In 1,841 days, Ty Louis Campbell lived a remarkable life. His life was filled with such great love, and this love transcends time. It is still just as strong and palpable today as it was before he died, and I can feel him in my heart when he is near. I never sense that his spirit is above me, or beside me… rather, he is always just behind my right shoulder, like where he sat in the backseat of my car. Just close enough that he is a whisper in the ear and a warm breath on my shoulder.
I watched my baby boy suffer for almost half of those 1,841 days. Seeing him under certain circumstances in the hospital were as difficult to watch as if my child was strapped to a chair being tortured. I helplessly witnessed his excruciating pain, and when the treatment failed to save his life, I was left to live the years that followed plagued with guilt for allowing it all.
Today is a hard, hard day. My loving son, the boy who made me a mother, was in my life for exactly 1,841 days. And today, I have lived without him for 1,841 days. Tomorrow will be day 1,842, because for some reason, my heart continues to beat although he took a huge piece of it with him. I will open my eyes tomorrow morning and it will be the day that he has been gone for longer than he was here. I accept this truth because I can’t change it, but I will never understand it.
I often read about grief and coping, and somewhere I read one mom reflecting on the act of begging “let it be me, instead.” She claimed that her wishes came true because her child died and was no longer suffering, but she was left with a pain so great that she will never recover. It rang true for me.
When Ty was sick, I used to pray for physical torture. Do anything and everything to me so my son could be saved… because no pain could be greater than watching him hurt. I didn’t know yet, that the grief would be even worse.
However sad and heavy this day is, I can’t allow our love story to be dark. Where there is love there is light and these 1,841 days without him have had many glimpses of that. Just as our time with him had it’s share of pain and trauma, our time without him has been sprinkled with good fortune.
My relationship with Lou has been tested so much over these past five years, that we learned just how inseparable we are. He is my other half, and I am his. Gavin has grown into a remarkable boy who keeps us laughing and I can’t hug him enough. Bodhi Ty was born on October 18, 2016, and his smile makes everything feel better. Our friends and family take such good care of us, which reminds us that we are still blessed. The nonprofit we founded in Ty’s memory continues to thrive, and the office is regularly filled with ladybugs (as is our house - by the hundreds at times). His spirit remains so connected with mine, and the love we share will never diminish.
In 1,841 days, I was transformed. I never loved so deeply. I never saw so much pain. I never knew a child with cancer. I never saw anyone die. I never imagined it would happen to my son, or to me, until it did. I never had such faith in God and so little religion, and I make a conscious effort to be a gracious griever because of that. I don’t pray for anything anymore. None of my most desperate prayers have ever been answered and I have to resist the urge to question. So, instead, I’ve relinquished to God’s will over the years, and started making a habit of being grateful. No matter how difficult a day I might have, I remember what I am thankful for and say a prayer or thanks. Upon closing my eyes each night, the first thing I express gratitude for is the 1,841 days that I was lucky enough to hold my boy in my arms.
Thank you for being on this journey with us.