There is a park in Long Beach at the end of Magnolia Street. It is right next to the boardwalk, and I took Ty and Gavin to play there almost every day when they were little. Just before Ty passed away, we asked our friends in Long Beach to seek approval for us to place a statue of Ty in the park, and they did! Just as we were beginning to plan this incredible tribute to Ty, Sandy rolled in and took the entire park with her. It was devastating.
Thanks to the incredible Long Beach community, they rallied together to win a grant for a new playground at Magnolia. It was amazing to watch how the families and neighbors came together to rebuild this very special place. Lou and I were able to begin planning again. The new park was completed earlier this summer, and it is adorable. The last of the construction, the ramp up to the boardwalk, will be completed this week.
The statue was sculpted over the course of several months. Lou and I would "visit" with Ty throughout the process, and share our thoughts with the artist over what should be altered and such. There were many discussions around what, exactly, we wanted to do. Did we want a statue of Ty as he was before he got sick? After? Lou and I decided that we wanted to see Ty as a big boy, standing on his own two feet, strong and healthy. We wanted to see him at the beach, standing on the jetty rocks. What the artist achieved couldn't be more beautiful. Ty looks as though he's taking in the beauty around him, deciding whether he wants to jump or fly.
The plaque reads:
Ty Louis Campbell
Ty was a magnetic little boy who loved the beach and played in this park. On behalf of the Ty Louis Campbell (TLC) Foundation for pediatric cancer research, this statue is a tribute to all children stricken with cancer around the world. It was placed here as a reminder to celebrate the beauty of childhood and to see the wonder of the world through the eyes of a child.
After the unveiling of the statue we took a walk along the ocean and threw some shells out for Ty. We traveled back up to Pawling with our friends who were in town for Ty's birthday. We went out to eat, and before leaving Lou made sure to buy a cupcake for Ty. When we came home we lit Ty's birthday candle, we brought his picture over to the table and we sang happy birthday to Ty. We shared the cupcake between our tears, and we headed upstairs to sit in Ty's room. We went through, his "bag of stuff," we looked through his pictures and artwork from school, we talked about him for a long, long time before we just couldn't keep our eyes open anymore.
These days have been emotionally exhausting. Sometimes I am so consumed with memories and thoughts of Ty that I can barely survive. Then, at other times, I feel like a giant blob of nothingness. Just numb, nothing there, I don't even know what to say to Ty when I lay down at the end of the day other than "I miss you so much, I miss you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you."
I am overwhelmed by the messages we have received, and the countless pictures of children and families honoring Ty on his birthday. Thank you so very much for all the love. It's been a busy, emotional week and I look forward to sharing more exciting foundation news on Monday.
Ty on his first and second birthdays. Happy birthday, Baby.