Buffalo plaid memories

Today, while packing away holiday stuff, I decided to consolidate Charles’ three boxes into two to make room. Some of the items have no memories attached. I actually sent a number of items to his friends after his suicide.

Still other articles of clothing carry strong memories–his blankie, the little leg cast from his fall down the stairs at eighteen months old. And this shirt. It’s what Charles wore the day he came home from rehab. He was scrubbed clean, beaming and so like the boy I remembered–the child that had been buried inside addiction just three weeks prior.

I am so sorry there is no picture of him that day but I was drunk with love and relief–too in the moment to snap a picture. But I have that image burned in my head and remember the buffalo plaid shirt he was wearing untucked.

He was telling jokes again. How subtle and slow the changes had been while he had become addicted. God how I missed this version of him. How he made me laugh that day was such a throwback to earlier days when he’d have us all doubled over and grabbing at the arms of furniture to remain propped up for fear of falling over laughing.

No one could think on the spot like he could and tell jokes that were perfect for the audience in front of him. His gift was timing. And it was a gift.

Slowly, my son had been taken over by the vile drug known as heroin and now my child was back. My underlying feeling of panic evaporated and we were still blissfully unaware he had been using heroin. We still thought it was pills and no one had told us any differently.

Later, I would refer to him on this day as “Saturday Charles.” I can still see him now, sitting in the chair across from the sofa, telling me about all his future plans.

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Anne Moss Rogers

I am the mother of two boys and the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am a writer and professional public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief and currently working on getting a book published. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. 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.

6 thoughts on “Buffalo plaid memories”

  1. I lost my beautiful daughter, Lauren, on August 15th 2017. She was in a car accident. She hit a jersey wall and for some reason, got out of her truck and walked into the highway. She was hit by a car and killed. She was only 37. She had been in jail with three DUI’s. I think she may have been drinking the night of the accident, but what does that matter now? I think about her every day. She had moved into a new apartment on her birthday, April 13th. I had to clean it out. I gave most of her clothes to a friend of hers. I kept a few things that I keep tucked away in a spare bedroom, but I can’t bear to look at them. One is the veil she wore when she got married (she was separated at the time of the accident). I have a shirt she wore when she was in a half-marathon; I have her baby blanket that my mother made for her back in 1980 before she was born. I keep these things in a drawer. A few months ago I was at her friend’s house, helping her paint. In the hallway, I noticed a couple of big boxes of clothes. Then I realized all those clothes were my daughter’s. I really fell to pieces. It was just terrible seeing her things there in cardboard boxes and knowing that I’d never see her again. I went through the boxes and just smelled her. I wish I had never seen that stuff. It just made matters worse. Thinking about it now upsets me. I miss her terribly. At first, I could not function. I wanted to kill myself. I didn’t get out of bed for weeks and couldn’t eat. Slowly things have improved. It’s been over 17 months now but I know that I will never fully recover from losing my little girl.

    1. Judith. Thank you for sharing your story. I read every word about Lauren. We had to do something with his room and his clothing right away because four days prior to my son’s suicide, we had sold the house. Facing that clothing was devastating and I learned I was unable to do it alone so I called in reinforcements. Seeing a life reduced to boxes and a few things just isn’t enough.

      I want you to know that about thirty percent of parents who lose a child have thoughts of suicide and wonder how they will move forward. My friend Gray said, “At first I lived because I felt obligated to live.” Over time she has found meaning in her life but it did take many years. The first two years are the hardest and it’s a slow climb out of a big black hole but I have found a way to live again. I will never be the same and there have been some pretty wonderful and beautiful moments. It’s my feeling that if I don’t live, who will carry on my son’s legacy. And that’s what has kept me moving forward. Thank you again for being so candid. I do know how you feel.

  2. I so agree. You never know how it will hit you. Getting ready to do a final clean up of his room and redecorate it as if he will come stay in it as a successful and happy adult. (I was in the process of this when he died and over the last 6 years, it has become a dumping ground for anything I don’t want to deal with.) when you see these items, memories rush back.

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