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For Every Joy That Passes, Something Beautiful Remains

The 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.

THE CORD:

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!