01 Sep letter to mason
This is my letter to Mason. I originally posted this on September 1, 2013, three months after losing my son to suicide. It popped up in my Facebook reminders today, and I wanted to share it again to give my friends and followers some insight into the Grief journey and the devastation of suicide loss. It’s now September 1, 2017, four years later… and as I read this again, I remember so vividly the pain I was in. The fog I walked in every day. The bewilderment and ache. I remember the separation from reality and the struggle to connect to anything right in front of me. Though time has passed, and I’ve learned to function in this new life, pain is still present. Tears are shed daily. Nothing can take it away; no one can replace who I lost. It seems fitting to repost this today, on the first day of Suicide Prevention month.
As I write this, I’m in Tulum, Mexico, in a gorgeous hotel suite overlooking the ocean… and I am inside a mosquito net, soaked in sweat because this place has no air conditioning. It’s an authentic visit to ‘the nature’ and I am miserable. I am exhausted. My stomach has been destroyed by bad ceviche or some sort of evil bug, and this place mandates that toilet paper be thrown in the trash, rather than flushed. O.M.G. Gross! Tyrhone, my brother-of-sorts, and Sarah, my aMazing sister, are sleeping under their own mosquito netting (they’re much more suited to ‘the nature’ than I). There is no tv, no a/c, and if I get out of the net, I will surely be eaten alive. I cannot sleep, so I decided to write. Just setting the stage here… Sometimes, when you unplug, you find that a) you really do have the chops to survive (whether it is minor discomforts or life altering, band-aid ripping events) and b) you actually have time to think. You have the opportunity to come to terms with thoughts that nag you from behind a cloud of distraction, but never seem to want to reveal themselves for the full-on confrontation.
I have thought of Mason constantly while on this trip. If you read the last blog entry, you know I intended to sit and sulk but instead I ended up being challenged to step outside of my comfort zone in many unexpected ways. I wish Mase was with me. I wish he could see me now. I wish he was the one who jumped off the cliff with me into the ice, cold water of the cenote, or the one who grabbed and held my hand when I was screaming through my snorkel as the whale shark swam 3 feet under me in the deep, blue ocean. I wish he was hogging the OFF Spray, and sampling the finest chicken tostadas south of the border! I wish he was here to snuggle with me, in this sweaty, uncomfortable room. I wish, I wish, I wish. I know I’ll never see him in this world again, but if I could, if some portal to heaven opened up and I saw his gorgeous face smiling at me, I know just what I would say.
“I love you, buns. I loved you from the minute I saw your chubby face on the ultrasound picture. I was so in love with you then; I couldn’t wait to meet you in person. I loved you every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year of your life. I loved you when we were getting along, and when we were fighting. I loved you when you were snuggly-buggly and when you wanted nothing to do with me. I have never loved someone as much as I love you, nor will I ever. You took my heart with you when you left, and I’ve prayed so many times for the Lord to tell you, even now, how much I love you. I know you know, but I just need you to know some more. I wish there was a bigger word to describe how loved you are. I could repeat it a thousand times and it would never match what I feel for you, my only son, my travel partner, my sidekick.
I love you, Mason. Always have. Always will.
I’m sorry. I am sorry for every single time I failed as a mother, or as a friend, or as a confidante. I am sorry for putting too much pressure on you and I am sorry for slacking off. I am sorry for every single time I said ‘no’ to buying you a red bull or a smoothie or chipotle. Silly, I know. I am sorry for the days that I was crabby and short tempered. I am sorry for the times when I didn’t listen, or I was too preoccupied with work. I am sorry for hurting your feelings, for not being enough, for messing things up, and for each and every time I failed to get it right. It’s so hard to know when to say yes, when to say no, when to push, when to hold back, when to ask questions, and when to be silent and wait. I am so sorry for the times when I got it wrong.
I really like you. I really, genuinely like you as a person. I admire your confidence, tenacity, compassion, kindness, sense of humor, comedic timing, your taste in clothes and music, your choices in friends… you had it together, shmish. You really did! I love how you seem to sense when someone needs a friend, and you put an arm around them and help them feel included. I sometimes have difficulty remembering to use the past tense when writing about you. I enjoyed our conversations about your favorite things, and I respected the confidence & originality you demonstrated as you consistently chose to follow your own path, even if it meant you weren’t in the cool crowd. Pink skinny jeans on the first day of 7th grade at a new school??? Come on! It doesn’t get any better than that. I still brag about your distaste for anything ‘too mainstream’ and love to tell stories about your genuine interest in original artists, creativity, and free thinking. Mase, you were such a one-of-a-kind creation. A masterpiece created by God and loaned to me for safekeeping. You amazed me every day, you made me laugh, you inspired me, you challenged me, and you drove me bananas. You were NEVER easy to parent, but ‘easy’ always bored the Chamberlains, eh? I liked your style. I miss your opinions. I miss your noise. I miss your music in the morning, and your afterschool chatter, and your late night video game rants.
I love knowing you love me. It’s even better knowing that you LIKE me. I have always enjoyed hearing stories from my friends of how you described me as cool, smart, awesome, funny and forgiving… Your friends are the ones talking now. They fill me in on things you have said about me, feelings you expressed, stories you told. Your friends have been so amazing – some of them have written me letters and facebook messages to share some of their memories of your love for me. You told one friend, “No one could ever replace my mom!” Mase, that fills my heart with such joy and love. I know many of your friends struggle with their relationships with their parents; you always had such a big heart for them, such empathy. I think one of the memories I am so thankful for was the first time you told me “how good we have it.” You wished more of your friends could feel closer to their parents. It’s those memories, and the understanding that you truly loved me, that carry me through the toughest days.
I am so sad you made such a big decision, in the heat of the moment, and didn’t pause to think it through. I am struggling with understanding how God allowed it, and I wish every single day that He had intervened. I look at pictures of us and just sob my eyes out, baby. We were so happy. We had an exciting, blessed life. We loved each other, we communicated honestly, we apologized to each other when we got it wrong… even if it took us a while to collect our thoughts, we always made it right. I just cannot fathom why it would ever occur to you to mess with something so dangerous. I grapple with that every day. It’s the biggest mind blower of all time and I am afraid I will never understand how that thought entered your mind. It hurts unbearably. I know you had no clue how permanent this would be. You loved life! I know you just wanted to end the moment, not a lifetime.
Some days I am overcome with such sadness and the feeling of loss is so intense that I cannot do anything but cry. I often feel useless, and every day I feel alone, more alone than I felt as a single mom. I feel robbed of my life, and it’s like all of the joy and purpose and fulfillment was ripped away in an instant. I want to come see you. I want to dream about you. I want to hear your loud music on spotify as you get ready for school. I want to make you peanut butter toast again. I want to say yes to after school red bulls, and yes to 47 new backpacks! I want to pick you up, and whisper our secret code, that quick and quiet “pss pss” we started when you were in preschool… remember? It was always so noisy, so I made that sound instead of hollering over the crowd, and you always knew that meant your mama was there to pick you up. I want to come pick you up again, widdle widdle, but I cannot get to where you are. Not yet.
I’m working on the aMasongrace project to honor your life, and to help others who might find themselves facing a life or death decision. The goal is to help redefine who is at risk for self-harm and suicide. I’ve been doing some research (on my stronger days) and have learned that a huge percentage of suicides are snap decisions and are not the result of depression, as most people think. I want to help change our awareness, and maybe prevent someone else from going through this with their child. I can’t even describe how your decision has changed me. I am learning so much. So many people have reached out to me since your death, and shared their story with me. They’ve had conversations with their kids, even the kids who ‘would never be at risk.’ Kids like you. I cannot undo what you did, but I hope I can help prevent another person from making the same mistake.
There are so many things I want that I know I will never, ever get. I’ll write to you again one day and give you the list. For now, I guess I just want you to know that I am trying hard to hold it together and to find my purpose. I am embracing change, learning to lean into the Lord even more, and finding my best self in the process. I am deciding what next steps to take. I am truly trusting God to make this work for good. Sometimes, I have a strong sense of what He is doing; other times, I just cannot get it sorted out in my head.
I know God has wiped away your tears. I know you are not sad, or weighted down by the concerns of this world. This world and its disappointments have been forgotten, and replaced with truth and pure love. I totally, completely get that. It’s just a rougher road here without you, and my heart is so empty. I pray for time to quickly pass and this ache to subside. I know, deep in my heart, that I will see you again and you will know me as your shmuvver. We will have our ‘moment’ before my eternity starts and yours continues. I cannot wait until God wipes away my tears too, and I join you and Gramzle Bamzle. I’ll see you at the gates, Maseycakes. I love, love, love you.”
By the time I post this, I will be back in the good ole U. S. of A. I’ll be in my own house, with the a/c blasting away. There are no mosquitoes in my part of Vegas, and I will be quite a few steps removed from ‘the nature.’ Life will get busy, and distractions will come. I may have fewer moments of clarity, and increased flurries of activity, but I will be flushing my toilet paper and that, my friends, is a goooood thing. I will definitely miss the stunning beauty that is everywhere I look in Mexico. I am already making plans to return. Back in Vegas, I will see pictures of Mason everywhere I look, and be constantly reminded of the amazing life we had together. I’ll spend the rest of my life composing letters to him, pouring out my heart, and wishing I could turn back time. They say ‘home is where the heart is’ and my heart is definitely with Mason. I will see him again, when I go home.
Love you. Love, me.
The blog, It’s Just Me, is written by Holly Chamberlain, Founder of the aMasongrace project, a community organization focused on redefining the criteria for who is ‘at risk’ for self-harm and suicide. She speaks to parents, teachers, and students to raise awareness that sometimes there are no signs. aMg‘s platform is built on three empowering messages: Moments Pass, Please Stay, You Matter.
To subscribe to the blog, please visit the website, www.aMasongraceproject.com, and enter your email address. Follow the aMasongrace project on Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat: @aMgYouMatter. To invite the aMasongrace project to speak to your youth group or school, please contact Holly via aMasongraceproject@gmail.com.
If you or someone you know is struggling, or if you just need someone to talk to in a difficult moment, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Help to 741-741.