On April 14, 2010, a 20-year-old veteran named C.J. Tromley killed himself after having an argument with his mom Hallie. Tragically, there were clearly a lot of factors that contributed to his suicide ... He was upset about not making a special forces team with the Air Force, she said, and after being honorably discharged, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life. But Hallie has felt deep regret for what happened that day ...
For 3 1/2 years, C.J.'s ashes have sat in a black stone urn on the shelf of his parents' Maine home, and recently, Hallie had a realization that has since become a movement called "Scattering C.J.": "I don't want him to have to sit in an urn for my benefit for whatever rest of time that we have. I wanted to give him something. I'm trying to give him a journey."
With the help of Facebook, she's enlisting strangers around the globe -- from New England to Asia -- to scatter C.J.'s ashes, so that her son who loved to go on adventures can "see the mountains that he never got to climb, see the vast oceans that he would have loved, see tropical beaches and lands far and away." It's an absolutely heart-rending effort that more than 450 people have offered to take on.
Hallie has sent each stranger a note and a small photo of C.J. She asks the recipient to do four things: Think about C.J., think about the people he gave life to through organ donation, tell him that his mom and dad loved him, and tell him that his mom is sorry. Amazingly, recipients have brought C.J.'s ashes all over the world already -- from the cliffs along the Kalapana-Kapoho Road in Hawaii to Saint Theresa’s Chapel Beach in Juneau, Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico where a fellow airman and his younger brother released the ashes together. Amazing.
Here's the scattering in Hollywood ...
And a video of one recipient's scattering at St. Paul's Cathedral in Lower Manhattan, “a safe haven full of love and hope” that stood through the September 11 attacks, the recipient said.
It's absolutely awe-inspiring to see people band together to make Hallie's wish come true. While she has said that she wanted to "find peace in this" and "feel better," she also admits:
My guilt is so intense so I haven't yet. I don't know if it will. I hope. I just have hope that maybe this will help in some way, because for 3 1/2 years, nothing has.
So heartbreaking. We can only hope too that the hundreds banding together to scatter C.J.'s ashes will be able to, in some way, give his mother the chance to better cope ... and ultimately heal.
What's your reaction to learning about the "Scattering C.J." campaign?
Image via Hallie Tromley/Facebook