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why vs. what’s next

why vs. what’s next

“8 weeks ago today… right now… I was scrambling to get to you. I was sobbing on the floor, then racing through airports, then begging the coroner’s office to let me come see you, hold your face, breathe life back into your body. And so it went on the day that should have never come and the day that refuses to end. I am still trapped in that day. I am still desperately trying to get to you… to save you… to love you. They say four-letter words are the bad ones but I have learned that the absolute worst word in this world has only three letters… w.h.y.”

That was my facebook status post earlier this evening. I was out of town on the day Mason died. I wasn’t able to see him for two full days. I couldn’t even wrap my head around the idea that my boy was gone, even after the coroner’s office sent someone to my home with a picture of him. He was covered in a white sheet, with only his face exposed. I had to certify that the boy in this picture was my son. It was, yet still I couldn’t go see him. I couldn’t touch him, I couldn’t kiss him, I couldn’t smell him or hold him. I couldn’t lie down next to him and play with his hair or scratch his back or rub his arms (he used to say “no rub, just shnug” because I couldn’t help myself when waking him up each morning for school… mommies know what I mean… you just want to love on them while they’re still half asleep and oh-so-sweet). No, I couldn’t see my baby boy until the coroner released him to the mortuary, two days later. Strangely enough, I still wrestle with the reality that he is gone. Forever. Sometimes, I have to think back to that moment at the mortuary, when I held his body, examined his wounds, smelled his a-mase-ing hair, kissed his cold cheeks, warmed his hand in my own, and stained his face with my tears. Then I remember. He is really gone.


When I spoke at Mason’s memorial service, I encouraged people to celebrate his life instead of fixating on his death. I don’t understand why people need to know whether he slit his wrists, shot himself, overdosed, or hanged himself. “Where did it happen?” “How did he do it?” Honestly, I think it is vulgar and disturbing that people feel like this type of questioning is appropriate. How about a little tact and sensitivity? How about we focus on his life instead of the instrument of choice for his death? What does it benefit people to dig for details? I’ve never discussed the details with anyone, and want to assure all who are curious: I am not obligated to share those details. EVER.

My friend who found him would tell you that you don’t need to know. My beautiful friend who is scarred for life… she desperately tried to save him. She could give you every single sordid detail. Ask her what she saw. She’d probably slap your face for being so callous and asking a question that is irrelevant and unnecessary. I pray God erases those images from her mind. How about the other friend who had to identify Mason’s body at the hospital after they pronounced him dead? She was the lucky lady who got to confirm it was Mason so they could ship him off to the coroner. She loved Mason as her own son… she’ll never forget that day. I dare you to ask her for details. She’d punch you in the throat for digging for details that don’t belong to you. I’m sorry if this lil paragraph sounds harsh… but maybe it will help somebody understand there are some boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.

At the memorial service, I also shared that God, in his infinite wisdom, had allowed this to happen. Who am I to question why? But if I am being honest, I will confess to you today that I have asked God “why” more times than I can count. I want to know why. I need to know why. My question isn’t for Mason. I know the details of Mason’s last day, and the moments leading up to his last hour on earth. My question is for God. Why my son? Why my amazing, incredible, gorgeous giant man-child? Why death? Why didn’t you save him? Why didn’t you revive him? Why did you take him? Why not a kid who cuts? Why not a kid who does drugs? Why not a kid whose parents don’t give a rip? Why not five or ten or fifteen adults who have never done anything good in life, and live only to cause problems and wreak havoc? Why. My. Boy. The whole thing is wrong… it doesn’t fit. And we are all left stunned because it simply makes no sense.

***I don’t wish death on anyone, and certainly no child deserves this. I only share these thoughts with you to show how a mother’s tormented mind works when grappling with the grief of losing her baby boy. I don’t want anyone else to end their own life, and I certainly don’t wish this kind of pain on anyone.***

I am thankful God doesn’t tire of my questions, because it has allowed me to draw closer to Him in the past eight weeks than I ever have been. I know there is a bigger picture that I cannot yet see. While I realize God isn’t obligated to explain his rationale for saving or not saving, I know He will listen to me every time I ask, will help me process my own feelings and thoughts, and will encourage me to take steps, however small and stilted, toward healing. I knew Mason best, loved him most, dedicated my life to raising him & protecting him, and even I cannot explain why this extreme action crept into Mason’s mind in that moment. I am stunned.

He was the friend that talked people off of the ledge. He was not the kid who climbs out there… He was not struggling with depression, having suicidal thoughts, messing with drugs, cutting, or any other self-harming behaviors. He didn’t have an eating disorder. He didn’t sleep too much or too little. He was perfectly normal, he had his ups and downs, faced disappointments and challenges with courage and always did his best to encourage others. Many of his friends struggled with depression and feelings of low self-esteem, or unworthiness. They have messaged me to tell me how Mason’s confidence inspired them, and Mason’s assurance and friendship encouraged them to stop hurting themselves.

It’s difficult to understand why this happened if he didn’t fall into one of the suicidal stereotype buckets, but he didn’t. If you knew him, you know exaaaaaactly what I mean. He was the opposite of the suicidal profile in every way. This wasn’t predictable or expected. This was tragic and completely crazy and random. There was no pattern of behavior leading up to his final decision. There were no signs, no inner demons he was struggling with, no sad story of a lifetime of loneliness… this was as sudden as a strike of lightning. This is the biggest robbery of all time. It makes no sense. As I have mentioned before, Mason made a snap decision on a day full of extreme highs and lows, and took himself right over the edge and landed in eternity.

There is one person who has told me (both in person and in writing) that this is my fault, that I am to blame. Who would spew such vicious, vindictive comments to a mother who has just lost her only son, the love and joy of her life? Can you imagine the decay that must be rotting that person’s soul? I pray for that one daily. It must be hard to carry so much anger. I won’t let those accusations fill my head, or seep into my already shattered soul. This one vile voice is being drowned out by the hundreds of other voices who know and speak the truth. I let my heart marinate in the lovely messages I have received from Mason’s friends, my friends, and strangers who have been drawn to the Chamberlains. I thought I’d share some of these messages on the blog today because they are so very encouraging to me as I face the next phase of my journey, ‘Life without Mason.’

Here are just ten of the hundreds of messages I have received. Additional messages have been posted on the ‘tribute’ page of the aMasongrace project’s website.  It warms my heart, gives me goose bumps, and makes me cry happy tears to read messages of pure love. Remember, in a previous blog, when I told you Mason was loved??? I wish there was a bigger word to capture the degree to which Mason was loved. Hope you enjoy these messages as much as I do…

One: “There are barely any words I could say that explain how much I love Mason. He’s the bestest friend anyone could ask for. I’m so happy that he’s in my life. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have recovered from things… You’re always going to be my best friend. Never, ever, ever, ever will you be replaced. And that’s a promise.”

Two: “There is rumor going around that Mason committed suicide. I can’t comprehend that he would do such a horrible thing to himself, he seemed so happy when we hung out… It was an honor for me to know him. And, I want to thank you. I really can’t even quite understand how hard it is for you. I feel horrible, and I was just a friend.”

Three: “I just wanted to tell you that you’re an amazing mother and that I sincerely loved your son as a brother…please do not blame yourself because you raised one of the best friends I’ve ever had, so thank you. Thank you so much. This has been the first [church] camp I’ve gone to in years without Mason and it broke my heart. I thought about him every single day and I prayed for you every chance I got. I just wanted you to know how amazing I think you are and that you have all my love and prayers.”

Four: “Mason meant a lot to me and it’s still hard to believe that he’s gone… He was an amazing person. He could just tell if anyone was having a bad day and would do anything to make that person smile or laugh. He always made everyone feel special and he was just the best person I’ve ever met. He was like superman. He was always there for someone who needed something. He saved everyone from their painful experiences. He is basically a hero. He was like no other. Words can’t describe how amazing he was actually.”

Five: “I just wanted to say my family prayers are for you & Mason. You are such a strong woman, and I think that’s what’s been able to keep his friends strong also. Mason was always such a good friend to me. He was always a very good listener and was real with his friends. I will always remember your son as the one who always made me laugh and smile at hard times.”

Six: “I just want you to know how much Mason meant to me. He always made me laugh and gave the best advice. He managed to put a smile on my face when I was sad and an even bigger one on my face when I was happy. It’s going to take a while for everything to sink in. You’re in my prayers. Love you! Xoxo”

Seven: “I really will miss your son. He was just perfect and I will miss him.”

Eight: “Why did he do this? He had people that loved him, and cared for him. I wish I could’ve been around more to be a better influence on his decisions. I can’t describe how I feel, or even how you feel about this whole situation. I wish we were closer. But I guess not all wishes can come true. I’m so sad that this happened. I just want to make something big and special to let the world know that Mason didn’t deserve this.”

Nine: “:( Mason was a kind, caring, funny guy, and I am glad I could call him a friend. He will always have a place in my heart.”

Ten: “I was close to Mason. I want you to know that he was loved by so many of us, and he was an amazing person. He made a difference in my life and told me to stay strong. Memories of him make me happy. We had an understanding of each other that was indescribable. My prayers and wishes to you and your family. Mason was loved and will always remain in my heart. I loved your son like a brother.”


I read these and other messages often. I thank God for placing encouraging and loving people in my life as I try to sort out what to do next. It’s just me, and sometimes I feel a little ‘untethered’ and lost. Thank you for your comments on the blog, your Facebook messages of support, and your prayers! It’s hard to feel alone with you loudly cheering me on and offering support! I’m going to try to stop asking ‘why’ and start asking ‘what’s next’. I believe God will make this good. I want to be a part of THAT, whatever it is. That’s why I have created the aMasongrace project. I’m excited to be a part of redefining the criteria for ‘at risk’ teens, and share a message of truth, hope, & love with anyone who will listen.

Sometimes, there are no signs. Everyone is at risk.

blog photo

  • Karrah
    Posted at 06:28h, 30 July Reply

    Holly, you are simply aMasing! The aMasongrace project is going to go so far and help so many people….you have no idea! You made Mason such an awesome and loving person….every thing you did was for him. You should be very proud of the gorgeous little man child you made! He is watching down from Heaven and is saying…”yeah, that’s my mom!”
    I can’t even fathom what you are going through, but it tears my heart in half knowing that you have to face this. There were alot of people who knew and loved Mason and love you. There are many people you can lean on to help you through (even in their small way). Thank you for sharing, you are such an inspiration! luv ya girl.

  • Doug McVey
    Posted at 06:31h, 30 July Reply

    Every time I read your blog, I find myself just staring at the computer screen long after I have finished reading. Although the words are visible, it is just a blank stare. Thanks for sharing, Holly. I may not know you, but I know you are beautiful on the inside.

  • Jane Thackwell
    Posted at 07:13h, 30 July Reply

    Wow Holly keep shining bright. Thank you for sharing your honesty. I adore reading your blogs God Bless beautiful Lady. xx

  • L.D.
    Posted at 07:29h, 30 July Reply

    All mothers weep with you, tears streaming down our cheeks as we read your honest heart-wrenching beautiful posts. You and Mason = one love. One (yet unexplained) w.h.y. reminds us all of love. Thank you, Holly. God bless.

  • Sarahsomewhere
    Posted at 07:43h, 30 July Reply

    You know what I love about every. Single. One of your posts? You delve into the deepest depths of pain and emerge triumphant, hopeful, loved. God’s light shines from you, Holly. You have shown SO much love for EVERYONE around you, and you continue to do so through your grief and your pain, which is just SO astounding and inspiring to me xoxo

  • Daisy Rain Martin
    Posted at 07:56h, 30 July Reply

    Again… You pull back layer after layer after layer–in yourself and in all of us.

  • Daisy Rain Martin
    Posted at 08:00h, 30 July Reply

    I will also write here–for all the world to see–that those who would accuse you do not know you. She couldn’t possibly. I’ll stop there… I do not wish to splatter all over this beautiful tribute for Mason. He deserves our relentless love, and so do you, Holly.

  • Jude
    Posted at 08:05h, 30 July Reply

    It’s only human nature to ask why, even when we know if we received an answer it wouldn’t change the outcome. When my sister lost her daughter in a horrible accident, I remember sitting trying to comfort her and she was sobbing “Why?”. Her face was contorted in pain, but when she sobbed “How do I know if there is a heaven and she’s safe there?”, I saw an amazing transformation take place. The sobbing stopped, her face was cleared of the horrible mask of pain and she smiled. She looked at me and said, “She’s safe and happy now and I am going to get through this OK. I will see her again” I was astounded to see this instant change. She said she had experienced a warm sensation and the knowledge had just enveloped her. If I ever needed proof of God’s existence, this did it. I had a similar experience a few years later during a difficult time in my life and I call upon these 2 examples of God’s love whenever I feel helpless or hopeless.
    Mason’s death was not in vain and someday you will get the answer to your “Why”. Your blog has touched many lives that you are unaware of and has already helped some other people who have lost loved ones. I don’t know you, have never lost a child and you spoke to my heart….just imagine how many others you have touched.
    Remain strong and believe….God is beside you

  • Juli Curtin
    Posted at 08:08h, 30 July Reply

    Such an incredibly beautiful, deep and honest post, Holly. You share a perspective that probably most people wouldn’t even begin to know how to express. I am deeply honored to “know” you & Mason and be a part of your life through your posts and your blog. My heart is filled with so much love for you each & every day. Here’s to “What’s next”!

  • Nadja
    Posted at 16:29h, 30 July Reply

    There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about your grief, and grieve for you. Every time I walk in to my daughter’s room I see Mason, as his memorial card, the paper swords they fought with during Science class, random words he wrote on her paper’s, and a drawing he made all hang on her wall in memory of him, your beautiful boy. I too never thought I would ask “why?” but I have and will continue to ask, without ever knowing the answer. I like to tell myself that our children are given to us as precious gifts to watch over, to care for, to love deeply in our own sometimes almost selfish not wanting to share them with anyone kind of way, and that someday, we have to give them back, and that scares the living Hell out of me. I know God does not give us a spirit of fear and there are other forces out there just waiting to pounce on any weakness they might sense, so I gain strength from every step YOU take toward healing, as much as a Mother’s heart ripped in to a bazillion pieces can heal. I can’t truly know the extent of your pain and sorrow, but I see a sliver of hope in the word’s you write, and in every thought you so poignantly share in your journey toward light. And in your inexplicable mountain of grief (for those of us whose hearts have not been shredded and are bleeding profusely because of the loss of a dear child) I am learning never to take anyone, or time for granted. “Everyone is at risk.”

    • it's just me
      Posted at 10:10h, 31 July Reply

      nadja, thanks for your message. please text or email or fb me a pic of her wall- that is awesome!!! thank u for your message. everyone is at risk. it’s the biggest robbery of all time that mase is not here with me. i still struggle with the reality of it. my little king. 6 ft tall, 155 lbs, and still my baby. i love him with my whole heart and cannot wait to see him again, and shmuvver him. xoxox keep praying… the aMasongrace project is coming to life and will reach people in a-mase-ing ways!

      • Nadja
        Posted at 19:41h, 07 August Reply

        Holly, I just saw this and sent a photo to your facebook email. I think it may show up under your other folder. It’s her special wall.

  • Diane Holly
    Posted at 19:36h, 30 July Reply

    Keep writing Holly. It is therapeutic for you and a blessing to those who read it. Your raw honesty lets others know that it is okay to feel all kinds of emotions. You keep taking one step at a time no matter how small. I believe what’s next is the blogging of your journey through grief and recovery will turn into a book one day and it will encourage the multitudes! You are an amazing person. I am sorry you are having to experience this kind of pain in your life. I haven’t seen Mason since he was a toddler but I can tell from all the comments I have read that he was a very special young man.

    • it's just me
      Posted at 10:04h, 31 July Reply

      thanks diane… i appreciate the encouragement. i’m not so amazing… i’m weak and sad and so destroyed. god will make it good and i’m making myself available to see that through. keep praying…

  • Chris Geottes
    Posted at 22:18h, 01 August Reply

    When this blog was shared with me today I was truly moved by your message. Your words are powerful beyond scope and we will continue to pray for you each day forward.

    • it's just me
      Posted at 00:59h, 02 August Reply

      chris- thanks for the comment and for taking the time to read some blog entries. i especially appreciate the prayers… i cannot survive without. xoxo he was my whole world. i’m lost now. just trying to find my way back to a new sense of normal. xoxox pray for me.

  • Jean Gee
    Posted at 12:55h, 05 August Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story, so honest and real. I haven’t made it through one of your blog posts without a pool of tears. I am praying for you. Mason was obviously a special kid, that touched the hearts of many. I have a feeling he took after his mama in that way. My guess is that your words are already making an impact that can’t be seen… one amase-ing hug at a time.

    • it's just me
      Posted at 10:14h, 09 August Reply

      thank you, jean! he truly was an original… a-mase-ing even on his worst days. man, how i miss him!

  • reflectionsofanegg
    Posted at 06:23h, 07 August Reply

    Your writing is so amazing and powerful. I am a friend of Becs and Sarah’s and don’t know you but cry at every one. I hope so much your pain slowly gets less and less. X

  • Heather Devitte-McKee
    Posted at 09:36h, 09 August Reply

    There are those of us who appear perfectly normal on the outside. But our brains work differently. It is not something you can see, feel, or detect. No one ever expects us to do something like that…I do not know,how to explain it but we are not like,other people. There is a pattern in our brain that is not wrong is just different. Perhaps we on an evolutionary edge of,change. some of us only see what is,close by and we deal,with it. Bit some of,see beyond and see patterns in the universe that,are too jard to make sense of and it troubles us. So even though everything appeared to be right in his life, maybe he saw the beyond and his advanced awareness just could not be contained in human form anymore……I know none of this makes any,sense. The only time I ever felt totally human was when my son was killed and I didn’t like the feeling and now I can never escape that feeling. so now I ,live in two,worlds one where I am different from everyone and one where i am the same..So even though in my life before I had children to,anchor me to this life, I always wanted to be somewhere else, Not in this world which is majorly flawed but in a place where things make sense. NOTHING makes sense here. BTW on the outside I had a wonderful,life but from my earliest memories about age two I knew I did not belong,here.

    • it's just me
      Posted at 09:48h, 09 August Reply

      thank you for your post- i am so sorry you had to experience the loss of your precious son. it is so unfair, so unbearable. i am sure it is difficult
      to describe the way you feel and how you relate to the world now (and before)… i will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. i feel very protective of who my son was and want to be careful to represent him accurately. those who knew him, understand who he was and will always be to us. we all want answers and want it to ‘make sense’ or have some sort of sign or pattern leading up to the decision. however, the truth is, there really are situations where people make snap decisions without warning, and we’re all left bewildered and grieving. i hope by sharing this awareness, and helping to adjust the ‘profile’ of who is at risk, the aMasongraceproject can help to prevent others from making fatal choices. thanks for reading, and for sharing a piece of your heart with me.

  • Heather Devitte-McKee
    Posted at 12:49h, 09 August Reply

    My daughter is my only tether this place called here. I must go on for her. She is beyond wonderful and I owe it to her to persevere.
    I was not trying to profile your dearest boy, only offer a different point of view that may have brought you some sense to the insensible.
    But putting a heating pad on your heart and diaphragm area can bring some physical,comfort. There is a medical reason this but it is too long.
    I wish you find resolution, but do not expect it come quickly or easily. Those who,have not experienced this kind of loss will not understand this and berate me for not telling you everything will be okay. I think I will read your posting but not comment anymore because I do no wish to sound so negative (which is not the word I am looking for) Hopefully yiu will,find comfort in your endeavor to precent others fron
    your experience.

    • it's just me
      Posted at 13:12h, 09 August Reply

      i loved your comment- don’t worry about telling me it’s going to be okay or not be okay… i know those assurances cannot be made. 🙁 we just go on living. whether it gets better or not. i’m hoping for ‘better’ but just taking it minute by minute right now. i will try the heating pad.

  • susan anderson
    Posted at 04:01h, 30 September Reply

    Hi, Holly. I’m a friend of Lisa Maszewski and Dani Skinner. I have been reading your blog for some time. I am a mother and believe you are still. This pain is unreal.. your ability to strip yourself naked and take time out to reflect your thoughts, feelings, and personal love for your boy is beautiful. I have no questions…no opinions.. no words of wisdom and nothing to help you. I just want you to hear once more that you are being heard by this woman and it means so much that you share. Just keep breathing. Keep getting up. Keep one foot moving one foot in front of the other and take care of YOU. I think of you often and wish you some peace. Time does not heal.. that is bull. What it does do is give you time to learn to cope differently. Love and so many hugs… Susan.

    • its just me
      Posted at 19:52h, 15 October Reply

      susan – your comment really touched me. thank you for being real, and just reaching out to connect with me. xo

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