“Mom, I have nothing.”

That phrase weighed heavy on my heart when Charles said it over the phone on Monday, June 1, 2015. The feeling it inspires now is the same–my own despair.

He had pawned his computer and his bike. He especially loved that bike and he never rode with a helmet. Funny, how I worried about a head injury when what I needed to worry about was the enemy living in his head.

The bike was just a possession but it was his last possession and I felt its significance. How desperate do you have to be to sell your last possessions? … Read more...

Emotional scars

light a candle for my child

Over time, the blunt force trauma of a Charles’ suicide has softened. The edges are not as sharp, the searing pain has become a persistent ache. He is still the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. There are repeat episodes of intense pain but they are usually not as long lasting.

The wound is still there. It still aches, sometimes throbs, and even ruptures. Pictures can make me smile. Or they can make me cry. But overall, I have adjusted to my new life without my youngest son

Not … Read more...

The stickers that made me cry

Godwin has a club called No Eagle Left Behind (NELB), a group focused on mental wellness.

The group meets weekly and plans different events and projects focused on kindness, inclusiveness and mental health awareness including topics on addiction. They also practice yoga and mindfulness.

It’s a student led group facilitated by a counselor or a teacher. Decisions are made by the group and the club was the brain child of Leigh Dunavant, the principal at Godwin who didn’t want to see another teenager die by suicide or overdose. Not that this is a guarantee to insulate a school from disaster … Read more...

What did Richard think of my book?

Richard’s beach read was the manuscript about his brother. Andy dog and Uncle Reid are the supporting cast under the tent.

In addition to my first reader, a writer named Susan in Maine, I’m letting some of my family members read the manuscript of my first book. I asked Richard if he wanted to read it. He did. And he started in the car on the drive down to the Outer Banks vacation.

When we arrive in Duck, North Carolina we decide we have to have the legendary crab cakes from Blue Point for lunch. As soon we step … Read more...

Memories of family beach vacations

charles-beach

So this past week, we went to the Outer Banks with my husband’s family—a tradition since 1989. This is where our vacations were spent when my children were growing up and a where a lot of memories live. These are the loved ones about whom my son, Charles, wrote in his rap song, Family Matters.

As I walked down the beach that first morning at low tide, I remembered Charles skim boarding. Getting a running start, he would gracefully slide that board into the shallow water and effortlessly glide across the wet sand like a hover craft. He was … Read more...

The building where he died

When they said, “I have some sad news. Your son, Charles was found dead this morning in an apartment on Monument Avenue,” my world collapsed. At the same time, I was confused by Monument Avenue.

In Richmond, Virginia, this area is the most prestigious residential avenue, a picturesque neighborhood with million dollar row houses lined along cobblestone streets. It looks like something straight out of a movie.

For a long time, I thought he must’ve been further down that avenue in perhaps a seedier part of that street, although I’m not aware of where that might be. I just assumed … Read more...

Last week was a weepy week

The exercise of writing this book came with some realities. And they were painful. One of those realizations is that I feel awful that I know him better now than I did when he was alive.  I thought I knew my child.

Conversely, I’m glad I have something that helped me understand who he was and how he struggled.

I had to decide which songs to leave in and which ones to take out. I was even tempted to edit one or two of them. They showed a side of him I wasn’t sure I wanted you to see. And … Read more...

Fourth draft and ready for my first reader

All boxed up and ready to go to my first reader. But I don’t yet have her address! I also made copies for Randy and Richard to read at the beach. Both said they wanted to read it.

I worked through a lot of pain, revisited a lot of pain, while writing it. This is one heck of a process. Next step is working on finding a publisher.  No easy task because I have to create other documents for this step.

Co-authored by my deceased son, Charles, it includes brilliant rap lyrics from his notebooks I call his “Rap Diaries” … Read more...

Does this look like someone who would kill himself?

58 second video

Link to the video in case it’s not showing up for you. 

On YouTube here. 

We think we can tell. From the outside. The truth is, teenagers are masters at hiding their depression. And their thoughts of suicide.

Nobody was funnier and more engaging. Charles always looked like he was having the time of his life. Yet inside, was another story. Inside he was eaten up with thoughts of suicide from middle school on.

I know because I have some of his rap lyrics that I call his rap diaries. They tell me things I didn’t … Read more...

I didn’t get to tell Charles his lyrics were brilliant

Charles’s senior picture at Wasatch Academy. This is from his twitter acount

So many saw them. Read them. But I never got to see his notebooks.

Some days I feel sort of left out because he didn’t share his work with me. I know why because I would have been alarmed. But he had to know I would have also been impressed.

I think he started writing raps in middle school. He must have kept them hidden. I think it was when he was at wilderness that I found out he had a lot of them and it was a … Read more...