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.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 31, 2009 - Josh and dogs

Josh loved dogs - all kinds of dogs. And they loved him. Any observer would say that he had a kindred spirit with them. When our kids were younger, they yearned for a puppy. But having four kids within seven years of each other, it was hard for me to think about adding a dog to the mix.

When we finally got Buddy in May of 2002, it was safe to say that Josh was the most excited one in the family. He was no longer the youngest! Six months later, we added our second dog and sixth "child", Benji. We now felt complete.


Josh hanging out with Buddy and Benji


Buddy is helping Josh read his book. You can see Benji's backside next to Josh.

Not only did Josh have our two dogs to love, but he always had dogs to hang out with when we visited our extended family as you can see from the following pictures.

Josh at Tyler and Emily's home with their two dogs, Huck and Tom.




Here is a video taken by Emily of Huck and Tom wrestling. Josh says a few words and the dogs engage him in their fun towards the end.



Our summer vacation in Vermont. Sleeping with Benji on his arm and Biggie (owned by his uncle and aunt in NY) - two views because they were so cute that multiple people were taking photos...



And a picture of Biggie the next year, in Virginia, getting his picture taken by Josh.




Summer at Cape Cod - Josh is with Cooper, a chocolate lab that belongs to his cousin's family.


Josh is getting "loved" by Seamus, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is owned by his aunt and uncle in Boston.


Virtually the entire family from both mine and Tim's side traveled to Virginia for Josh's funeral service. Because it was on such short notice and there is a nice hotel nearby which accommodates four-legged family members, all of the dogs came too.

I will close this post with this video taken of Biggie and Huck - playing in our backyard. Josh would've been right in the middle of them. The song is one from his playlist posted on this blog.


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Josh - not only do we miss you terribly, but so do Buddy, Benji, Huck, Tom, Biggie, Cooper and Seamus. Rest in peace.

God Bless



Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day - May 25, 2009

Prior to this year, I will admit that Memorial Day did not really have much significance for me except that it was a 3-day weekend and the "official" start of the summer. These days, however, I find myself thinking more deeply about things: lyrics to songs, books that I am reading, TV shows that I am deciding whether it is worth my time to watch, movies, etc. I am not sure why this is except that perhaps in trying to understand why Josh decided to leave us, I am forced to be so reflective that it is affecting everything that I do. And so I have taken the time to do a little research on the history of this special day and have had a moment a silence to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the defense and protection of our country. For those who have lost loved ones, I am sorry for your loss and deeply grateful for their service.

Gillian and I have been visiting my brother and sister-in-law in New York City this weekend. The energy and vibrancy of this bustling mega-city is contagious. We have biked in Central Park, walked through the neighborhoods of Chinatown, Little Italy, NYU, Soho, the West Village, Chelsea and Times Square, seen both a Broadway musical and off-Broadway play, gone for a no-frills but very effective Chinese massage, and have eaten not only lots of food, but various cuisines - Chinese dim sum, Japanese BBQ, Ethiopian, Italian. Cupcakes are the rage here so we have indulged in several of these delectable treats.

All the while, I cannot help thinking about Josh. I find myself wishing that history could be changed and re-written resulting in him being here with us. That I could blink my eyes, like Jeannie in the old TV show, "I Dream of Jeannie" or call on Superman to fly around the Earth to wind back time, or that he could simply have a "do-over".

We are talking about him during this trip as both he and Gillian made a visit to the Big Apple in the fall of 2007, following in the footsteps of their older siblings who made a similar trip in August of 2001 - roughly 2 weeks before all of our lives were changed with the terrorist attacks on 9-11.

Since Josh was a freshman in HS, I really did not think it necessary to check that he had packed appropriate attire. So off they went and once there, much to Gillian's chagrin, he did not pack anything suitable for a night on the town (i.e nice dinner and show). Of course, as was Josh's way, he did not think it was a big deal and was perfectly content to wear some of his uncle's clothes and shoes. Since then, we have recounted that story at family gatherings and he would just sit and listen with the famous "Josh smirk" on his face.

We are also talking about the enormous amount of food that Josh ate while here. Apparently, he put away 5 huge H&H bagels with lox in one sitting. At home, I have wondered why he typically would order a pastrami sandwhich from a local pizza and deli place as I do not keep that type of meat in the fridge. One of the places they ate was at at Katz's, the place of the infamous diner scene from the movie, "When Harry Met Sally". Josh ordered a mile-high pastrami sandwich - mystery solved. He would've liked all the food that we have been eating the past few days.

Here are some of my favorite photos from their trip.






We all miss you Josh - now more than ever.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Memories and Pictures from Josh's Friend, Onalee

As mentioned in a previous post, Josh's friends continue to be in touch with Tim and I in various ways: posts on this blog, email, cards, flowers, pictures and visits. One special friend, Onalee, from Josh's middle and first high school dropped by with her mom on Mother's Day for a nice visit. She gave me some pictures that she had found and later, wrote me an email about some of her memories of him. With her permission, I would like to share them with you.

Josh and I were really close and these past few months have really impacted me. I rode the bus with Josh in eighth grade and everyday he would help me with my algebra homework. I remember the day I took those pictures in the Apple store like it was yesterday. We were waiting for our movie- Meet The Robinsons, which Josh got a huge kick out of.

The day after I found out about Josh's passing, I came across a note from him. He gave it to me after the eighth grade dance and it was the most mature and loving note I have ever received from anyone. I will be sure to keep it forever because it means a lot to me and I am so thankful that I still have it. I read your blog everyday and I know that it helps me, my mom, and many other people cope with the tragedy. I loved Josh a lot and always will. I would love to keep in touch and continue my support for you and your family.




Thank you, Onalee, for sharing these pictures and memories with us.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wings 2 and T-shirt Fundraiser - May 18th

Thanks to all who came to the 10% fundraiser today at the Buffalo Wing Factory. There were some logistical issues, however we are hopeful that many of the receipts that were rung up today will be used.

As many of you know, today is the 2nd anniversary month of Josh's passing. It was a very sad day for me - perhaps I will write more on another post - so it was really great for Tim and I to be with Josh's friends tonight.

Additionally, the T-shirts that Gillian designed have come in (please scroll down to see the post). Thanks to everyone who ordered a shirt ($13 each). Because we placed an order of 60 shirts, the actual cost of the shirt was $9.38 so everything over this will be donated to Josh's fund.

If you would like to have a shirt, please let me know. If there are enough people who are interested, we will place another order. You can email me at jandermom@gmail.com with your size (YS, YM, YL, YXL, S, M, L, XL, XXL).

Here are pictures of both fundraisers.




I will conclude this post by sharing about something special that we received tonight. A couple of moms from the South Lakes LAX team put together a wonderful gift for the players - a deck of playing cards with the senior player's photos. What was very touching for us was the addition of a memorial card with Josh's picture and the following inscription on the back:
Josh,
We will never play our best hand without you.
We will never again be a full deck.
You will forever be missed and always remembered with love.

"One Love"
Your friends and teammates,
SLHS 2009
Varsity Lacrosse

A very special "thank you" to Barbara Shinrock and Christine Stout for including our son in this unique and special gift for the boys and giving it to us tonight.

God Bless

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

First, I'd like to wish all the mothers out there a very Happy Mother's Day.

Second, many thanks for all of the thoughts and prayers sent my way today. As well, I've received calls, cards, gifts, flowers, and visits where many, including my husband and children have said what all moms hear on Mother's Day, "you're such a great mom". I confess that I don't feel worthy of this and don't really believe it as how can a "great mom" have a son who decides to end his life and in effect, leave her? So in spite of all of the encouragement, today was very hard.

Yesterday, two of Josh's best friends from Langley came over for lunch, a real treat for Tim and I. To stay in contact with his friends is something that we would like to do as somehow, it keeps us connected with Josh's life outside of our home.

We sat outside, talked, reminisced about memorable "Josh" football plays, got caught up with their lives and eventually got around to talking about their feelings about Josh's death. Now, whenever I talk to someone who knew Josh, I ask, "what did you think when you found out? Were you surprised or maybe not? Did he say anything to you that might have indicated what he was thinking?"

With these questions, I hold out hope that there might be some answers. That someone can resolve what is currently so unresolved that it makes it very hard for me to move on. With every passing day, it becomes more unbelievable and incomprehensible that Josh did this to himself. I cannot think of issues and factors big enough to warrant his decision to ultimately fulfill what suicide is called: "a permanent solution to a temporary problem".

There were no answers - the boys were as shocked as anyone else when they heard the news. No indication. No warning. No idea.

I find this to be one of the most challenging things about this mode of death - that unless a very detailed note is left (not the case with Josh), the surviving family members are left to wonder, guess and play detective as to what happened and why. No one will ever know as all of the answers are now inaccessible.

Today, we met my parents at Josh's grave site before going to our brunch. They had arrived at the cemetery before we did. Josh's grandma put fresh flowers in the vase and cleaned his stone. They both like how it turned out.



The leaves on all of the trees have come out - including "Josh's tree". Tim is working on untangling one of the wind chimes. It is amazing what happens in the spring - last week, the tree was still bare.



Another wind chime has been added to the tree. A special "thanks" to Roxanne, who etched "One Love JLA" to the heart at the top and added a Bob Marley picture at the bottom. This song was special to Josh and was played at his service.





As I am sure is the case with all the other moms out there, I received cards from my children. The notes are tender and sweet as they are aware of how difficult this Mother's Day would be for me without Josh. To end this post, I'd like to share with you what Gillian gave to me.

Tim has given her the nickname, "Little Miss Hallmark" as through the years, she has always given handmade cards with beautiful and original poems. I received one such card this morning. She intended it to be from her alone, but the thoughts would not come. So she changed her mind and once decided the card would be from her and Josh, the words flowed and below is the result.


Mom

We praise you for your love
and we love you for your care
we pray from here and up above
us two, your little pair

we pray that you will know
the way you've touched our hearts
we wish your sorrow and your woe
will not make you feel apart

we could ask for nothing more
than to spare you from your pain
we know your heart is sore
and happiness is hard to feign

but remember the good days
and the smiles and the laughs
you never ceased to amaze
this I speak on both our behalf's

I know you cannot truly see
what my other has to say
but this I can guarantee:
he loves you, and we'll all be okay.


God Bless

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May 6, 2009 - Week 7

It is hard to believe that seven weeks have gone by since Josh's passing. Some days are better than others and on the bad days, some hours are better than others. But not a day goes by where I don't shed a few or many tears for him.

What has helped Tim and I (and our family) get through each day is the love and support from so many. We are still receiving cards of sympathy, emails of encouragement, calls of support and even visits from old (time-wise, not age-wise) friends.

One of my best friends from high school left her husband and two kids in Chicago and came for a visit this past weekend. It was great to see her, catch up on life, talk, cry and just be together. We went to the cemetery and behold, Josh's stone that Tim and I had just seen and approved couple of days earlier - which was quite emotional - had already been placed in the ground. Once we saw this, we immediately went to the nearest Safeway where my friend bought the best lilies she could find for him.


Picking this stone for Josh was a family effort - our kids, my parents and close friends all helped as there were numerous decisions to be made: size of stone, lettering type, color, emblems, how the date should be written, etc. We saw designs that were fairly intricate - they can even take a photo of the deceased person and etch it into the stone! In the end, we all decided on something simple as this was the kind of kid that Josh was - nothing elaborate, nothing fancy.

I am happy with how it turned out.

I am getting good advice from my mom; she says that I need to keep some shears in the car with me so that I can trim the grass around the grave stone. I would not have thought about this - so many things that I never imagined myself doing - they are part of my life now. Regular visits to my seventeen year old son's grave, working to change the background of his junior year picture to match the high school graduation pictures of our three older children as all four portraits will hang on the same living room wall, trying to read books on suicide so I can attempt to make sense of what has happened, making contact with other mothers who have lost a child in this way to ask, "how did you deal with this?"

And along with these items that are now on my "to-do" list, I am back to doing what I did before because life goes on - despite feeling like a part of me has died and there is a large empty hole in my heart. One of Gillian's closest friends has been studying in Germany this past year and has invited her to travel around Europe for a few weeks in July. Details for this trip must be discussed and attended to. Lauren is graduating from the University of Virginia in less than two weeks and several family members are coming to celebrate with us. We are happily co-hosting a big graduation party in support of this accomplishment and the move to the "real world". Attention is required for this event. I am fully back to work which is a blessing - to be busy and occupied for 8+ hours is a good thing these days.

However, it is strange to be doing things that I did before, but do so as a completely different person - for Josh's passing has changed and impacted me like no other event could. I do not fully understand it, but I know it is true. I will have to ponder this and see if my mind can make sense of it. Or maybe it "just is" and no amount of analyzing will fully comprehend the impact of his death to my being.

There are other things that help us get through these difficult days. One of the most important things is this very blog. I've said this many times and will probably say it many more - it has been our lifesaver. It is amazing to us that as of today, there have been over 20,000 visits to the blog, 1,129 this past week and 142 today. We have not only been encouraged by the many comments, but also by the numerous emails and card/letters written to us in response to something that has been read.

A few weeks ago, we went to a gathering of Josh's freshman football team and coach. It was a very special Langley team as not only did they have an undefeated season, but handily outscored their opponents by 350 to 57!! (Please scroll down to "LHS Undefeated Season" to see more.) It was so special for Tim and I to be with this great group of guys, Coach Carter and several parents. A heartfelt "thank you" to the Pritchett family for hosting this evening. As Josh's mom, I was presented with a coach's shirt that was signed by all the boys - such a thoughtful momento.



We have also attended a gathering of parents and other adults interested in addressing the Zero Tolerance policy in Fairfax County Public Schools. A group has formed and is getting organized to bring this issue to much broader audience than just those families and students who have been directly impacted. We feel very strongly this is an issue that all FCPS parents need to understand as their own child could be adversely affected - despite all of the love, care, concern and teaching that goes on in the home. Kids will be kids. Stay tuned as a web site is being formed and if you are interested in being an advocate for the rights of your child, there will be ways to get involved.

We had the pleasure of renting a home in a wonderful neighborhood in this area over 10 years ago. There were many moms with young children at the time and it just so happened that a "Mom's Craft Morning" was started. Each week, we rotated who was hosting and while the kids played together, the moms spent time talking, eating, crafting, laughing, eating and talking. Since then, many of us have moved to other neighborhoods and have not really taken the time to get together. Until now. One of my dear friends hosted a dinner at her home and nine of us gathered - we did not do a craft, but we ate, talked, laughed and cried together. I have heard that many survivors of suicide can sometime feel isolated and alone due to a stigma that can be associated with this mode of death. We are so fortunate to not have experienced this in any way for to do so would be an added burden.

And most recently, we attended a fundraiser at the Buffalo Wings Factory in Reston on May 1st - please scroll down to that post for more information. As mentioned, $300 was raised! It was so successful that another night has been planned - Monday, May 18th which is the second anniversary month of "that" day. It will be good to be with others who knew and loved Josh, to tell stories and remember his funny and sometimes quirky ways. We are looking forward to it and hope many of you can come.

I feel I must apologize for the length of this post. It was intended to be fairly short and sweet, but when I sat down at the computer, the words just flowed. In and of itself, this is an interesting phenomenon as I have never considered myself a writer. I guess in this time period, for however long it lasts, it is one way that Josh has changed me.

God Bless.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

An Inseparable Friendship

This slide show is in loving memory of the wonderful friendship of Josh Anderson & Bryce Armes.

Josh,
I will never have another best friend like you. For 17 years you were my very best friend and brother. I see you everyday and hear you. I don't even go 30 minutes without thinking of you. I know your death has changed so many lives. Lives you would not even think of. You closed your eyes to get people to open theirs. I will always think about you and love you man, you are my best friend. You will never be forgotten.

Love, B-rice - Rest in Peace my Brother


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