Open Letter Series: To His Mom

I’ve wanted to write you so many times but I never felt like it was appropriate. I think about you and your family every single day and pray that you are finding peace. I’m never sure if it would make things worse to reach out to you or if my silence is worse. I thought my life was starting to gain some positive momentum last year until that day.  I’ve been through quite a bit in my life, I’ve dealt with a lot of pain but I will tell you that this was by far the worst thing that has ever happened in my life. The pain of this loss outweighs any I’ve ever had to deal with so I can not imagine how you must be feeling,  I won’t pretend to compare what you are going through to what I’ve faced. I’m not going to try to convince anyone that what my son did was not wrong or that I’m blameless. I still don’t know why this happened and I can’t make it go away but I want you to know that I’m not oblivious to your pain.

The night that I got the call I was at an event, I was driving home alone, crying, breaking down. When I was almost home I started screaming at God and pounding on my steering wheel, I passed my street because I wasn’t finished, I just kept driving and screaming on the empty road.  I knew that up ahead there was a steep drop off on the highway and thought I would drive off in hopes of ending the pain but I drove past the drop off because I thought I might hurt someone else. I turned around and started begging God to give your son his life, I wanted him to take me instead.

I got home and everything bad that ever happened to me just came rushing in like a flash flood of thoughts. I couldn’t stop myself, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t speak and I was absolutely terrified for your son and for mine. I tried calling my psychiatrist for medicine but was rejected, I knew that was the first of many rejections that were to come in the wake of this tragedy. I don’t remember much of the next few days except that I did finally get some medicine from another doctor. Without thinking, I tried once again to end my life but thankfully I was unsuccessful. I know now that this would be the last time I ever tried to do that because I found out my son was on suicide watch. He was so ashamed and upset over what he had done and I could not add to that .

I was so scared that other people were going to attack our family for what happened and it was so hard to tell anyone. I know my son and I know his heart, this act is not him but if you don’t know him you can’t believe that. He did do this and it’s his fault but I began to doubt the facts because it didn’t make sense and I was sure something was missing or someone else had a hand in this. I wanted so badly to wake up from this nightmare and forget about this. I went to work every day and pretended everything was ok because I believed I would lose my job if they knew. I assumed that nobody would forgive me and I would lose all of my friends. I blamed myself, I wasn’t a great mother, I was not strong enough or supportive enough for my children. I thought that I had tried my best but I see now that I could have done better.

I was losing my mind everyday, I just wanted to run away from everything. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that I was cursed and everyone I loved was in its destructive path.  I went to church and it was great but it made me feel worse sometimes. In my eyes it’s hard to see what others are going through because I’m so consumed by trauma and sadness. I could not be away from my husband because I was terrified, I began to feel the same knot in my chest that I used to get all the time. I just felt nauseous and light-headed and sometimes I felt like I could not breathe. I didn’t go anywhere for a while

I did not go visit my son in jail because I could not see him like that, I was too selfish about my own hurt that I could not be there for him when he needed me most. I wanted to help my son but it also felt wrong in some way. He made a terrible mistake that cost a man his life but I love him and I knew that it was an accident. I wanted to let him remain in jail until his trial and maybe that was wrong of me but I thought it would help him in the long run. The lawyer advised us to get him out so my son was released and I got to see him, it was bittersweet, when he came home I was happy to see him but consumed by guilt. I was holding my son and thinking of you, how can I enjoy this when you will never hold your son again because of us.

With therapy I slowly began to do things again and spent more time with my son.  I knew he would be serving time for what he did so I wanted to spend this time with him.  I wanted him to talk to me about what happened but he was not allowed to, all he ever said was that he just kept seeing it over and over and was haunted by what he had done.  I’m sure that you believe he deserved to feel this way and you’re right but it’s hard as a mother to see you child in so much pain.  My son was still breathing and doing what he could to get through this but I knew that his life would never be the same.  He would pay for this for the rest of his life no matter what.  Even if his sentence was light, he would never realize his dreams.  He was going to be discharged from the military and he will never be able to be in law enforcement again.  This will follow him forever both emotionally and professionally.

We tried to think of ways to help you but were restricted. We wanted to honor your son in some way but were not allowed.  A year has passed and I’m still feeling the guilt over what happened, I still think about you every time I try to enjoy life in some way. I’ve thought about you on every holiday, your son’s birthday, the anniversary and every other day this past year. Every time I have an opinion on something in the news I think of you first and try to put myself in your shoes. For instance, what right do I have to think  rapists and other criminals should have harsher sentencing when I prayed so hard for the judge to be lenient with my son? Is it ok for me to be mad at how my mother is protecting her son when I have been protecting mine?  Even small decisions are difficult because I feel guilty and I worry about the repercussions of all words and actions.

I only know how to tell you what I’m feeling which is why I’ll never send this letter. It’s not fair to lay my guilt at your feet for some kind of forgiveness. I wish you could scream and yell at me until you felt some kind of relief. I wish you could feel some peace and hope you find joy in life despite this tragedy. You were wronged and I want you to feel some sort of justice even though it’s at my expense. I will never stop grieving for your son.





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