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.

Monday, January 18, 2010

10 Months Later - January 18, 2010

Has it been ten months already? On the one hand, it does not seem possible, but on the other, it does, as my mind flips through the calendar of time.
  • March 18 - the day Josh left us
  • May - Lauren's graduation from college
  • July - vacation
  • September - start of school and football season
  • November - Thanksgiving
  • December - Christmas and New Year
  • January 16 - his 18th birthday
Yes, he was missing at all of these events.

Then I think of what we've done because he is gone.
  • The funeral service and burial
  • Picking out his gravestone
  • Regular visits to the cemetery or " Josh's Park" as my mother calls it
  • The monthly fundraisers at the Buffalo Wings Factory
  • A photo scanning project that has overtaken my dining room
  • The dogwood tree planting at the youth league football field
  • My "jandermom" email address
  • New license plates for our cars
  • Accruing a mini library with titles like Grieving a Suicide or No Time to Say Good-bye or By Their Own Young Hand: Deliberate Self-harm and Suicidal Ideas in Adolescents
  • Three filled journals
  • White christmas tree
So strange that a year ago, I was completely oblivious to the impending doom. Josh had just turned seventeen years old, was acclimated to his new school, had a girlfriend and was seeing a counselor which helped in his communication with us....things seemed to be pretty good.

Never, ever, in a million years would I guess what would transpire within two months. That Josh would smoke pot again, be caught at school which enforces a strict Zero-Tolerance policy, face expulsion, and choose to take his own life - the day before the School Board hearing. It is like a nightmare that replays over and over again.

Everyone in our family is traumatized. How could we not be? Totally and completely blind-sighted with no warning or time to prepare emotionally. One minute, we were living normal lives, then the unthinkable happened: I found our Josh dead. Gone. Never to see, hear or touch again. He took himself out with no explanation and left a boatload of unanswerable questions.

Ten months later, we continue to reel - trying to come to terms with this most incredible, horrific event. How do we live with his death? How do we live in spite of his death? How do we go forward with our lives - without him? I think of it like being at a rest stop while on a family vacation. We have to get in the car to keep going but Josh cannot continue with us - at least in a physical form.

After a number of conversations with our daughter, who is having a particularly hard time right now, I wrote this in my journal.

Everything has caught up with her. She has to stop and think about how she feels regarding her brother's death and how to incorporate "it" - Josh's suicide, his tragic, sudden and senseless death and our subsequent loss into her young life. And as much as she'd like to bury and ignore everything, "it" must be faced and dealt with. "It" is life changing; she will never be the same, none of us will. I think this is part of grieving, to process not only losing Josh, but a part of our family and a part of ourselves - very overwhelming and difficult.

In addition, feelings surrounding the mode of death are complicated - in comparison to say, an illness or accident. In these situations, one can say, "my son died by X disease" or "he had cancer" or "he was in a car accident". In our case, "he committed suicide" or "he died by his own hand" or "he decided to take his life" brings up questions with no known answers. Even after ten months, I cannot think of one thing he said, did or didn't do that could have alerted us to his fatal mindset.

For all family members who lose a child, at whatever age, the grief is immeasurable. But when it is via suicide, processing this death is more challenging. The waters are muddy, the way is unclear, the path like a maze. One question leads to ten others. None with answers. So because the reason for death is unclear, there is no resolution. Feelings include the expected sorrow and grief, but also a tremendous amount of guilt and even a little anger. Difficult terrain to navigate for a middle-aged mother, much less for siblings who are 19, 22 and 24 years old or friends who are 17 or 18 years old.
As well, we've not had to deal with death prior to this as both sets of grandparents are living. Even our pets have survived Josh. A distant concept has become a living reality. The shadow of death is an unbidden and unwelcome presence - constant, relentless, and unmerciful. Permeating conscious, subconscious and unconscious thoughts. Casting a permanent grey cloud over previously sunny skies. Poking its head in our dreams and thoughts while causing a general feeling of malaise. Unshakable. Unlike guests that eventually leave, death and all of its partners (grief, sorrow, pain, etc) have taken up permanent residence and we have to figure out how to live with them. "One day at a time" is my motto and mantra.

Josh did not understand the far-reaching consequences of his actions - I am sure of this. For if he could see even 1/100th of the pain we are in, he could not have gone through with it.

Rest in peace, my dear boy. We love and miss you with all of our hearts and promise that as we move forward with our lives, we will take you with us.

God Bless


Roxanne said...

As you Mom just ended this post.... We WILL take you with us. Each day of our lives you are here with us. Right now our thoughts of you are full and over flowing with pain. In the midst of the pain, we share stories of your laughter or the laughter you brought into our lives...which seems so far away right now.

As Bryce and I flew away from VA yesterday I looked down to see if I could see your park. I looked into the clouds to see if I could see your face.

We (your Mom, Bryce, Gillian and I) went to see the movie "Avatar" Sunday. We all talked about how much you would have loved it. Gillian and Bryce talked about how they both went to see "Dark Knight" with you and how you saw it over and over. We all said you would feel the same way about this movie. Did you see it with us? Did you love it? Will you see it again with us?

We all miss you so much. We carry you with us in our hearts and spirits every day. We just miss your physical presence so much, your smile, your laughter, your voice, we miss everything about you.

It has been a very long 10 months. So many much pain. I know you would have NEVER hurt us this way. You were so kind and gentle and loving you must have felt indescribable pain yourself. I am so sorry!! If only we knew...if only we could have reached out and held you so tight you could not leave us.

All my love, Roxanne

Nadine said...

Hi, Sue,
I just want you to know that I am thinking of you and keeping up with you through your blog. What you write is so real and heartfelt. I love you.

Kay said...

Dear Sue and Family,
It's 4:30 am and I am up and decided to visit your blog and remember Joshie. Life gets so busy and hectic and I am just wanting you to know that I think about you and am praying for you a lot. Every class I teach Joshie is right there in my mind. Thank you for sharing your deepest pain and helping us all to remember what is important in life. I am reminded often when I read your posts to squeeze my boys just a little bit tighter and longer at night, or just take a time out to tell them that mommy loves them. I'm not the best mommy in the world...but I pray I can be a better mom to them more and more. You inspire me Sue, and I want to thank you and tell you I love you and admire your courage. I loved Joshie...I was privileged to have known him. Love, Kris Croft

carlalaura said...

To Josh's mom -
My name is Carla. My 17 year old son Teddy died of suicide last Feb. 18 when he was a high school junior. I found your blog just a few months later and read it because you share and say so much of what I feel. I will send you an email, too, if you'd like to correspond some time. Our heart goes out to you and your family. Josh sounds like he was an amazing young man. Love, Carla (I assume your email is the one you wrote in that recent blog post.)