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October 2018


This post has been okayed, but not yet approved by the one and only Jeff W. I love you, Thad. Xxx

Honestly, I can’t remember the circumstances around Luke and Jeff becoming friends.  It might have started in fourth grade in Mrs. Grande’s class, but for some reason Justin is the one I always think of from that year.  Jeff and Luke became one in my mind in fifth grade when they were both in Mrs. Atlas’ class.  I’m not sure she ever recovered from that year! lol.  I don’t know what brought them together, but it seems to me they were in sync in a lot of ways: they both became incredibly good-looking in grade five lol (Yes, I’m biased.  Leave me alone. 🙂 ), they loved up for grabs at recess and football, and they both loved a good laugh.  My goodness, whenever I think about Jeff and Luke together I instantly think of the laughter and the shenanigans.  They just LOOKED like they were getting into trouble.

Most of the significant stories from Luke’s life have Jeff in them.  Those lads lived LARGE!  And for that I was always grateful.  You know how you always want your kids to have it better than you did growing up?  Well, I never really had a social life and every thing those boys did made me smile.  Even the naughty stuff and goodness knows there was a lot of naughty!  lol.  I am positive I don’t know even one-fourth of what those two and the rest of the crew got into and that’s okay.  What I do know is that they lived, and loved, and laughed together and made stories that they can tell and relive forever.

Jeff is an amazing young man.  It was hard watching him go through the process of losing Luke.  In those first few months he always looked a little shell-shocked and I would ask myself what it must feel like to lose your best friend at 18.  What would it feel like for that to become your story?  Does he tell people, “Yah, High school was great, but Senior year my best friend committed suicide”?  The fact that Luke took his own life was something I also imagine was hard for Jeff.  That whole element of him choosing to leave us cannot have been easy to process at such a young age.  I am sure he took it personally.  Sigh.   It would be hard to reconcile the smiling, sarcastic Luke that he knew with the Luke that suffered from anxiety and dark thoughts.  My boy was a most excellent actor.

But Jeff has pushed through.  He has a wonderful support system in his family and friends and is away at school.  He is good to visit us when he comes home and he lets me hug him. A LOT.  John loves to see him and drink a beer and talk golf and guy stuff.  It is a guaranteed long night.  lol.  John and Jeff have had many a moment over the last three and a half years and I am grateful that Jeff feels safe and loved enough in our home and in our hearts to do that.

So here’s what I need you to know, Thad:  Everyone reading this is wondering what’s up with the Thad.  Thaddeus Jeffrey went by Jeff until someone  renamed him Bad Thad in high school.  It stuck, probably, because it suits you.  It is amazing to me that you turned 22 this week.  Where the heck is the time going?  You need to know John and I think you are THE BEST.  We love your twinkling eyes,  your excellent taste in clothes, and your ability to talk folks into doing things they probably shouldn’t it.  It’s that damn smile lol and we love that smile.  We love you not because you are like one of our own, but because you ARE one of our own.  We love you because you are one of the reasons Luke had moments of happiness.  And we have to remember that he had happiness, pretty boy.  And he loved you.  He freaking loved you.





I need you to know

Memory Lane

Every once in a while something triggers me and I go down memory lane.  I pull out all the pictures I have of Luke, take a stroll through his Facebook and Twitter feeds, and generally just find anything I can that makes me think of life with my boy in it.  Today my trigger was Halloween decorations.  Yes, I am late, lol, but I decided that after four Halloweens I was ready to try and infuse a little holiday spirit into the month.  I have some great decorations.  There was a small gift shop near our place in Shirley that sold the most fantastic rustic and retro-inspired decorations for all the holidays and I have spent a dollar or two there.  I had John bring down four boxes from the attic and they were sitting there waiting for me today.

It’s amazing how every single decoration can have a story to it, don’t you think?  I had recognized this fact when I tackled Christmas décor, but who knew it applied to Halloween as well? I pulled out these large plastic skeleton heads and it reminded me of trying to use them once in our outside setup. After a particularly windy night (although, isn’t it always windy in Rutland?) we woke up to random heads all over the front yard and the boys thought that was hilarious.  Then there are these nasty red-eyed, fur-covered rats.  We have a long standing tradition of placing a particularly evil one in random locations to freak one another out.  I think John and I have had a heart attack or two opening cupboards and drawers to reveal the little devils.  The boys were equal parts entertained and spooked by this, but they loved to participate.  The older decorations – sweet witches and Frankensteins and ghosts – purchased when I didn’t want anything too scary brought me back to the days when Luke and Lolo were young and so excited about their costumes and every candy and we only had to go to 10 or 11 houses to make them happy.  Remember the days when your child was young enough that you could steal a treat or two and they didn’t even notice?  Sigh. Tootsie Rolls, am I right?

What really got me was a mask.  It’s a simple orange plastic eyemask you would buy at the dollar store or craft store with the elastic band around the back.  Old school.  I don’t remember where he decorated it – maybe the library, maybe I had a Martha Stewart moment and we did it together, but Luke’s has a little purple pompom and some glitter and a few feathers glued to his.  Very three.  Well, I had purchased this adorable lion costume out of some direct mail magazine.  It wasn’t cheap, but Luke and I had looked at it together and he had decided he liked it.  I may have swayed him a bit, truth be told.  Sure enough, on Hallowe’en night he wouldn’t put the dang thing on.  He was adamant about it.  I don’t remember a lot of crying and screaming, I just remember he had that look he would get on his face and his crossed arms.  So he won, lol, and I put him in his Gap Halloween jammies and he put on his orange mask and away he and his dad went.  He was a happy boy going door to door in the cul-de-sac and ultimately, that’s all that mattered.  Just for the record, Logan wore the costume when he was the same age and made a darn fine big cat. lol.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One, holidays can be challenging.  There is a lot of love and family and memories of happier days tied up in these special childhood celebrations.  Be gentle with yourself. I am just starting to do Halloween again.  Christmas and Fourth of July both bring their own set of emotions for me.  My advice is to do what feels right.  If you never celebrate Halloween again that’s okay.  For me, I was ready.  I can look at that mask and have a moment of missing, but it was followed by the sweetest walk down memory lane.  Time may not heal, but it helps. Xxx

Things that help

Happiness Hit Her Like A Freight Train

I woke up happy today.  SO happy actually.  It is a really good feeling and I keep thinking about spending last night with two of my faves, Billy and Eric, and all the laughs we shared.  These two are linked to my Luke, but after three and a half years my relationship to them is my own and not so much a continuation of Luke’s.  I know they catch me staring at them and smiling like an idiot, but they just smile back now lol.  They know our friendship has been good for all of us, not only for the healing, but just as human beings trying to grow.  Love my lads!

But back to the happy.  It is true.  After you lose a child it is not easy to find the sunshine in each day.  One of my friends made the comment that it was like the light went out of my eyes.  That’s pretty accurate.  You can fake that you are doing okay, but true happiness and joy comes from the inside and makes you shine.  Truthfully, I don’t have a ton of days like that, but halfway through Year 4 I can tell you I have more.  And that is something.  When I meet someone whose loss is recent I want to tell them it gets easier, it gets better,  you will feel lighter one day, but it takes time.

I think sometimes people feel like they have to hold onto the darkness forever.  There is that sense that to be happy in loss is to be disrespectful or disloyal to the memory of their child or loved one.  My feeling is that our loved one wouldn’t want us to be sad.  They wouldn’t want us to cry and put a hold on happiness.  I tell everyone that it is my job as Luke’s momma to love him and to live life fully.  As a parent we just want our kiddos to be happy, right?  I believe our sweeties on the other side of the stars want the same for us.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One or your Day 30 I understand how hard it is to believe that this uncontrollable agony will lessen.  I am so sorry you are feeling this depth of sadness and my heart is with you.  But better days will come.  It will sneak up on you and you will find yourself smiling over a memory shared with a friend, or you will watch a tv show and laugh at a joke.  And one day, maybe 1, 275 days from now, you will wake up in a great mood, in a grateful place, and at a new level of happy.  Xxx

Things that help


This past Friday night Hope Lives Here was invited to Ralph’s Diner in Worcester for “A Night of Music”.  This was an event to raise awareness around Suicide and organized by Amy Jo, a woman directly impacted by loss from suicide.  Turns out Amy is connected to my family in ways I was never aware of:  her best friend, Becky, is a mom I have known and loved from our first days of Pop Warner and Amy’s daughter, Laney, also knows both my boys.  Laney told me a funny story that night about Luke paying her to do his art homework once upon a time.  Classic Luke moves lol.  Anyway, when Amy decided to organize this event she kindly decided to donate half the proceeds to a Veterans association and the other half to Hope Lives Here.  I was incredibly touched and had to be there in support.

So there we were at Ralph’s (no words to describe this place – trust me and just go for the experience).  We wandered our way up the narrow staircase to where the bands were performing.  A group was already on stage.  They were actually really good and John and I both loved the fact that they were all dressed in tuxedo t-shirts.  As I sipped on my soda water, the lights dimmed and the lead singer started sharing his own story of attempting suicide.  The whole place was riveted as he narrated his tale and the band played softly behind him.  Turns out he took his good-bye letter to his friends and family and created song lyrics which he then began to sing.  It was powerful and all I could think to myself was I was grateful he was here to tell his story, but what the hell?  Why is suicide EVERYWHERE?

I just want to say that thinking about killing yourself is not normal.  Let me say that one more time – Thinking about killing yourself is not normal.  If you are questioning whether or not you are worthy of being on the Planet Earth then you need help.  And I am saying all this from a place of love and a desire to keep you here.  If there is a voice in your head that is making you question whether people would be better off without you – that is NOT normal.  The answer is they wouldn’t and You need to get help.  This is not something to take lightly and it is not something you can handle on your own.  There are lots of scenarios in life that might make you sad, or mad, or desperate to find a way out, scenarios that we are supposed to manage. And usually we find strategies to get through to the next day.  But as soon as you start having thoughts about suicide or start writing about suicide or start googling about ways to kill yourself, you NEED help.   I don’t know why we aren’t talking about this more.  I remember my sister telling me after Luke passed away she was talking with one of her son’s about suicide and he said, “Everybody thinks about killing themselves, Mom” and she replied “No. No, they do not.”  And that’s the truth of it.  Most of us don’t.   Now, if you know me, you know I have had some issues.  Life has handed me some shit to handle and on top of all that, my oldest son killed himself at seventeen and never have I thought about taking my own life because I was hopeless or tired or in that much pain.  But some people do.  And what I want  those people to know is that it means you need help.  Real help.  A pastor, a therapist, a doctor.  Someone whose job it is to help people who feel helpless.

So here’s what I need you to know:  Not one more – you hear me?!  Let’s make this our mission.  Tell your children before you think they need to hear it, that suicidal thoughts mean you are in over your head and you need help.  Use those times in life that present themselves, like Mac Miller’s death, to start a dialogue around when you should ask for help.  And that it’s okay to ask for help.  Promise them that No one will think less of them, no one will call them crazy.  Then tell them you love them and wouldn’t want to spend a day without them and then let’s all make good on that promise.  Because life is harder for some, friends, and we have to figure out how to let those folks know that they are worthy and that leaving is not an option.  NOT ONE MORE.  I  am sitting here sobbing because I want to scream it from the rooftops: If you are thinking about ending your life then you need help.  You need help.  You need help.  You need help.  Please get help.



I need you to know