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 31, 2010

New Year's Eve - December 31, 2010

Reflecting on 2010, the images that flash through my mind center around Josh:
  • celebrating his 18th birthday on Jan 16th
  • the 1 year death anniversary on March 18th
  • half/full marathon fundraiser on March 20th
Then I think of what should be memories but are not:
  • high school graduation
  • going to college
And what he has missed out on:
  • kayaking on the Battenkill River in Vermont during a torrential downpour
  • watching Avatar in 3-D on an IMAX screen
  • learning how to ski
It is strange that I find his absence exponentially more profound than his presence. While alive, he just was. The baby of the family, always there, tagging along, interspersing our family conversations with his wiseguy comments or observations. Low-maintenance except in the mornings when it would take way too much energy to get him up and going. Otherwise, a quiet boy, easy going and willing to go along with anything.
I am glad for all the memories with family and friends in 2010 but as a mother, there is a corresponding emptiness that exists because Josh is not part of them. And he is not part of them because he is no longer with us. And he is no longer with us because he took his life. It is like a funnel - eventually all thoughts lead to that fact. Then comes the grief and sadness. It is inescapable.
I've had some strange dreams lately. Last night, I dreamt that I was at a memorial for Josh that was organized by a good friend. While presenting a gift to me, she began crying which made me cry. This happened right before the alarm went off so I woke up to tears on my face. Missing Josh. Tears while awake. Tears while asleep. Endless supply of tears - for Josh.
I was with my family for New Year's Eve. My mom bought clear balloons with silver snowflakes and after writing messages on them, we sent them up to the sky as a way of remembering our beloved son, grandson and nephew.

Rest in peace, Josh. We love and miss you so much.

God Bless

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Josh - December 25, 2010

Christmas letter to my deceased son....

Good morning Josh - Merry Christmas! We are here with family and I can't help thinking about where you'd be or what you'd be doing if here. Would you be sleeping on the window seat in your Big Boppa's office or with Tyler and Emily in the other home? And at dinner last night, would you have been at the TV tray or at the table because you are bigger?

Gillian got out the stockings to bring with us. I can't remember yours - I wish I could. Your picture is on the tree - so sad. But I am glad it is there.

I'm sorry you are not here with us.
I am sorry I wasn't there for you.
I am sorry that I didn't do enough for you.
I am sorry that your solution was self-destruction.

I miss you.
I love you.

Mom xxoo

God Bless

Saturday, December 18, 2010

21 Months Later - 12/18/2010

Today is December 18th, twenty-one months after Josh's passing and one week until Christmas. Since we are traveling for the holidays, there is no tree. Only two wreaths on the door and a single candle in Josh's bedroom window - in memory of his life.

I have, however, decorated Josh's grave site with a wreath and his tree with ornaments and red bows.

I want to close this post with a poem I found which is about how a grieving person comes to choose life.

The Thing Is by Ellen Bass

The thing is.....

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you take life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

God Bless

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New definitions: Impulsiveness and Sadness

In mid October, our local library held their annual used book sale. Hardback books were $2 and almost all paperbacks were 50 cents. Very dangerous for someone whose love of books and desire to read has been rekindled in the wake of Josh's death. I came home with two big shopping bags of books and spent less than $25.

In most of the books I've read, "post-Josh", regardless of genre, storyline or author, something hits me. The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink was no exception. In it, I have a new way of looking at impulsiveness and sadness.

Written in the first person, the protagonist, Michael Berg looks back to a life changing event, and cannot determine why he acted the way he did.
I don't know why I did it. Often enough in my life I have done things I had not decided to do. Something - whatever that may be - goes into action; "it" goes to the woman I don't want to see anymore, "it" makes the remark to the boss that costs me my head, "it" keeps on smoking although I have decided to quit, and then quits smoking just when I've accepted the fact that I'm a smoker and always will be. I don't mean to say that thinking and reaching decisions have no influence on behavior. But behavior does not merely enact whatever has already been thought through and decided. It has its own sources, and is my behavior, quite independently, just as my thoughts are my thoughts, and my decisions my decisions (my emphasis).
Those of us with children have asked the question, "why did you do it?" many times and have heard the somewhat annoying answer, "I don't know". The quote above describes this common phenomenon and puts forth the idea that behavior is not always linked to thought or decisions and in fact, can be it's own entity and completely independent. A scary thought. Penned in the margin of my book is "definition of impulsiveness?" for isn't that what it means? That sometimes we do or say something without thinking or making a rational, conscious decision and afterwards, think, "why did I just do (or say) that?" But by then, it's too late. The deed is done.

Is this what happened to Josh that dark night? An impulsive act that was not grounded in thought and conscious decision? Behavior that ran amuck and did "it's" own thing, resulting in the most horrific consequence - his death? Now it is my turn to say, "I don't know."

In another chapter, Michael looks back to a happy time of his life, but because of events that happened since, rather then feeling happy in his memories, he only feels profound sadness.
Why? Why does what was beautiful suddenly shatter in hindsight because it concealed dark truths? Why does the memory of years of happy marriage turn to gall when our partner is revealed to have had a lover all those years? Because such a situation makes it impossible to be happy? But we were happy! Sometimes the memory of happiness cannot stay true because it ended unhappily.....Is this what sadness is all about? Is it what comes over us when beautiful memories shatter in hindsight because the remembered happiness fed not just on actual circumstances but on a promise that was not kept?
I wrote in the book margin: "promise of an intact family" for this was taken away in the never-to-be-forgotten moment when I found Josh's body.

My journal entry: "My memories have been re-ignited with the photo scanning project. All significant days in Josh's short life have been recorded and seeing them again, re-living the events has only heightened the pain. But I don't regret the project. I want to remember. These memories now serve to keep him alive. It doesn't make me "happy" and so I agree with this quote. Some well-meaning people have said things like, "just think of the good times" or "hold onto the good memories" as a way to get past the pain and grief, but it doesn't work, at least for me. There might be a time, in the far distant future, when my memories of Josh will bring joy. Right now, that is not the case. They only serve to remind me of the unkept promise.

God Bless