The Mess Fest was outrageous. The best day of the year, no doubt. Once again, people came in droves. We surpassed our 2013 fundraising goal and I am confident enough to say that the event was flawless. The weather was like a huge smile shining down upon us. There were ladybugs landing on children and laughter filling the sky. It was pure magic. Everything Ty ever would have wanted. And I am proud. VIEW THE GALLERY HERE.
We couldn’t have done it without the 100+ volunteers who selflessly donated their time, the incredible fundraisers who participated in the Dirty Dunk, and all of you who attended to make this event the tremendous success that it was. Special thanks, of course, to our long-time friends at Kiwi Country Day Camp for donating the most amazing place on earth to hold this incredible event year over year. Lastly, our sponsors, because without their generosity we would not be able to reach our fundraising goals to support innovative childhood cancer research.
The Ty Louis Campbell Foundation will be celebrating our 2 year anniversary soon. I am proud of all we have accomplished, and we are well on our way to becoming “kind-of a big deal” (to quote Anchorman).
Sometimes I use this blog to keep you updated on the “business” side of things and I have made a conscious effort to slow down on how much of my personal experiences I share on a daily basis. Because, in all seriousness, who wants to hear about how much I miss Ty day in and day out? It’s been just about 22 months now – everyone has moved on while I sit here forever changed and plagued with the weight of his loss forever on my shoulders. I have graduated to the slowly dissipating “bereaved mom” blogger, and there are new children to follow – whose triumphs inspire as they embark on their cancer journeys. And all I can think is… “SH*T! When will this slow down? When will these voices of childhood cancer be heard? When will these innocent children be cured? Will I live to see the day we uncover a miraculous cure-all?” Because right now, today, I don’t see an end in sight and it is unbearable.
If you are active on social media, you may have noticed that our community is in an uproar over the recent refusal from the Empire State Building officials to light the building gold in September to honor childhood cancer warriors. In 2012 the White House denied a petition to go gold after already going pink for breast cancer awareness… and now this?? The mid-Hudson bridge was lit gold in Ty’s memory (and will be again), the city of Yonkers is going gold for the 2nd year in a row, Mahopac lights the town gold and sells gold ribbons to retailers to support the TLC Foundation – but these huge, most influential buildings just refuse to support our awareness efforts. It is beyond disheartening. It makes me feel as if Ty wasn’t important enough. That our children still don’t have a voice no matter how hard we try in our united efforts. Did I mention that the Empire State Building was green in honor of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Barf. Seriously, I couldn’t be more disgusted. Please hit social media with the hashtag #empiregogold. Use this image on Instagram (or any image).
Tweet at them, Facebook them, keep your messages positive while expressing your disappointment over this decision. It’s not about a building or a bridge or a landmark being lit gold, it’s about a movement to raise awareness for the number one cause of death by disease among children so that some day it won’t be!
On Saturday I drove home from the Mess Fest by myself. Gavin was with Lou and we had two carloads filled to the brim with supplies. To my surprise, I became overwhelmed by a sudden wave of unstoppable grief and I cried the entire way home. Big, ugly, can’t catch my breath hysterics in between screaming and cursing as loud as I possibly can. I was totally and completely overwhelmed and exhausted. I guess after having so much adrenaline for days on end I just hit a wall. That cold, hard wall being the reality that no matter how amazing it was - and no matter how hard I work to make that special day in Ty’s honor – it doesn’t change anything. He is still dead, and when I look in my rearview mirror I will never see his smiling face again. And that is a reality that is just too painful to bear sometimes, no matter how much time has passed. And despite all of his pain and suffering… he died anyway. I have been looking at this photo a lot over the past 2 weeks. What do you think he was thinking? We reassured him over and over again that he would beat the cancer. That he was so brave. But this face, this pain, this confusion, didn’t have a happy ending. And in my heart I know that I failed him.
I’ve been down on myself for having lost interest in writing. Not just this blog, but so many articles that I have swimming in my head that I wanted to publish. I wanted to write more about Gavin and how amazing he is. I wanted to write more about Lou and what we are doing to help one another. I wanted to keep writing about cancer across all ages, the good, the bad and the ugly. And I wanted to write more about coping and grief and missing Ty. I’ve been feeling so discouraged because I worry no one wants to hear my sad musings anymore. My sleepless nights where words flew from my fingertips have been replaced with glasses of wine and early bedtimes to feed my lingering depression. I can’t always keep up with all the amazing ideas we have for the foundation, let alone my emotional outlet via this blog.
Lou was home early yesterday and took Gavin to Karate so I went to the supermarket by myself. It was one of the saddest trips I have made to the supermarket in well over a year. I don’t know what came over me, but I couldn’t stop hearing Ty’s voice, imagining him in the cart as I pushed through each aisle, and I could barely hold back the tears with every single step. On the checkout line, the woman in front of me asked, “Are you Cindy? I have been reading your blog for years. Thank you so much for sharing with us all. I can only imagine what you are dealing with and how you are feeling but the way you put it into words, I am right there with you. Please keep writing.”
That was exactly what I needed to hear to turn things around immediately. No doubt. It has been some pretty tough days and nights lately, despite the incredible joy that I took away from the Mess Fest. That woman in the supermarket reminded me how much I need to keep on keeping on and if I need to "talk"- sad or not - I’m going to keep doing this. Because it is good for me. And because it is important to be candid about all of this… the reality of childhood cancer and child loss and grieving and living and loving and parenting… I am an open book for all who care to read it. Thanks to all of you who do continue to read and share. Ty’s story will never end.