Thank you for keeping up with Tony's status as he was battling cancer.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Thank you...

Thank you for all your comments here and on Facebook. We knew Tony had matured and blossomed at school, but reading everyone's comments tells us how much.

I don't know if this will help you in your grieving process or not, but I want to share something with you.

His Mom and I are doing fine with his death. Watching his abilities run downhill, knowing the almost certain end result of this kind of tumor, staying optimistic to help him stay optimistic, and watching him suffer the last few days was the hardest thing we have ever done.

He made it much easier for us when he let us know, on Tuesday, that he knew he was probably going to die, and that he was okay with it. Then we were free to talk to him about where he was going, to tell him that we were okay with it -- don't worry about us -- we are here to take care of you, etc.

In short, I ask you not to worry about us...we are probably feeling much much better than you are at this point. Think about all the good memories you have of Tony. Look up pictures of him on Facebook...I think you will find some of them even make you laugh.


  1. Tony was an inspiration to any and every person he met. I've been thinking alot about when we were little and used to play in the auditorium at church. I will take your advice and look through pictures on facebook...I know they'll make me smile. I can't wait to see him again at home.

    With love in Him,
    Amanda 'Elmore' Creed

  2. Neal, Sherri and Randi,

    What a courageous road Tony walked and what an example of love and dedication you have shown as a family. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Gail G. & the team at COP

  3. I know losing a child is very different than a mother or grandmother, but it is all I have to draw on. I can definitely tell you I was better after they passed than I was at their sides watching them wither away. The nurses kept asking me and my mother if we had told my grandmother that it was OK for her to go--that we would be ok. After a week of this, I finally said to the nurse, "We've done everything but throw her a goodbye party". I know that is a little snappish, but we sat by her for 7 days, 24/7. When they pronounced her (she was almost 99 years old), my mother started to gently shake her, as if to wake her. I said, "What are you doing? What are are we gonna do if she wakes up? She has a broken neck, her kidneys are shot, etc." The nurse said, "I am so sorry," and before I could censor myself, I said, "I'm not." I was probably closer to her than anyone and she had most of mental faculties up until 3-4 months before she died. She knew what she couldn't do and she knew she was slipping mentally. She also knew she was doing unusual things, things completely against her character--like hitting people who were trying to help her. She didn't understand why she was doing these things, but she knew it was time to go home. She lived just a block from me and we talked about her funeral and even preplanned and prepaid. She had been a skillful and avid gardener all her life. She loved the song "I Come To the Garden Alone." We sang that song at her service, but we intentionally left out the last verse, because since Jesus had overcome death, Grandma got to stay in the garden with him and that it how I still picture her today. I was very sad for a while and put off taking of the business of her death, but, I knew and still know, she is in that garden with her Lord.

    So, why hijack your mourning process? I understand what you mean that you are ok. There will be set backs, but since you can see Tony in whatever part of Heaven he's in and you KNOW he is with a friend that is closer than a brother, you can rest easy for him. Those of us left behind just have to up our faith.

    There is a song that is sung by Michael Buble, called "Feeling Good". The tune is real jazzy, but the words are exactly how I feel about Heaven. If you want to see them, you can check out my new blog at

    We love you very much.
    Ellis and Jill

  4. We have appreciated your taking the time to keep us all updated on Tony via this blog. We do not have any new or different words of comfort that have not already been expressed by so many friends and family but we want you to know we are praying for you. May God bless and keep you and give you peace. Bill & Gail McCaughan

  5. I pray for even a little of your strength through all of this. You are strong parents and I rest assured that Tony is right where he wants to be in the arms of Jesus. God was assembling his band and wanted the best, whenever I hear music from Heaven I will think of Tony. blessings and God's comfort for us all.

  6. We have all been greatly blessed by having the Collins family as part of our Christian family. We appreciate the grace and dignity that each of you presented as you were dealt this situation. Neal and Sherri - you encouraged Tony to live his life tothe fullest and he did and obviously by the outpouring of love - he impacted so many people. Randi, We are proud of you for trying to keep things as normal as possible for the past 18 months. We know this is hard in so many ways. You have such genuine sweetness about you and we are blessed to have you in our lives as well.

    Thank you, Neal for keeping us updated along the way as you went through this experience. We appreciate how each of you showed us grace and dignity and thinking of each other rather than yourselves. You are a truly beautiful Christian family and we are all blessed to have you as part of our family.

    Hugs to you - David and Verneta

  7. I can't imagine what you guys are going through, but I know he is in a better place. He made the RMB so much fun, he helped out anyone and everyone he could, he had such a kind heart and we all loved him. He always wore shorts to practice in November when the rest of us were in 5 layers of clothing and we all thought he was crazy. He was such a unique soul that can never, ever be replaced. Thank you so much for keeping this blog, keeping all us RMBers updated, because he really did mean a lot to us, and to the Arkansas band program. Praying for peace of mind at the time for y'all

    Kate B

  8. I can agree with everything that everyone here has said and I, too, hope for the best for all of his loved ones. If one thing can be said, I know that I personally would not be the same had I not met him and had him in my life. He helped me through so much, and so many difficult times. He taught me what it was like to mess up and still have a friend that you know will always love you no matter what. Tony really made me feel like I mattered in a way that I hadn't really experienced up until that point. He is a huge inspiration for me as well, and he changed my life. I loved him and I will always continue to love him until the day I die, until I see him again. I know he will be waiting with open arms to greet me with another one of his amazing hugs. I will never forget him, and I know that even though his body isn't here, his spirit is with us every day as I know he is watching over us. I wish the best for you all, and thank you for bringing such an amazing person into this world.

  9. Neal, Sherri and Randi
    Our hearts and thoughts go out to each of you. Its very difficult to put ourselves in your place. We will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers as you work yourselves through this difficult time is your life. Tony was a amazing young man.
    The Sheets Family- Mark, Brenda,Stephanie, Zachary , William and Rafeal(Stephanie's husband)