August 14th was always an incredibly special day in our family. Just 6 months after the death of my own mother, I became a new mother, on my 25th birthday - August 14th, 1983. When the twins came home from the hospital, it was all hands-on deck, and it pretty much stayed that way throughout the years. It is its own category, this twin thing, and everything is multiplied, not just by two, but exponentially, more than you ever thought possible.
I was made to do this. From the moment we brought our twins home from the hospital to the day they went off to college, I knew that we would take on incredible challenges. With those challenges I learned that no sooner would we climb one mountain before we'd tackle the next.
My boys will turn 35 this August and I’ll turn 60. The celebration won’t go exactly as we’d hoped for. There were, in reality, beasts and mountains we could not overcome and our Tom won’t be here with us. We lost him on Friday, September 30th, 2016 after losing his long battle with depression; he died of a heroin overdose.
Just weeks away now – our birthdays – and I find that I am bottled up with emotion, but fighting to hold it together. Even now all of this doesn’t make sense. I stand – when all I truly want is to crumble. There is a fierce and undying love of a mother who cares for, nurtures, carries, and cries. Precious – one of three - who knew what my beating heart sounded like from the inside. (He must know that the very same heart is broken now.)
Our son lived life on his own terms. He listened, and sometimes took advice. He did not conform to social “norms.” He was a rebel; but not rebelling against anything or anyone. He was a free-spirit who lived in the present and on his own terms. He was a dreamer. He was a leader. He had followers. He could enter a room and brighten it with his smile, his attitude, or just his presence. He had "it."
His biggest fight was within himself. Tom had a deep pain inside and did not know how to process it or forgive himself for it and he tried to numb the pain of depression with alcohol and drugs. Our son was not prepared. He was not prepared to fight his disease, the depression that clouded his living. We were not prepared and Tom did not die on his own terms. Our country is far behind in its care for those who live among us who fight the dual beasts of depression and addiction.
Tom, we love you more than words can express, and I will hold you in my heart for as long as I live.
It's all good my son. People need your story. Even when our hearts are breaking.
They need your light, and they need your darkness too.
They need to hear about us – a Mom and a Dad, a sister and a brother who faced the worst nightmare, and lived anyway.
We are broken. We are exceptional. We are working to heal. And, on August 14th we will celebrate our birthdays – we will celebrate you. In the end, my own sense is that it doesn’t matter as much “how” you died – and I hope that the manner of your death doesn’t overshadow the fact that you lived, that you were a great kid with a beautiful heart, that we loved you and you loved us. Happy Birthday to us! Love, Mom