Son’s picture reaches the Super Bowl and beyond

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AUBURN — There are two things you must say as you let him go: His mom will always love him and she’s sorry.

Those were simple but imperative instructions Hallie Twomey of Auburn gave to those entrusted with scattering the ashes of her son, C.J.

Following her son’s suicide at the age of 20, Twomey wanted to give her son a final journey, one he never received in his brief life and service in the U.S. Air Force.

Reaching out, she went to the public, using Facebook to create a page titled “Scattering CJ.”

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Responses started rolling in. From people close to the family, to complete strangers, people stepped forward and volunteered to grant a mother’s wish.

Twomey said someone in Seattle asked permission to scatter some ashes outside the stadium in Seattle for the National Football League’s NFC championship game. Taking matters a step further, they printed pictures of C.J. and asked complete strangers to bring them into the game; telling them C.J.’s story.

Following the championship game, the mother of one of C.J.’s friends, Lisa Strout, reached out to Twomey to see if she could try to get C.J.’s picture into the Super Bowl. Strout attempted to contact both teams.

It didn’t take long before Mike Flood, the vice president of Community Relations for the Seattle Seahawks, responded.

“Thank you for sending information on the endeavor to carry on in CJ’s memory. It’s amazing to see the scope of the effort via all the Facebook posts! I have printed a color copy of CJ in his Red Sox jersey and will take him to the Super Bowl with me on February 2nd. God bless you, Hallie & John.”

Twomey said that although she doesn’t consider herself a very spiritual person, “It was pretty cool that the team who was so ready to help out and have his picture did so well.”

On Sunday, Twomey said, “Today, I’m a Seahawks fan,” and although she said smiles are few and far between in her family these days, she remains grateful to the Seahawks organization.

The journey, according to Twomey, is still going on. Photos adorn the Facebook page where C.J. has been, including Denmark, the Swiss Alps and Mexico, to name a few.

A runner named Favian Tunon posted pictures of himself getting ready to run a marathon. On race day, he even had a number for C.J.’s ashes and a video of them finishing together.

Another mother told the story of her son’s involvement in drugs and crime, ultimately leading to his incarceration. She said Twomey’s page changed her despair about her son’s circumstances:

“Then I came across a posting on FB. It struck a chord with me, made me understand how my thoughts were so very wrong. I was now looking at a young man’s picture who had died 3 yrs ago and how his mother was still not even doing OK. I thought, you would never get to hug your son never get a letter, a phone call, nothing.”

It’s not just the celebration of C.J.’s life and the scattering of his ashes that have struck a chord with people. According to Twomey, it may even have provided timely interventions.

Twomey said it is not uncommon to receive messages on the page from those who considering the unthinkable themselves but found inspiration to keep going in her story.

A young mother who struggles with depression and vowed to live for her daughter, wrote:

“Again, I know you likely have more emails to search through than I could ever possibly imagine, but if you happen to stumble through and find mine, I hope you know how much your story has inspired me to keep my affirmations close to my heart.”

Others, Twomey said, have said, “Because of your story, I went back and hugged them.”

Speaking to those who helped C.J. along on his journey, Twomey said, “I will never be able to thank people enough.” She said she is, “Truly honored and humbled.”

dmcintire@sunjournal.com

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