22 and 22

Charles birthday party with a pinata at age 3

Twenty-two months ago Charles died. And today, he would have been 22. So that’s the 22 and 22.

The spark that lit the flame of fun died by suicide which is still so hard to fathom. How is it that the funniest person I ever met suffered from depression so dark, so ugly, so painful he killed himself?

I talked with David Gallagher recently (CKG Foundation). We agreed birthdays are the hardest and I’m really struggling. This week has been a serious grief relapse–muscles have lead in them and motivation is nil. Kleenex in every pocket and I just want to curl up in a ball in a cave.

I want to remember my boy, too

Nobody spent as much time talking about his birthday than Charles did. For months he would talk about it, fantasize about it. He would have the wildest requests that were always difficult to fulfill. One time he wanted boxing classes. For an 11-year-old?

Then one year he searched the internet and found a camp in Canada, a zoo camp of sorts. It was crazy expensive and way off in the boondocks. And while I considered it, we simply couldn’t swing the dollars it required including the airfare and time it would take to get him to this remote location.

A pony would have been easy compared with some of his wishes. Something that would make him fly? Like I can pull that off? So a zip line had to do for that one.

What’s different between this birthday and the one last year?

Last year around this time, I was hurting like I do now a lot more often and certainly, the birthday was worse. This year I’ve had more good days and this month I have just plummeted to the depths of grief which is a much sharper contrast to how I had been feeling recently.

I knew it would be tough and set the expectation without setting a self-fulfilling prophecy–a tough balance.

I had definitely suffered emotional pain before. But until Charles died I couldn’t understand the emotional pain that was so bad it would trigger thoughts of suicide. And while I’ve never had those thoughts, I do understand the hurt and if you are predisposed, how it could trigger darker thoughts.

There are times I want to do just about anything to get away from the intensity of this pain of loss so deep and so unrelenting. Except that.

As an adult whose been through a lot in my life, from attacks at knifepoint to a broken neck and a brain tumor, I’ve developed the resilience to deal with even this. I would have never thought I could go on and move forward. But I have.

My brain came equipped with the tools to help me do that and I’m grateful. I’m just sorry I couldn’t have literally scooped some out and shared some of that with my son. How could I have so much and he have so little resilience? I’m his mother, right? Why didn’t some of it leak into him when he was conceived?

I feel I have enough of it to share which I think is part of why I do what I do. I need to. I have a few gifts and that’s one of them but I don’t have to keep it all to myself.

I will make it through the day.

“Let go, emotions flow, let it show and dissipate
This world is crushing me but I lift the weight,
Look at star with a different face you’ll see tomorrow,
The world will be a better place.”

—–Silver Lining, Reezin’ the Revolutionary, Charles Aubrey Rogers (Transcribed lyrics)

I remember

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

5 thoughts on “22 and 22”

  1. Anne Moss,

    Nancy Nash Fetty summed up many of my feelings–my care and concern, admiration and prayers. You hit the nail on the head regarding the resilience gene — I wish I could have passed it to my daughter the way you wished you had passed it to Charles. Thank you for sharing his imaginative birthday wishes!

    xoxo,

    Andrea

  2. Anne-Moss,
    My heart is so heavy for you (and your family) and has been over these last 22 months. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child, especially the way you lost Charles. I have read many of your articles and posts, as well as talked with a few people who have shared with me all you did to try to help and save Charles. No doubt you did and tried everything possible. Unfortunately, when mental health and/or addiction are involved, they can muddle things up so much that the person often can’t see past the emotional pain to realize there is happiness and the wonder of life on the other side of the darkness and despair they are feeling at that moment.
    What you are doing now, however, in response to losing Charles is truly a blessing to so many others. Sharing with others your journey, educating and informing them in so many ways about mental health issues, drug addiction, and suicide, is truly a way to make sure Charles’s challenges and struggles were not in vain. You are making good come out of such a tragic situation in spite of your pain and are, & will in the future, help so many others struggling with these same issues.
    I hope for you to feel moments of peace in the days ahead, and pray that those moments increase in number and duration in the months and years to come.
    ~ Nancy Nash Fetty
    (formerly Dechiara)

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