Monday, June 27, 2016


2016 was my 35th high school reunion. It would have been Adam's 10th from the same school. As I was thinking of this this evening and getting ready to snap a picture of Adam in 2006, I got the most wonderful news:

As I sat down to talk with a couple of friends last night after the reunion, the song Africa came on. As I have mentioned before this song was special to Adam because it reminded him of his parents. Just the opening I needed to talk about Adam to these friends who probably didn't know how to bring it up. You know, the elephant in the room syndrome. It was cathartic for me and hopefully enlightening for them to learn more about him and how someone deals with a grief so unimaginable.

Adam with grandparents in 2006- Graduation Day

* if you click on the images, they will get bigger.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Ash and Sand

Betsy, Ethan, Mom and I went out to the labyrinth around 4:00 Saturday evening. This was their first time, and we used the Wisdom cards that were designed for meditation with the labyrinth. After giving the cards intention, tracing the labyrinth on the card with our finger, and shuffling the cards, Mom selected Flower of Life, Betsy chose Environment, Ethan extracted Moon Goddess, and I pulled the Divinity card. Mom had to exit the labyrinth after finding the terrain too rough, but she puttered around the grounds exploring the displays and garden in her straw hat; she is a farm girl at heart. Did I mention it was quite hot in the sun?

When we got to the center, we remembered Adam and mixed some of his ashes with Tibetan sand from the World Peace mandala that Betsy saw in New Albany, IN in March. The monks painstakingly create the art and then it is swept away and its blessing sent out into the world. The sand reminds us of the impermanence of everything. How fitting, and comforting, too. I then suggested we throw it into the air in a Lebron-esque gesture and a good bit of it ended up on Betsy's face, stuck to her sweat.

As usually happens with Betsy, the serious moments are always cut with humor, something I dearly love about her. We laid down under a tree afterwards and enjoyed the refreshing breeze. This made us both break into song, "Let's Go Fly A Kite" which we had heard the night before at a showing of Mary Poppins. This was a song we used to sing as kids, but neither of us can remember why. 

As we threw the sand I told Adam I release him, and I do feel like another step has been taken in my healing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Feelings, nothing more than feelings

Feeling sad today and sharing it here rather than a personal journal. I'm not sure why. I spend so much time disconnected from emotion in order to function, even this morning rising early, and when a wave of grief comes, telling myself, "I can't go there, I have to go to work today." But still, it's here.

June has always seemed like a month of promise. Adam and Cal's birthdays, various anniversaries and weddings, the beginning of summer and warm weather.

Eli and Hannah are off on their honeymoon, and on to camp for the summer. The wedding was spectacular, not in a Kardashian way, but in everything going smoothly, in everyone having a good time, in a natural and organic way. Cal is back to Normal and working at Hy-Vee. And of course, Adam is not here.

I am still trying to make sense of this decision he made, and how he didn't let anyone in to help. How could his pain be so great, or was his judgment clouded by alcohol and narcotics? Little and big reminders are everywhere. I opened his urn Sunday so we could spread some ashes at the Labyrinth.

What I hold onto is the support of so many people, especially those who have also lost someone to suicide. I hold onto trying to make a difference and honor Adam's life with the Out of the Darkness Walk. Doing what I can to be thoughtful and kind to others. Working on healing myself by being true to myself, seeking out support groups to see if they fit, taking care of my health, mental and physical.

So this June will be different. I can't change what happened in February. And I can't push away the feelings anymore.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Walking a Labyrinth

During the busy wedding weekend, a special moment for me was taking the Deneckes (12 of us in all) to the Labyrinth on Saturday evening. The labyrinth was created to bring openness and awareness to suicide, serve as spiritual gathering place, and support families dealing with suicide loss. As we drove out in the country to the prairie park, without warning the road was closed with no detour or easy way to get to our destination. With my niece Dawn’s enthusiasm and encouragement, I led our three car entourage around several "Road Closed" barriers, drove over the graded earth (the highway was literally removed); off-roading it to the labyrinth. We all felt Adam was having another laugh and egging us on our adventure. Our walk and time in the center of the labyrinth remembering Adam was very important and meaningful to all of us. I was so touched by everyone who was there, and all of you who have supported us through this time with prayers, memorials, cards, etc.

Here is a story that ran on our local NPR station 6/3/16, the day before Eli’s wedding (it’s funny how the timing is): 

You can read it or press the Listen button (I actually did a radio interview). It explains the meaning behind the labyrinth (less than 5 minute story). If you are interested in supporting the Out of the Darkness walk, the link is:                                Go TEAM TUT

On Monday afternoon, I took my brother Chris, sister-in-law Donnamarie, and niece Megan to the labyrinth. Again, it was a spiritual experience especially at the center, where I feel Adam's presence. 

Just two days ago, I walked the labyrinth with its creator, Kelley, and saw a monarch butterfly, for the first time here. I felt it was a sign of Adam's new life and that he had wanted to stick around for the wedding; perhaps now he has been released, but not forgotten, never forgotten.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

June 11

I remember ordering this cake in 2013, those are crushed Birthday Cake Oreos on top.
I don't know why I don't have a picture of Adam from that year.

Today is Adam's 28th birthday. I know I am writing in present tense, but that's what feels right. I was wishing Ashleigh (Adam's roommate and friend of several years) a happy birthday this week, when I found out she, Tim and Adam have their birthdays 3 days apart. 3 roommates/friends born June 5, June 8 and June 11. So they had a birthday thing.

Ashleigh wrote me this incredible note, which makes today a little bit less hard:

It is hard with Adam being gone, and so much changing in life from day to day, but I don't remember Adam as troubled or unhappy. He was always smiling and always arguing (in a good way cause that's what he loves to do) but we still miss him desperately, and sometimes the smallest stuff reminds me of him and I break down and cry, but it's true that time heals all wounds. The deepest take longer, sometimes a whole lifetime in itself. But he's still just as loved and isn't left out of anything we do. He's still talked about and loved the same as if he was sitting here with us now. Adam's soul is as beautiful as his mind, and I know he's happy, and in return that makes us happy. I know this time is still extremely hard, especially with his birthday coming up, but he should still be celebrated all the same, no matter where his soul is traveling.

And so today is a day of remembrance, tears, and still struggling to make sense of what happened. I do know that I don't regret being Adam's mother, even with all the anguish and heartache his death has brought. I know now that Adam had the best of friends, who say and think things like Ashleigh did above. He was loved, and I can celebrate that. Thank you, Ashleigh Elizabeth!