Thursday, September 25, 2014

Long Beach Sand in Our Shoes

Living in a beachfront community, there is a common phrase, "I've got sand in my shoes."  It's more than a literal reference to the actual sand that is in your shoes more often than not.  It is representative of the beach being part of you - going with you wherever you go.

Our family has Long Beach sand in our shoes, and we always will.  No matter where life takes us.

When Ty was home on hospice care, some great friends from Long Beach were coming up for a visit and Lou asked them to bring a bottle of water from the ocean, and a jar of sand from the beach.  He kept it in his closet.  I didn't know why.

When we laid Ty in his casket, he was dressed in a white three-piece suit, and a blue handkerchief - his hair was perfect, his feet were bare.  Then Lou pulled out the box from his closet.  He poured the sand over Ty's bare feet, followed by the ocean water.  We believed he was free to go back to the beach, and we found peace knowing he was going to rest with Long Beach sand between his toes.

When we visited his statue after the Luau, I was prompted to photograph the beautiful seashells and lollipops that were left by his feet.  Thank you to all of our incredible friends who paid him an unprompted visit that day.  The way you remember him is what allows Lou and I to continue putting one foot in front of the other.  When I saw the sand between "his" toes, I was immediately reminded of his beautiful feet covered in sand and surf the very last time I kissed them goodbye.  Reliving that day is raw and painful, balanced by beauty and serenity.  I love that we were able to create this statue in his memory.  I love that he will always have Long Beach sand in his shoes. 

I took a walk around the neighborhood today and I became an emotional wreck after just one song on Pandora.  Sadly, I don't listen to much music since losing Ty - not even in the car - because every song, no matter how relevant or irrelevant, seems to trigger some kind of memories of Ty and I end up with tears in my eyes.  The song "Home" by Phillip Phillips doesn't have much significance other than the fact that it was wildly popular around the time Ty died, so when it came on this morning it triggered memories of driving in the car with Mely - heading to the TLC office after he passed away; then rewind to the day he died; relive the exact moment (which, by the way, happens all the time).  Then something happened that has never happened before....

There is a very light and beautiful harmony in that song.  A chorus where back-up singers are making lovely sounds, and all of a sudden I imagined Ty flying.  Soaring through the air with wind in his hair and OMG how he was laughing.  He would turn to look at me as if I was flying right next to him, and then turn sideways and tuck in his knees for a back-flip before zipping upwards into the sky.  Like he was Peter Pan! This vision felt so real, it was as if he was truly home.  That he was free and he was happy and he was not alone.  

I bawled.  I cried and I cried and I wished I had better prepared him to leave.  I thought about how I held onto hope until the very end because I just didn't want to let him go.  I feared that my barely five-year-old son was hanging on to his own painful life simply out of fear because he didn't want to leave me and Lou.  I always worry about him walking into Heaven alone.  I always wonder who was there to meet him?  If it was Granny, how would he even recognize her?  But then there he was, flying.  Like a little boy fulfilling his wildest dream.  His face, his smile, was that of a child who doesn't know pain anymore - like he never knew it at all,  

So, I leave you with that tonight.  I lost my son, the love of my life.  I am left here to be sad and that's okay, because he is soaring across the sky.  He is Peter Pan.  Maybe they all are.  Even Granny :)


  1. I just love you sooooo much Cindy. I wish we didn't live miles apart so I could give you the biggest hug. Unfortunately it would probably end with you comforting me. I always think of Ty. Everyday. He is part of my evening prayers with my 5 year old. He is part of our bedtime routine with my 3 year. We say good night to him every night. I wear my Pret*ty and Ronan bracelet every day and every time I look day I think of these two amazing beautiful boys. XXOO Campbells...

  2. heartbreakingly beautiful as always

  3. My thoughts are with you always. Ty is flying high, free and smiling. I'm here always
    Love ya 2 the moon & back

  4. I felt my inside just crumple and as I just read another moment of your life, another layer of you, I know you are an amazing mother, daughter, wife and friend. The world has so much to learn from you.
    Christina Dimase

  5. Yes, Ty is soaring across the sky, I believe that with all my heart!! May you always have these happy visions, Cindy!

  6. Reading about the sand on his feet stabbed me in the heart. I am so incredibly mad that you don't have your son anymore. I am so sorry, Cindy and Lou.

  7. I just never thought he wouldn't beat it...I think about him all the time. I can't imagine your pain if it affects strangers like me so much. The day he passsed, I had to leave work mid-day, it was like I lost my grandson. I truly fell in love with that little boy and your family. How can I miss him so bad, because he got a hold of my heart, that's why. So, love and prayers to you my friend. I'd love to tell you it gets easier but it doesn't it just gets different, Love,

    Terri in Illinois

  8. Just beautiful!!

    I don't post often, but I read every post you write. Mostly always w/ have a way w/ words!

    Love from GA,

  9. Cindy, I know this month is difficult for you and I want you to know that You, Ty, G man and Lou are in my thoughts. Your entire family has shared what life is really about. Thank you. Much love Emily

  10. Beautiful vision of a beautiful boy. Ty and I share a birth date. Surprise arrived today from NY. Cheesecake of course. I will think of Super Ty in a few days. Happy birthday handsome.

  11. Happy Birthday baby boy. Even though you are not here with us on earth you are still in our hearts

  12. Cindy as days go by so many times in my memory I visit that day where you lost Ty. Where you had to kiss his body wash him read to him and I can't imagine I simply don't know how difficult the pain is for you. That on some days when you write that you see Ty in a lady bug or in a sunshine it melts my heart. I couldn't have imagined Ty being a more perfect laughing Peter Pan. Thank you so much for this image. I will always look up in the sky and know that he is okay flying and laughing. Miss you baby boy.

  13. Long Beach is proud to call Ty one of our own. He will always be remembered with love here. It will always be his home. May his toes always be in the sand and the salty air kissing his face. Sending love and support.