The other day we had a bunch of kids over to play with Gavin. One inquisitive friend noticed some pictures of Ty and asked "does Gavin have a little brother?" I have been completely and utterly floored by this question ever since. It completely took me by surprise that Ty would be mistaken for the younger brother. That simple question has triggered so many flashbacks of things I haven't remembered in a long time, and I can't seem to make them stop. Really, really sad memories.
I guess enough time has passed now that as Gavin keeps growing, the reality that Ty never will becomes more and more evident. Gavin, my baby, is now my big boy. And Ty, the watchful big brother, is now the younger brother because he doesn't get to grow any older than 5 years, 13 days.
Oddly, I keep having flashbacks to my phone calls to Ty's teacher at Kids by the Sea (Miss Beryl) and to Sissy, his nanny who we loved so, so very much. I don't remember how I managed to get the words out or what I said to tell them that Ty had a brain tumor, but I do remember that Miss Beryl was literally choking on her response and that Sissy... Oh, Sissy. I can't stop replaying her words in my head.
"Not Ty. It can't be Ty. Please don't let it be Ty. Not Ty! NO!!!"
That was the day my life changed forever and I guess I just keep going back to that place, wishing for a do-over. I was forced to trade in my simple life to spend what felt like an entire lifetime caring for my precious boy when he was so sick. As hard as it was, my life was entirely complete during those difficult times. As long as I had him, I did not want. Now, in the blink of an eye, it's like I woke up to a life I don't even recognize. I'm mom to a big boy, who's five, and who will graduate preschool on Tuesday. And all I have left of my other son is pictures. How did we get here? Didn't I take this picture yesterday? Where did he go? For real, where is he?
|Taken one week before diagnosis. This kid? Has a brain tumor? Still, even now, it seems impossible.|
I friend everyone I find in the childhood cancer community in order to maintain a community of support. On Mother's Day, I witnessed post after post after post about how difficult it is to be a bereaved mom on that day especially, and I was inspired to launch a program in the PRET*TY store that allows a stranger to sponsor a locket for a mother who lost her child. The same locket I wear for Ty. We include a photo of the child and send it to the mom with a note that bears the poem "I carry your heart" by E.E. Cummings, while the donor receives a different card with a photo of the sponsored mom, and a link to a Facebook page or blog where he or she can learn more about the family. Today, Jen and I were working like crazy to fill a bunch of locket donations, and as I was printing the photos of children who died, and writing the stories about their families, she kept sighing audibly. She said:
"It just takes my breath away, how sad this is. Do you feel that way, too?"
"No, I don't. Not the same way. I live this. That feeling you have - needing to catch your breath - is a constant for me and all these moms. I never thought I'd get used to it, but I guess I did."
Then, this morning, this was posted on Facebook and I know we did something good. In honor of Riley and because of Ty. These beautiful boys are forever in our hearts, never to be forgotten.
Yes, I am glad I got out of bed this morning and came to this office despite wanting to hide under the covers all day. It is such a special place and it fixes me. Magic is happening here! In fact, every time the UPS guy comes with more packages, I feel like a kid on Christmas. I swear, this Foundation saved my life. You all did, with your tremendous support. Can you believe our Wish List on Amazon is almost completed! The Mess Fest 2014 is sure to be a HUGE success, thanks to all of the terrific people who are making Ty's dream a reality year over year. Laura Viceroy, MaryRose Hackett, Melissa Terrazas, Kate McGrath, Donna Tine, Terri Zumato, Michelle Ott, Steven Kelly and many, many more have sent loads of supplies. We are buried (literally) in boxes filled with your kindness :) And they just keep coming.
In the past three weeks, the Foundation has:
- secured a Mess Fest sponsorship from the fabulous Doctor's at TLC Pediatrics for $2,000
- received a check for over $1,300 from Riley Damiano's Blue Lollipop Project
- benefited from the second annual "Ty Tuesday" fundraiser in Lynbrook, that totaled more than $2,300 - what an amazing group of kids!
- announced a generous donation from our friends at Best in Backyards who is allowing us to raffle off a Dream Swing Set valued at $2,500 (winners announced August 9)!
- visited Mahopac Middle School and met the incredible team of young change makers who launched Muffin Mania Mondays resulting in over $2,000 in donations
- benefited from the second annual PJ Day fundraiser at Matthew Patterson Elementary School/Carmel that raised more than $1,750 for childhood cancer research in memory of Ty and in honor of three incredible young students who are fighting the fight!
- received a check for more than $2,500 from Sierra Lily in Poughkeepsie, who chose to donate 5% of their Mother's Day proceeds just because they are awesome
- attended the Backdraft Motorcycle Club's 2nd annual "Ride for Ty" which raised $1,000
- attended the first Goals 4 Gold soccer fundraiser in Pawling, that raised $1,000 and brought together a wonderful group of kids - we hope to see this initiative spread across various soccer clubs!
- announced the "Pizza with Purpose" fundraiser set for this Friday at California Pizza Kitchen, Westbury, NY. Long Island friends, please print the flyer below and bring it with you!
And this is only the beginning. Later this week I will be posting a copy of our June Newsletter that provides more details on three of our biggest upcoming events... (1) Mess Fest, (2) Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture Tour and (3) the TYathlon. Stay tuned :)