I will never understand why you couldn't stay; why you decided that you would be better off dead.
Photo Credit: Taylor Walker, one of Eric's friends. She gifted
herself this tatoo in honor of him.
Are you better, now?
Are you hurting?
Is the pain gone?
Are you at peace?
Your untimely death has me questioning my faith immensely. Suicide is an unforgivable sin! I don't want to believe anymore! I don't want to believe that my God could sentence an already troubled child to burn for an eternity in the fiery pits of Hell! It's just not fathomable, and I'm refuse to believe . . . not that part, at least.
September will always be the most difficult month for me. I've been in tears since it started. I cried the first day, the first week; the second day, the second week. Hell, I've been an emotional wreck all month long! The second I get a moment to myself; a moment to think, a river of tears floods my face.
On the seventeenth, I just lost it all! It would have been your twenty-second birthday; your junior year of college. It could have been the year you found your first true love; the year you had an incredible job offer; the year you started your own family. I could have been a grandmother! All these thoughts race through my mind when I think of what might have been.
I was able to see your dad off to work, and get the boys off to school. I was able to be strong for their sake. But afterward, I just couldn't stop these uncontrollable fits of overwhelming emotions.
I wanted to go outside, and scream at the top of my lungs,
"WHY?!? Why did you do this?!?"
Instead, though, I just came inside, buried my face in my pillow and muffled the horrific shrills of pain and anguish.
I want to talk to your dad, but you know how he is . . . how he masks his emotions and just rather not deal with it at all. God! I wish he would realize that I'm hurting, too! I'm in pain, too! We all are! Instead, though, I have to be strong . . . for him and for your brothers. I have to redirect my emotions throughout the days for those few times I have alone. Only then, can I express my feelings.
I can't talk to anyone around here. No one around here understands what it's like to lose a child or how it feels to know that their child decided it was time to take his own life.
I talk to my mom all the time, but she has so much going on in her life right now that I just don't want to burden her with my sorrows. She will, soon, have to deal with her own sorrows; she will have her own loss with which to cope.
DAMN YOU, DEATH! LEAVE US THE FUCK ALONE!
So, here I am . . . writing, as I have always done to cope with every negative life's encounter. I write it all out in all its glory . . . no holds barred. It's my way of screaming at the heavens. It's my way of venting; my way of unpacking all that emotional baggage I must carry until I'm empty inside. This way, I can begin filling in the blank space with the encouraging aspects of this so-called life. Let's see if I can put that infamous positive spin on it, now. I have to purge these emotions long before they get the better of me.
I met him just before his thirteenth birthday, and we bonded instantly. My (future) mother-in-law told me that he thought the world of me. He had told her that "she's too cool to be a mom." It was at this point that I felt blessed to inherit him as my son.
His father and I married in August 2001. We each had children from previous marriages, and, now, we were having twins together.
From the moment I had met Eric, and his sister, Tabitha, I had felt an overwhelming motherly connection. It was like I had raised them from birth; like we've known each other all our lives. I have always considered them to be my own children, and I love them dearly!
Eric and I shared this incredible bond. He knew he could come to me if anything was weighing heavily on his shoulders--something that happens a great deal in the teenage years--, or simply to discuss his views on life. He was definitely more intellectually mature than his thirteen years.
We discussed everything from religion to politics; philosophy to science; psychology to physical attributes of human nature.
We had similar personalities--a humorous approach to the adversities in life, an extroverted disposition, and an inert need to help people find their way.
We would sit on the front porch for hours on end, watching Tabitha, Brandon and Koby playing in the front yard. He shared a great deal of his self with me during our front porch conversations.
At times, he would just pour out his heart to me, seeking some sort of validation; some kind of guidance. I, too, let him in on some of my most personal trials in life in an effort to ensure him of my trustworthiness. I wanted to utilize these negative experiences as a basis for a positive perspective; to teach him that everyone has trials they must endure; to teach him to that good can come from the bad and that we are strengthened by our challenges in life.
I have always had an open relationship with all of my children. I reiterated to them, time and time again, that they could come to me with anything, without fear of judgement or criticism. As a parent, I have always felt that the more we talk to our children, and share our views with them, the more they will be able to deal with all that life throws their way.
Throughout the entire pregnancy with the twins, Eric would help me out in any way he could. I remember one Mother's day when he had woken up early, and had Tabby, Brandon and Koby assist with preparing a surprise 'Breakfast in Bed' consisting of pancakes, eggs, and fruit cocktail. It was the best breakfast I had ever had . . . egg shells and all!
My mother-in-law lived about a half a mile away from us. Every day, after school, Eric and Tabitha would venture over to her farmhouse to help her feed the goats and chickens. They were extremely close to her, and she taught them a great deal of life's lessons.
She and I were close, as well. I absolutely adored her! Being a city girl, myself, I had never experienced life on a farm. She taught me how to grow a garden and how to can foods. She shared her Italian heritage with me--the traditions; the recipes; the love of family gatherings.
She was a extremely talented lady . . . a true artist! She ran a very successful online business, showcasing her creations as an artisan of lamp worked glass and lovingly hand-made jewelry. I will never forget our time together, as she taught me how to use the torch to meld simple sticks of colored glass into prismatic, intricate beauty.
Six weeks after the twins were born, my husband re-enlisted with the Navy. I was alone with all six of the kids. My mother-in-law (the kids called her Nana) helped out when she could. She was so busy, though, with her own obligations, so it wasn't often.
He was in Louisiana for two months, 'squaring' away all the details. Here we all were, stuck out in BFE, five miles out on a dirt road, twenty miles away from the nearest po-dunk town, and 50 miles away from the nearst hospital.
Oh, the fun! [*Note the sarcastic tone there] I swear I felt like Laura Ingles, stepping back to yesteryear. The country life was definitely not the way this urban socialite liked to 'kick it'. At least we had running water, though. Thank God!
Eric rode with me to drop his dad off at the Houston airport. Going from the bowels of Hick Hell to Houston was quite a treat for us. We couldn't believe we were actually driving on paved roads!
Oh yah . . . that poor car! The fender wells were caked with clumps of dirt from traveling up and down that long dirt road on rainy days, and the entire car was just covered in the dust kicked up while traveling that same road on those hot, dry days.
The paint was Candy Apple Red, but one could not tell due to all the heavy road dust covering it all, like it had just returned from a Desert Storm mission.
We were running late, so didn't have a chance to wash the car upon entering the city. The windshield wipers did their job, and cleared the space they covered. We took an old rag from the trunk, and wiped down the back glass and side windows, and off we went.
We dropped Robert off at the airport, and stopped at the first convenience store on the way back. I had to pee so badly.
As Eric and I stepped out of the car, we were met with this loud, boisterous voice from the 'hood'.
"Ay! Ay! Yo! Over here! I'm talkin' to you!"
Eric and I looked at each other, then looked at the woman with the megaphone for a voice.
She walked up to the car, stroked her fingers through the dust, and gave us this perplexed look.
"What is this?!? Oh mi Lord! I just can't bulieve my own ices!"
Eric and I look at each other again, after watching this woman closely examine our vehicle.
She then turned her eyes from the dirt on her fingers she had lifted from our car. She made an awful face of disgust, and then wiped the dust off on her pants, looked up at us with that same perplexed/disgusted face, and said,
"Hey!! You nevah warsh yo cah or sometin'?!?"
Eric replied, without skipping a beat. Of course we do! But only on the second Tuesday of every week.
To which she replied, "Ah! Ah! Alyight! Alyright! I feel ya!" Then she walked away.
As soon as we entered the store, we immediately burst out into laughter. Of course, the hysteria continued all the way home.
"I wonder if she even realized that there is not a second Tuesday in any week," I had asked.
"Judging from the satisfaction of her response, I don't think she did," Eric had replied.
From that point, forward, this woman's expression was a common joke he and I shared. It fit in with so many situations, if you were to substitute a couple of words. For example, one of the younger kids would fight me at bath time, and he would say, "What?!? You nevah warsh yo butt or sometin'?" I will never forget that day, and will always remember how much fun we had with our little 'inside' joke.
The kids and I made the best of it all. Eric helped immensely with the twins. They had colic so badly, and were just screaming constantly. If it weren't for Eric, I literally would have gone insane!
This is one of my favorite pictures of him. It was taken one evening, a school night, after the other children were in bed. Eric was the oldest, so he could stay up later than Brandon, Koby, and Tabby.
I was in my bedroom, struggling to feed the twins and get them down for the night to no avail.
He knocked on my door, and asked if he could help. I had both Kaleb and Alex in my arms, one over each shoulder, trying to get them to burp. He took Kaleb from me, sat down in his dad's office chair, and began talking to him in a calm tone of voice. It was hilarious! It didn't matter what he said, just as long as it was in a soothing manner. Kaleb immediately focused on his every word.
"Daddy ran off, Kaleb. He left us high and dry in this crappy house, with nothing to do!"
Kaleb was incredibly fascinated with the words coming from Eric's mouth.
He continued, "Daddy is probably in his room in New Orleans, on the computer conquering Rome, or saving some galactic empire from its total demise. He's in his own little Dork Orb, Kaleb . . . playing a computer game, and thoroughly enriching his quality of life."
From this point on, the five-foot perimeter around my husband's desk was deemed, 'The Dork Orb.' I still use terminology. When the hubby's home from work, he immediately goes to his computer and plays whatever the game of the month may be. If he's in a bad mood, I simply tell warn the kids to "back away from the Dork Orb." lol
Needless to say, Kaleb was bored to tears and fell fast asleep. I will never, EVER forget this moment in time. We laughed about it for years to come.
Robert had finally received his orders. We were moving to Brunswick, Maine . . . quite a change for this Texas girl. He flew home and we had one whole day before the packers came to box everything up.
My mother-in-law had offered to keep Eric and Tabitha in Texas. We left the decision up to them, and they chose to stay. They had other family in Houston, and wanted to stay behind so they could continue to see their other brothers and sisters on a regular basis.
It was so very difficult to say good-bye to them. We had grown so very close during the time we had spent together.
After settling in our new home in Brunswick, we were able to keep in touch with them on a daily basis. Eric had called all the time, just to shoot the breeze. It was our daily front porch conversations all over again. Only this time, we were 2,600 mile apart.
I received a call from my father-in-law one evening while Robert was working late. He was extremely upset, and could barely get a word out. He had choked down the emotions just enough to tell me that my mother-in-law was in a very serious car wreck, and she had died on the way to the hospital. We spent the next moments just crying to each other over the phone.
I had called Robert's command, informed his C.O. of the situation, and told him that Robert needed to come home immediately. There was no way I would tell him of this tragedy over the phone.
I was choking down my own emotions when he had arrived. All I remember saying was,
"Your ma- ma- mom was was in an acc- i- dent."
"Baby . . . she . . . she da- die- died!"
"Call your dah- dad. I can't say any ma- more."
"I'm so sah soh sorry, Baby!"
. . . to be continued
Robert had flown to Texas for the funeral. I stayed behind with the boys. I wanted to go, but we simply could not afford the last-minute airfare for six people.
He stayed there for a while to spend time with Eric and Tabitha. Now that their Nana was gone, they had to decide whether they wanted to live with their mom in Houston, or come home with us in Maine.
Again, they stayed in Texas. However, they knew that they were more than welcome to come live with us at any time.