On July 15, 1998, our worst nightmare became a reality. We lost our 22-year-old son, Michael, to suicide. This was the last thing I thought I would ever have to face, especially since my younger son, Rory, went through this with his fraternity brother seven months prior. And we were all devastated over that.
My husband, Joel, and I were on vacation in Las Vegas. I was feeling very uneasy that night, even though my luck at the casino was in my favor. We had dinner with my aunt and uncle and then had planned to see a show later that evening.
Joel had a headache and decided to rest in the hotel room. I went back to the casino and entertained myself until 9:30 p.m., when I was to meet him at the hotel room to see the show. When I arrived at the room, he wasn't there. I didn't think much of it, until the phone rang. It was the hotel. They asked that I come down to the office and I replied that I was supposed to meet my husband at our hotel room. They stated he was with them, so would I please come down. My first thought was that someone had stolen his money.
On my way down, my mind was racing as to exactly why they had my husband with them. When I walked in, I looked over to Joel sitting on a couch, surrounded by three or four men. My husband said to me, “It’s Mike.” He never had to say what it was. I knew Mike had died. I don't know how, but I just knew. To this very day, I am so sorry that I ever left to go away.
Michael was suffering from depression. We knew that he was depressed and had arranged for him to be seen and perhaps go on medication. It never happened, because he hanged himself in the basement on the very day he was to go to the doctor.
In our hearts he will remain the most wonderful person whom I was privileged to have as my son."
From the time when he learned to talk, Michael was so very articulate. Throughout his childhood he was quiet and private and always a gentleman. He loved going to the gym to work out, and loved spending time with his brother Rory. He loved football, and every once in a while he would sit on a chair on our front yard and puff on a Cuban cigar. I still remember his dry sense of humor.
Michael attended the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston. He was studying to become a pharmacist and was a great student, receiving A’s and B’s up until his third year. Unfortunately, he dropped out and things just went downhill from there. To this day, it is difficult for me to watch some of the movies that were his favorites. He especially loved A Christmas Story and the two vacation movies, among a few.
This is a poem I wrote in memory of my precious son:
I never saw the sadness,
You so cleverly disguised,
For if I did I would have,
Prevented your demise.
The wonderful “you” memories,
Will remain in my heart and soul,
Wanting to see you live your life,
Was indeed my ultimate goal.
I wish that I could have “been there,”
To prevent the deed you’ve done,
I lost that chance forever,
As well as you, my son.
If there will ever be a time,
For us to meet again,
I hope I’ll “be there” for you,
No matter where or when.
Here are some excerpts from Michael’s eulogy, written by Rory:
Mike was and is my best friend. As both an older brother and best friend, he protected me like nobody else ever could. We hope your struggling and unhappiness are over and we will never forget the joy you brought to our lives that will remain for a lifetime.
Michael, I pledge to you not to live life just for me, but to live life for the both of us. Whatever I may do or wherever I may go, I will make sure you are there. I will never forget your open heart, your loyalty, your famous grin and all of our dreams that we had together. Thank you and I love you.
About six weeks after we lost our Michael, Rory and I went to an animal shelter. It was there that I noticed a greyhound that was soon-to-be my wonderful companion. The moment I looked into his eyes, I knew he was meant for us. We called him James, after James Hetfield, the lead singer of Metallica, Mike’s favorite rock group.
James succumbed to bone cancer last May, but we adopted another beautiful dog, his name is Vic. I strongly recommend adopting a pet of some sort. It has helped us tremendously. Another thing that Joel, Rory and I did was get a tattoo to honor Mike. This also helped a great deal.
I try not to be too hard on myself on a daily basis. I never did before, but I get a manicure every other week. Once in a while I have a pedicure. We need to take care of ourselves; it is very important. Each of us needs to find our own way of dealing with the grief. Whatever works for you, follow through. The important thing is to live your life the best way you can.These are some of the things that helped me get to the point I’m at today.
I often wonder what Michael would be like if he were here now. He was my number one and will always stay that way. In our hearts he will remain the most wonderful person whom I was privileged to have as my son. I hope that by me telling about Michael, one can get a sense of what he was like.
Marcia lives in Sharon, Mass.