by Jennifer Morris
I didn’t know the meaning of unconditional love until Zuka came into my world. He was born in fall of 1999 and looked up at me with those giant brown eyes. I knew right then I would do anything for that boy.
Zuka was an amazing person. He was an athlete, played football, ran track and won the Maine state wrestling champ in 2018. He had many friends and loved having a good time. He was a prankster, always sporting that impish smile. He was kind, never wanting to see anyone hurt.
Zuka was literally a genius. He was obsessed with superheroes and an amazing person to talk to. He was so introspective, so intelligent and he made you feel like you were truly understood. He was the funniest person, always joking and dancing around.
Most people didn’t know he struggled with mental health issues until August 20, 2018 when he took his life, in our home. He was 18 years old.
I wailed so loudly when the police came out to tell me he was gone, the whole neighborhood must have heard me. I was sitting outside, where the police ordered me to go.
I waited 45 minutes, begging them to tell me if he was OK before they finally came out and told me he had taken his life. That night was a blur, people came, brought us food and drinks.
I couldn’t eat and I didn’t want to be alive
My husband’s family wanted to clean up the room before we went in there so I was told not to go in. My mother-in-law came and she told us to rest.
I didn’t want to sleep.
I didn’t want to wake up and relive the whole moment of realizing my son was gone. It was all so surreal.
I just cried and howled and moaned from my soul. I remember saying over and over again, “No Zuka, no Zuka. Why? Why?” Begging God to make this all a dream, to give me my son back. I told him I would do anything–anything to have him back.
That night I messaged close friends and told them Zuka had taken his life. I talked to a couple of friends, and my father but I don’t remember any of the conversations.
Loved ones visited, offered comfort
I tried to pull myself together when they were at the house, I would cry, of course, but I kept so much inside. I remember walking one family member to the door, closed the door and melted right there. I slid down the door, onto the floor and sobbed.
Keeping that in was exhausting. I spent so much time outside watching cars go by and crying. How could life still go on when my son was dead?
In the evening I would go in Zuka’s room and cry, I would yell, I kept repeating, “This can’t be real!” All his things in his room, his giant football banner or his picture, his clothes, video games, superhero posters–all sitting there like he was coming back.
He just couldn’t be gone
I couldn’t sleep, I spent hours answering messages on facebook and text messages. At one point, my husband took my phone away and promised to tell me if anything really important happened but he told me I needed rest and I did. Rest was horrible–not peaceful like one would hope.
Sleeping was no escape from the pain, I had horrible nightmares.
I was so angry. Never angry with him, though I knew some people were. I was angry at the world, at the Universe, at God and couldn’t think straight and everything was like a dream state. I tried to hold myself together and felt like I wanted to die
I wanted to go with Zuka
I had said several times that I wanted to be with him until a friend took me aside. She told me that my daughter was around when I said things like that and she knew my daughter was worried. I went in my bedroom, sat on the side of the bed beside my daughter, “You know I will always be here with you right? I am not going anywhere.” She looked at me with tears in her eyes and asked, “You promise?”
Oh no, my friend was right. My daughter was really I would take my own life. I knew right then and there that no matter how difficult it was, I had to survive this.
When I wasn’t strong enough to do it for myself, I could do it for her.
I could never put her through a pain like that, especially after just losing her brother. I am going to be completely honest and say that she is the reason I stayed alive. I know people say you should stay alive for yourself but there are times in your life when the pain is just too great and the will to live is gone. It is during those times, you have to look around and stay for the people who love you.
It’s been almost seven months since I lost Zuka.
I still cry often and it still hurts so bad. I have decided to try to make a difference by writing a book, blogging often. I am returning to school in the fall to finish my mental health degree. I couldn’t save Zuka, I will live with that forever.
I hope in the future I can save a life by sharing my story.