On a picture-perfect day in April 2010, 20-year-old Air Force veteran C.J. Twomey killed himself after an argument with his mom, Hallie.
Twomey regrets rolling her eyes at her son instead of hugging him as he stormed out of their home after an argument. A few minutes later, C.J. shot himself in his car in front of the home, she said.
C.J., who thrived on adventure like jumping out of airplanes, was upset about not making a special forces team with the Air Force, she said. After being honorably discharged, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, she said. But she never thought he would do what he did that day.
For three years, C.J.’s ashes remained in an urn on a shelf in his parents’ home in Maine, until Hallie devised a unique and touching way to honor her son’s memory.
It started with a simple request on Facebook to help C.J. — who was only 20 when he died — “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.”
The post was shared by nearly 100 of her friends, and soon even strangers started offering to scatter C.J.’s ashes in their hometowns, on family vacations or just somewhere beautiful. She started a separate Facebook page called “Scattering C.J.,” which now has more than 1,000 likes.
As of this writing, the page is up over 2,000 likes. C.J.’s ashes have now traveled across the United States, to Haiti, Jamaica, and India – and someone has offered to scatter some of his ashes on Mount Everest. The response to Hallie Twomey’s quest has caught her by surprise.
“Really, why would a complete stranger want to help us?” she said. “I really think people are doing whatever they can, even if it’s a small thing, to ease our burden or to embrace life.”
“I want to find peace in this. I want to feel better, but my guilt is so intense so I haven’t yet. I don’t know if it will,” she said. “I hope. I just have hope that maybe this will help in some way, because for 3 1/2 years, nothing has.”