I have had so much on my mind, it’s been several weeks that I’ve wanted to get some of it out on virtual paper and I am happy tonight to find the time. I have had a hard few weeks, for so many reasons, not the least of which was Back to School. Ty’s time of the year is upon us… the memories of the day he was born, the hazy September days where we were ripe with fear post-diagnosis, the day we drove home from the hospital knowing we would never return, and the day he died in our arms. The perfect weather that September and October brings is forever filled with these memories.
I look at Gavin, a first grader who already rolls his eyes at me and knows just how to get under my skin when he wants to, and I see a boy. Like I always say… where did my baby go? I never had a big boy before. Ty was the older brother, but still he was a baby. He needed me so.
I’m not suggesting that Gavin doesn’t need me, but it’s not the same anymore. It’s just so different. I love our “grown up” conversations and that he can put his shoes on by himself, but I still bend down to help him every time. I’m in no rush for him to tie his own shoes, or lose his first tooth – but I know it will be any day now. My purpose, the Mommy in me, is slipping through my fingers. I look to see if he needs more water and I see that he already helped himself to a glass when I find him glued to his tablet. When did he even learn to play Minecraft?
It all happened so fast. And I missed so much of it. Most of my memories of Gavin from the time he was 18 months through 4 years old, especially the first year after losing Ty, are a complete blur. I have loads of pictures and videos to remind me, but I was so helplessly consumed with caring for Ty before becoming a walking zombie as I navigated my grief that first year; I didn’t get to experience much of being Gavin’s “Mommy” until now – and he already calls me “Mom” instead.
When I put Gavin on the bus for his first day of first grade, I was bursting with love and pride. When Tony (the bus driver) opened the door I was so relieved to see his familiar face and I knew Gavin would be in good hands. I was happy. As the bus pulled out of sight I began walking down the block to my house and suddenly I felt Ty with me. I imagined his spirit over my shoulder, as I often do, and it broke my heart into a million tiny pieces. I wanted him to get on the bus with his brother. I wished he could have a first day of school so badly. My entire body suddenly weighed a thousand pounds and I dragged myself home, crying loudly down my quiet, empty street. Who cares if the neighbors look out the window? I was hurting. I sat on our date bench forever. I looked up into the sky as I always do – and I tried to replicate the exact vision Ty had when I last held him there.
On a beautiful October afternoon, three years ago, I sat Ty up on my lap and held his head in my hands as I pointed to the sky. I can see every detail of his face in that moment. His green eyes were so bright in the sun, and the tiny brown speck visible in his right eye. His skin was utterly flawless and his hair felt like fine strands of silk between my fingers. His stare that day was so distant. He was leaving me. Even at that very moment I felt he was preparing to go. His eyes were gazing into the distant skies, with just a few leaves from the hovering birch trees blocking his view. Whenever I sit on our date bench, I tip my head back and try to imagine what he saw. What could he have been thinking about? Was this vision pretty enough for his last time outside? It hurts so much to go back to that day. Just writing about it makes it harder for me to breathe.
When I find myself it this desperate place, where the only thing I long for is a “do-over,” I try to think of all the incredible signs I’ve been blessed with over the years to assure me that there is so much more to this life, and that whatever it is, it is beautiful. It is pure love, and there is nothing more perfect. He taught me the true meaning of love at first sight and if I could have a million "do-overs" in this life, I would choose him over and over and over again.
Recently, a great friend of ours told Lou and I a great story about Ty’s ladybugs.
First a little background… When we lived in Long Beach while the boys were young, we owned a great little beach house on the corner where the back was our home and the front was Lou’s chiropractic and PT office. Since we moved, the therapist who occupies the space has expanded the office and now uses what used to be Ty’s room for treatments.
Our friend has been going for physical therapy and ended up in “Ty’s Room” for treatment. She noticed a ladybug in the room and mentioned it to the PT. He responded by telling her that there are always ladybugs in that room. Always. Of course there are, right? I never saw one when we lived there, but then again, that was before Ty became magic. Before he started sending them.
XOXO. Thank you for caring enough to check in on me and my family. Thank you for loving Ty and remembering him with me.
Endless Summer! Today may be the first day of Fall, but we aren’t ready to say goodbye to the beach just yet! Come to the Luau on Saturday – it’s going to be an absolutely beautiful day in Long Beach – brought to you by Ty Campbell! The forecast says 71 degrees with full sun. Skudin’ Surf will be there with the mechanical surf board, the raffles are outrageous (check Facebook to find out about absentee bidding), the authentic hula dancers and music/entertainment will keep the kids busy, and the food from Brother Jimmy’s is downright delicious. Please say goodbye to summer with one last day at the beach – Ty’s favorite place in the world. CLICK HERE.