‘Scattering CJ': Renee Is One Of Many Helping An Auburn Mom Find Some Peace With Her Son’s Death
A few weeks ago I was reading a story on Facebook about Scattering CJ. It is a story about a mother in Auburn whose son died April 14, 2010 and her journey to find some peace with what happen. He committed suicide. CJ was only 20. I was drawn to Hallie Twomey’s story for two reasons. One, losing a child is the last thing any parent should have to endure. Two, her son died the same way my father died when I was 12.
Hallie is a woman who after three years is looking for some peace or closure with the events that lead to her son’s death. As I read the story, CJ sounds like a cool guy. He was an adventurous kid, he had joined the Air Force and was hoping to make it into a Special Forces unit. He did not make it and in the end chose an honorable discharge over training for another position. But he seemed to bounce back and had plans to move ahead with his life.
On April 14, 2010, CJ and his mom were having a fight over his future. His parents were worried he was not moving ahead. CJ said to her ‘you think I’m a failure, don’t you?’ Mom rolled her eyes, just thinking he was being dramatic. CJ then went upstairs, came back down, looked at his Mom and said ‘Failure? I’ll show you.’ With that he got in his car, drove away, came back a few minutes later, parked in front of his parents’ home and shot himself.
In their moments of unimaginable grief this family was able to see past all what had just happened and agreed to organ donation from their son. CJ grandfather had a heart transplant, so the family had firsthand knowledge of how organ donation can make a difference.
Hallie Twomey started the process of coping. But in three in a half years and everything she has tried she was still looking for some way to process this. She blamed herself. She wonders if she had done or said something different, things might have been different. Really, what parent would not wonder…’what if?’
Since his death, CJ’s ashes have been sitting in Hallie’s living room. Hallie and John Twomey decided they had to do something. She then posted the request on Facebook for people to take some of CJ ashes and scatter them. But there are conditions: You have to think of CJ as you scatter the ashes. Think of the people the organ donations saved. Tell him that his Mom and Dad love him and tell him his Mom sorry.
Since I had first read about this story, it has gone national. CJ is headed all over the place. I am honored to be one of those people. Hallie has sent me a small package and a reminder of what I committed to do. CJ is headed on vacation with me later this month. I will take photos and a video for Hallie and let her decided what to do with it.
So to CJ, it is amazing to follow this adventure your death has triggered. To see the compassion it has created in wanting to help your Mom find some peace with what has happened. It has created this community of people, like myself, who have ‘adopted’ you in our hearts and it has also giving another opportunity to talk about organ donation.
To Hallie, thank you for honoring me to a small part of CJ's story.