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, December 25, 2009

Christmas - Then and Now

"Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!" In a world that seems so far away, yet was only twelve months ago, these words were said with much sincerity and gusto to everyone I knew. Nothing too "merry" or "happy" about it now. Apart from the fact that I love having the girls home, I want it to be over as soon as possible.

I never realized it before, but it takes a lot of energy to have a "merry" christmas or "happy" holiday. Decorating, shopping, wrapping along with the cooking, baking and cleaning. Just don't have what it takes this year and right now, not sure if I ever will have the energy of the past, or "pre-Josh".

Also, it is hard to sit down and think about what to write on this post. Much easier to be mindless and numb while going through the motions of daily activities. Thinking means crying. And anyone who has had a good cry recently knows this activity is an energy drainer.

We have received so many cards with special notes of sympathy. One came from Germany in which a dear friend shared that she reads the blog and has passed it along to others who have lost children to suicide. She says the blog helps them but is sorry that the loss our beloved Josh makes it so. I know what she means. I am glad it helps but wish to God as I know these other mothers do, that we did not have to suffer this tragedy. We wish that our children had survived those dark moments so they could be with us today.

Letters and pictures are often included with the cards. I enjoy looking at the photos as it is amazing to see how quickly children grow, to young adults and then with families of their own. In fact, some of the pictures of my friends are only with their grandchildren, which is very cute. The letters, however, that describe the family highlights of the year, stay in the envelopes for now. I will look at them later, as it is too hard to read about the "normal" lives of so many.

Grieving is a very personal thing. "Everyone grieves differently," all the books say. Having observed our own family on this point, I would agree. What I didn't realize is that it is also lonely. My heart always aches, but there are some moments when the sorrow rises up and needs release. These times may not coincide with what others are feeling so in an effort not to bring anyone else down, I weep alone, as inconspicuously as possible.

I still find myself asking "why?" over and over. "Why did he do this to himself? Why didn't he say something? How long had he been feeling like this? What did we miss?" Sometimes it seems like I have let these unanswerable questions go, and then they pop up again, as if never asked before. It is a mystery which cannot be solved, although it may be that some answers lie in his unused room.

As a huge favor to me, in the week while everyone was home right after his death, Josh's room was cleaned up. His clothes were divided into various piles: keep, give away and throw away. His desk and closet became neat and organized. I wonder if, within the untouched notebooks, are missing clues?

Some of the seemingly blank books were taken by Gillian to use. While at school, she found something and emailed the following to me:

I'm using one of Josh's old composition books for school and while I was mindlessly flipping through the pages, I spotted some ink. My heart sped up as I slowly sifted through the notebook, trying to find the page. I kept thinking, "please let it not be angry, please let it not be angry, please let it not be angry." I didn't want to see the hate and despair he might have felt about the world and himself. What I found was more comforting than anything I could have imagined:

Josh Anderson

Got up today like it was any other day,
Thing is, I didn't know that I'd have to pay
For the series of events that would change my ways,
But still I know everything'll be okay.

When I read it, I felt like he was telling us that "everything'll be okay." He said it again through me in my Mother's Day poem. I don't think it's a coincidence that both poems share the same ending. On the previous page, you can see his formation process of the poem:

My dad came back just the other day, (crossed out)
And he came back from work in the (crossed out)

How come things ... (crossed out)
My dad came home just the other day
Another long day of school ahead (crossed out)

Got up today like it was any other day

-respect your parents (crossed out)
-try hard in school (crossed out)
-everything'll be alright (circled)
-to get over it (crossed out)

Got up today like it was any other day
Thing is, couldn't have known what was destined to come (crossed out)
Thing is, I didn't know that I would have to pay
For the series of events that would change my ways
But still I know everything'll be okay.

Now I know that he had a much deeper understanding of what was going on and how he was trying to cope with it. That's what I found most heartening. He WAS trying to cope with it. And he wanted so much to be respectful to you and do well in school and so many other things, but in the end, he realized that everything would, eventually, be okay. Which gives me more hope than I've ever had before, even a shred of certainty, that wherever he is now- he is better. He is happy. He is telling us that everything is okay. That everything will be okay.

I hope you can find the same comfort in his words as I have. I love you and he loves you.
Reading this poem, while comforting, raised other questions. Unfortunately, there was no date so I don't know when he wrote it. After the first time he got in trouble in March, 08 or this recent time, which led to his fatal action? Are there other writings in his room, waiting to be discovered? One would think, with all the questions in my head, that I would have torn through every book, nook and cranny to uncover something that might help me understand. But for reasons that are unbeknownst to me, I have not done so. Am I afraid of what might be found? Or afraid of the disappointment if nothing is found? I guess for right now, it is better to flirt with the possibility than to know for sure.

I end this post with the photo we sent last year in our card as well as the only two pictures of Josh last Christmas.

"Merry Christmas, dear Josh. We love and miss you so much."

God Bless


Donna said...

Thank you, Sue, for your postings. The Anderson family are in our thoughts and prayers. I can't even imagine how this time of year affects you but can only remotely understand. I feel my comments are tivial compared to the pain you are going through but I want you to know I love your pictures and what you write. While I see your children growing up and maturing in the pictures you post time has frozen for me in how I remember you all. Josh is still that little 5 year old playing soccer in the heat of the Virginia sun. Gillian is a little girl with that beautiful, shy smile. Lauren is growing in her physical beauty as well as her basketball abilities and Tyler is growing up into a very talented, handsome young man. That is how I will always think of your family.
I love you, Donna Blough

Biggie-Z said...

This holiday season has been very hard for us, too, so I can't imagine what you are going through. We think about Josh every day, and S and I talk about Josh almost as often. Please don't ever feel like you have to grieve in private, unless that is what you want. We are here for you to hold you and offer whatever comfort we can.