Something odd in the contents of Charles’ backpack

Before we got the brown bag with the clothing Charles was wearing when he killed himself, we got the backpack you see above. I think we got it about 5 or 6 days after he died. I remember my family was still there.

Inside, there was a list of the contents. I didn’t laugh then but I laughed today at the item listed as “smoking thing.” That would be his e-cig.

Family letters? A heart breaker. He saved every letter I ever wrote him while he was away. He even sealed them in a large plastic bag to protect them from rain and other liquid. While he was away at the therapeutic boarding school, The Family School, I wrote him every single week. I wanted him to know he was loved. By the time he was at Wasatch, he had his phone and that was not necessary.

Funny, she didn’t list the family photos as part of the contents. Charles apparently unblocked me as a friend after he walked out of detox because he wanted the family photos. He’d done that years prior so I could not even see his profile and what he posted.

He must have gotten someone to print the pictures because he had every one I ever posted on Facebook. I can’t even begin to tell you the effect that had on me and my husband the day we looked through his final contents.

The whole time he was at The Family School, he had pictures posted on the walls next to his bunk bed. Other kids told me about it. It is reassuring that he loved us and I think it was additional incentive to not kill himself. At least that’s my guess.

All of his notebooks with his rap lyrics are in that backpack still. As I’ve been writing my book, I’ve got it in my office so I can transcribe the lyrics and sometimes I have to go back and check something. Sometimes I just hold it and smell it and cry.

There was something odd about this list, though.

For one thing it doesn’t look very “official.” I would have expected a typed up list of some kind. It looks like a grocery list. Flip this list over and…….

you see this–a recipe.

Yes, this recipe and note was on the other side of the list of contents detailing the last possessions of my dead child.

I don’t know that it computed the week after he died. It was later that I wondered who would be so careless as to take a note with a recipe on it and list the contents of a deceased child on the other side? Obviously, someone brought this person a meal and then shared the recipe.

I doubt Rhonda ever imagined where her note would end up.

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AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

7 thoughts on “Something odd in the contents of Charles’ backpack”

  1. Wow Anne..ur strength in writing about this stuff amazes me…the ubiquitous backpack, that so many of our addicts hold close to their bodies and for the homeless addict all their material possessions…defines who they were, who they are
    The insensitivity of the person who cataloged his possessions…unbelievable. ..

    1. I know. If that is something you are supposed to do as a job it would make sense to have paper on hand? And have no clue who Rhonda is but apparently Ashe makes good ham.

    1. I know. That really did me in. I realized then that he felt like we had abandoned him. That those pictures are what kept him alive all those years. I had no idea. And yeah, I have forgiven myself for not knowing all that. How could I? But still heartbreaking.

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