Tyler Hibinger's Journal
And It Hits You
Written Nov 26, 2013 9:01pmNot a day goes by that I don't think about Ty, or look at his picture and smile, or just plain feel him with me. I always feel him with me. I always miss that physical presence that I was able to touch and hug and laugh with. I'm always aware of the absence.
That being said, most of the time, I can feel Ty and be comforted by that, because I know he is still here. I can remember Ty and smile. I can talk about Ty or think about Ty and become filled with love, warmth, pride. Of course, there's always that hint of sadness that lines every bittersweet thought, but it is usually love and warmth and a peace of sorts that I feel when I am remembering Ty. Sometimes, though, the harsh reality of Ty's death comes searing through my brain, and shatters my heart. You never know when those 'waves of grief', or what I refer to as 'harsh reality' will hit.
In the early days, as time started to tick again and I stopped imagining and wishing for my own untimely death every waking moment, these smacks of reality would hit more often. Always unexpected, but more often. I remember being at the grocery store shortly after Ty's death, and I walked down the aisle with the Chef Boy R Dee that was a favorite of Ty's (thank you, Decadron..) towards the end. Suddenly, I couldn't breath. I wanted out of that store. I missed my boy. I wanted to buy that Chef Boy R Dee and bring it home and warm it up for him. I wanted to simultaneously throw every single stupid can of it on the ground and scream, because it wasn't fair that I was the one who lost my son. That I had to be harassed by these overwhelming memories that filled me with despair and hurt and sadness and just plain...grief.
Time went on, and the pain becomes less. It becomes tolerable. And eventually, for me, the constant pain was replaced with a peace in the realization that Ty was not gone, he was very much still 'here', just in a different form. I can live with this fact, most days.
But sometimes, those slaps of icy harsh reality still hit, and they still hit at the most unpredictable times.
Two days ago I was at work when a customer-a grown man of probably around 20 or 30 stated his name. It was, as I'm sure you guessed-Tyler. All of a sudden I couldn't stop looking at this man. I couldn't stop saying his name over and over in my head. I started thinking about MY Tyler. About how he never got the chance to grow up, or drive a car, or go on a date, or even graduate from college and choose a career. THIS Tyler was living a life that MY Tyler was robbed of living. And it made me sad. Very sad. And I can imagine that this man may have thought it strange that I was looking at him and what probably seemed, to an outsider, to be through him. I was so kind to this man, and I couldn't help but smile, because I would want my Tyler to be treated that way, had he had a chance to grow up like this Tyler did. I had to acknowledge of course, that I was feeling this way, which is what made me so sad--acknowledging the reality that my Ty is gone from this physical realm. Acknowledging that I will never again get to hug my Ty on this Earth. Acknowledging that I was robbed, as his mother, from witnessing what kind of man he would have turned out to be, which I can tell you without doubt would have been one amazing human being. Acknowledging that I will never get to go to Ty's high school or college graduation, attend his wedding and dance with him, kiss his babies on their little heads, or any of the other things that this other Tyler's mom has had the blessing to be witness to. I hope she appreciates her Tyler.
After acknowledging all of those sad and ugly feelings, and holding back tears, I quickly changed my thoughts and re-focused on work.
The point of this entry being....five years later, it can still hit you out of nowhere. It happens less, but it will continue to happen. And I still miss my guy. I always will.
I Am Thankful
Written Oct 31, 2013 9:59pmI wrote this as our first Thanksgiving without Ty was approaching. There are always reasons to be thankful. <3
I Am Thankful
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful.
I am thankful for the kisses I got from you, and the ones I was able to give.
I am thankful for the hugs, and the hugs I got to give you.
I am thankful for the nails on your hands that I got to cut.
I am thankful for the hair on your head that I got to buzz.
I am thankful for that freckle above your eyebrow that I was lucky enough to kiss every day.
I am thankful for the amazingly beautiful eyes I got to stare into that belonged to you. I am thankful for the love they shared when they stared back at me.
I am thankful for the sweetest smile that there ever was. I am thankful that because of that smile, I got to smile a little more.
I am thankful for the times I got to witness the love you held for your sister, your brother, your family, your friends. I am thankful we all had a chance to experience this love from you, and share it with you.
I am thankful for your goofy dances, your amazing singing, your delicious bakery, your sense of humor, your laugh.
I am thankful for the songs that remind me of you.
I am thankful for all of the pictures that capture your soul with those sparkling eyes and joyous smile.
I am thankful for the memories that let me still hear you, feel you, see you, and hug you.
I am thankful that I was chosen to be your mommy.
I am thankful that I got to spend time with a true HERO, a super hero if you ask me.
I am thankful that I got to spend seven amazing years with my sweet baby boy.
I am thankful to God, for lending me his precious angel.
I am thankful to God for healing you, and keeping you in His care until we get there to be with you.
I am thankful to God, and to You, for continuing to give us those special signs that let us know that you ARE here, always.
This Thanksgiving, Ty, I am THANKFUL FOR YOU. I miss you and I love you.
Happy Thanksgiving, sweet baby boy!!!
Wishing you mountains of mashed potatoes, rolling hills of “rolls”, lakes filled with Rootbeer and Dr. Pepper, boats of gravy, and the biggest dessert table there ever was!!
Love always and forever,
Mommy, Daddy, Nateo, Bella, and Sammi
For Every Joy That Passes, Something Beautiful Remains
Written Oct 6, 2013 9:05pmThe title of this journal entry is one of my favorite quotes. It is actually from a poem, posted here:
The tide recedes but leaves behind
bright seashells on the sand.
The sun goes down, but gentle
warmth still lingers on the land.
The music stops, and yet it echoes
on in sweet refrains.....
For every joy that passes,
something beautiful remains.
This poem sums up how I'd like to 'finish' Ty's story. Don't get me wrong, Ty's story never ends, just as he never really died. He is here with us, with me, in spirit. This I know. But he did pass from this physical Earth, and yet he left so much beauty in his wake. I feel Ty with me everywhere. I didn't used to, I used to have to physically go to his spot at the cemetery in order to feel his presence. I remember once, early on after losing Ty, asking on of my friends who lost her son to cancer how she could move out of state, with her son in the ground in the state they left behind. She told me, 'Oh Meg, Julian is not there in the ground, he is everywhere.' I wished I would get to that point in my grieving process, where I didn't feel the need to go to the cemetery in order to feel Ty's presence. I didn't think it would ever happen. But one day, it just did.
They say the process of grieving, the initial grief period, takes about a year. That was true, for me anyway. First, you have to get through all of the 'first' holidays without your loved one. Thanksgiving was our first holiday without Ty. I was so afraid to experience these holidays missing one very important person. But you know what? My family is awesome and they didn't forget about Ty at all. My cousin, Molly, drew a place mat for Ty on that first Thanksgiving and put it on a table, with an empty seat where Ty should have been sitting. During grace, my dad acknowledged that he was missing and was very much remembered. I dreaded that first Christmas. But, you know what? It wasn't that dreadful at all. Jay gave me Ty's Christmas gift, that jewelry box and necklace, on Christmas Eve. I cried, of course, because that gift meant so much to me.What Ty had him engrave on the front of the box and on the necklace told me that he WAS still here, and reaffirmed for me that I WAS a good mom to him. He loved me enough to tell give me that message from beyond the grave. That was pretty powerful stuff.
Another really special way that we remembered Ty that Christmas was to light up our driveway and front yard with luminaries. I wanted the night to be lit up with lights around our house, so that Ty could see the love from Heaven. I asked if his class would make luminaries, and Nate's class. Boy did they ever come through. We had a basement FULL of luminaries by the time Christmas Eve came, all decorated with a personalized message from the boys' school friends, from family members, and from Jay and Nate and I too, of course. Standing outside that cold Christmas Eve, in the dark, silent night, and seeing all of those beautiful luminaries, lit up in memory of my sweet boy was so amazing. Ty was truly loved. Christmas Eve was spent at my parents house, where a candle was lit in memory of Ty. This is still a tradition every year at Christmas on Christmas Eve, and at my Aunt's house on thanksgiving too.
As the winter months grew cold and grey, and as my belly grew with the HOPE of new life, Jay and I were anxiously, and not-so-patiently awaiting Ty's stone to be placed at his spot at the cemetery. I was becoming frustrated that my sweet boy did not have his beautiful stone to mark his spot. Then, on Valentine's day, as a total surprise, the stone was placed. Also on Valentine's day, my fingerprint necklace that featured Ty's fingerprint-a gift from Kids Cancer Crusade-came in the mail. Now I know not everyone believes in life after death and signs, but how could you not see that these things happened on this day of love as a sign from Ty reminding us that he is still with us and still loves us? That was my boy, still sending us presents on holidays even from Heaven. He is pretty incredible, my guy.
Easter came and went, and then, another sign. Sammi was born. On May 1st. On the first day of Brain Tumor Awareness month. Could HOPE have come on a more meaningful day? No, it could not.
July 4th was sad for me. Ty loved fireworks. Loved them, just like his mama. I was so sad to be going to see fireworks without my buddy. We of course had to honor and remember Ty before our own fireworks show. And so, we did. We purchased a large firework, and we and several other family members went to the cemetery and set off Ty's very own fireworks. Happy Independence day, sweet boy.
Then there was the anxiety of Ty's first birthday in Heaven. I still get anxious each year on Ty's birthday. It's just never OK to be planning to celebrate a child's birthday at a cemetery. It probably never will be. But, with the support of many family members and friends, both who knew Ty and who only know OF Ty but still make it a point to celebrate him, we had our first of an annual event--a balloon release and cupcakes complete with the birthday song at the cemetery, in honor of our boy.
Then, we had to get through Ty's first "angel-versary". I wanted to remember Ty that day, but didn't know exactly what to do. I decided that the whole family should carve pumpkins for Ty, and we should bring them up to his spot at the cemetery and light them so that they lit up the night. We ate a lot of Ty's favorite foods on that day, and that night, his spot was lit up with Jack-o-lanterns. It looked awesome. We still do this every October 30th.
After about a year, we also decided Nate might benefit from a bereavement group. We found a program at Cornerstone of Hope, the only catch was, we had to go to the parent portion of the group. I was not excited about this. I didn't feel like I needed a group to heal. I was wrong. This group was just what I needed. After that group, we did one more through Hospice. It was just as good, actually better-because we were in a group specifically for parents who lost children, as opposed to being the ONLY parents in the group grieving a child, like in our first group. I am sure these sessions helped Nate too.
During the first year, I put all of my energies into making sure Ty didn't die in vein. I helped as much as I could with local fundraising events, especially for the PFM foundation, in their quest to fund research for glioma brain tumors. We also created and designed a brain tumor awareness license plate, approved by the BMV after we petitioned and got 500 valid signatures. Purchase of this license plate donates 35 dollars to the PFM, Children's Glioma Cancer Foundation. It also features the grey and gold ribbon, a way to spread awareness while also contributing a little bit to the cause.
It was also during this first year without Ty that I decided to go back to school finally. Except I was switching majors-from nursing, to child life specialist. And I feel Ty guiding me, every step of the way. I know that this is what I was meant to do.
Ty lives on, in all of us, every day. In Sammi's voice and mannerisms, in Bella's joy for life and school, in Nate's growing up and becoming a young man--I can also imagine what his brother would have been like. He lives in our hearts always. And he is always here, always connected. Just recently, I picked a book at a local resale-a resale run by Ty's kindergarten teacher. This book was among literally thousands of books. It was also in a ziploc bag and sealed, so there was no way to open the book and look into it until it was purchased. I came home and when I went to read the book to the girls, right there on the inside front cover, in kids writing, were the words: Angel Ty. He is still here. Every day. All day.
I hope that you enjoyed getting to know my sweet boy with Ty's incredible story. He was a hero, a true angel on Earth. I don't know why God chose to bless us with such an angel, but I do know that blessed is exactly what we were. I wouldn't trade Ty for anything. He was worth every second of the pain that we felt when we lost him. He taught us and people we know, so much. He continues to touch lives, even though he has been gone for five years. He was truly an incredible little boy. When I first lost Ty, I used to count the days until I could see him again. Every night, I would tell him Ty, I'm one day closer to you. Every day, we get one day closer to holding sweet Ty again. After five years, the pain has subsided. It still comes, but not nearly as often. In its' place, for me anyways, there is peace. Because I know Ty is still here and very much alive. And so, even though I know each day brings me one day closer to holding my boy, the wait doesn't seem as devastating. I can enjoy my other children, I can enjoy life. And one day, I will be able to physically hold my sweet baby boy again. Until then, he is with me every single day in spirit. Guiding us, protecting us. He is, without a doubt, our most precious guardian Angel.
I leave you now with a poem that I drew much strength from in the early days, a reminder that we are always connected. I can literally feel the string connecting us.
Thank you all for reading, for commenting, and for spreading Ty's story. I didn't imagine that this thirty days of Ty's story would gain so much attention, so many readers. I am so grateful to every one of you for taking the time to get to know, or remember, my sweet boy. Please remember Ty always. Live to love. Have fun. Eat sweets. Life is too short. Hug your kids. Never think that it can't happen to you. It can. It does, everyday, to many children. Thank you again for reading.
We are connected,
My child and I, by
An invisible cord
Not seen by the eye.
It's not like the cord
That connects us 'til birth
This cord can't been seen
By any on Earth.
This cord does it's work
Right from the start.
It binds us together
Attached to my heart.
I know that it's there
Though no one can see
The invisible cord
From my child to me.
The strength of this cord
Is hard to describe.
It can't be destroyed
It can't be denied.
It's stronger than any cord
Man could create
It withstands the test
Can hold any weight.
And though you are gone,
Though you're not here with me,
The cord is still there
But no one can see.
It pulls at my heart
I am bruised...I am sore,
But this cord is my lifeline
As never before.
I am thankful that God
Connects us this way
A mother and child
Death can't take it away!