Wednesday, December 28, 2016

This Girl

I have to tell you about this girl, but I should say woman. She's a great mom. She's a stellar human being. She's been a great support to me.

Tara came forward via Facebook messenger shortly after Adam died (2/3/16 to be exact) to tell me how much Adam meant to her and how devastated she was. You see, she had previously experienced a huge loss to suicide.

Tara's path first crossed Adam's in third grade, Mr. Dunham's class, Adam's first year in Macomb. I don't know the nature of their grade school relationship, but she kept appearing in his class pictures over the ensuing years. They were both of small stature, tiny really.

Through high school I heard from a couple of people that Adam had a crush on Tara, but probably never pursued his feelings. In college at Spoon River, they started hanging out more, and I saw her at our house once. That's once more than any other girl Adam was associated with. I remember when she was cashiering at the local grocery store one day, and I made small talk with her. I was always way curious about any friend of Adam's, since he did not really bring friends home or even  talk about his friends much to us after elementary school. I think I tried to pick her brain a little about who my son was. I remember she was getting ready to go to an internship in Texas.

Fast forward to February 2016. In those early, foggy days, Adam's roommate Tim told me he wanted Tara from Macomb to know about Adam and couldn't find her on Facebook. I hadn't a clue that Adam's Springfield friends crossed over with his Macombie homies. Tara later told me she visited Adam in Springfield a few times when Adam was in college, but they lost touch years ago.

Tara has shared her impressions of Adam with me, filling in some blanks and helping me know he had a good heart that others could see. She has shared the signs from Adam she has received and her dreams where he has brought her comfort. She understands what it's like to lose a close family member to the terrible disease of suicide. She is there for me in a way that is totally unique. I can totally see why she was special to Adam.

Monday, December 26, 2016

December 26, 2015

I have been thinking about and dreading this day for quite some time. Today marks one entire year since I last saw with my own eyes, hugged with my own arms, and heard with my own ears his voice. We had some electronic communication in the following month, nothing big, nothing amiss. It was a cold, cold January. It was a colder February, at least in my heart.

Those days with Adam from Wednesday evening through late Saturday morning last December are vague. I have scoured, as a detective would work a case, for clues, snippets, writings, memos, calendar notations, pictures, anything to tell me what was going on for Adam to end his life a mere month later. If I am honest, it feels like a ghost was walking through that last visit. Betsy noted on Christmas Eve last year, Adam laid on the floor, but did participate in the Mafia games we played with the whole family. I noted in my Christmas Memories, he declared the Potato Soup, the best ever. He went to Concussion on Christmas Day with all the boys. He had a faraway, thin, haunted look in the family pictures.

Late on the morning of 26 December, we all headed out our separate ways: Cal to Guatemala via Chicago, Pat and I to the Quad Cities, Eli I'm not really sure about, Adam to Springfield. One unmemorable moment, one quick hug, one good-bye frozen in time.

And so we soldier on, many of us bearing our grief in silence, or alone-ness. Not on purpose, it just happens.

Some advice to the grieving I read in a book, which does seem to occur naturally: reconnect with life, honor the life of your loved one and create meaning.

Our family has not broken; we returned to work, friends, life, each other. We laugh, cry, and talk a little deeper. I write more letters, journals, and blogs.

In September, I participated in planting a tree, partly in Adam's honor. Many of us contributed to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in his name. My parents donated for a memorial decorated tree in their front yard for the Christmas season for their "beloved grandson Adam Nicholas Tuttle." We filled a stocking for Adam and dropped it at the men's homeless shelter on Christmas Eve, and later wrote notes to or about Adam and put them in his stocking to read next year. We speak his name as often as we can.

Life has taken on new meaning. We take less for granted and consider more what lies behind the exterior shell people present to the world. I think we are all re-evaluating our lives and how we can best contribute to making the world a better place, and fill our lives with more joy. We were able to establish a successful Out of the Darkness Walk to bring suicide out in the open, and connect with others who have experienced this anguish. We are honest and real about our feelings, we appreciate those who have come forward and shared with us what Adam meant to them, and everyone who supports us in so many ways. We can't always be happy but Adam has taught us to live each day to the fullest, to focus on what's important, and always, always love with all our hearts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Yes, it is winter. This is the season Adam died in. I'll be blunt; it's a trigger, along with many other things. Little did we know Christmas 2015 would be our last with Adam.

Life keeps moving. Eli was delighted to get called for two days of weather related closings at his school. Pat is off work for two weeks. We were blessed to have Hannah, Eli and Cal over for dinner last night. Then Cal had high school friends over. They seemed to be having a ball.