29 Jul 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.