Grieving In Gratitude: My Response To Kerry James' Last Letter
On A TLotus Thought: The Blog. I’ve decided to write a multi-part series sharing my experience with losing my first-born son to suicide on 1/1/21. Part journal, part blog, my intention with this series is to raise suicide awareness and save a life, provide hope and support to the loved ones who are on their own grief journey, and share the beautiful story of my continued connection with my son on the other side.
Read Parts 1 - 3 of the Grieving In Gratitude Series
Trigger Warning: Suicide/Grief
If you're thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend or loved one, there is a free hotline available 24/7 to provide emotional support. Please call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. (1-800-273-TALK)
As we approach the 1 year anniversary of Kerry's suicide, my mind can't help but recount the events that led to his disappearance and him being found in his work van on his birthday, January 1st.
Unbeknownst to anyone, Kerry wrote a suicide note on December 22 and emailed it to himself. He knew that someone would find it if they looked through his computer. Kerry went missing on December 28th and the letter was found by his girlfriend and friends on December 29th. I asked for that letter to be forwarded to me, and when I read it, the shock, dread, and ultimately, panic to find him consumed me.
In his last letter, Kerry said that he knew that he would die by his own hand since the age of 10. He knew how he would do it. And when the day comes where he felt he no longer wanted to be on this earth came, he would kill himself in the manner he chose. I won't go into detail on how he did it, just that he chose a manner that was peaceful and fast, with no pain involved. He actually talked more about the manner by which he would carry out his suicide and why he chose it than the reasons why he made the decision. The only reason he gave was "I'm fucking tired."
I was devastated as I read that letter. Beyond devastated. By New Year's Eve, I knew that if we didn't find him, he would be successful with his plan, and I was right. He was found in the early hours of New Year's day, the day I gave birth to him. He lived long enough to see his 29th birthday then, he left this earth the way he said he would in his letter.
After I was notified by his girlfriend (not the Gardena Police Department that was SUPPOSED to come to my door to notify me first), I wrote a response to his last letter. The following is what I wrote to him on January 3rd, 2 days after his death:
Dear Kerry James,
The day I found out I was pregnant with you, I knew you would be special. I talked to you every day while I carried you. You were due on Christmas Day and typical you...you came when You decided lol! You were like, “Nope! I like New Years better.” I would always tease you about the 35 hours of labor with no epidural to bring you forth into this world. And you would always roll your eyes then smile that signature grin.
Oh baby...my lower self (flesh and blood, thinking-feeling self) is in agony. I didn’t know you were in such turmoil! I didn’t know you were alone with your thoughts, boredom, and depression for 2 ½ months because of this pandemic. Alone. Baby you could have told me. I would move heaven and earth to save you and your brothers from hurting. I’m not a fighter, but I’d take my earrings off and put on my sneaks to fight anyone or anything that brings my babies harm. But I couldn’t fight for you. I couldn’t save you.
Fuck this pandemic. There..I said it. My lower self is angry. I want to blame something or someone. But the only thing I have to blame is this damn pandemic.
Do you know how much you are loved? Everyone is sharing stories about how you’ve touched their lives. You shined your beautiful bright light to everyone that crossed your path. And to see that love reflected back through the people whose lives you touched is amazing.
For a few days after you left this earthly plane, I would ask “Why?” Why now? Why on your 29th birthday? Why YOU? Your brothers and I are hurting so much because you are gone. The mama in me was so angry at you...I’m not going to lie. Especially when I learned that you were alive the whole week we were looking for you. Did you see my lives on FB? Did you see the outpouring of love from all over the country? Did you see when your brothers and I wished you “happy birthday” after we counted down the new year? So many questions.
My lower self was thinking all of these things but after starting the process of planning your memorial, something shifted in me. My Higher Self (Spiritual self) knows why. Divine order. 1/1/21 was destined. Nothing could have prevented the inevitable. My Higher Self knows it was your time, otherwise, you would still be here.
All the times we talked about Universal Consciousness and Higher Self, you were really paying attention...when I thought you were indulging my “woo woo”..lol! It’s because my Higher Self was speaking to your Higher Self. And I realize now that it was time for you to go.
Like me, you are such a giver. You gave to everyone. You gave to the South Bay all of your life. You gave to Mira Costa High School. You gave to Cloudscape Vape. You gave to your sweetie Angela. You gave to me and your brothers. You rose to the occasion each and every time you were called upon. You worked damn hard in everything you did. You chose others ahead of you. And for the first time in your life, you chose yourself. You were supposed to. You were destined to. This is what you wanted. There are a lot of people who love you who will have a hard time accepting your decision. But I have accepted it. Thing is, we don’t have to like what we must accept. 2020 gave us plenty to not like. But as I taught you, when we resist what IS, the Universe will give us more of that thing we’re resisting, until we surrender to Divine Order.
I accept that it was our time to part. I’m going to miss your physical presence in my life. There are a few things here that I will take care of. Like raising awareness of suicide and mental illness, ESPECIALLY in our black and brown communities, removal of the veil of racial inequalities in the South Bay, and the theft of your flowers and candles by Target in Redondo Beach who destroyed your memorial where you took your life and left the broken glass. You know your mama don’t play!
I promise you, I will tell your story. I will shout your story from the rooftop! Together, we will save lives. Me and you kid.
I love you so much, my first born son! January 1st will never be the same. I will forever honor you. And I will make sure the South Bay will reflect back the love and dedication you gave to it all of your life, for the rest of my life!
Rest, my son. Our work is not over. Peace Love and Light baby. Peace Love and Light
The pain I felt while I was writing this response to Kerry was tremendous. Just when I think I have overcome the tortuous waves of grief that hit me, I'm hit with even more grief. These waves are more like tsunamis. And I sometimes find myself frozen and consumed by the tsunami that is my bereavement. Losing my son has ripped a hole in my soul. No matter what I do or how much I work to heal through this, the tsunamis keep on coming without relief
This is the reality that suicide leaves behind. This is real shit.... real grief front and center. No mother...no parent.. should feel this yet, this is my new reality.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was not able to have an official memorial for my baby. There will be a public virtual memorial on December 7th, 2021 at 12 PM Pacific. Please click the picture for more info on how you can attend and support this memorial.