Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another year gone. I wonder what he's doing up there all this time?

Today we spent the first day of 2014 on the slopes in Vermont.  The cold, crisp air really helped me get out of a funk I’ve been since Christmas. I tried to imagine Ty soaring around the mountain with me, perched on my shoulder – but of course that idea can’t overpower the real longing in my heart, and the feeling of remorse when I consider the fact that here I am enjoying another treat in life that Ty will never get to experience.

I know, I know.  New year, new chapter in life.  Moving forward.  Resolve to eat well, be healthy in body, mind and spirit, have more fun, all that stuff.  But for me, on this New Year’s Day, I am stuck on reflecting rather than moving on.  I can’t help it.  The holidays are hard and I’m a little stuck in the past.  Remembering Ty and reflecting on an entire year without him.  How did that even happen?  Gavin has grown so much, I am always asking him, “where did my baby go?”  I haven’t been very present this past year, and I feel like so much has happened without me even witnessing it.  I was there, but I wasn’t there. 

Lately I’ve been stuck on just how little Ty was, and how different everything is when your child is vulnerable.  We are their parents and we will do anything to protect them.  From the littlest thing like a minor incident at the playground, to surgery for tubes in the ears or tonsils removed.  We are there.  Watching.  Nurturing. Protecting.  What happened to Ty became something so much bigger than we could have ever imagined that fateful day when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  We never imagined just how little control we would have.  Just how much pain and suffering our little boy would endure. 

When you hear of someone diagnosed with cancer, it can be terrifying.  A husband, a parent, any loved one… I think the most common reaction is fear and compassion.  The dreadful thought of losing that loved one is the first thing that crosses the mind.  “What would I ever do without him/her?”  The idea of such loss, and living your life without that person, is simply heartbreaking.   Unbearable.

When it’s your child, processing the idea is different.  Instead of imagining your life without your most beloved, most precious gift – you beg and bargain to end your own life so that he or she can go on.  “Take me instead!  I already had a first day of school.  A first kiss.  I scored a goal.  I saw the Grand Canyon.  I had a beautiful wedding.  I don’t need any more firsts, because nothing – and I mean NOTHING - can beat the first time I ever looked at his beautiful face.  Let him live.  I want to die.  I promise, I do.”

During my bargaining with God, begging for the chance to switch places with my son, the mother in me worried only that Ty and Gavin would be so sad and miss me if I died.  That they wouldn’t understand and they would cry for me.  I hoped they wouldn’t feel like I left them and I also hoped that Lou would find someone else that could give him and Gavin the love they need.  I thought I would watch them from the heavens and I wouldn’t miss a thing.  I was so incredibly 100% fine with that idea.  But in the end, it was never my choice to make.  No matter how much I begged, it was Ty who had to go into surgery time and time again.  It was him that winced with the needle every time, the endless head pain was only felt by him, the horrific side effects of chemotherapy and radiation were his to bear, not mine.  And after all of the heroic fighting, I am the one left here, alive and healthy, snowboarding on a beautiful day, and Ty is the one watching down on me.  Still, I can’t help but feel like I am missing out. 

I am certain that Ty is someplace magical.  That his soul is so very alive and well.  That he is continuing to do amazing things.  But whenever I imagine him painting rainbows in the sky, or winking at me from the stars, I can’t help but feel so left out.  It makes me crazy to imagine him doing such amazing things but I’m not allowed to watch.  I can’t see what he’s up to, and that hurts to imagine.  I should be there, on the sidelines, beaming with pride.  Instead I am left to wonder if he has friends.  Who was there to greet him when he died (oh, how I wanted to be the one holding his hand the entire way).  Does he grow or does he remain little – because I don’t want to imagine him growing up in any way without me. I know this is a very “human” way of imagining his life after death, but sometimes I can’t escape the simple-minded concept of time being linear, and his experiences being similar to what I know here on earth.   I am left to wonder about this for the rest of my life. 

When Gavin and I walked out from Karate the other night, he said with excitement, “I SEE HEAVEN!”  Sure enough, there was one giant star right ahead of us in the early night sky.  “Me, too!” I answered.  “Who do you think is watching us from that star?”

“Yay!  Ty is watching us.  Ty is with us!” 

I just wish we could be up in that star with him, too. 

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, blessed New Year.  Thank you, always, for your continued love and support. 


  1. I can't even begin to comprehend that type of pain or loss!! Always thinking of Ty! There is no doubt the heavens are brighter, what an amazing soul and he should be right here, right now beside his mom and dad and brother. I hope 2014 brings you and your family more peace and lots and lots of signs from Ty.

  2. Thank You for sharing with us. Xoxox

  3. I wish you could visit Ty on that star just for a little while to know that he is ok - I have to believe he is ok, in heaven, surrounded by loved ones watching after him until the day you and Lou are reunited with him. Always thinking of Ty and reminding myself how fortunate I am - my son reaping the benefits of the lessons your beautiful son has taught me. Sending you guys love always. Sending prayers to Ty in heaven. xoxoxo Donna T

  4. Beautiful post. Will be sharing this one. Thank you for teaching us to hug tighter, enjoy more, yell less, and love large. Sending prayers and love to you all and Ty.

  5. Even though the pain of losing your beautiful boy will always be with you, I am so proud of you for fighting for all the other Ty Campbell's battling this horrible disease. You have opened the eyes of so many other parents to appreciate the small things and never take a day with our children for granted. You have spread awareness in so many communities around the WORLD because you chose to make your experience with Ty's illness public. Thousands of people fell in love with a little boy we never had the privilege to meet. Thousands of followers are funding childhood cancer and are educated about it all because of you! There is no doubt in my mind that Ty is smiling down on you and screaming in the clouds of heaven about how proud he is of his mommy! The foundation did amazing things in 2013 and 2014 will be even bigger! Lots of love to you, Lou, Gavin and kisses to heaven for Ty! Tonya

  6. Its us who have to thank you for letting us know Ty and your wonderful family, although I live in Spain, I feel a very strong bond with Ty and the Campbell family. Bless you.

  7. I can't imagine. No, actually I don't ever want to imagine what it feels like. I pinch myself time to time when I get to hug and be with my boys. Thats the ultimate happiness and unfortunately many don't really comprehend the true happiness we are given. It erally is nothing else around us but our kids and family and as long as we have each other nothing else matters. Thats my 2014 resolution, to only really care about the things that matter. You and Ty and your beautiful family taught me that. Now my facebook page is filled with storoes of kids fighting cancer and I am no longer ignorant. Now even though it makes me sad it brings me tears and heartache is the least I can do is read, learn, spread awareness, do as much as I can and teach my kids about Ty and many more kids like him. Thats my resolution. I will contunie to appreciate life and continue to pray that Ty is in a beautiful amazing place where he doesn't even realize for a second you are not there. I know that once he will you will already be there. :)) Love you every day superTy.

    1. To Cindy.

      How can I love someone I never met?
      How can I ache over someone I haven't known?
      How can I dream of someone I haven't seen?
      How can I open my heart to someone who wasn't mine?
      But love is strong like that.
      Love is powerful like that.
      Love knows no boundaries like that.
      Love is simply unique like that.
      How can a happy mother love another child who isn't hers?
      I wouldn't have been able to believe it until I fell inlove with yours.

      Miss you baby boy.
      By Tatiana.

  8. Thank you Cindy for sharing. You have put a face on a disease from a parent's view point. I hope this new year brings you a bit more healing, and even some joy. God bless your little Ty always.

  9. Thank you for being so willing to share your heart. I love hearing about how you are and, of course, Ty.

  10. Cindy, I read your last two posts and I think you hit the nail right on the head - when a family loses someone, they are fractured. It is emphasized around the holidays. I'm so glad you guys found time to relax and reflect. I bet you will cry every holiday remembering Ty. I'm so sorry this happened to you and your family. I can tell from your posts that you are a fantastic human being, a caring mother, and you are changing this world for the better. I'm just sorry it had to occur this way.

  11. My eyes are filled with tears and my heart with sadness for you and your family. I can only imagine what sadness and emptyness you feel every single day. I watch Long Island Medium and it makes me realize that our loved ones are always with just know, Ty is always, always, with you and your family doing all those fun things with you on your shoulder.
    Prayers, Betty Warren
    Beacon, NY