We were in Alabama for Christmas and my in-law’s fortieth wedding anniversary. Charles is on the left and is 17 months old. Richard had just turned 3. Charles was building his vocabulary and he pronounces his new word in this video.
My boy Charles was so adorable. He was an adorable teenager, too. I love this video and I have watched it twenty times at least.
AlabaMO. That’s what I’m calling Alabama from now on.
This short video shows you some of Charles’ personality. We were baking a cake together.
I do so miss this bubbly, fun child and when I look at these, I see no indication of what was to come. We were such a normal family. We went to parks and read books. We played games and went to the beach. I do enjoy these videos even though there are tears. Four years after Charles’ addiction and suicide, these offer more joy now than sadness and I’m grateful to have them.
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...
He owned an audience. Held it in his hands. He may have suffered anxiety but he was never anxious on stage. Ever. He connected with an audience and you knew he had something the moment he walked on stage.
During the play Hairspray, he apparently hid in the dumpster on stage. Naked. Everyone struggling to stay in character as he rolled around in that thing stark naked. That same night, he apparently hid behind the bar in his underwear stroking people legs. I didn’t know this at the time. Charles loved his gags, always spectacular and unexpected.
There are days that I realize, I’m “that” mother–the one whose child killed himself. I can’t slip out of my skin and be somewhere else or someone else, I have to face this head on.
The truth is, while I can’t avoid it, others can.
It’s how others react that is often interesting and I’ve decided to be sort of an observer of human nature and not be offended. This “scientific” approach towards witnessing reactions to death has helped tremendously.
People ask, “How many children do you have?” to which I give my standard answer. “One of my children is living … Read more...
Since Charles’ death by suicide, I have adopted some of his traits. Nothing like the loss of a child to inspire you to take inventory of your life.
1. Follow your dreams
Do what you are passionate about and all else will follow. I remember Charles asking me one time what my dreams were. And if I was not actively pursuing them he wanted to know why. To him, it was unfathomable not to follow your dreams no matter what. He had not a practical bone in his body. Definitely part of his charm.
“If you’ve got something good, you better respect it
Hold your world and protect it
The only thing guaranteed in life is death
And everything looks sweeter when you haven’t any life left”
– Charles Aubrey Rogers
This one is the hardest for me to watch but I feel it reflects his creative genius the most. My opinion, as everyone has their favorite. As you will hear why, I lose it every time I listen to it. It is definitely dark but a portrait of a beautiful, tortured soul.
“Crap rap” as charles called it is not real rap. That’s … Read more...
I miss that beautiful curly hair and his sense of humor. I miss his tall, skinny hugs and the way he altered his voice when he greeted his dog, Andy, and the dog’s reaction of pure joy. I miss the way he smiled with his eyes.
I miss the conversations we had in my office. Those days he’d come in after school, sit in his Dad’s chair and talk. He would tell me the stories that touched his heart.
To Charles, everybody mattered.
Their stories mattered and he was never too busy to listen and connect. As smart and talented as he was, this … Read more...
It took me one year and a month to post these. Thank you Wendy Holt for grabbing a camera that day and filming or I wouldn’t have them. My brain was still too fried and in shock to think of anything other than trying to make it through the day.
People gathered around Charles like a moth to a flame. I feel like I lost a son and I feel like I have lost Elvis. He was that on-the-spot talented. He could make up a rap song in an instant to cheer someone up or a joke that would bring … Read more...
If there was one consistent theme about Charles, it was that he always reached out. He reached out to kids who were not always visible to others and to ones who were highly visible as well.
He put himself at risk socially doing this. But unlike other kids his age, he didn’t care.
He’d put himself on the line and stand up for other kids who had no friends at all or had tons of friends. Kids that felt isolated or depressed or were having a hard time with something in their lives. Kids that were unusual, unpopular, different. Kids … Read more...