Five weeks ago at this time I was laying in my bed as my oldest son came into my room without knocking. He sat down in the chair across from me. Right now I’m sitting in my bed and looking at that empty chair as I write this. He sat down and began to talk to me about marrying his girlfriend in the Church. He asked me if he could move back into our house while they went through marriage prep. I told him he could. We talked about expectations, goals, life and the day he was baptized. He told me that he should have listened to me about Catholicism and done things the right way. I explained to him that everyone has a journey and we all make our way but that I was so proud of him for being such a good dad. I told him that at his core he was good, always has been and he said “thank you mom” with tears streaming down his face. He asked for a spiral to write down the things he had to do. He wrote down the number to the clinic at our parish so that he could make an appointment with a counselor and doctor there, he wrote down the number to the RCIA director to talk to him about marriage prep and he wrote down how much money he would give me from every pay check to contribute to the cost of staying here. I thought that everything was going to be ok. I posted on Facebook that I was sure this was an answered prayer. My son was coming back to me. Little did I know that just four short hours later he would be dead.
At 1pm I left to get my other son, Dan, from work. As I sat in the parking lot waiting for him to get out my phone rang and it was my oldest son, Anthony. I answered it thinking something was wrong, but Anthony just wanted to know how long I would be and if he could use my car to go to the parish when I got back. I told him of course and that I would be back in about an hour. That call came in at 1:51 pm. Dan and I paid for our lunch at Chik-fil-a at 2:21. That text that Anthony sent was to his dad at 2:04pm.
Dan and I walked into the house with our food. The first thing that I noticed was Anthony’s phone and the spiral he had been writing in were sitting on the coffee table. I thought that was weird because I didn’t know why he would leave his phone. I called for him, but there was no answer. Our house is pretty big so I assumed he was in someone’s room or in the bathroom upstairs. Dan and I sat down to eat our lunch when I heard something and yelled up the stairs for Anthony. He didn’t answer so I thought maybe I was just hearing things. I am now convinced that the noise I heard was Anthony kicking the stool out from underneath him. Dan and I ate our lunch. Anthony still didn’t show up so we looked for him. He wasn’t in the bathroom, not in the office downstairs. Had I just walked through one more door in the office to the garage, I would have found him, but I didn’t. I closed the office door and walked upstairs. I looked in Gabe’s room, nothing. Then I walked into Gabe’s closet thinking that maybe Anthony had done something to himself in one of the closets. I don’t even know what gave me that idea, but I just had a feeling like Anthony was in the house and I just couldn’t find him.
I told myself that he probably got tired of waiting for me and took off walking. For the last month he had been doing that, just taking off walking and leaving his phone behind. I just assumed this was one of those times even though my gut said he was in the house.
I left to pick up my third son, Gabe, from school. On the way back to the house I kept an eye out for Anthony in case he was walking. Nothing.
Around 4:30, my husband came home from work. We sat in his office talking about Anthony. Anthony had spent the night with us the night before. He looked awful at dinner. I had had a long night because my dog got sick around 1am so I rushed him to the vet hospital where I was with him until 4am. Stacey and I talked about what Anthony had said to both of us that morning and were in agreement that it seemed like he was finally open to getting help. Little did we know that he had been open to help for a long time. He had been open and honest with his therapist the Monday before and she let him walk out of her office knowing that he was having delusional thoughts, that he had a history of suicidal ideation and that he had been battling depression the whole time he was seeing her since July of last year. We also didn’t know that he was just on the other side of the door where we were sitting already dead.
At 5pm we went upstairs. I began working on my homework and Stacey took a shower. We were planning on going to anger management class that night for the first time. When he was done taking a shower Stacey came out of our room. He went downstairs to close up the day in his office. As he was shutting everything down, he noticed the light was on in the garage.
I was sitting at my desk when I heard the scream. Scream isn’t even the right word, it was a wail of shock. I thought it was Anthony. His cat had been missing and I thought that on his walk he had found Paris’ body and was traumatized. I ran down the stairs and saw my husband in the kitchen. The look on his face was all I needed to see to know. It was Anthony, but not that he had found the cat, but that he was dead and he had killed himself. I asked my husband if it was Anthony and Stacey shook his head yes. “How did he do it?” was what I heard come out of my mouth. My brain was asking myself why I would say that. Stacey couldn’t answer me. He was distraught. By then my other two boys were on the stairs asking what was happening. I said for them to call 911. Our phones were shut off so I had to explain that you can still call 911 even if you have no service. Gabe, my 17 year old called. I finally got it out of Stacey that Anthony had hung himself when Gabe asked “what happened to him?” so he could tell the 911 operator what was happening and why we needed an ambulance. That is when I saw Dan, my 18 year old collapse on the stairs. I looked around and saw my family. My husband was still crying uncontrollably, Dan was on his knees on the stairs saying “no, no, this isn’t happening” and Gabe was on the phone telling 911 that his brother had hung himself. That’s when I ran to the kitchen because Anthony was still in the garage. Stacey blocked me and said that I didn’t need to see him that way.
I just started screaming his name. “ANTHONY! Don’t leave me.” That is all I could get out. Again, my brain was asking why I was even saying those words because there was no way that this was really happening. If I screamed loud enough, I would wake up.
As the police and ambulance people showed up, I realized that I was getting hysterical and I needed to calm down or they were going to drug me and I would not be able to make decisions for Anthony. I told Gabe to call our pastor Father Dean. I’m not sure who actually ended up calling him, but he was here in minutes. Behind him was Father Jonathan, who had baptized Anthony. Both priests sat with us. I asked Father Dean if Anthony would be able to have a Catholic funeral and he said “of course!”. Hours passed as I called people. We answered questions from the police and the crime scene people took pictures. Finally we were allowed to bless Anthony’s body. Father Jonathan led the prayers through tears and I clung on to a crucifix he let me hold. I couldn’t look at Anthony. Every time that I did my instinct was to hold him and beg him to please wake up.
The next few days were full of things to do. Anthony’s fiancé, Stacey and I made the funeral arrangements. Friends helped set up meals and fundraisers to help with expenses and funeral costs. People sent paper products, cleaning supplies, and anything else that I asked for. A friend bought Stacey, me and Dan new beds. The prayers poured in from all over the world. Family started showing up and Anthony’s dad got here. He stayed for the entire week, which is the only way that Dan could sleep. His room is right above where Anthony hung himself so he was having a hard time sleeping. Having his dad in there at night helped. Having a new bed has helped since.
Today is five weeks since that awful day. My heart is broken in a way that I never thought was possible. The temptation to lie in my bed and never get up is so great. Each one of my children is mourning in their own way and it’s so difficult to watch. Anthony’s little girls are trying to figure out where their daddy is and why he isn’t here with us. His oldest daughter is 3 and she keeps saying if she was a good girl her daddy wouldn’t have died. We are a mess.
I am so thankful for everything everyone has done for us, but here we sit a month and one week later still sitting in the loss. The bills keep coming, therapy still needs to be paid for and I am not ready to go back to work. Anthony, Dan and I all worked at the same place. Our employer has been awesome and understanding.
I do not know how to go on. I do not know what to do from here. I do not know how to help my family. I do not know how to help myself. I do not know how to ask God to help me.
It’s Holy Week and while people talk about how awesome it is to walk with Christ in his suffering, I think that it sucks. I am so amazed that I have a God who walked this road before me, but I still think it is unfair that I have to walk it at all. I think it’s unfair that my son is dead. I will never talk to him again or hug him again. I can’t pick up the phone and text or call him. He is gone. Platitudes are offensive to my heart right now. They say that I should just cheer up and see the good in this. I do not see any good in my son’s death. Maybe one day I will be able to with God’s help, but today all I see is how stupid it is. Why me? Why Anthony? Why do my other kids have to go through this? I don’t see victory. All I see is pain.
I do not know what people should say. I have no answers, only tears. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, because I am so grateful for everyone’s words, prayers and donations. I am just a mother of a dead child and there are no parenting books on how to do this.
** Here are is the link to Simcha’s blog post about Anthony with a link to the fundraiser. We have paid all our bills, set a good amount for his daughters and are paid up with therapy. Any money that we get from here will go towards therapy and the rest will go towards care of the girls in the future. I plan on opening a trust for them at some point. If you would rather send money straight to our therapist, you can email me for her PayPal information and I’ll give it to you.
*** Here is the link to Anthony’s obituary. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write.