The death of a child is never easy and for Alexandra Eaton, grief weighs heavy as she comes to terms with the loss of her young nephew, 11-year-old Camrynn McMichael, who died in a fireworks accident in Mt. Vernon July 3.
“I tried my best to be strong for everyone because they need me, especially their mom and dad — my husband and I have been with them every day,” Eaton said. “Usually at night, when I get home or I’m in my car, like on the way [to this interview] I was crying listening to a song that reminds me of Cam.”
Camrynn’s death was a sudden and unimaginable loss, Eaton said, prompting him to start a GoFundMe fundraiser for the family.
Although donations are pouring in quickly, accompanied by an outpouring of love and support, Eaton said that despite the tragedy, so have the words of negativity and judgment.
“We’ve seen cruel people and cruel comments that are just insane to me that you could be such a mean person,” she said.
But when a stranger read those words, he couldn’t sit idly by.
Timothy Land felt he had to do something.
“Situations like these, you’d think would bring a community together, not tear it apart,” Land said.
So he messaged Eaton, determined to help the family put Camrynn to rest.
Land drove from Evansville and handed over the money he had saved, $1,300 – enough to cover Camrynn’s funeral expenses, and more.
“I think, ‘Oh, that’s just great, anything would help at this point,'” Eaton said. “And he stopped and we all walked out, and he handed over all that money and I was like, ‘Woah.'”
It was an encounter Land said he would not soon forget.
“Every time I would come up and give them money, just to see the mother crying and so on, it just tore me apart,” Land said. “I’m not even going to lie, the entire drive back I just sat there and cried from Mt. Vernon to Evansville.”
Land said the boy’s death resonated with him because losing a loved one, especially during the holidays, is a pain he knows all too well.
Tuesday, July 12 is the 10th anniversary of his father’s death.
“So this year I totally understand what they’re going through,” Land said. “[July] The 4th is my favorite holiday, but at the same time it’s one of the hardest times of the year for me.”
Land’s selfless act of goodwill resonated with Camrynn’s family, who lost someone precious and added another through tragedy.
“We’re a family now,” Eaton said. “Tim, you have such a beautiful soul.”
In the future, Independence Day will never be the same for Camrynn’s family.
“We’re done with the fireworks, we’re done,” she said. “Every time we hear fireworks we all have to remember that Cam is gone and his parents have to live with that for the rest of their lives and it’s awful.”
But for now, the focus is on the bright and talented young boy whose death will not be mourned, but rather whose life will be celebrated on Sunday.
“Because Cam would want us to celebrate the good and not the bad,” Eaton said. “Because no matter what happened in life, Cam was always happy. He was just a happy kid. He was awesome, he was a good friend, a good son, a good nephew, all around a good kid . “
And Land will be there for the service and the rest of the days to come.
“Obviously, whenever you need anything, I’m always on hand,” Land told Eaton.
Because after all, he’s part of the family now.
“I printed her picture with my husband and brother-in-law and I’m going to put it on Cam’s poster,” Eaton said. “That way Cam knows, ‘He’s my guy.’ It’s like we’ve known each other forever.”
A memorial service for 11-year-old Camrynn McMichael will be held Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Denning Family Funeral Home in Mt. Vernon.
Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. until service time.
You can watch more of the interview with Eaton and Land below: