Parents of 'Super Ty' carry on without their son

Cindy Campbell with her son Ty, 5, while Cindy Campbell with her son Ty, 5, while he was in hospice care at their home in Pawling in October 2012. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Campbell family

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"Super Ty" Campbell, the 5-year-old Pawling boy whose battle against a rare brain cancer was tenderly chronicled in his mother's widely read blog, was cremated Thursday morning in Hartsdale.

A memorial service still has not been scheduled because "we are just so exhausted," his mom, Cindy Campbell, 37, told Newsday on Thursday.

In her blog post about Ty's last hours, she described how her "sweet, sweet, good boy" died at home around 1 p.m. Wednesday. She cradled his 23-pound, paralyzed body in her arms while her husband, Lou, wrapped them both in a big hug.

Ty's death occurred too late for a coroner's home visit, giving his parents one last night to grieve with his body. They gently bathed his 40-inch frame, dressed him and laid him to rest in their bed while a spontaneous gathering of mourners kept vigil outside their house, united in a prayer chain.

"I hope I can always feel him . . . at least when I need to the most," Campbell posted on her blog, which she named superty.org to pay tribute to her son's courage in fighting pediatric cancer.

The blog was started as a means for her to keep family and friends updated on Ty's condition, but because of her poignant entries, Campbell's online diary soon gained a nationwide following.

"I am so scared for Lou and myself in the days to come," she wrote in her blog.

Thursday's morning-after has been "surreal," she told Newsday. They drove to the crematory with their son's body dressed in a white, open-collared shirt, white suit and a pocket square handkerchief in his favorite shade of cornflower blue. They laid him in a casket that included rosary beads. Most importantly, he left this world with bare feet that had been drenched in ocean water and sand from Long Beach, Long Island, where the family lived before Ty fell ill.

"We felt like we wanted him to feel the sand between his toes because that's where he was always happiest," she said.

Ty developed a renal rhabdoid tumor, a rare and aggressive cancer, in August 2010. By December, the family had moved to Dutchess County. Campbell's husband relocated his chiropractor office to Pleasant Valley and the couple bought a house in Pawling to be close to Ty's various medical specialists. Campbell eventually took a leave from her job as a Price Waterhouse marketing director.

When they are ready to schedule Ty's memorial service, they will go back to Long Beach to host an "open celebration" for the hundreds of loved ones and strangers who have supported them and their surviving 3-year-old son Gavin, she said.

In addition to the foundation they've started for rare pediatric cancer research, the Campbells also are planning a website for their new Muddy Puddles Project, which will celebrate the messy childhood fun that was impossible for Ty after his illness. Although she's still in the planning stage with the project, blog readers already have sent in more than 1,000 photos and letters of their children enjoying themselves in honor of Ty's memory.

Campbell is also committed to continuing her blog.

But the immediate mission is to face a house with no Ty.

"I'm looking for him on the couch and he's not there," Campbell said.

She said she spent the crisp autumn afternoon Thursday in the backyard, wrapped in one of Ty's blankets and staring at the swing set he could not enjoy because radiation treatments left him completely paralyzed. But now, she said, she could finally let herself imagine him swinging on the swing and going down the slide.

Because she and her son spent so much time driving to medical appointments, her car will feel empty. "I'm really going to be looking for him in my rearview mirror," Campbell said.

On Friday, she and her husband will pick up Ty's ashes and get through another day.

"It's just a very surreal feeling now to have empty house and empty arms," Campbell said.

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