The best gift a bereaved parent receives is when you say their child’s name(s), share a memory, a story, a picture or when you do something to honor them.  Our biggest hope is for our children to be remembered and for their legacies to live on in the people who love them.  As time treks on so does life, and as life treks on, people forget.  New tragedies happen, new life begins and life for everyone, but the bereaved parent/family, gets back to normal fairly quickly.  I do not hold this reality against anyone, it’s normal and natural.  With nearly five years in between my loss and now, I’m sharing 10 things I hope you’ll remember about a boy we miss very much.

 

10 Things I Want You To Remember About Caleb!

1 Caleb was happy.  I wish I could’ve bottled up his 17 years of happiness, for I could surely have used it now.  I wanted to start with this one because it’s imperative that I remind people that Caleb was happy! He showed zero signs of depression to anyone (family, friends, teachers, pastors, co-workers, etc.) and he did not isolate himself from anyone or anything, ever.  These are just 2 of the many warning signs or indicators that someone might have to be labeled “suicidal.” I’ve unfortunately learned that there doesn’t have to be any warning signs, indicators or preceding factors at all for someone to die by suicide.  Just because he died that way, doesn’t take anything away from the person he was before that tragic moment…which was a happy 17 year old boy!

2 Caleb loved sports, especially Tennessee sports! If you were just meeting Caleb for the first time, you’d know within about 60 seconds or less that he loved his Tennessee teams.  The kid was a Vol For Life and wanted everyone to know it!  When the Vols beat Alabama in 2022, Caleb’s dad and I jumped up and down, hugged each other and cried because we wanted him here to see it.  He loved sports in general, but not having him around during football and basketball season has been really sad. I think he would’ve made a great sports broadcaster!

3 Caleb was full of compassion. If you knew Caleb personally, or even if you’ve gotten to know him since his death, you know that he loved people, he loved making friends and loved being an encouragement to everyone. He didn’t just say he loved people, he showed it. He’d give you the shirt off his back and anything else you needed, too.

4 Caleb loved his family. We know that Caleb loved us and he would have never done anything to knowingly hurt us.  I miss watching him interact with his dad and sisters and I miss the great mother/son relationship we had.  It’s painful for me to think on this because my heart longs and aches for it every day. There is a Caleb sized whole in our hearts.

5 Caleb was brave.  Being a military “brat” meant Caleb moved quite a bit and was forced to start new schools and make new friends every few years.  While he was nervous about moving and starting new schools, he always put on a brave face and focused on the positives.  He never particularly struggled with a move and always made the best of every situation.

6 Caleb would eat anything, except pickles and raisins.  I say this mostly to make you smile or even giggle a little.  My boy was a true garbage disposal when it came to food and would eat anything, except pickles and raisins lol.

7 Caleb was genuine.  He had a very outgoing, fun and silly personality.  He was fun and funny! He was authentic and trustworthy! He was caring and gentle! He was friendly and all-inclusive.  If you knew him, you knew you had a friend!

8 Caleb made mistakes. Do you know of a teenager who doesn’t? I made more mistakes and bad choices in my early teenage years than he ever did, so why didn’t I die? I could have. Very easily.  Just ask my friends at the time about all the stupid, impulsive and dangerous things I did. Sadly, the biggest mistake Caleb ever made brought his life to hasty end.  I’ll share his story until my last breath to make sure young people know what to do when life-ending thoughts and actions enter their minds.  Death by suicide isn’t always preventable, but I believe it can be sometimes. I have a voice and a story to try, so I will always use them with the hope of saving lives.

9 Caleb loved life. Caleb’s death is still a devastating anomaly and an unexpected tragedy. I know his heart, I know he loved his life and didn’t want it to end. He made in impulsive choice in a moment of weakness that he couldn’t take back.  A fellow bereaved mother shared her 14 year old son’s last words with me…“Please don’t let me die, I was just having a bad day.” It’s an unexpected and extremely painful tragedy that we live with every day.

10 Caleb loved Jesus. I left this one for last because I hope you’ll remember this above all else.  Caleb loved Jesus and he is with Him in Heaven.  Following Jesus, being a Christian, believing in God and having a relationship with Him doesn’t protect us from the pain and uncertainties of the world we live in, but they do guarantee us the inheritance of eternal life that He promised us if we do. Caleb didn’t hide his faith, he lived it out loud! For anyone who hasn’t previously seen this, here are his goals for his Senior year that he wrote down in his Criminal Justice class on Friday, August 9, 2019.  I wasn’t with him telling him what to write and he wasn’t in Sunday School feeling like he had to write good “Christian” answers.  He was at school in his class sitting in his desk with a piece of paper, a pencil and instructions from his teacher to write down his goals for the year.  These are not the goals of someone who wants to end their life. I wish he could have stayed to see these goals through.  I’ve also shared a message I received via DM on Instagram.  Caleb loved Jesus…it’s right here in black and white.  I’m so proud of my son for being true to himself and always leading with love and faith.

If you’re still reading, thank you! Thank you for taking a few minutes to read about my amazing son.  If you’re a bereaved parent, I’d love to hear about your child.  Please email me at chrisy@ajourneyforcaleb.org and tell me all about them!