Tuesday, October 25, 2016

It's October 25th, and I don't know where this month has gone. There have been highs and lows, as usual, one of the lows being a trip to Springfield to visit a doctor. The GPS took us from the doctor past the house on Burton Street, past Little Saigon and all the memories of Adam those places contain. We proceeded to the mall, and while waiting for Pat to use the restroom in the food court area, I had the most profound sense of sadness for all the times we met there, ate there, shopped there. H & M next door was a favorite store, and Teavana where he bought my last Christmas present. I thought of him walking that mall shopping for us a year ago, and how thoughtfully he chose our gifts in 2015 in particular. I'm sure we all treasure those last momentos handed from him to us the last time we saw him.

After this sad day, I really needed to see Cal, and drove over to Blo No on that Sunday. I made him recount a couple of times he spent with Adam, and he shared a Snap Chat app where he put Adam's eyes onto his face, and they were actually alive. He thought it might freak me out, but it was comforting to me.

A sign that was given to Pat on 10/20/16, that exact evening after travelling to Springfield:

 I was randomly digging in the yard last night. Pulling weeds, moving plants etc. I put the shovel in the ground and hit something unusual. Upon further investigation, i discovered an old toy army jeep that Adam must have buried 20 years ago. Simple as they were, he loved these toys. Since his untimely passing, there have been some odd unexplainable occurrences. Makes your mind wonder at times. I could only think he was sending me a message of some sort that everything is good! My mind immediately thought only positive thoughts and for this I felt some relief. He had an active imagination and used these toys to pretend and expand his world. How I would love to have shared this story with him if he were still here. Things in life are different in life for a "surviving parent". I'm choosing to use these oddities in a positive way. Love you Nuke...keep me wondering.

Here's the little guy...

The phrase that keeps going through my mind lately is, "he decided to take himself out (of this world)" and just sitting with that thought. This past week, a neighbor and former wrestling coach and dad of Adam's childhood friend Derek, passed away. I am picturing Adam greeting him to the other world and Kevin smiling and giving him some encouraging words.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Dark and Light

Words of Kelley Quinn,labyrinth creator, spoken at our first Out of the Darkness Walk in Macomb/McDonough County Illinois:

Autumn is a season of paradox. As the leaves change color and the air grows crisp, we are invited to release and surrender what no longer works for us, to shed old ways, to clear space for the new.

In this season of change, autumn also invites us to gather the harvest, to celebrate in the bounty of what we have planted and watered, to name and share our abundance with others.

In holding these two ideas in tension, we are reminded that in letting go and releasing we also find abundance.

Autumn is also a time of reflection. At this time of the year, with equal night and day, we are reminded of the balance of light and dark within ourselves. We are invited to look at darkness not as something to fear but as a place where slow steady growth of the soul can occur.

On the labyrinth we can trust that we can walk to the center of our souls and not get lost. We can trust that we can follow the path out from complete darkness into the light with the gifts we have gained from the center. And we can trust that no matter how dark the path may seem, or how difficult the journey, we are never on the path alone.

My words:
I am profoundly grateful for a successful first Out of the Darkness Walk. Despite a drizzling rain, the participation and money raised for suicide prevention is overwhelming. Best of all, I was able to stay in the moment more than I thought I would. Team Tut consisted of 21 friends and family of Adam.

I have met some incredible people on this journey and had some amazing experiences. I have gone out of my comfort zone to speak to groups, individuals, and the media about my loss of Adam to suicide. But I would give it all back in a heartbeat to have one more day with Adam; to make sure he knows I love him, that no problem is too big to solve, that I would do anything to help him. 

Last night I went to bed with that content and satisfied feeling of love and support I had the night of Adam's memorial service. In spite of the profound sense of loss, there is hope and goodness in the world that I can hold onto. This is for you, Adam.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Monarchs and Burr Oaks

I am grateful for a butterfly. My day started at 4:00 a.m. At some point, I opened an envelope containing Adam's last notes, and I was compelled to re-read those painful words.  I shed a few more tears while walking around the track at the Y. Earlier in the week, I was catapulted back to 1992 (?) when I heard the new country mash-up of "I Will Always Love You," "Country Roads," and "On the Road Again." Adam absolutely hated when we would sing along with Whitney Houston's version of  IWALY which played on the radio seemingly every five minutes when he was about 4. He would yell at us to "Stop Singing!!"

Looking at my calendar I realized I had been invited at 11:30 to a tree planting by Adam's high school class of 2006. A friend Max conceived and collected money from classmates at their recent reunion for a tree and plaque to be placed at Macomb High School in memory of classmates they have lost. I arrived early and watched the process and learned the steps to successful tree planting from Max's dad, the city arborist, however this was not an official duty, but done out of love. He was assisted by Michael T, stepping in for Max who has moved to the state of Vermont and couldn't see this happen. Another classmate Sarah G attended to remember her friend Suzie R who was killed in a car accident the summer after 8th grade.

I was able to sprinkle some of his ashes and a note in the hole before it was filled. Tim had remembered planting a tree in front of our house many years ago, and Adam slipping a note into the hole with his name on it. It was really sweet how he said Adam could now rest here, too.

The tree is a Burr Oak (also spelled Bur); no pretty fall colors, but a strong, large, shady native tree, one of Tim's favorites. As they were staking the tree, a Monarch butterfly passed over, a fitting sign.

Michael T and Tim H 

Sarah, Michael, me, Tim
Max's mom Suzan N served as photographer and supporter. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Grilled Cheese

I learned a few things last weekend from Adam's friends. His usual order at Red Robin was a Tavern Double, no mayo, no cheese. Typical Adam. Betsy and I ordered the Tavern Double with onion straws in his honor.

So, Adam wouldn't eat anything with cheese; mac and cheese, cheeseburgers, casseroles with cheese, tacos with cheese. EXCEPT grilled cheese and pizza with cheese.

Ashleigh (Adam's roommate) told me last weekend, he never let anyone make his grilled cheese, and he had a special dedicated grilled cheese pan.

Here's how a typical visit from Adam would begin.  No matter the time of day or night, somewhat sheepishly he would say, "Mom, could you make me two grilled cheese?" Whatever bread was on hand, (always wheat) and plain old American cheese, one slice per sandwich, fried in a pan with butter. Oh, I forgot. He didn't put butter on anything, EXCEPT grilled cheese. It was one of the few things Adam allowed me to do for him, and I enjoyed doing it. Doesn't every mom love to feed their kid?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September Sunday

For some reason this fall I am remembering a lot of events I experienced last fall: the start of school, a Labor Day parade, Al Sears Jazz Festival, followed by the thought, "when Adam was alive." This may have been around the time last year when Adam met Bella. There are more heartbreaking milestones coming up to get through in this journey I wish I weren't on.

Here is some of the Springfield gang February 6, 2016 after Adam's memorial service.

Here are some of the same peeps, seven months and a few days later, gathering to honor Adam at Springfield's Out of the Darkness Walk. It was wonderful and humbling to be with these friends, even though my only wish is that we could have been together with Adam having fun.

I am now left with the sad hangover I get after visiting Springfield and Adam's friends who I only got to know after his passing. I can only imagine how strange and awful it must feel to have a lost a friend at such a young age. I pray for these young adults and am grateful for their love and support in these trying times.

Friday, August 26, 2016


Time is charging forward, and I am laser focused on the upcoming Out of the Darkness Walk for Macomb/McDonough County. I just read the heartbreaking story of another young life lost (friend of a friend of a sister-in-law in NH). When will it end?

What started as my attempt to comfort myself by creating an event aimed at supporting survivors of suicide loss and my need to put something in place so that my Adam would not be forgotten, has morphed into a semi-permanent labyrinth that anchors me to Adam.

The symmetry and beauty of this place amazes me. If others can find comfort in the labyrinth and/or this event, it will bring me great satisfaction. If we succeed in preventing suicide in some small way, even better.

Labyrinth at sunset by Sharon Walters Knight.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I am proud of this guy. I probably didn't say this enough but that's another story.

Adam hadn't lived at home since the summer of 2010. He went back to Springfield that fall to complete a required internship for his psychology degree. I helped him connect with the Illinois office of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. One project he worked on was preparing written guidance for videos developed to help teens learn about depression and other mental health disorders. He was proud of this work and provided me with copies that I used with my high school students.

In the spring he had to finish one ECCE class to graduate which he did in May 2011. ECCE classes are Engaged Citizenship Common Experience, a set of courses tied to UIS’ heritage, mission, vision, and values. That's when he began working at Kiku and later Little Saigon. 

I don't remember Adam ever asking for money or help with anything financial after that point. He bought his own cars and took care of his mishaps. In short, he took care of his own business. I know he wanted a professional job in psychology in the worst way, but we were pleased he was supporting himself and working hard to do so. It limited his time with us, especially since restaurant work requires weekend hours. He always made the time, and was always home for holidays and short visits in between. 

I'm pretty sure it was Memorial Day of 2013 (the day I got a call Uncle Cal died), that I had gone down to Springfield for the day to prepare a cookout with Adam and his friends. I was excited to finally meet some of his friends, and that he wanted to share this with me.  Unfortunately, a bad storm came up, and we went out to eat instead at one of his favorite places, the totally old school Chesapeake. This choice surprised me a little; it looks like one of those places my parents would have gone to: low ceilings, wood paneling, fishing gear on the walls, "cocktails" for those who partake, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, you know the kind. When the check came, I remember vividly that he insisted on paying. That's when I knew something had changed, and he was really an adult. It was honestly a very important moment for me as a parent. 

I don't think I took our time for granted. I do wish I had seen where Adam's dreams would have taken him; teaching ESL in another country, grad school, working with vulnerable populations....I pray every night he has found the peace and freedom he was looking for.