Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Hazen, forever 5

I rarely blog anymore.  I don’t have a story to tell anymore. And that’s because I don’t have a son with cancer anymore.  My beautiful boy who captured so many hearts died six and a half years ago. 

But three weeks ago, I found myself with tears in my eyes and as our seventh (!!) annual Mess Fest fundraiser is approaching, I thought it would be an appropriate story to share. 

Alexandra Garcia – Alex – was just a little girl when Ty was sick.  Her brother Michael was still a toddler.  I didn’t know her or her family, but Alex’s mother is such a deep and caring person that she injected herself into my life and I am so grateful for her friendship ever since. 

This family travels for hours from their home in Westhampton to attend our events.  They volunteer.  They devise plans behind my back with a team of my favorite fairy friends to purchase plane tickets for our Mely to visit with us time and time again. 

Alex has grown into a thoughtful young teen who shares her mother’s generous heart.  She spoke to her teacher at school, and asked to host her very own “Mess Fest” in Westhampton this year.  The next thing you know I’m getting a call from her teacher, Kelly, whose voice I recognized with surprise as memories of my school days came rushing back… of course, I knew her.  Ty always arranges such "coincidences."  

The event was amazing.  Alex and Miss Russell planned and executed a flawless event.  I drove down there with Bodhi and a car full of supplies to help them with the Mess Fest, including our signs.  The signs feature photos of children who underwent cancer treatment, and it was the signs that compelled me to share this update with you…

Hazen has a freckle on his cheek.  His freckle brought me to tears.

How come I never noticed?  I treat these signs with boundless love!  I clean them off carefully after every event, which means I have cleaned Hazen's sign over a dozen times.  I never met many of these children but I know that Kai wears a green crotchet headband and that her adorable right ear sticks out more than her left.  I know that McKenna is missing her top left tooth and that her photo was taken on her first day of first grade.  I know that Rett has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.  I never noticed that about Hazen though, and as I wiped slime and paint splatter from his face to reveal this cute little freckle on his left cheek, the tears filled my eyes and they didn’t stop for days.

Tears because I will never get the chance to meet any of the children with the word "forever" under their names.  

Tears because they never got to experience a Mess Fest event, where we celebrate them with such fun and laughter. “The best day of the year!” I have been told time and time again.  And it is… it really, really is.  

Tears because I am just so very sad they are gone.  I know their stories and I know how they suffered, and how their families continue to suffer without them.  But I also cried because a beautiful thought crossed my mind. 

They HAVE seen the Mess Fest.  The spirit of these children is felt everywhere, and their laughter echoes across the grass all day long.  The vision of their very signs splattered with mud shows me that they are, indeed, participating – and getting dirty just as they should be. 

Ty never jumped in a muddy puddle after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  But now he is free and his spirit will be everywhere at Mess Fest on August 3rd.  He will be jumping in every puddle he can find. 

If you are on the fence about coming to this event, I hope you will just “jump in.”  A very small team of dedicated individuals work their tails off to deliver an incredible experience for everyone who attends – a true celebration of childhood – all to help change the outcomes for children with cancer by funding research.

In honor of the survivors, in support of the fighters, in memory of the angels…. Join us to celebrate the kids. 

Visit the magic show to see “Amazin’ Hazen” (as he liked to be called), and admire his adorable freckle. 

If your family has been impacted by a childhood cancer diagnosis and you would like to have a sign made in honor of your child, please feel free to fill out this google form.

photo credit: Laurie Spens 2018

Alex and friends at the Westhampton Mess Fest!