You were a friend of Charles’ and he was supposed to be in your wedding. But he died by suicide before your big day. It seems like just yesterday that you announced it to me standing in our kitchen in Midlothian. Judea is as amazing as you told me she was. Charles thought so, too.
You told me late last year that you were not always the best influence on Charles. That broke my heart. I could tell that you, like many of us, struggled with guilt after his suicide. You and Charles found each other when you were both struggling. I worried about both of you and there were times you were up to no good together and times you were not good for each other. In no way did you have anything to do with Charles behavior or death. You would have done anything for him.
You grew up when you got married and had a child. I have never seen a transformation so profound and inspiring. When I saw you outside of Moe’s with that baby carrier, I thought I would faint. You were clearly in love with that child. Not everyone that has a baby straightens up and takes responsibility. But for you, it was the best thing to ever happen. Fatherhood agreed with you as did being married.
What I didn’t know until later was your child’s diagnosis of a rare spinal disorder. You didn’t love that child any less. Maybe even more. No one knows how difficult it is to have a child with special needs, unless they’ve been through it. The emotional toll, the expenses, the stress. Nothing humbles you more.
I followed up with you after I saw you to see if we could go to lunch. Something came up and you couldn’t go.
My husband said how wonderful it was that you had gotten it all together. It gave us such hope.
You signed up for ‘Out of the Darkness’ walk for Team Charles this past September 2016, but having a child with special needs and responsibility as a provider with two jobs, you were unable to make it.
There were other missed opportunities that now make me ache. I so wanted to connect with you again and get some Charles’ stories. And now I can’t. In a cruel twist of fate, you died in a bizarre accident right when you were doing your best. We’ll never have that conversation. I’ll never know those stories. I am so sorry your parents and your wife have to travel this grief journey.
Life just isn’t fair.