On Wednesday March 8th at 1:51 my oldest son called me to ask if he could use my car to go to the parish. When he asked me how long I would be, I thought he was just being impatient, I had no idea that we got off the phone he would walk into our garage and hang himself. It would be the last time that I heard him say “I love you mom”. The fact that he made that phone call to me shows me how much he loved me. No matter what else was going on in his mind, he knew I had to hear those words. They will ring in my ears for the rest of my life.
I have set an alarm on my phone for every Wednesday at that time so that I can remember to pray for Anthony and to remember him saying he loved me and me telling him that I loved him too. I set up that alarm before March 8th even ended.
This past Wednesday it went off as I sat in my quiet and dark Church waiting in line for confession. The fact that it was a Wednesday had slipped my mind. The alarm was loud as it echoed through the sanctuary. It was so loud that it broke through the grief, trauma and anger that had clouded my heart for the last nine and a half months.
I had been going to confession regularly, sometimes even weekly, since Anthony’s suicide but they had all been very superficial confessions. I didn’t really open the floodgates of all my emotions, feelings of anger and resentment and mostly my own feelings that God does not love me and neither does anyone else, because if so then I would not have to suffer as much as I have only to end up looking at the body of my firstborn in a casket. But this time was different because I was going to confession with a priest who has been with me from the beginning of my walk with God in the Catholic Church. He has seen me at my worst (which has most likely gotten him a lot of time taken off from purgatory) and has stood by me during the happiest and most tragic moments of my life.
It was the best confession of my entire life. So good that I left there hoping for a holy death where my judgement would go just like that confession. The words of absolution poured over me like warm water waking me up from being frozen for months.
This year has been the worst and best year of my life. The worst because burying my best friend, son and biggest fan was the hardest thing I have ever done. It is not something I wish on anyone, even people who have been callous and disgusting towards me in the aftermath of my worst nightmare.
It has been the best year because, so many people have shown me and my family kindness, love, mercy, joy and charity that only comes from the hearts of people who love and know God. Only God can work through people in the way that I’ve seen people work this year in my life. People who from the beginning of me posting on social media that my son had died by suicide started to organize ways to help my family. People who took over and made it as easy as possible for me to survive and bury my son.
Simcha Fisher and every blogger that shared her post along with Martina Krietzer from Catholic Sistas organizing the first crowdfunding with Haley Stewart. I have never seen Catholic bloggers so united in one voice in all my years as a Catholic blogger. And Haley, I can never thank her enough for helping me edit Anthony’s obituary. We are not the kind of friends that are always texting each other or on the phone with each other so for me to just message her asking for her help with something so personal and potentially traumatizing was not something I think she expected. For her to say yes was such a huge blessing.
Then there is Jennifer Fulwiler. I don’t know what it looks like from the outside of this friendship, but Jen and I are not hanging out at each other’s house’s every weekend. We don’t meet up for lunch or have “girl’s night”. But she is one of the greatest friends I have in my life. She came and sat with me the night we found Anthony, she let me go on her show when I was in complete shock to speak about what happened when other people would have not taken the chance of me having a nervous breakdown on live radio. She fed everyone after the funeral which was the only thing I didn’t think of while planning it. She has also graciously replied to totally inappropriate anger fueled text messages from me in the past few months. And sends me funny texts to give me a laugh. I don’t know what I would have done without her this year.
My best friend Candie was already hours away from Austin when I was notified that I would be able to see Anthony for the first time at the funeral home. I threw a major fit to see him and the funeral home finally realized that I was not going to stop calling them so they set up a room for us in one of their funeral homes. It was the one that was directly across from the DPS office where Anthony had gotten his drivers license. Candie turned around to be with me. Who does that? A true, ride or die kind of best friend.
In all of these people and in all of you (especially the women who flew to Austin for Edel and sat with me for our first dinner) I have seen God. I have seen death destroyed. Love is more powerful than death and I would not believe that if I had not seen it with my own eyes.
Thank you. I would never have survived this without ya’ll.