Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks for Ty and Missing Mely

It comes on so suddenly, these waves of tremendous sadness.  But like the tide, they come in and they go out.  The sadness comes on suddenly, and then it is gone again.  It might last minutes, hours, or days.  But it does pass eventually.  Until it comes back again.  And that’s okay.  Such is life.  I have finally learned to just relinquish the illusion of control and accept the fact that I have none.  That bad things happen to good people.

Lou and I, we are doing so great.  Then, we are not great at all.  Thanksgiving certainly doesn’t help – nor does any holiday.  But this holiday?  Knowing what comes next?  Trying to be thankful for all of my blessings!  I can’t even remember Thanksgiving last year.  Not one thing about it, I swear.  I’m not sure it ever even happened, because I guess I wasn’t mentally here to even witness it.

When someone wishes me a “Happy Thanksgiving,” my mind screams “f*ck off – what’s there to be happy about it? What do I have to be thankful for?” But I promise it is just for a tiny split second, and before I can flinch I feel genuine gratitude for the kind gesture.  I am sincere when I say “Happy Thanksgiving,” in return and I truly appreciate the thoughtfulness behind the well wishes.  It is good and kind that people wish one another a Happy Thanksgiving, and it’s not anyone’s fault that I am suffering a tremendous loss underneath this facade.  I will be okay.

Thanksgiving before cancer was a great day.  The much anticipated long weekend was filled with delicious food, football and family.  The air slowly being lifted as the day progressed and the Wednesday workday started coming to a close.  It was as if everyone was secretly thinking the same thing… we’re almost free!

When Ty got sick, Thanksgiving - for the first time in my life - was more about giving thanks than ever before.  The true magnitude of how thankful I was became so very clear to me.  I didn’t wallow in the fear or get angry because he was an innocent victim to this disgusting disease.  Rather, I permeated infinite gratitude that he was still with us.  It wasn’t until the possibility of losing him became such a reality that I realized just how lucky I was. How I wish I could wake up tomorrow to his warm breath and beautiful face right next to mine.

Tomorrow I will be thankful for ever having had Ty at all, no matter how short his life was.  Like I always say, it is fitting that his name is also representative of the abbreviation for "thank you."  Such things don't happen on accident. Of course, I will be thankful for Gavin, who is my sole reason for living and smiling in this new life without Ty.  And, I will be thankful for Lou, who is the only person who is truly with me on this ride.  Sitting right next to me, hands in the air, screaming at the top of his lungs right alongside me.

I will also be thinking about Mely.  This will be our first Thanksgiving without her (she stayed with us through Christmas last year).  Lou and I were talking about her just a few minutes ago, and thinking about what a wonderful Mom she will be some day.  I mean, that poor girl came to live with us on a wing and a prayer!  Yes, she knew Ty had cancer, but never could she have been prepared for this crazy family she was about to live with.  If I was ever faced with such a deep reality of life at the ripe age of 22, I surely would have run the other way.  It takes a special person to embrace it like she did. I love her like my own sister.

Last year, when living without power as a result of Hurricane Sandy, Mely shared stories about her time as a young girl, when they lived without power during the war in Bosnia. Our conversation began after I tried making instant coffee by boiling water on the BBQ grill one morning, and our coffee ended up tasting like cheeseburgers – BLECH!  It prompted Mely to tell us about how her mom would make her  treats on the stovetop flame during the war, and how one day her father came home with a bag of oranges.  She remembered how she and her brother devoured the oranges in under an hour, for they had rarely ever had such a fantastic treat in all their lives.  For the first time in the two years that she lived with us, I thought to ask her, “How long were you without power in Sarajevo?”  Can you guess?  It was years.  For almost four years, on and off, she grew up without access to electricity.  As a young child she had to meet on the street corner for school every morning.  They changed the location for school on a daily basis so that the children would not be an easy target during wartime.  Her mother was seriously injured by shrapnel while hanging laundry out their apartment window.  Her parents dodged bullets to get drinking water for their family.

Then, as a young adult, she came to America as an au pair to experience something new and to gain opportunity.  Never could she have imagined she would end up being part of our nutty family, and helping care for our son who was dying of cancer.  Our beautiful son, who then got better and gave us so much hope, only to die in the end.  She laid next to his still body.  She held his hand and kissed his cheeks.  She left her tears on his face.  I’m not sure I was capable of understanding such love at such a young age.  Tonight, I go to bed grateful for how much I love her, and for how much she loved Ty.

Angelina Jolie made a movie about the Bosnian war entitled, “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”  I remember watching it with my Mely and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time with such painstaking anxiety.  To this day it keeps me up at night.  Maybe that is how she was so capable of loving so deeply, and understanding with such maturity.  To understand the beauty that lies underneath the pain in life, you need to experience the pain.  And that she did.  Mely, my little sister, how I miss you.  Thank you, God, for letting her into our lives like you did.  I’m not sure we would have ever survived otherwise.

I guess I felt I needed to share some Thanksgiving perspective before going off to bed tonight.  To help us all remember why we are thankful tomorrow.  Please remember all of the children in hospital beds.  All of the families who lost a child.  Remember the last piece of fruit that went rotten on your counter and think of Mely and her oranges.  There is only one day a year that we are responsible for reflecting on what we are thankful for, so in between the football and the feast, let us all remember to do that.

And, for Pete's Sake PLEASE continue to vote and share this contest.  It is keeping me up at night like you can't imagine. We are back and forth for first place, right now by only two votes.  TWO VOTES.  You can each vote up to four times, and many people are able to vote daily. Talk about every vote counting!  I am so grateful and humbled by all of your support thus far, and hope and pray it will continue until the vote ends at midnight on November 30th!  If we win first place, we will be awarded a $10,000 grant for childhood cancer research.  Please, keep voting.  Keep sharing.  If there is an email group at work you can encourage to vote, please do.  If there are other means you can think of to spread the word, please do so.  We are back and forth between first and second place, and every vote truly does make a difference.  Thank you.  Happy Thanksgiving!



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  2. Today I am forever grateful for you Cindy and Ty. I am grateful you allowed me and others to be part of your journey, I am grateful for your incredible courage. I am forever greatful for you changing my perspective on life, to enjoy the smallest moment to the largest and to let my kids be kids. I am grateful. Thank you

  3. I am forever grateful for you and your beautiful Ty. From the depths of my soul.

  4. Cindy, that link does not let me vote!!! I've been trying all day. A message apperas that I cannot read entirely because it does not let me scroll down. It says something about auntenticating voters through facebook to make sure they're real persons. I suppose I have to click somewhere in that window, but I can't scroll down!!!! I've tried in three different computers an I can't do it =(. Let me know if you can figure out what it is. =(

    1. Yes, I get the same message, too. I have tried 3 times to vote!

  5. Hi Cindy, I couldn't vote either for the same reason. :(. I wanted to say though that your blog post was so beautiful. You are such a thoughtful person always. Ty is always in my thoughta. I thank god for
    Ty and your entire family.
    Luv, Emily

  6. Thought of you and Lou last night and again this morning. I can't image the anguish you are going through daily, let alone on a national day to give thanks for our blessings. You are right that you were blessed to have this beautiful boy in your life. To have him taken away is unfathomable. Please know that you are in the prayers of so many people Little consolation I know. We just received news our little girl's tumor is benign. Thank God. Just the few days of waiting were indescribable worry...torment. I am sooo very sorry for all the parents who are fighting this battle for their kids. Those of us who didn't get the diagnosis they prayed for. I truly am. I hope you and all the Moms and Dad's who are struggling to get through each day somehow find peace. You have made such an impact in my life. I no longer become annoyed at kitchen spills, messy floors, muddy shoes or rambunctious sugar crazed late nights. I realize how blessed I am thanks to your precious Ty and I will always.

  7. I don't celebrate thanksgiving. Hard to say why. My husband works, my my works, my sisters are with their other friends and family so it's me and my kids and its perfectly ok. Yesterday I was lighting Hanukkah candles with my kids and we had few young Rabbis stop by to bless and play with my kids. And what do you know Cindy, my first thought was that of Ty. So of course, as with every religios person I had to ask about death life hell heaven and why do babies die? It is always so heavy on my mind. And you know something, i heard such an amazing story I had to share with you.
    There was once a family who waited for a long time to have Baby, and finally they were blessed with a child. They were so excited, what a blessing. Only to realize that few days latter their only baby didn't survive. They were devastated and went to their Rabbi. They were angry at G-D. And that Rabbi told them a story. There was once a very pure man who was such a righteous person but one day he was killed. However, when he came to meet with G-D he wasn't allowed into heaven because apparently in his very young years he possibly did something unholy. So G-D needed to send his soul for the last purification for just few days in the world until he is completely pure to enter eternity.
    So the Rabbi explained to the family that maybe this baby was a pure soul who needed to be born to a beautiful caring family for just that limited time.
    I thought this story was so beautiful and simple and loved the explanation. Although we will never know Ty's mission I know that he indeed had one and a powerful one at that. Thinking about you everyday baby boy. Voted as many times as I could and bought your bracelet for myself and also ordered Hanukkah gifts for my boys using my amazon smile. Anything and everything includes you :)

  8. Unable to vote Cindy. Tried twice, a few hours apart :(((

  9. Bad things happen to good people. I have said that many times myself. No comfort in those words; only acceptance of something you cannot change.
    Being thankful for other things is the best we can do, Cindy. It's what keeps us going.
    Ty was the greatest gift. He lives on in you, Lou, and Gavin. Thank you for keeping this blog and all the wonderful things you are doing to honor him. It keeps Ty's spirit alive for the rest of us.
    Hope Mely enjoys the holidays. I know your Ty made a great impact on her life. May God keep her and bless her always.

  10. I never met Ty And I miss him :-(. I think you should go to Bosnia and visit, and see scars of the war. I lived thru it for a while, it was awful and I will have PTSD for good. Oh such is lif