On Wednesday, February 21st, my beautiful son Robert would have turned 22 years’ old. Each year I write him a letter. Writing is a tool that helps me to express my feelings and also helps me to heal. I have promised to be open, honest and vulnerable about my journey of losing a child. My hope is that it also helps others who are going through hard times. I want people to know that they can survive, that they can move forward and that they are never alone……….
This year you would have turned 22 years old. It is always so difficult to imagine that I have to spend another one of your birthdays without you. These are the times that bring your death more into focus and make it more of a reality that you are gone. I live most days keeping reality at a safe distance from myself.
This past year has brought many more changes into my life, and I am always amazed at the continual change. It seemed like my world was turning upside down once again. I was losing more people around me. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that these changes were necessary in order for me to continue to grow. I spend a lot of time reflecting on where I’ve been and where I am now; it helps me to see who and where I want to be in the future. What I thought was important to me and what I thought would help me to get through losing you, were really things and people that would be lessons to learn from, grow from and reflect on. The beautiful thing is that I learned what real friends are, and I learned what healthy relationships should look like. I thank you, Robert, for bringing so many wonderful people into my life. I also want to thank you for some of the people that came back into my life this past year. Relationships were repaired, and I am very thankful for those reconnections. I am also thankful for the relationships that have been in my life for a very long time; people who have been there for me since day one. I treasure those relationships and I don’t know where I would be without them. And…. as painful as it has been, I thank you for guiding me away from the people and situations that brought me hurt and were not good for me.
You continue to teach me so much through your death. You have taught me how to be a person that I can be proud of when I look in the mirror. For so long I wasn’t right with myself. I was angry at the world, and I was lost in hurt by what others had done to me. I couldn’t see clarity through all of my pain. With your guidance, I am able to see the world very differently now. I understand what is important, and I know the path that I need to stay on in order for me to continue to move forward in my life.
From day one, people were drawn to you. You had such a unique personality and you were loved by so many people. It is not a surprise to me, that in death, you are just as special. Countless lives have been touched, changed and saved because of you.
Most of the time we mark death as an ending. For you and me, it was a new and beautiful beginning that would turn out to be something more meaningful and spiritual than I could have ever imagined. I am so honored to be your mother, and I am incredibly privileged to steer the ship that you are guiding, that is helping so many people. Rising Above Addiction and Reclaiming My Life are for you, because of you and in memory of you. They have helped me to survive, helped me to heal, and have been the teacher in helping me to see what life is really about. You will live on forever through Rising Above Addiction and Reclaiming My Life. When I walk into the sober house, or go to an event, I am struck by overwhelming emotions that all of it is because of you. And… although this is excruciatingly painful, these things give me some sense of purpose and understanding to your death. I try to remind myself that this world had a different plan for you; a different plan for us.
Happy birthday Robert! You are with me every minute of every day and you will continue to be a present part of our family. We will keep you alive through our memories, through the funny stories and even through the chaos and pain that we all lived. All of these things made us who we are, and maybe without all of the chaos and turmoil, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Nobody will ever forget the jokester who wore his sisters tight, skinny pink jeans to school to give everybody a laugh, or the guy who dressed up in a Santa costume the whole day at school and took pictures with everybody, or the son who set everything he could, including the temperature in the car and in the house to 69°, because you loved to shock your mother. And…… of course, no one will forget the young man who was always willing to help other people, who would give a homeless person a hug and money, who would always open the door for his mother, even when he was mad at her and who was the best big brother a girl could ever ask for.
Happy 22nd Birthday Rob