Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18, 2009 - Six Months Later

I have been dreading this day. Six months since our beloved son decided to leave us. Why? This question still haunts me. I rack my brains to find some clue, action, word or deed that would have alerted us to Josh contemplating suicide, much less going through with it. I can't come up with anything and it drives me crazy.

I ask God, "Why did this happen? Why did you allow our dear boy to take his life? Why didn't you stop it? Why didn't you give my mother's intuition a nudge?" Surely I would've acted on it. I would've have asked the hard questions. I would've forced myself into his world to make him see this was not a viable option. Now it is too late. I am too late.

God is silent. He wants me to trust Him which is hard. But I am trying. I picked up this cross stitch pattern that I plan to work on while on my grief journey. It is a story that has been around for a long time but maybe there are some who have not seen it in a while or have never read it.

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Scenes from his life flashed across the sky and he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to him and one belonging to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he recalled that at the lowest and saddest times of his life there was only one set of footprints. Dismayed, he asked, "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. Why at the troublesome times in my life, the times that I needed you the most, would you leave me?"

The Lord replied, "My precious child, I love you and would never, never leave you. During your times of trials and suffering when you saw only one set of footprints...
That was when I carried you."

I have read this several times in my life and it has given me comfort. But there was always a part of me that knew that I had never known real suffering. Now I know. So it is at this time, when a part of my heart feels like it has died, that I have to ask myself, "Do I really believe?"

So part of my grief journey involves the testing of my faith. Is it possible to come through this "fire" with a faith that is stronger and more genuine than ever? I hope so because I know that being at peace with Josh's decision/death will have to involve trusting God. With Josh. With me. With our family. Believing that good can come out of this horrible, unspeakable tragedy. Believing the story above.

There is a bestseller that will soon be out as a movie. I read the book, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold quite a while ago but as with many other things, I have a whole different perspective now. Anyone who sees the back of the book will know that this is a story about a 14-year old girl who was murdered and in heaven, is able to watch what happens on earth - with her friends, her killer, her grieving family. She sees her father writing in his journal and as I read this I wonder, "does Josh see what I write? Does he see this blog? Does he see how much he was truly loved?" I can only hope. And so I end this post with a letter to him.
Dear Josh,
I am sitting by your grave site. It is a cool, cloudy day. The mowers have come through so I've had to clear the grass clippings from your stone. Since it is cooler now, hopefully the fresh carnations that I've placed in your vase will last for a while. There is a little breeze so I hear your chimes. There are seven now in "your" tree. I am the only one here so it is quiet and peaceful.

It has been six months since you decided to leave us. I still do not understand why but know I need to accept your decision. As a mother, it is so hard. I can't help feeling like I failed you. If only you could have told me what you were really feeling inside. I would have done anything to help you. And not just me - your dad, siblings and friends too.

In your short life, you've had such an impact. I've been re-reading the comments on the blog about you. All of your friends say the same thing - that you were one of the kindest and nicest kids - who would never say anything bad about anyone else. You brought a smile to all who knew you. You made people laugh. Quieter than most, but when you spoke, people took note. Smart. A great team player. Being a surprise baby, you were always special to us. But I didn't realize, until hearing from your friends after you were gone, how special you were to them.

My son, there is nothing that I can do now except to try and accept what has happened and move on. I'll tell you, it is not easy. Sometimes I have a busy day at work and almost forget what has happened. Then I remember and it hits me like a punch in the stomach - to where I can bowl over in pain. I guess this is to be expected from a mother who has lost her baby. I know you didn't mean to cause this much sorrow and grief. I only hope that you are at peace and know how much you are loved and missed by your dad and I. You were a surprise gift given to us over 17 years ago and we cherish every moment that you were a part of our lives.

PS - I read in the paper of a 15-year old boy who threw himself in front of a train in Maryland. This is now the 6th boy between the ages of 15 - 22 that I've heard who has killed himself. I don't know the circumstances of this poor boy but some of the others, I do. They were like you, from families who loved them dearly. What did we do wrong? What is happening in our society where young men are choosing not to live? I don't know the answer, but it is scary.

PPS - You are buried in such a beautiful place - like a park. So Grandpa and Grandma have bought plots not far from where you are. So when their time comes, you can keep each other company. Also, when we got a grid map of the place where you are buried, Grandma was the first to notice that you are in section #33! We looked at each other in disbelief. It still amazes me when I think about it. Maybe Dad and I will buy plots so that we can one day be all together.

Rest in peace, beloved son. Be our guardian angel.
Love you with all of my heart,

Would anyone else like to write a letter to him? Please feel free as a comment to this post.

God Bless


Tyler said...

Dear Lil' Bro,

I know that I have been pretty quiet and have not posted a lot to the blog. It is because I have not really had the strength to do so until now. Not a day, not an hour, not a minute goes by that I don't miss you. I have your picture on my phone and on my desktop at work as constant reminders. You were such a great little brother - I think back to all of the fun times we had - playing X-Box, watching movies, your trip to Georgia in 2008. You always lit up the room with that smile. I wish that I could have been more in your life and I really regret not being there for you the last couple of months. Believe me, if I could change that I would. I would have just picked up the phone and called you. I know that you are happy and safe now. I know that you don't feel any more pain. That fact brings peace to my heart. Please continue to watch over us and continue to send little messages. I will visit you as often as I can. I love you and will never forget you.

~ Your Big Brother

Adrienne said...

Dear Josh,
I've been thinking about you all day today ~ which you might think is odd, since we never met. I'm sitting here, relaxing on a Friday night, watching the red sox and I knew your mom would have written I took a deep breath and opened her blog. I wish we could have met...I would have been another one of those people who told you about how I knew your parents when we were in college ~ I'm sure you met a few of us! When I think of you I think of the smile I've seen in photos and that I've heard everyone who knew you talk about. I think about the loyal friend that you were - some friendships spanning your life! That's such a gift! I think about that photo of you standing on a dock with the sun setting, and connect to that end-of-a-summer-day-perfect-moment-feeling I imagine you were feeling. I think about smarts and athletic talent... I think about family. And though I have never been involved directly in your life or community I feel an overwhelming need to tell you that I'm sorry ~ Deeply sorry that the world 'my generation' prepared for you wasn't safe enough. As your mom wrote - the state of our's scary...deeply troubling. I want you to know that I noticed. I stopped. I'm praying to learn and change and be awake/aware. I want you to know that your plea didn't fall on deaf ears.

Two weeks ago I was sitting in the stands along side a college soccer field, watching my son play...and the crisp fall air, the lights...well two things happened. One, I took lots of deep breaths and reminded myself all night long not to take any minute of the game for granted...and then, in between gratitude moments, I was praying for you and your family...knowing how this change of season must make missing you just that much more painful.

I'm grateful to your mom for letting us in...for sharing you with us. I pray for peace for you and for all of your family...


Anonymous said...

Dearest Josh,

I woke up at 4 a.m. today thinking of you. I was wide awake and all I could do is think about the 6 months anniversary of you leaving us. I can not believe that 6 months have passed. I have cried more tears in this 6 months than in my whole life. I know that is true for Bryce as well. We love you and miss you more than mere words can begin to express.

I have been working on two photo albums as you probably have seen, one for your Mom and Dad and one for Bryce and I. As I look at the beautiful pictures of the two of you I relive the 17 years of friendship that the two of you sharred. I am so thankful that you are Bryce's best friend. I could not ask for a closer brother. Bryce always wanted a brother and you are it for him.

There are so many memories in these pictures, of you playing on little bikes at 18 months, climing in trees at two, birthday parties at 2,3,4,9,10 and 13. Disney World trip, Cape Code Trip, R Camps, Basket ball teams, Skateboards, Halloween's, Christmas, Playing in the snow, in the pool, playing xbox live, Bustin's Island trips, nerf guns, Tyler's wedding, Britt and Kayla's Birthday, Giselle's baby shower/Spring Break, and so much more. There was one picture that I had torn the house up looking for and when I went to see your Mom and Dad last weekend your Mom had a copy of it! That was so wonderful...she also had a few other's that I had never seen. It was the best gift ever just to see you in one more picture. These pictures are so precious to us.

Josh, I am so sorry that there was nothing that we could do to save you. I would give anything if we could turn back time and some how do something to help you through that horrible pain. I feel do helpless when I think of what you must have felt and I wish so much we could have done something.

Please know that we love you so much. You have always been loved soooo much! Please continue to help us sort this out, please give us signs to comfort us. We need to know that you feel our love and we need to know you are okay.

You are a part of each day of our lives. You are all over our house in pictures and you are in our memories and hearts.

All my love, Rox

Anonymous said...

Dear Sue,
I know this isn't a letter to Josh, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you sharing what you have here. I was wondering how you were able to navigate through these waters while keeping God in the picture. This poem I have forgotten about and it is reassuring. I appreciate all of the comments you have posted here on this blog. They have helped me to think about how to deal with situations where I have experienced pain emotinoally. Although not as drastic as losing your teenage son, I had 2 miscarriages within 6 months about 2 years ago. I wasn't open with my feelings/emotional turmoil, and ended up hurting several of my friends, which I still regret. Thank you for sharing so openly, so humbly, so vulnerably.

Biggie-Z said...

Dear Josh,

Not a day goes by that I don't think about you and wonder where you are and what you're thinking. It also means that every day I think about all the people you've left behind. You left a big hole in all our lives.

This has been an especially emotional last 2 weeks, with the 9/11 anniversary and then 9/18 coming upon that. While there was nothing I could have done to prevent 9/11, I will always wonder what I could have done to prevent your death.

Steve and I always wanted to be that cool aunt and uncle to you and all your siblings, the ones who you could go to with problems that needed an adult, but that might be uncomfortable for you to raise with your parents or teachers. In that, we failed you, no matter what anyone else says.

I have gone through all sort of emotions - sometimes all at the same time -of disbelief, denial and even anger when I see how much your parents, brother and sisters miss you. But then I am always left with a sadness that knows no bounds, because I know how you would never deliberately hurt anyone, and so you must have been in so much pain and you didn't think you could tell any of us about it.

I hope you are at peace now. I take so much more care now to let my loved ones know I love them, and to be on the lookout for any signs of depression. I don't take any of the people in my life for granted and try to be kind above all else. I do this now as a way of trying to make up for not having done that enough for you. And I hope that whatever little I can do makes our world a more loving place.

All of that said, I admit I'm horribly selfish and would take all that back if we could just turn the clock back and have you back. I think this is 'bargaining'... (rueful smile)

We miss you. We love you.

In love, sadness and regret,
your aunt and uncle, O&S

Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs. Anderson,

My name is Matthew. I don't think we have met before and neither have I met your son, Joshua.

I came to know of this heartfelt blog that you've created and opened for the world to see through a good friend of mine -- Nadzlin.

Apparently she used attend the same elementary school as Josh in Virginia when she was still a little kid.

Now she's back home in Malaysia. In fact we're both from Malaysia. We're both in our senior year of high school and graduating very soon.

Initially I came to this blog for the purpose of fulfilling my curiosity. "Who is this guy, Josh Anderson that Nadzlin was talking about? What happened to him?", I asked myself.

As I read the blog post that you have posted in March entitled "A Mother's Grief", I felt the pain, sorrow and grief-- it was so deep that it had changed my perspective of life and had made me appreciate the people around me even more.

I got hooked onto reading more of your blog posts for almost an hour or so when I was supposed to be studying Chemistry for my trial exam that was around the corner instead! Ha ha. But I think in retrospect, it was worth every single second reading them. I have certainly learned a lot from this poignant journal of yours.

What struck me while browsing through your blog posts was this particular sentence. I quote:

"That night he found himself in a dark, deep place and did not see a way out."

This could have happened to me or anyone else for that matter. Being a teenager is always very tough especially when the people around you expect so much from you and you expect so much from yourself.

I understand how important that football scholarship meant to Josh as it would mean a great deal to me too if I were in his shoes.

Personally, I have faced my own tough times too. For me, I constantly strive to be a high achiever in my school - from being an active debater in school to being Presidents of various societies. It has always been hard for me to balance between my studies and extra-curricular activities at the same time.

I am the only child in my family and yeah, I always do get pressurized to succeed academically. It is very hard being the only child in the family and to have parents who are not knowingly continuously giving me immense pressure and adding the burden that I already have from school.

And the toughest thing being the only child is that I have no siblings to talk to - no shoulder to cry on - no one at home to share all the hardship that I am going through.

It's really stressful to know that my future is on the line and to know that there are people waiting for me to succeed. Just like Josh, I have had thoughts about suicide. How I wish I could be free -- free from all the stress, the pressure and the responsibilities. But the only difference is that, mine were just mere thoughts -- I never turned them into reality. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. God was there to give me strength.

Your blog posts have inspired me to be a positive role model in my society -- to make a difference and change-- to encourage my peers to value life so that their parents won't go through the pain of losing a child like you did.

Stay strong, Mrs. Anderson. God bless.

Matthew, 17, Malaysia.

Josh's mom said...

My prayer from the beginning, when this horrible event happened, was that Josh's death would not be in vain. From the comments made on this post, I don't think it will be. This comforts my sad heart - thanks so much for writing.