Charles’s 28th Birthday, April 26, 2023. Year 8 since his death.

Late last year, I spoke to a class of high school students locally. The teacher said she had been a friend of Charles’s which shocked me. How did she get to be the teacher? Wasn’t she too young? I couldn’t speak for a few seconds. The teacher even shared old pictures I had not seen.

You see I have Charles frozen at age 20.

All those who went to school with him are kind of frozen in my mind, too. I do see his friends, I get that they’ve graduated from college, some have married and his best friend had a baby (named Aubrey, after Charles, I might add). But there is a group of them in my mind who are still there frozen in place.

In my mind, Charles looks like he did at age 20. It’s conceivable he wouldn’t have aged a ton from 20 to 28. But what will it be like when he turns 40 in heaven? Will I picture him as older? Or will I still picture him at age 20 when he left us? Maybe I would try “aging booth” or some other app to see what he would look like? I don’t think I want to do that yet.

What is already kind of odd is looking at how much younger I look in pictures with him.

What would it be like to not ever get old?

That was a stupid question because it would be like being dead. I can hear Charles chuckling at that one. “Good one Mom! You actually made me laugh.”

At one point will his hairstyle look like something from the past? Or his clothing?

I still feel flat and lifeless and sometimes forgetful or weepy in the days leading up to his birthday. Everything takes longer to sort out and grief brain returns. Not like it used to be. Early on the birthday was so unbearable. It’s not like that now. And it’s hard to explain what it’s like other than I’m scatterbrained but also immersing myself in the memories.

Charles would still be Charles, though. And that means he’d be a dreamer no matter how much reality was slapping him in the face. That was definitely part of his charm and a lot like my dad was.

I suspect Charles would never grow out of wanting a birthday cake or a pinata, that he’d always want a big party for his big day. Nobody loved a birthday celebration like Charles–the people taking precedence. When it came to my younger child, small was not the kind of party he was ever interested in.

I regret having made fun of him one year because he drove me so crazy for so many months planning his birthday and telling me what I needed to make, buy or do for 5 months prior to the day. Ok, so I didn’t make fun of him as much as I pointed out it in an impatient way that it was still 5 months away and couldn’t he just let it rest. The look on his face made me regret it ever came out of my mouth. What’s wrong with nursing a fantasy island birthday for months? All I needed to do was say, “Yeah sure,” and add color to the craziness by suggesting we bring in a giraffe or cheetah. Or talk about adding gold coins to the pinata.

Isn’t it funny that what drove me the most crazy about Charles is one of those memories I treasure the most now?

Published by

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.

27 thoughts on “Charles’s 28th Birthday, April 26, 2023. Year 8 since his death.”

  1. Hey Anne Moss. Long time. Daniel’s bday too is coming up July 6 and of course Hallmark father’s day. I had a visitor today. Thought I’d share this:. Grief knocked on the door today
    I let it in
    It passes by my house every day
    Sometimes I wave to it
    Most of the time now I can ignore it
    I have to
    And then there are times it knocks on the door
    Most of the time I ignore that
    Today I let it in
    It’s been over seven years since we met
    We’re like old friends
    We talk about old times, how we were, where we’ve been and how we’re doing now
    It can be intensely overwhelming for a moment including a bit of wailing
    Then as usual it becomes a numbing affect throughout my mind and body
    Afterwards I recover my strength
    We finish talking and we say see you next time
    It leaves out my front door
    Tomorrow it will pass by
    I might wave, or not.


    1. I really like that David. I was really moved by it. And I am going to save it and keep your name on it. I co-facilitate a grief group so let me know if it’s ok to share with them.

      1. Sure. I had that day yesterday and felt compelled to externalize it. Then thought, hmm, I’d like to share but no one I know would fully appreciate it. Then I thought of you and your platform.

  2. I appreciate you sharing your story. I and him are very similar, and he also reminds me of some of my best friends in this lifetime. His music is awesome, appreciate you sharing that as well. I guess I’ll keep going on, if only for the sake of my mother. (I wrote a bunch of other garbled nonsense here but deleted it after some thought. Aliens basically.) Your love is clear and your dedication is admirable, but don’t forget to forget sometimes. We’re all together forever in this Universe, just sometimes we’re in different places at different times.

    1. Thank you for your words. I suspect you are not in the best place emotionally right now. I hope writing helps you. It definitely helped me. Your sweet comment did too.

  3. Happy Birthday Charles. You do great work and are so helpful to so many. Hang in there through your season of grief. 💙

  4. Happy Birthday Charles!🎂. I totally agree, it’s almost harder to anticipate the big birthday than when the actual day comes. Our son Jordan Taff died by suicide Oct 12, 2021. He was a student athlete and mental health conditions reared its head right when the pandemic started. Never would have imagined this for him. He loved life and had so many goals for himself and his future . Covid took it all away, I am working on my healing and it definitely ebbs and flows. My faith has helped me along the way. Along with family and friends. I love reading your articles and posts from others goi g through what we are dealing with each and every day. ♥️ to our children who knew they were loved so much.
    Anna Taff

    1. Thank you for commenting, sharing and telling us about your son, Jordan. I think charles would have suffered as he did in the pandemic. He was such a people person. It had to be so isolating for you to suffer such a devastating loss at that time during COVID.

  5. This is funny my so also was so excited about his birthdays !! Christmas too
    He loved the lead up to all holidays

    When I think of Deven as you do Charles I think of him at 20 no older
    Some dreams are always his younger self
    This birthday the lead up was the first time I thought was not at bad but for sure I got brain for and pain in my heart
    Our children passed the same year and same birthday month
    ❤️ my sons friends always post on FB his birthday and pictures of the pass
    I’m so greatfull
    Happy Birthday Charles
    Happy Birthday Deven Charles

  6. My son passed over ten years ago. I still feel his essence at times and it so warms my heart. I love to talk to and about him. And he talks back to me as well sometimes. Those times are very precious to me.
    Our family gets together for his birthday and we go to dinner. One year we got a cake and had the restaurant put a candle in it and we sang happy birthday to him. My grandson was still young and wanted to know how we could get him from heaven to join us. He decided he was going to call up Paw Protol to go to heaven to get him!. We all laughed so hard. What a great memory……
    Ann has been such a gift to so many of us. I am grateful for her.

  7. Happy birthday, Charles, as your family focuses on so many happy times spent with you. And I’ll be thinking of all the mothers who have lost a precious child by suicide or any other illness. Me included. I lost Jason three years ago. He would have been 45 on June 7. Another sad day is fast approaching. Deep breaths along the way for us. Always. Take good care, everyone. ❤️☮️🙏❤️

  8. Your words and messages have helped me in my grieving over the loss of my husband 1 1/2 years ago.
    I appreciate all you do for so many.in ways in which you aren’t aware. ❤️

  9. Dear Anne some people just don’t understand when they say things. I know fro losing my baby grandson at birth 7 years ago and my dog I had for 13 years, 3 years ago, that grief comes every day still in one form or another. I continue to talk to both although I’ve been told that doesn’t help……..it helps me. However you get through your grief for Charles is your personal journey. I know you are a strong woman. Sending you lots of Love and prayers 🙏

  10. This year will be year 9 since Daniel died. You are right. He will always be 23 in my mind.
    I always get more griefy (is that a word?) as May approaches. This year Mother’s Day falls on the day he died, again. It happens every so often. It seems cruel. I’ll get through it, as we do.

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