I’ve really struggled with whether or not I wanted to share this letter. I’ve been writing it on and off for about eight months. My therapist suggested early on that I write Caleb two letters, one for what I would say when I got home that night and we continued our conversation from earlier in the evening, and one for what I would say to him after his death. I’ve struggled with sharing it because it is personal…my heart wide open talking to my dead son. I came to the conclusion that my wide open heart is no longer personal. With what I’ve shared on social media and this Blog, I have already put a lot about my grieving heart and bereavement journey out there for anyone and everyone to read about. Since I began sharing mine and Caleb’s story in an effort to do my part for suicide awareness and prevention, it’s my hope and prayer that someone reads this letter to my beloved son and gets a picture of the painful aftermath a mother is left with after her child dies so unexpectedly, suddenly and tragically. I ask you to read the following letter, imagine you are me and talk to your kids about what to do when they feel that there is no way out of circumstances and what seems like a hopeless situation they might find themselves in. If you read this letter and you are, or know, a mother who has lost a child, I know you will relate to my pain and I am deeply sorry for your loss. Thank you for stopping by my blog and taking a few minutes to share with me, learn about us and read my heart wide open.
My Dearest Caleb,
There are so many things I’ve been wanting to say but I haven’t let myself accept the fact that you’re really dead, so this letter has been really hard to write. After 411 days, I still let myself think you might come home. I sit on couch staring out the front window and imagine you pulling up to the front of the house, I can hear your music blaring from your car. You walk across the front yard, up the steps and through the front door. You greet me with a smile, a hug and a, “How was your day?” You’re home, my heart is content and life goes on. Sadly I’m jolted back into reality too quickly, the horrible reality that you will never again come home. I will never again see your smile, feel your hug or hear your voice, except in my memories.
Monday, August 12, 2019, started out like any other day, went on like every other day before it, but ended in a real life nightmare. When I woke up that morning, walked into the living room to see you sitting at the table eating cereal, I wish I would have stood to watch you a little longer. As we sat on the couch having our morning talk and devotion, I wish we would have talked and prayed about not giving in when things get hard, about how to distinguish the voice of God from the voice of the enemy, how someone is always available, how there is always a way out, how you are never without hope. That evening after I left, you were alone, you made a choice and nothing would ever be the same. I never would have left you, if I knew I would never see you again. Never! What happened to you after I left? Were you crying, were you scared, were you screaming, were you shaking? Were you mad? Were you sad? Why didn’t you call me, why didn’t you call someone, why didn’t you pray for help? Why did you entertain the thought? I never get answers to any of my questions and I hate it! Caleb, you were light, life, love and laughter! We had a great relationship and an open dialogue, which makes this impossible to understand. You left behind no evidence whatsoever that you wanted to die. You left behind no answers or explanations to your fateful action that night. You knew the voice of God, you had heard it and responded to it all your life. I know you were feeling oppressed, stressed, overwhelmed and the pressure you had on yourself was closing in. In your weakness and immaturity, you heard a voice that offered a way out of the pain you were feeling. You were lied to. You were manipulated. It wasn’t the right choice. It did not solve anything. In an instant you were gone and I was at the mercy of the trauma, darkness and confusion that took over ever part of my being. My sweet boy, you broke me. How could I go on? How could the four of us live without you? How am I going to explain this to your little sisters and your friends? Learning how to live without you has been absolutely the hardest thing I have ever had to think about, and do.
You were now safe in the arms of the Lord you loved, but I needed you back in mine. My adventure with you was over, but I wasn’t ready or willing for it to be true. Knowing that you were in a better place was not comforting to me. I feel the best place for you to be is here with me, with your family and your friends living life to the fullest and fulfilling your dreams and aspirations. You will never know the pain, devastation, heartbreak and confusion that your death has caused. Caleb, you were deeply loved by so many. People you probably never thought cared about you have had a difficult time accepting your absence in their life. You touched many more lives than I ever knew you did. Seeing you in that casket was nothing less than devastating and nauseating. Hundreds of crying, heartbroken people shuffled by us for hours and hours sharing their condolences, memories and well wishes. I wanted nothing more than to fall asleep and never wake up again.
Since you died, I’ve walked a path that only happened in nightmares. As the fog of trauma began to lift and my eyes and heart were able to see and feel more clearly, I began to make the choice to live for you instead of without you. You weren’t going to come home, it has to be this way so I had to figure out how I was going to move forward. I don’t blame God and I don’t blame you for your death. Of course, I wish God would have intervened and stopped it from happening, but who am I to order the hand of God? I know you were not thinking or acting logically. I have depended on my faith, family and friends to help me get through every difficult day. I say your name any chance I get, I wear your shirts and socks, I wear your fingerprint on a necklace around my neck, I text and feed your friends, you are always on my mind and forever in my heart. Caleb, I am incredibly proud to have had the gift of being your mom for seventeen years, one month and thirteen days and I loved watching you grow into an amazing young man with a giant, squishy heart. I have promised you that I would honor you be healing, and I’m doing just that. It will be an uphill, painful climb for the rest of my life, but I will hold fast to my faith, strength and courage. I use your light, your love and God’s promises to carry me forward and use our story for good.
Love you forever,
When I got home that Monday night, I would have asked you to sit on the couch with me and finish the conversation we started before I left. I would have told you that I love you, that I understand pressure, stress and temptation. I would have told you about the temptations I gave into as a 17 year old and how I learned from them. I know you would have opened up to me, cried and apologized. We would have talked through whatever was weighing heavy on your heart and mind, we would have hugged it out, you would have gone to bed and woke up on Tuesday morning. I would have walked out into the living room to see you sitting at the kitchen table eating cereal. We would have had our morning talk and devotion before school, you would have hugged me, kissed me on the cheek and wished me a good day. I would have watched you walk across the grass with your sister and drive off to school. My family would be whole and my heart would be content. If only…
This is one of my many treasured memories. As we were leaving Epcot at Disney World, you grabbed me and wanted to take a selfie. I found this in your iCloud. I know you loved me. I know you did not intend to hurt me or anyone. I know you loved your life and did not want to die. I love you, I miss you, I promise to honor you by healing. #talklistenprevent