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As I write this, it has been 2 years, 0 months, 16 days and 17 minutes since my son committed suicide at the age of 15. Feels like forever and yesterday at the same time. I can’t believe that I am still here because, believe me, there have been days..moments..when I didn’t want to continue. I have enough common sense to realize that those days will come and go and how I handle those storms when they rise; is who I am. That’s all I know about who I am anymore. I was “Caleb’s mom”. Now, I just don’t know. I have been told that I will always be Caleb’s mom, that will never change.
Some days I just don’t know. How can you be a parent to a child that is gone? To a child that didn’t want to be here with you or anyone else. How do you even begin to make sense of that? You can’t. We still don’t know why. We may never. My son left a ten page letter in his notebook, which I have yet to read. The first psychologist that I went to after his death has it locked in her safe. I keep meaning to call her, email her to have it sent to me, but I just can’t yet and I don’t know when or if I will be able to. Ever.
Caleb was exceptional. A true heart. His suicide left a path of destruction that I am sure resonates with other survivors, parents, friends and relatives. They know what I am talking about. His manner of death doesn’t take away from how beautiful he was. It does take the conversation in a different direction, though. I have experienced the downward gaze, the changing of the subject and the outright gasp of people when I tell them. I do tell them and I don’t care what they think because my son was not damaged goods. He was not “crazy” or a substance abuser. I am not saying that these are the only people that commit suicide, but these are the comments and questions that have been thrown at me. He was an empath. A kind, old soul that loved animals, nature, the ocean and beauty. What he didn’t care for were people that were mean, rude, entitled and self-absorbed. He had an amazing sense of humor and a better grasp of politics than most adults twice his age. Caleb loved to play Portal on his Xbox and watch American Horror Story. We watched “The Strain” its first season and talked about how we couldn’t wait for season 2. I can’t bring myself to watch it at all anymore. My son was artistic. A perfectionist. A beautiful child.
My life has become divided into BC (Before Caleb) and AC (After Caleb). I have changed. I no longer have the tolerance that I used to. Nor the patience. When I hear parents complaining about there kids over something so inane and childish, I want to slap them. At least they HAVE their child. Yes, I know what people think, that Caleb “made his choice” or “he decided to commit suicide”. Wrong. He was a 15 year old boy who was suffering. He isn’t in pain anymore. I couldn’t make everything all better, the way that parents are supposed to and that breaks my heart. Every. Single. Day.
I screamed at the sky after he died and sometimes I still do. I know that he hears me. I promised him that I will keep showing up until it’s my time. I know that this is going to be a long journey, one that I wouldn’t have picked for either one of us but I don’t have any other choice.
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The dreaded question. There are many days that I contemplate being honest. 99.9% of the time it is a half smile and an “I’m good, you?” The real and honest answer is this…”How am I doing?…I have no patience, I am always angry. I can’t stand seeing parents with their children as it makes me want to cry. I wish everyone would stop wishing me a happy holiday, don’t ask me how MY Thanksgiving was because I don’t care how yours was. I don’t care how great your kid is doing in school just as much as you don’t really want to know how I am doing”.
I only ask or reply out of being human and I do not want to be rude. Unless you have experienced finding you child, your only child…dead…on his bedroom floor…you have no idea how I am doing and what I am going through. Do not tell me that “things happen for a reason” or “this was God’s plan” or “he is in a better place”. Don’t tell me that “I need to move on from this” or “Are you still grieving?”. My world is shattered beyond belief and nothing that anyone says will or can make this hellish process go any faster.
I am still trying to figure out which upsets me more; the people that won’t even look at me because they do not know what to say or the ones that open their mouth and unbelievable hurtful things come out.
How is it possible that it is coming up on five months since you have died? How is this my new reality? You should be in your sophomore year in high school, getting your drivers license, talking to your boyfriend over Skype and Face Time. You would have been hanging out with your best friend, Sophia and trashing boys and talking politics with all of us. You should be singing in our kitchen, “Food…glorious food!!” and making crazy new concoctions that looked horrible but tasted so good. We would be discussing colleges, traveling, your acting and what play you were going to be in next spring.
You took another path.
I felt you yesterday. You made it known. I don’t care what anyone thinks in regards to those things. I know that you don’t want me to remember 2015 as the year that brought this sadness, the year that you took your own life at 15. I know that you want me to remember it as the year Kim and I got married. I will always celebrate that but how, just how do I handle that you were with us on July 6 and then on July 8, I came home from work and you were lifeless on your bedroom floor? That is a sequence of events that just continually play in my head like a video. Detail after detail…over and over.
My sweet son, I miss you more than you could ever fathom. One parent that lost their child to suicide said, “If it were about love, they would all still be here”. How I wish. You were my melted cheese at 2 am, my popcorn and movie night (with plenty of snacks), my blue-eyed little boy with curls that you loved to hate. You are so beautiful.
I know that you are with me when I write. You told me so. Birds and music are our connection, as is your cell phone. I will keep that with me forever. I will never stop wishing that our connection was looking in your eyes. All I have left are photographs.
You finally gave watermelon a chance and your mom and I couldn’t keep it in the house. And tomatoes. You always disliked watermelon, it was texture thing. Every time you would try it when you were younger, your face would scrunch up and you looked sick, as if that tiny piece (no bigger than a penny) were poison. I knew that I had better grab a paper towel or napkin because that piece was about to be expelled. Quickly.
You are my world, my son. You always will be. I do not know what drove you to do this at 15 and I long for the day when I can leave the “what ifs” behind, or at least be able to put them in a box somewhere in my head…tucked away on a shelf so high that there is no danger of it falling and opening when I least expect it.
There will always be pain, heartbreak and anger, my son. I just wish you could have seen five minutes into your future.
I will always be “Caleb’s mom”. Just in a different way.
What do you do when you have thousands of words, multitudes of conversations and six-thousand questions all flying around in your head; in no certain direction; without a path? You rehash that last conversation over and over and over until your brain is numb. You like curveballs? Losing a child is one hell of a curveball. There is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING that could ever prepare you for this. Some can read their way through every self-help book in the world to get the necessary coping skills to go on living, for others books are bullshit. Some us write. We write until our hands, heads and heart cramp. Words jumble together in our selves and only make sense when they are on a page. Only then can some of us neatly pack those thoughts that we put on paper into a box and shove it in a far corner in our brains. I have “grief-brain” and I hate it. Our son had a blessed life in front of him and the disastrous wake that he has left behind is crippling. He was 15. Beautiful, intelligent, funny with a sarcastic wit about him that was refreshing. Everyone that met him couldn’t wait to see whet he would accomplish with his life. Wise beyond his years, an “old soul” as his other mom would call him. She misses him dearly but she is angry. So angry. I know now why she is carrying this anger, as she knows more than me. What our son did was final. Irrevocable. This is a tsunami of emotions that I wish on no one. I think that when one is experiencing grief, we should get a pass. A pass on the stupid shit that comes out of our mouths , bypassing ANY filter we thought that we had. A pass on remembering something so damn simple that toddlers look at us as if we are savants. A pass. I want a pass.