Lou has been sick. He came down with a fever a few nights ago and has since been sleeping in Ty's room to try and keep it from the rest of us.
It's sadly appropriate that Ty's room is the "sick" room. Not at all because Ty was sick too, but because it is a comforting place to be. When I was pulling down the covers for Lou and setting aside a drink and medication for him the other night, I was a little jealous. I could barely resist the urge to climb between those SpiderMan sheets myself and sleep in peace for hours on end. I wanted to feel closer to Ty. I sat on the edge of the bed and remembered what it felt like to sleep on that tempur-pedic hospital mattress with Ty in between the two of us. I looked out his window, thinking about how he has the best view in the whole house. I looked around at all of his incredible things and remembered each and every one of them and why they are so special. Even the little paper wallet on his nightstand that leans against the framed photo of Ty and Eva that Eva made for him. It is filled with a little boys allowance money with birds drawn on the front and a big smiling sun. Although they never met, this kid sent it all the way from California as a gift for Ty when he was on hospice care. It doesn't get more special than that. This time I didn't open Ty's closet, though. I save that for when I need to just sit and cry among his blankets and clothes and the pillows on which he last rested.
Lou and I often talk about how, in some ways, it becomes even more difficult as time passes. I'm sure anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to the feeling of "permanent" that gets heavier and heavier as the reality of loss sets in. It becomes validated, they are not on vacation or moved away, they are never ever coming back. When Ty first passed away I cried all the time. My pain was raw and fierce and vicious and cruel - but there was also a sense of almost tangible proximity. It was so new it was almost as if I could reach back into my memory, reach back to the days before he died and touch him again. As more and more time comes between those memories, he feels more and more distant. That is an entirely different kind of painful truth - that life goes on - but it is just as impossible to bear.
The routine of being Ty's mommy has faded. I sleep through the night without waking with the feeling that I've forgotten medication. Without imagining him calling for me. I walk into the living room without instinctively looking for him on his spot in the couch. I never thought that would happen, but it did and that makes me angry and sad and I feel like I'm betraying him by allowing it. I told Lou a few nights ago, "I swear I used to feel Ty's presence all the time. It was powerful and real, I know it was. Now I feel like with every passing day his spirit just drifts further and further away and I don't know how to stop it." That feeling is not healing. It is crushing.
So, I've been talking to Ty a lot this week. I've been telling him my fears and of course, asking him to send me a ladybug. I walked around the yard searching high and low since the weather has been so nice. I look up at the ceiling expecting to be distracted by a little red dot crawling along, but no such luck. Until tonight.
Gavin and I had a great day together. After I picked him up from school we went shopping for his birthday supplies (he will be 5 on April 22) and then out on a dinner date before heading over to Marist - my Alma-mater - to present to a room full of students on childhood cancer and the TLC Foundation. As always, I was so impressed with the event the TLC interns pulled together, and I was so proud of how many students filled the room to listen to me talk about Ty and childhood cancer. It was such a gift and left my heart full. It reminded me that Ty is ALWAYS with me, so much so that I have dedicated my life to the cause all to honor him and not a day goes by that I don't find happiness and comfort working at the Foundation.
We got home late so I let Gavin stay up while I got the house in order before bed. He saw a spider at one point and had me carry him downstairs because he was afraid (i know, i know, this is the same fearless super hero I talk about all the time). In between his whining he asked me to stop on the stairs but I kind-of ignored him. I had dishes to do. When I put him down to put on my rubber gloves, he said "Mommy, you aren't listening to me. I think it was a ladybug."
"Oh yeah? Where?"
He took me back to the steps, and there she was. Our little golden ladybug telling us that Ty was here. Immediately I feel better. I feel relieved. He is not distant, he is always right here.