorry.  Sucky September.  That's all I can say. 

Gavin, on the other hand, is loving back-to-school.  The only thing that he said of concern recently is that he is "gonna be mad at God forever!"  When I asked him why, he answered, "because he WON'T let TY come BACK!!"  Then he crossed his arms and gave me a "humph!"  I get it buddy.  I know.  See that empty spot to your right?  That's where Ty should be.  That's where he is!  xoxo. 

Gavin on his first day back


25 comments:

  1. September does suck. My thoughts and prayers go to Andrew's family - a true hero indeed. My thoughts and prayers are with you guys always. As much as my heart is heavy with sadness thinking of your loss - and all that it entails - seeing Gavin's smile as he is so excited for the first day of school brought me joy. RIP SuperTy, RIP Andrew. xoxoxoxo
    Donna T

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    Replies
    1. I agree, September (and October) suck. Gotta love Gavin's smile. I can see Ty in him, Cindy.

      Delete
    2. DIVORCE AND MARITAL BREAKTHROUGH

      It all started when my husband cheated on me with another woman unknowing to him that the woman is a wizard, the woman castes a spell on my husband which made my husband change his feelings towards me and the kids and broke our 6 years marriage. i was confused and stressed because of the pains of being a single mother, when i called a friend and explained my marital challenges to her, she instructed and directed me to contact a great powerful spell caster called Dr. Ugo Wonders living in Florida. i contacted Dr. Ugo and explained my problems, he assured me his help and it was 100% guaranteed. i provided the materials for the spell and in 48 hours, after Dr Ugo Wonders of generalspelltemple@gmail.com finished casting the spell, my husband was free from the evil woman spell and he came back home to us a day after begging us to forgive him. i was so shocked and short of words and here i am today happily testifying so the world can know how this great man helped me with his real powerful spell.
      To every one with marital problem, divorce issues, lost lover or any relationship related issues, you can contact Dr. Ugo wonders the ultimate spell caster via his email address generalspelltemple@gmail.com or call his mobile number directly on +13863369876


      DIVORCE AND MARITAL BREAKTHROUGH

      It all started when my husband cheated on me with another woman unknowing to him that the woman is a wizard, the woman castes a spell on my husband which made my husband change his feelings towards me and the kids and broke our 6 years marriage. i was confused and stressed because of the pains of being a single mother, when i called a friend and explained my marital challenges to her, she instructed and directed me to contact a great powerful spell caster called Dr. Ugo Wonders living in Florida. i contacted Dr. Ugo and explained my problems, he assured me his help and it was 100% guaranteed. i provided the materials for the spell and in 48 hours, after Dr Ugo Wonders of generalspelltemple@gmail.com finished casting the spell, my husband was free from the evil woman spell and he came back home to us a day after begging us to forgive him. i was so shocked and short of words and here i am today happily testifying so the world can know how this great man helped me with his real powerful spell.
      To every one with marital problem, divorce issues, lost lover or any relationship related issues, you can contact Dr. Ugo wonders the ultimate spell caster via his email address generalspelltemple@gmail.com or call his mobile number directly on +13863369876

      Delete
  2. My heart aches for you Cindy, and for your friend Christina and her family. Life can be so very unfair. Praying for you all...

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  3. Sucky September is right. My anxiety is at full tilt and I just can't escape the sadness and memories that come with September. But it remains an opportunity for us to spread awareness for Ty and for that I'm grateful. Giant virtual hugs and hopefully some ladybugs heading your way.

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  4. 12 years ago..I still get so emotional thinking about this day in history. I remember seeing the smoke in the sky ( you could see if from westchester )...Praying for you today! :-)

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  5. I just want you to know you are often in my thoughts. My 2 year old daughter recently watched an episode of "Peppa Pig" where they jump in muddy puddles. Now she runs around saying she loves to jump in muddy puddles. I think of Ty every time. I also recently went to a play date at the park with two of my girlfriends and our children (9 kids, we each have 3). Out of nowhere it started pouring. All us adults ran for cover, but the kids continued to play. They were soaked and dirty (LOTS of muddy puddles) but they sure had fun. Again I thought of Ty. If I had had my camera I would have taken a picture for you. 9 wet and dirty kids. I know Ty is smiling at all these children who now get to jump in puddles and play in the rain because of him. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    Replies
    1. Elizabeth, my little boy watches Peppa Pig too and each episode they jump in muddy puddles (they jump in them a lot!)I think of precious Ty. God bless you Cindy, Lou and Gavin, may all of our love and support get you through these two horrendous months. Much love to you all <3

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  6. Crying! Ty should be right next to Gavin, my heart is so heavy for you. I feel your pain Cindy and I'm so sorry, I wish I could change it all for you. I'm sorry for the loss of Andrew also, there is no comparison to New Yorkers, especially our firemen, they are the absolute bravest. God bless us all today on 9/11. Please know I miss, love and think about sweet Ty every single day. He is the sweetest, most special boy to me. God bless you! xoxo

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  7. I am stting here in tears for all of you, my heart aches. I haven't posted in a while and I feel guilty about that. I think about Ty, you and your family allot. I pray that god givs you strength to go on...and that time will someone ease your pain. I have a 7 yr old son, and I can't even begin to imagine what you go thru every single day. Prayers always. Betty Warren, Beacon, NY

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  8. Your email made me cry as I read down through it ... and then like a little ray of light at the bottom of the page little Gavin's cute cute, cute photo just made me smile.

    It is just so unfair what you have and are going through. As I read your story I feel such a connection I was married 8 years in August, you in September. We were pregnant at the same time and my little girl was born the Jan after Ty. I hate that you and so many other parents are going through this brutal heartache. But you are going to make changes, and you are going to save lives in Ty's name, I know it. I appreciate everything you are doing to create awareness and research. I also appreciate my life and my two kids so much because of your story.

    Take care during these sad months, you are in alot of hearts and thoughts. xx

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  9. Cindy, I've been thinking about you and your family a lot these past few days. I can relate so much to the bond you had with Ty, his sweet smell, and my heart aches so much for your loss. Whenever I get really sad thinking about it I pray for Ty to stay with you and to take care of you until you both are together again.

    Your tribute to your friend's brother is beautifully written, as always.

    Gavin's pain is still so raw, it breaks my heart. But you're right, Ty IS right there by his side. Not in the way he wants him to be, but he is and will always be there in spirit.

    ((((HUGS)))))

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  10. You are right. September does suck. I grew up in Manhattan and my parents were still living there, blocks away from the carnage. I live on Staten Island with what was a beautiful view of The Twin Towers. That morning I heard the second plane hit as it was playing on tv. I too was numb and confused. I am so sorry for the loss of your friemd. I cannot even express my sympathy for the devastating loss of your son. Whenever a child dies words are not adequate. I send my prayers to you. God somehow chose to send that magnificent little angel to you for such a short time.Maybe because you were his perfect mommy. God bless little Ty.

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  11. Oh my, this is the most poignant piece of writing. It is crystal clear. It is spiritual. It is earthly. I have so many tears. This post, the entirety of it, has touched me so deeply. The juxtaposing of the stories, the sadness. The sweet, sweet smell of a child's head. The loss. I am so sorry. This is profound, Cindy. I will be praying so hard and thinking of your Ty tonight.

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  12. You know Cindy, time and time again I replay every blog in my head lime a movie. I memorize every line every story. I know and feel them by heart. You could just ask me. Yes September was the month when you wrote what we were all scared to hear that the cancer was back and the worse part was that there was nothing else doctors could do. I was so mad at the world at the doctors that day. I just couldn't believe how they went to sleep that night knowing that they send home this amazing little boy who lived for a year cancer free. I remember how you described his ride in the car when he couldn't swallow and you had his face turned to the side because of that. I remember how you described what you felt but I knew that this was just not the end of Ty. You know why? Because just in August a year before that Ty had serious relapse and a doctor performed an amazing surgery and removed and scratched every fucking cancer cell. Ty was finally cancer free. So I knew in my heart that a miracle would happen again. This was then in August before his amazing surgery that I first printed his picture and posted at my Job with a words and good wishes for him. In my heart then I couldn't even tolerate the thought that you boy won't make it. Not Ty. I was so mad, I felt like G-D led me to your blog and wanted to show me that miracles do happen. I had full strong faith. And then few days latter when you posted a picture of him wrapped in a towel after convincing him to take a shower where you played with his hand pretending his was playing with a car and I looked into his eyes and I knew then that Ty would die. I was mad so mad because I lost faith and I broke down. I didn't believe it until that picture. I still have hard time looking at that photo. His eyes were talking to me his soul was exposed. I'm so sorry that maybe I didn't believe G-D can make miracles. Maybe I didn't pray enough. I really don't know. But honestly I do until this day blame the whole world for failing your little boy. We really didn't do enough and we still don't. But I do believe in miracles. I do now know that G-D led me to your blog not t break my heart but to learn something bigger and make me better. I know that Ty knew about his future. He was special like that. I know that he is okay now. I miss your boy dearly. He was bigger than all of us. And to those who lost their life on September 11 I want to say that you will never be forgotten. You all are heroes!

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  13. Gavin, little man, you will do great things.

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  14. So beautifully written! So very sad.....

    Love,
    Jan
    Georgia

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  15. Yes - you, Lou, Ty, and Gavin are ROBBED. It is just so unfair. Cancer robs children the joy of all the firsts in life; instead you are left to endure the firsts without your precious Ty. My heart aches for you all.

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  16. Cindy,
    Your beautiful words always reminds me of what's important in life. I look forward to your blogs for updates on the Campell family and your words of wisdom. Thinking about Ty as always.

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  17. Oh your poor heart- it has been through too much...
    Way too much heart break!

    Thank God for beautiful Gavin- he is beautiful!

    I am always in awe of your amazing strength

    I am so sorry that Ty had to be taken from you all too soon. So unfair! Sending love and light to u all.

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  18. My heart breaks for your family. I pray for you, Gavin, Lou and Ty daily asking God to comfort you and help you through each day and for you to receive as many signs and you need. Please know Ty is always with you and you are always in the thoughts of so many!

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  19. Cindy - I never cried so hard. For you in so many ways, but your blog today was so touching. Please know Ty is with you.

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  20. I don't know if you've read/heard this story but it's absolutely beautiful. Perhaps the first steps towards better cancer treatments really ARE happening!

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/13/221043643/treating-kids-cancer-with-science-and-a-pocket-full-of-hope

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  21. omg he is so big!! Gavin, wow! Please NEVER feel the need to explain your love for Gavin. . . You are an incredible mother and we all know that you love Gavin. . . I envy you as a mother. Cindy, you and Lou are my hero's.

    <3 Joy Marielle
    Baltimore, MD

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