Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Letters to Henry, Part 3, 12/8/06

Friday, 12/8/06 10:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Today Ann told me she thinks you and her dog have hooked up in heaven and are romping around together. She and I exchanged accounts of vision/dreams we had of our mothers coming back to comfort us. Why are you waiting so long to comfort me, Hen Ben? There's so much I don't understand. Understatement of the year.

I finished Pack's scrapbook tonight.

Hard work tomorrow. Better get to sleep.

I love you my BenBridge.
-Mama




Monday, 12/11/06 8:45 p.m.

Dear Sweetheart,

Today I have some actual good news: Michelle is back and she wants to start working again! That is truly, truly good news. I might be able to go back to my workout class again. (Little scared of that, cause I know I've become out of shape.) At any rate, I will be able to cut back my hours. Whew.

This morning around 3 a.m. your dad felt a strange cold air and felt a distinct shivery hair-raising sensation. It lasted a while. Was that you, honey?

Dad asked me if I believe Ann's vision was really her mom. I do. Then he asked me if just being a nice person is enough to get you into heaven. I don't know. I believe the Bible and I know what it says about wheat and chaff, heaven and hell, etc. But it also says Jesus has compassion and mercy. It says, if you help the least, it's as though you helped Jesus. I bet Ann's mother had a good soul, as Amanda would say. I don't know. It's confusing.

I started listening to the James Earl Jones New Testament on CD that Saul gave your dad. I like it.
I had another one of those upsetting emails from ____ tonight. Between her and Saul, how on earth can I know who's telling the truth? The important thing is, at least as far as I'm concerned, that Saul is OK. He must not lie. He must live an authentic, sincere life and be willing to face his mistakes. He must know that we love him, mistakes and all. I tried calling him, but he didn't answer.
I feel like in the final month that you were with us, we achieved that. At least until the Prozac clouded your thinking.

Karl came into the shop today. He sends his love.

Last night I couldn't sleep AT ALL. I went to bed at eleven and just laid there until 4:15. This often happens to me on Sunday nights. I had to work 5-5 today. I am sleepy.

I think I'll try to call Saul one more time, then go to bed.

Oh yes, your dad is driving to Lebanon so he can take Boyd to the doctor tomorrow. That way Julie can keep Wilda at home and Jim can be there to find out what's really going on. It may be a heart valve problem.

No answer from Saul.

Sleeeeepy me. Tomorrow morning Michelle will surprise Pack by showing up in my place. I get to sleep a little later. Yeah!

I love you, Real Boy. To me you are not a ghost. You are my real, true flesh and blood Henry. One of my boys, the boys I was given to love.

Love, Mama


Wednesday, 12/13/06 10:10 p.m.

Dear Punkin,

Oh Sweetheart, life is tough. I talked to Saul last night. He has come to a crossroads. He is miserable about himself and has decided to see a counselor. I'm glad he's "facing his demons." He is going through some tough times.

I talked to your dad about my worries: you faced your demons too, but look what happened. Dad said even today on NPR he heard a program about Prozac and how they're finding it is causing suicide in young adults too, not just kids. He emphasized to me that your death was an accident. I need to climb all over that word and fully swallow it until I fully believe it.

Tomorrow I get to come home early! Yay! Also Friday. Things are going to be so much easier for me now that Michelle is back.

I figured out tonight that we really can afford our vacation. We'll probably have to use some of our savings, but we can do it. i guess we don't spend all our money these days. I'm not used to that. It feels good.

Tonight on the way home I really did fall asleep at the wheel. I was behind a few cars at a light when I drifted off; when I opened my eyes the car in front of me was 4 or 5 car lengths down the road. So, I guess I'd better go to bed.

Henry, I have to find a way to get used to you being gone. I wish you would visit me in my dreams. I love you so much. I love you like a mother. Ha ha.

Mama PJ


Saturday, 12/16/06 8:45 p.m.

Dear Precious Henry,

The last few days have been kind of dramatic. Ups and downs. I feel better in one way; I have a better sense of integrity because I told ____ in no uncertain terms that I won't tolerate her habit of "telling on" my family anymore. I have felt fakey and dishonest when I haven't expressed how I really feel about this.

I can summarize her reply for you: "Dear Patty, I'm sorry I hurt you. I didn't mean it. Go to hell, and never speak to me again. Love, ___"

Here's the good stuff: Saul and Rabecca are working it out. She's leaving for a couple of months, but she tells me she loves Saul and she's definitely coming back. She's endured a lot, and earned some points in my eyes.

The other good stuff is how much I'm enjoying the amount of time off work I now have, and will have in the foreseeable future. I got almost all the Christmas shopping done yesterday. I wrapped little things and filled stockings.

Your stocking is empty.

I haven't cried over you for quite a few days, Henry. Maybe I'm getting used to this. I don't know. I haven't looked at your pictures or listened to your music for a long time. And I haven't visited your grave. It feels a little confusing. How can I actually accept this? How can I?

I kind of feel like I'm waiting for something. Not sure what. Am I still waiting for you to come back?

Love, Mama

Tuesday, 12/19/06 10 p.m.

Hi Sweet Love,

Just wanted to say goodnight and tell you I love you. We have a big day tomorrow - the Neighborhood Christmas Party at Jim and Patty's. You would be so excited about it if you were here. I'll fill you in on the details probably Thursday or Friday. Saturday night Isaac will be staying over! But now, I'd better get to sleep.

Your t-shirt still holds the scent of you. I still hug it at night. But I don't dream of you. Why? I want you to come home.

Kisses and hugs,
Mama

Friday, 12/22/06

Hi Sweet Hen Ben,

Gosh, I miss you. As I lay in bed hugging your shirt Wednesday night, I realized that God is the only one who really understands how I feel. I've known this in my head, but it really struck my heart. It made the pain and loneliness a little lighter.

Your brother Saul is really suffering right now. I hope we can help him. He's going to bring Phin to church Sunday and then come over for lunch. Isaac will be with us too. Rabecca left Monday.

I've received a couple of very sweet emails from Courtney. It means a lot to me that she stays in touch.

The party was wonderful. You would have loved it. There were 150 or so people crammed in there, eating your dad's pizza, smoked ham and stuff. They loved it all. And we went out caroling in the cold night. Your name came up many times with love.

Julie called tonight in tears to tell us she's thinking about us. She suffers so much over you. She said today she felt like you were close by.

Why haven't I felt that? I feel distant from you, seems like more all the time. sometimes I think I want to listen to the memorial music, but I shy away. It's so painful. sigh. I go around sighing.

We got our reservation at the River Terrace in Napa Valley - buy 2 nights get the 3rd free. I'm excited.
Your dad and I exchanged Christmas gifts tonight. I got him a towel warmer. He promised to take me to Genoa. Pretty sweet.

I'd better try to get some sleep. I haven't slept well lately.

I love you darling. Be warm and safe and happy. I hug you.

-Mom

Sunday, Christmas Eve 2006

Dear Henry,
Isaac is here, and he is going to draw a picture for you.

Isaac has so much enthusiasm for everything he does! Phew! He talks loud and plays hard. In other words, he's a BOY.

Now I have to help him get a toy out from under the piano. Later, dude.

10:10 p.m.

Your dad's gone to bed. It's quiet. I'm having a glass of wine and some nuts and popcorn. I feel sort of blank. Not good, not horrible. Except I'm worried about Saul, and that is a scary feeling. It's like I used to worry about you. Actually I still do worry about you. How silly is that? Talk about a waste of time. And I worry about my grandchildren. In short, I guess I'm kind of a mess. Rick Warren said on TV tonight that not worrying is the hardest command of God's to obey. Life has taught me that there is plenty to worry about. Your worst fears can come true.

I should pray about this tonight, but I don't know if I can.

I wish I could hold you and tell you how I love you. Henry.

-Mama Pajama


Wednesday, 12/27/09 10:45 p.m.

Sweetheart,

My hand is stiff - just wasted several hours playing Snood. They should provide Snood to people in nursing homes. It feels like such a colossal waste of time, and yet, it's so hard to stop.

Today on the way to work I had a moment of panic - I couldn't believe you actually, really fell off that cliff.

Christmas was pretty good. The kids seemed to like their Henry Books. Nobody looked at them much - I suspect they wanted to wait until they were alone. Courtney gave me a super nifty little purse. The food turned out good and the little kids had fun. Saul and Pack were not in very good moods, but all in all, considering the fact that our Henry was missing, it was pretty good.

Yesterday we relaxed, did a little shopping, then went to the exchange party at Meg's. Those are always fun. We added your picture to Mom's, Dad's and Steve's grandma - the missing family. We need one of Andrew there too.

Three more days and we're off on our vacation! Waaaaahgggghhh!

I got a nice photo album at the exchange party. i plan to fill it up with pictures of you.

Did I tell you Courtney's buying a house? Your dream is coming true. It's a three bedroom built in the late 90's, around 185th and Baseline. She's sharing it with her friend Amanda and her husband. It closes on the 20th, and she moves, then leaves on the cruise on the 21st. She really knows how to pack her schedule.

Today I didn't have to leave for work until noon, so I was able to get the apartment cleaned up, most of the Christmas stuff put away. Tomorrow we need to get chains and whatever else is necessary for safe driving.

I have a big basket and box of material for your scrapbooks and photo album and memory book, but I'm still waiting for those drawings Courtney says she has that you did for Isaac. Maybe when she packs...

I'm rambling. Why should you be interested in all this stuff? I'm only your mother, and you're a grown boy. You have no need of me now.

Love, Your Sad Faced Mama


Thursday, 12/28/09 9:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I feel sort of out of it tonight. I haven't done anything useful after getting home except shower, eat dinner and do dishes. Just blanking out in front of the TV.

After we get back from vacation I want to start on your photo and scrapbooks.

It feels funny to say "back from vacation." What an unheard-of event.

Michelle had some bad news today - came to work in tears. Her father is suing her and her sister for their grandmother's inheritance. Made me realize how fortunate we are to have such a loving family.

I should write a thank you email to Paula and get to bed. Didn't sleep much last night, and I should get to work early, because I spaced out this afternoon and forgot to do the cinnamon rolls. So Jim will have to work them into his morning baking. Can't believe I did that.

When are you going to come? I think about your walk - so cute and kind of off-kilter. I think about your tenderness. "I love you my friend," you wrote to your father. How many boys do that? God gave us such an irreplaceable unique gift in you.

I was looking at the tip log on Tuesday. A lot of history shows up in those numbers. The days you worked full time for us, the days you moved to part time and went back to CFO. The days near the end that you missed. And I saw where Pack called you "Rarah" and himself "Packah." Brothers and buddies.

God, please hold my Henry tenderly and keep him safe. Please let us be together again and feel the joy of your restoration. Please.

Hen Ben, I love you, my friend.
-Mama Pajama


Tuesday, 1/2/07 5:45 a.m.

Dear Henry,

I'm writing this in bed, in our room at River Terrace Inn, Napa, California. Room 323. Your pop has gone to the store to get some spoons - we got granola yesterday but forgot we'd need spoons to eat it.

It is nice here.

We are done with 2006, the last year in which you were alive.

I continue to feel sad, damaged. i don't seem to have much to say today. I'll write more later when I feel more chatty. Don't worry, though. I'm ok. Just wanted to tell you I love you. I miss you. I ache for you still.

Love, Lady Mama


Sunday, 1/7/07 8:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I'll have to get to bed soon - opening shift, back to work tomorrow. We had such a nice break. Feels like more than a week to me.

Today we celebrated Saul's birthday at Amalfi's, spending the gift card two of our nice customers gave us. There were 10 of us: me and Jim, the Wolfes, Pack and Tessa, and Saul and Phin. It was fun - I hope Saul enjoyed it. We talked about trying to make 2007 a good year.

I finally dreamed about you a couple of nights ago. It didn't feel like a "vision" dream, but it was good anyway. I was walking through a crowd of people coming toward me. I could tell that you were there. I could see little flashes of you, a shoulder, a leg..then your face came into view. You were looking for me! Our eyes met. Yes, it's Henry! You smiled, your eyes danced. We pushed past everyone and hugged each other. A voice inside me kept whispering, "it's not real, it's not real, it's just a dream. Henry's still dead." But I didn't care. I loved it anyway.

When we were on our trip I escaped my grief somewhat. It was still there, but less so. I didn't know I could "take a break" like that.

I thought of an image that describes my relationship with the fact of your death. Remember those giant screw things you bury in the ground and hook your dog's chain to? The dog can go around and around, but they can't escape that center, that place. It's like that for me. Your death is the center, it's always there. I can't get away. But I keep tugging at it, worrying it. Someday it might work loose. Then I'll be free to move about, but I'll always drag it behind me.

I'm reading A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. Talk about recognition. It's like he read my mind.

We took roses to Nanny and Papa's graves on Friday morning. I don't want our dead to be forgotten.

Adam has a new baby. Abigail Mae Foss was born on Thursday. She was premature, only weighed 5 pounds something. But I guess she's ok. Adam is working, trying to make a go of things. They're going to live with Amanda's sister.

I guess I'd better go to sleep. Time to really get on with the new year. I love you, precious boy. Please come see me, tell me you're ok, give me assurance. God, please bless my Hen Ben.

Love, Mama

Wednesday, 1/10/07 7:15 a.m.

Dear Henry,

I don't have to be at work until 1:00 today, so I have a little rare morning of alone-ness. I ate toast, drank OJ. I had the radio on, but it's annoying, so I turned it off. Quiet, a cup of coffee, writing to you.

Your Grandad is amazing. Here's what's happened..we got a call Monday night that Boyd has a rupturded aorta. He can die at any second and won't last more than a day or two. Nightmare. Boyd wanted your dad to come down and help him deal with things- funeral, financial stuff, etc.. So Jim left around 6. About mid-day they went to a new doctor. This one said it looks like the rupture may have happened a month ago. He said people rarely survive the initial event, but when they do, they can go on living out the rest of their life. Incredible, huh? So your dad had a good visit, got everyone settled down and came home.

Such is the nature of my faith nowadays that I don't think this is a God Deal I think it just happened. With God all things are possible, but that doesn't mean he's gonna do it. Why should he? He has his own agenda, unfathomable to us.

C.S. Lewis said that after his wife died God slammed the door shut right in his face. I feel that way. Or maybe I slammed it shut. I don't even want to go near the door.

Your t-shirt still holds your scent. How could it last so long? I hold it close almost every night. Am I maudlin and creepy to still be doing this?

We finally, finally connected with the stone guy. Here's what your marker will look like:

Yesterday our neighbor on Fremont, Al, (Mexican hot chocolate) gave us a one-year old hemlock tree in honor of you. We can plant it after the freeze is past. Our little plot of ground where we laid your body is going to be a tiny garden for you. I have a water tight jar to hold a guest/log book, pictures, etc. It will be a good place to grieve and remember you. I suppose as the years pass we won't go there so much. That scares me. I resist that. Why would I ever want to forget you? Maybe it's possible to remember you someday without grieving. I guess that's how I am with Mom and Dad. But with you it's much much harder to imagine.

Patrick went to your cliff last week. He said it was so cold and windy that he couldn't think about you much. He had to get outta there. What if the weather had been bad that day you were there? Well, who knows. You might have found another way. From what I've read, once the Prozac puts that thought in your head, nothing and no one can stop you.

Here's my "must do" list this morning: laundry, trash, make bed, shred giant bag of mail. Maybe vacuum. Clean myself up and get to work.

Better get on with it.
Love, Lady Mama


Friday, 1/12/06 8:45 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I had a happy afternoon today. Home by 3 p.m., and your pop fixed such a beautiful dinner: poached salmon, vegetables, salad. I felt so happy and content, but I told Jim, a shadow passed and I felt equally sad. I'm haunted by what you said in your note: "you will get over this." Whenever I am happy I want to yell, "I'm NOT getting over it!" I don't want what you said to ever come true. I talked to your dad (as usual!). He is so very passionate about us remembering that the real you was not the one who slipped or jumped off that cliff. Not the one who wrote that note. The last 3 weeks after you started taking Prozac do not define your life. So, he begged me not to let that last day color my memory of who you are. And we will never get over losing you. But we will want to learn to live with it. We want to be happy. You want us to be happy, don't you?

So, I'm going to allow my mental image of you to be the happy Henry, the struggling Henry - the REAL Henry, not the tragic one who haunts me so much from that day in June.

OK, Rahrah?
I love you,
:) Mama Pajama

Sunday, 1/14/06 8 p.m.

Hi Punkin,

This was a pretty excellent day. For starters, I was so happy this morning! I looked around at our apartment (kinda messy, but oh well), eating the nice breakfast that your pop made me. Stacks of great books, pictures of all my family - I felt so happy. Your dad and I spent hours researching iPods, thinking about getting one. In fact, we were late for church because we weren't noticing the time. I was on the section leaders today and one of the songs was "Shine On Us." Lord, let your light, light of your face shine on us, that we may be saved, that we may have light to find our way in the darkest night. Let your light shine on us. I can't sing that song without crying. I got a Christmas napkin from someone to dry my eyes. i got hugs and pats from the singers around me. So it was good.
Then we went to Costco and bought an iPod!! Wow. It's so high tech, as you would say. you would love it. Your pop worked on learning to use it all afternoon while I did some housework.

I have to get something off my chest. When I read the prayer requests on the daily email prayer chain, sometimes people report a good result - a test that turned out good, or a job they found, etc. Then they say, "God is so good!" Well, is he also good when things don't turn out right? I prayed hard for you while you were yet at the top of the cliff. I prayed hard for you when you were lying broken on the rocks in the middle of the night. No one knew you were there but God. We prayed, not knowing. But once we knew, I understood that God had denied my request. I don't know what I'm trying to say. It shouldn't bother me that people call God good when they like what happens to them. Hi IS good. He is good either way. His goodness is not contingent.

I started working on your Remembrance book today..just a few entries here and there. I haven't begun to paste any photos or mementos. But I bought a Costco-sized pack of glue sticks today, so I'm ready! Some of the written entries will take a lot of thought, like, "describe your personality." Whatever I write will be there forever! Maybe I can find one of those profile things - I'm sure you did one at some point. Otherwise I'll just have to say how delightful and precious you are. I can be biased, yes? I have a right.

When I think now of "my children" and I mentally count them off, it seems so confusing, so sparse. What a giant hole you left.

Your birthday is coming soon. Last year I bought you a blue dress shirt. I didn't know I was buying the shirt you would wear in your grave. Life is not predictable, except in the most fundamental ways.

Patrick is trying hard to stop drinking. Can you help him somehow? I remember you came to us to tell us how worried you were about Patrick, in early June.

God bless you and hold you close, my sweetheart.
I love you,
Mama

Wednesday, 1/1/07 6:30 p.m.

Hello Sweetheart,

We've had some eventful days since Sunday. Tuesday morning it started snowing, like around 6 a.m., during workout class. Oh yes, let's back up to Monday. _____ dumped Patrick Monday night. Since his car is still in the shop, that meant I had to pick him up at 4:30 Tuesday morning (no girl, no car). It kept snowing, an inch an hour for 3 hours. About 7:30 we decided Jim should try to get home. He left and got stuck for three hours on I-84. Pack and I were alone - no one else could make it to work until 11:00 - and we were slammed. We closed the shop at noon, cleaned up and borrowed some chains from Ron Joy; left about 2 p.m. We made it home ok.

I'm leaving out some things here. Some family trauma that left me very shaken...

I still can't pray like I used to. Just little phrases like, take care of Saul, take care of Patrick, take care of Henry, take care of Myra....I repeat the Lord's Prayer. It is amazingly suitable to almost any situation. I repeat Psalm 139. Yes, I still know it. I remember when I recited it at LIFE group, how you followed along in the text, and you acted proud of me. I treasure that memory.

I told Patrick that maybe he keeps having trouble with girls because he isn't obeying God's law regarding fornication. If he found a girl who wanted to wait until marriage for sex, maybe she'd be a different sort of girl, one who wouldn't break his heart so violently.

I hope it didn't come off as self-righteousness.

So, we will go on, day by day, trying to keep it together, trying to love each other and love God. I don't know how it will all end up.

Oh yes, one more thing. I emailed Courtney inviting her to dinner to commemorate your birthday. I said, maybe you don't want to come. We want to keep Henry's memory alive, but maybe you want to forget him. One day you'll remarry and move on. She wrote back that she never wants to forget you, that even though you were getting a divorce, she still loved you as a friend. You were her first love, and Isaac's daddy, never to be replaced. So, you see, you didn't entirely lose Courtney's love. But I think you know that.

I see I'm getting about 2/3 of the way through this book. I wonder if I'll get another one? How long will I keep writing to you? Right now I'm afraid to stop. It would be one more way that you would slip away from me. Well, no one's holding a gun to my head. I guess I can write to you as long as I want to. I'll stuff your heavenly mailbox!

Love, love, love...I love you, Hen-Ben
-Moomers

P.S. Your dad says Isaac is the real victim in all this. I think he's right.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jim's Prayer for Henry, 6/14/06

We can still recall the beautiful sunny Sunday morning in February you gave Henry to us. That was the day the fun began: a red-headed boy filled with talent and laughter and love. And he was ours. and for almost 10,000 days we got to keep him. A boy who started out shrimpy, but grew to be the tallest man ever born in our family, a man who loved us, and his friends, and his wife and son, with a fierceness and sweetness few will ever know.

We'll never forget him, nor the last time we saw him that morning, heading out into what we thought would be an ordinary day, but what would turn out to be his last day. That afternoon he came for the last time to the edge of the world and then allowed himself, just that once to fall off, and how we wish we could have been there to throw our arms around him and hold him safe, and say, no no no this is just a big misunderstanding; this is not what to do! Come back!

But Father that was also the day he appeared in your country and we trust you came out on the porch to meet him, just like you welcomed the prodigal son so long ago. We know, Father, that the story of the prodigal son and his loving father was really a story about us and you. And we like to imagine the day Henry came to you, how while he was yet a long way off, you saw him, and filled with compassion you hiked up your robes, and ran to him, and put your arms around him and kissed him. And we know he recognise you the first moment he saw you, and was glad. Father, make him feel welcome in that beautiful land, and hold him in your arms, because our arms are too short to reach him right now, and wipe away every tear from his eyes, as is written in your book. Never again will he hunger. Never again will he thirst. And our fondest wish is that you would allow us to walk with him one day, there with you, in the sunshine, all sorrows past.

Father we are mindful that another One came from you into the world, and this your only son. They say he too was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, who nevertheless stood his ground in loving us and stood up for us in the face of our greatest enemies, sin and death. He stood alone at the end too, like Henry did, in a world that misunderstood him, and HE lives today to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, and comfort for all who mourn. Foo all those who are brokenhearted today we pray you bind up their hearts and though they walk through the valley of the shadow of death that they will fear no evil for you are with them.

And finally, Father, as we leave, put it in our hearts to hold all our children a little closer tonight, and draw them to us, and remind them in all ways that we can that they are loved, as you have loved us.

Offered by Jim Roberts at the close of Henry's memorial service, June 14, 2006

Letters to Henry, Part 2, 10/5/06

Letters to Henry, Part 2

Thursday, 10/5/06 5:10 a.m.

Hi Love,

I have to go to work now, but I just had to stop and tell you how much I love you.
I love you infinity.

-Mama


Thursday, 10/5/06 5:40 p.m.

Dear Henry,

What a day. So close to bursting into tears all day. Not consciously thinking about you, but..as soon as I get in the car to drive home, the tears come. I've been crying all afternoon. Cried while we watched LOST. The first show of the season - you wanted to see it!! Cried while eating your dad's pizza. Cried sitting in his lap after dinner. Now I feel cried out. It's so hopeless. All that crying does nothing. You are still so GONE.

I had too much wine with dinner. Now I'm dizzy and useless. And miserable.

Henry, I can't see how I can survive this much pain. The hole in my heart is gaping, huge with jagged edges. It is NOT repairable. "The hardest part is knowing I'll survive." That's a line from an Emmylou Harris song that I GET.

I guess I'm not cried out.

PLEASE COME BACK! I can't take this.

Saturday, 10/7/06 9:45 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I sure had a bad day on Thursday. Friday was better. For one thing, chaos at work took over my brain. The espresso machine crashed during our morning rush! Stumptown came and fixed it, but for a couple of hours we had a line out the door and no espresso. Stressful! I didn't really have time to grieve. Then in the evening your dad made spaghetti. He was so sweet - he asked what I'd like for dinner, I said spaghetti, and that's what we had. Sweet.

Today I worked 8-close, and it was brutally busy. After supper Myra, Sophie and James came over to watch "Amelie." It was a very fun time. Those little ones do restore my spirits.

I'm very, very sleepy. Better be off to bed.

I Heart Henry
-Lady Mama

Sunday, 10.8.06 8:30 p.m.

Sweetheart,

Your pop and I visited you today, brought you a pot of yellow mums. It was raining a little. Did you see us there? Do you still think of us? Do you still love us?

Precious one, I love you.
-Mama


Wednesday, 10/11/06 7:30 p.m.

Hi Hen-Ben,

Oy, my feet hurt. I'm not so sure those crocs are doing it for me after all. But then, I have been working an awful lot, on my feet so much.

I've become a gum chewer. As you may remember, I've never really liked to chew gum, but the past few weeks Myra's been giving me a piece at church. She says sugar-free is good for your teeth. And I discovered you can buy like 100,000 pieces for $1.99. So, now I have one on my commute to and fro and at other odd times. It's a little treat, and it seems to calm my frenzy a little.

Saul's moving to Myra's neighborhood. He will save money on rent and gas, and it will be nice to have him closer to the family scene. He's still living with Rabecca - he knows I don't like that, but he's his own person, so he'll do his own thing. It's the easy way, but I'm convinced it's not the right way. Self denial, self sacrifice, delayed gratification - these are not culturally popular ideas. But I believe they are the way we please God, and so they are the way to achieve joy. And I want joy for my children.

Here's a thought I had today: I have the attitude that underneath a VERY thin veneer of "normalcy" the world is seething with chaos, evil, and grief. This is reality and the veneer is just a joke. Should I feel this way? Is this Biblical? Or am I just seeing the world through grief glasses? I don't know. I should talk about this with your dad.

We don't see or hear from Courtney much at all. I hope she's not avoiding us on purpose. As far as I know we still have our Isaac date on the last Saturday of the month - coming up in a couple of weeks.
I think LOST is on tonight. I don't know if I'll watch it. I'm pretty tired, and besides, I always think of you. The little pleasures of life - don't you miss them? I guess your life was hell to you, at least that's how the drugs made you feel about it.

Tomorrow is your dad's doctor appointment. Also we're going to the funeral home to look at headstones. Big day.

Hen-Ben-a-Rooney, I love you. (Ruffle your hair, flip your ears...)
-Mama

Friday, 10/13/06 9:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I talked to Courtney on the phone a few minutes ago. It was so good to hear her voice. Whenever we talk, there's an "elephant in the room" question I wish I could ask her. Did you love Henry after all? Do you forgive him? I wonder if we'll ever have a frank talk like that.

She wanted to know about your headstone, whether there were any plans in the works. I told her that we got some info and put some ideas together; she's going to meet us at church to see what we have in mind.

She said Isaac calls his time at the Dougy Center his "daddy's group." He likes it - goes every other week and to counseling once a month. Courtney is still going twice a week. She's also playing softball and basketball, and she said she's starting to put on weight again. That's good.

Your pop is determined to lose weight. He has to get his diabetes under control. His foot is really bothering him and his angina is worse. But if he can lose weight, the doctor thinks he'll be ok. It's hard but it's got to be done.

Patrick too - he's so much heavier now and he sleeps so poorly. That little boy is so lonely and grief-stricken. Henry, your brother needs you. We all do. You took us ALL with you when you took that leap. Pieces of us are in that grave with you.

I'm happy about the plans for your headstone. When it is in place, I think I will be satisfied in some odd way. Like, another step is accomplished. We've honored our son in this small way, and it will always be there, until the earth passes away. "Here lies our beloved Henry Abram Roberts." That's shocking.

How am I going to find the time and energy to make Saul and Pack's scrapbooks? I don't know, but I suppose I shouldn't worry about that. It'll work out. I love you, Punkin Pie,

-Mama



Sunday, 10/15/06 9:15 p.m.

Hello Sweetheart,

We have all agreed on the text and design of your headstone. ALL agreed. Even Courtney, Saul and Pack. The stone will be polished black with metallic gold flecks; the shape will be what they call a "pillow." The inscription, in white lettering, will be:

Here Lies Our Beloved
Henry Abram Roberts
February 10, 1980 - June 7, 2006
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes," Rev. 21:4

There will be a simple graphic of a stalk of wheat, symbolizing your new life that has sprung from the seed of your past.

Do you like it? We all like it a lot.

Hen-Ben, Julie says that she and Joe had vivid dreams where you visit them and tell them that you want them to know that you didn't make a decision to jump. You told them you were so doped up on Prozac, you lost your footing and fell. She said you really wanted them to know that.

It hurts so bad. I can't stand it. You must have been so scared. I can't bear it, Henry.

It IS better if you didn't mean to, but it's small comfort. You did place yourself on that cliff. You did write those notes and leave that message on your phone. How did it go? "This is Henry. It's June 7th, 2006. I'm here on the edge of a cliff. It's beautiful. I just want everyone to know I love them and I'm sorry. Mmm.." Click. The end. All we ever heard from you.

If you visited Julie and Joe, why can't you visit us? I could use a visit from my Hen-Ben.

Your dad had bad chest pains on Saturday. He kept having to go sit down, and I had to keep him off the register so he wouldn't get too stressed out. We are getting so busy we are finding it a challenge to cope, and it's hard for him to bake enough. The future seems very fragile, at least in this earthly realm.

Isaac - he was at church today with Courtney! It made me cry to see how much he wanted to be with Packah. Pack could really do some good by being with him a lot. It would be good for both of them.
Courtney gave me a birthday present of a framed photo of me and Isaac, and another pretty frame. Whenever I see her I always ache to tell her it's alright, we don't hold her responsible, and I ache to ask her if she loves you or hates you.

Henry, you are beautiful and sweet and precious and I miss you. I miss you. Why can't you be here tonight? The months ahead seem dark. I trust it won't always be that way, because our family needs me to be hopeful. I just need more time, I guess.

May God keep you close, forever and ever.
Love, Mama Pajama


Monday, 10/16/06 10:15 p.m.

Hen-Ben,
Look!


Your name will be there for all to see in Africa. They are sending the plaque from Texas to Ghana, so it will be a while before it's in place. But when I get a photo of it in its permanent home I'll be sure to show it to you.

That is a very sweet thing for them to do. I do remember you telling people about Jesus lattes. I can hear your voice, I can see your little smile, your "sly gentleness," as Tim says. I can see you bending over the cup to make the perfect rosetta. Pain.

Everywhere I turn I am confronted with the fact that you are gone. There is no escape.
Tonight at Belle Voci practice some of the songs started to come together, to gather a little magic. It is good for my soul.

I'm sad tonight. Pretty dang sad. Nothing new. I wish I could draw a picture of you hugging me. Maybe Pack or Saul could draw one.

Once you were little like this:

drawing of Henry and I

We had good times.

I love you,
Mommy


Thursday, 10/19/06 10:15 p.m.

Henry, I think I experienced a miracle today. I couldn't stop crying about it.

We were in the middle of our rush. A lady in line placed her order, then she told me she had something for me. She told me that she'd had a dream twice, and the dream was that she should tell me a verse in the Bible. She wrote it down for me. I'll tape it here in our book, but I want to show it to Myra tomorrow. She didn't know the specific scripture, but the gist of it is that we should not give up or grow weary in doing good, that we'll reap a harvest if we don't give up. She asked me if that meant anything to me.

I don't think she knows about you. She seems to have come in before, but I don't know her. She's just a nice normal lady who had this dream, this gift for me. I was, am, dumbstruck.

I've been feeling increasingly desperate over the past days, or weeks. Your dad's health seems so questionable, and he's been tough to deal with. Moody, you know. So many times I've had to reach down in that place where boot straps are supposed to be, and pull them up, but they're
pretty frayed. I just feel like giving up. Too much heartbreak. Too much pain. It feels hopeless.
And then, I guess God talks to me and tells me not to give up. Keep on. I'll gather in a harvest when the time is right. God encouraged me.

I want to tell others about this, but it's so personal. And that scripture about "pearls before swine" comes to mind. I don't want people to be put off, think I'm nuts. But it is sinking in slowly that God has put his hand upon me. This is too lofty for me to attain.

Other stuff: I started working on Saul's scrapbook, and I came up with a good idea. I cut out that profile photo of you driving and I placed it in the scrapbook with a shiny penny (heads up) next to it. You and Abe are like twins. (I started to say "dead ringers for each other," but..). I think Saul's book will turn out great.

Pack only had three hours' sleep again last night. That boy really worries me. And I love him so much.

We had an extra practice tonight. The music is really starting to ring. I hope everyone will be able to come hear us. I wish you would have come to one of our concerts before. Saul never has either. Oh well.

Saturday night we're going to Salishan again. I kind of hope it's cold and rainy. That beautiful sunset was hard to take last time.

Ba-dum, ba dee da dum...over and over...
I LOVE YOU! I HATE IT THAT YOU ARE GONE. I hate it.

-Mama

P.S. Scott T. said a friend of his at work just lost someone who had been on Prozac. I wonder if your death was reported as part of the 3% that this happens to? I bet lots of these events go unreported.
Goodnight, Sweetheart.

Sunday, 10/22/06 8:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

We went to Salishan last night. Remember, the last time we went was when I started writing to you. July 14th. I really felt like we needed to get away. Pack switched shifts with me so I didn't have to close. We got there around 5:30, ate dinner and then settled in. It was a beautiful sunset again, and I still couldn't enjoy it. We closed the curtains. Your pop slept 11 hours! Amazing.

We talked a lot about how worried he is that he will suddenly die and leave me alone. We're not really sure if it is "unstable angina" or just his surgical wound bothering him. At any rate, it is tough living with such uncertainty. The good thing is, we had a good talk about it and that relieved some of the anxiety for him.

Here is the card the lady wrote on to give me her dream message. I can't think what else this could be but a message of encouragement from God. I can't think that the lady seemed nuts, and why would she lie about something like this?

It's funny how much I resist really taking this to heart. Once in a while it sinks in and I feel a shot of joy. But I can't seem to keep a grip on that joy. It slips away. I told your dad that I feel as though there are two paths ahead of me: one is bitterness and grief and the other is joy and grief. I'm having a hard time choosing joy. I just feel too sad.

I'm beginning to think that some day I will want to see the place. The place where you died.

I worked on Saul's scrapbook tonight, but my mood was too dark, so I stopped. I'll finish it when I feel better.

What will I reap in due season? Will I see you again and be joyful because you are happy? Oh Hen-Ben, please don't leave us like this. We're broken.

-Ma

P.S. Can you pray where you are? Please pray for your Daddy.

Thursday, 10/26/06 6:50 p.m.

Dear Sweetheart,

I've spent the last 1/2 hour or so getting the table set up for a little Halloween party for Sophie, James and Isaac. Saturday night is Isaac's night to stay over, and I thought he'd enjoy seeing James and Sophie. I have stickers, monster-shape candies, candy corns, cookies, goldfish crackers, grapes and mandarin oranges. I have little pumpkin plates and a pumpkin candle, place cards and a cool hot wheels for everyone. I called Isaac to tell him about it a minute ago, and he had a babysitter who told me Courtney is on a date. Isaac said Aunt Whitney is taking him to Skateworld on Saturday, but he seemed interested when I told him about the party. I'm sure Courtney didn't forget. I'm looking forward to it.

Your dad has been doing a different personality test (not Myers-Briggs or the other one we did a few years ago) and he got me and Pack to take it too. Pack is the Motivator. I'm the Peacemaker. Jim is the Asserter. I wonder which one you are? I thought about trying to take it as though I was you, but I expect that's pointless.

Abraham Lincoln was a peacemaker too.

I had a good day today. I was happy. I got things done, and I didn't have to stay until close.

Ron Joy is in the hospital. They think he may have had a stroke. I'm worried about him. I can't remember if it was yesterday or the day before, but he didn't look well at all, and he told me he couldn't figure out why he was so tired. I think it was Tuesday.

As for your dad, he has convinced himself that his chest pain is not his heart. He may be right - I hope so. And if he believes so, it is beneficial either way.

American Chimney Steve gave me a CD copy of a sermon on the subject of suffering. I listened to it yesterday. I understand and accept that I must expect to suffer in this life, that everyone must expect this. I know that suffering teaches me much and that it is necessary. And I know that Jesus suffered so that I can identify with him, so that I can find union and communion with God. The part that I am struggling with is your suffering. Your suffering didn't seem to bring any of the good things. It just brought death. Death to my Henry. I know, we all die. But not like this. Why should I get all these benefits from suffering while you get nothing but death? Well, I hope you get life after death in Jesus' arms. I hope so. Your dad says over and over that he thinks your death was an accident - Prozac, lost your footing, etc. - and I think he's right. But I keep feeling confused and sad. Henry, how will I ever work this out?

Henry, I love you. I miss you. My heart aches for you. I wish you could talk to me.

Love, Mama Pajama

Sunday, 10/29/06 9 p.m.

Hello love,

Today I wore the shirt I had on the day you died. Maybe that's what made me sad today. I don't know.
I just wasted two hours playing Snood. Is that stupid? Seems like it. I could have read, knitted, practiced, cleaned house. Am I too hard on myself? I don't know the answer to that question. It's actually a pretty heavy question.

The party was good. Phin and Saul got to come for a little while. Isaac did fine overnight. He threw up at the class at TLC though, so I had to have him with me during the talk by Randy Harris. Kind of blew it for me. I was tired afterwards and not very patient. I'm sorry. I don't feel like a very good grandma.

Saul painted my eyelids like eyeballs. Courtney took a picture. Pretty freaky. Only trouble is, it smeared.

I'm sorry I'm so sad today. I feel sad and confused. I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow.

Your dad is sweet and patient with me.

Hurt hurt hurt hurt hurt hurt
Henry Baby! I miss you.
Come back.
-Mama

Saturday, 11/04/06 10 p.m.

Hen Ben,

Well, it's been a week since I've written to you. I think you know that I think about you all the time. There never is a time when I'm not holding you lovingly in my thoughts. Lately I've been thinking this: you are tucked away in a safe place. There is so much pain in this broken world, but you are safe from it now.

Tonight was my Belle Voci concert. Saul, Rabecca, Myra and Dad came. Pack and Tessa were supposed to be there, but they never showed. Neither did Meg. But, we had a pretty good crowd and it went pretty well. Also, our CD was released tonight! I'm listening to it now. I like to think about how proud my parents would be to have a copy.

I haven't slept holding Snoopy for about a week now. He's still dressed in your shirt and he's resting next to me on Isaac's bed. I guess I must be making progress.

The glass guys finally emailed me that they have time to do your marker now; they're going to be in town early this week and said they'd come by to talk about it. I hope it works out.

I miss you. You tall one with the Henry smile. I just plain miss you. I have to find a way to keep you in my life, keep you real so that I can go on and be OK.

Precious one, where's my hug?
-Mama


Sunday, 11/05/06 9:30 p.m.

Henry,

For a while today I wanted to die. I think your dad wanted to die also. We had a fight, but we're better now. Why do people who love each other so much, hurt each other so much?

I finished Blue Like Jazz and then I cried. I was crying for you, but I'm not clear about the connection.

I talked to Dave for 2-3 hours tonight. I told him I love him. Then I played Snood for too long. I feel sinful when I do that. Now I'm tired and hungry and I'm just going to go to bed and try to be better tomorrow.

-Your ever lovin' Mama Pajama

Wednesday, 11/08/06 9:15 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I think I've been avoiding you lately. My mind would turn to you and I would push away. I'm sorry. It's not that I don't love you. It's not that I don't ache for you. Maybe it's just that I get tired of feeling the pain.

I think I'm getting a hint of what "letting you go" might mean. I've been afraid of that, afraid of losing every scrap of you, even my memories. But maybe letting go just means giving up the dialogue: "It happened, no it didn't, yes it did, no it couldn't, yes it did.." Maybe letting you go is giving up that tension. It happened. But I still want to cry out, NO!

The glass guys never showed. Shall I give up? Time to let the glass guys go..

I finished Saul's scrapbook tonight. It looks good. I'm looking forward to seeing the kids unwrap those. I'd kind of like to make one for Isaac, but I'm not sure if I should. Maybe that would be more for Courtney to do. I don't know.

Big news: your dad agreed to close the store the first week in January so we can take a vacation! Can you believe it?! We don't know yet what we'll do, but we'll figure out something good.

Pack had a dream that you visited him. You told him you get to visit once a day. Pack asked if you knew that he was crying for you, and you said, yes, you always know when we cry for you. You guys hung out, drove around, had a good time. Pack asked you if this was real, and you said, Patrick, you know nothing down here is real, only heaven is.

I wish I knew. Henry, where are you? You are a vapor, a mist.

I might write to the author of Blue Like Jazz, tell him about you. Sometimes I want to stop everyone, tell them all about you. But I don't. I just chug along.

Your 5 month anniversary yesterday. Gary Strealy called, told us he was thinking about us. He is a dear one for sure.

Hugs and kisses, sweet Hen Ben,
Lady Mama
I skipped a page, so I pasted in some pictures and a couple of Henry's cartoons

Sunday, 11/12/06 8:30 p.m.

Henry, I'm lonely for you. I guess I sound like a broken record. A skipping CD. I miss you so much. There's no one to take your place, because you are our only Henry.


Today was a better day for me and your dad. No fighting. Last night Jim told me that he cried over you for an hour. Then, he apologized to me.


"I'm sorry," he said. "I don't know why I cried. I should be able to handle this, I'm sorry." This confuses me. I'm glad he grieves for you. I'd wonder if he didn't. Today I asked Gary Strealy what might be behind that. He told me, Jim wants to be strong, he wants to be strong for you. I understand.


Two books I've read lately seem to be just what I need. Blue Like Jazz and I Am the Messenger. I want to take them to heart and be changed. And I want to read the Bible again cover to cover. Also I want to make lists: Things I Am Sure Of; Things I Am Not Sure Of; Why I Believe In Jesus; Why I Wish I Loved Him With All My Heart.


We got a note from the manager yesterday telling us we have to remove our air conditioner. Now your dad wants to move instead of going on a vacation. I don't know..it's such a lot of work. I spent the past couple of hours looking at houses for rent on Craig's list. Hmmm.


I was wrong about something. I thought Saul did that drawing of my dad, but it turns out, you drew it when you were about 13, in 1993. Dad would have been about 75. I think it might have been on a trip up there for his birthday that you drew it.

Patrick and Courtney's birthdays are coming up. Any ideas? Things will be happening fast from now through January. Getting through the holidays without you, and then your birthday.

Henry, I don't have enough time to be and do all I want to. Sometimes I feel panic about this. And yet, I spend time selfishly - reading, playing Snood watching TV. I get anxious about Isaac and Phin, not seeing them enough Even Saul, Myra, Thomas and the kids. This is my family, and time is slipping away. What can I do? Jim and Patty's is a worthy endeavor, but it sucks up most of my energy.

What is it like where you are? Do you have all the time in the world? Or, is there no time?

Wherever you are, please hear me: I love you and I want you back. I miss you. -Mama


Tuesday, 11/14/06 9:30 p.m.

Hey there, Sweetheart, it's me. Mom. Remember me? The one who loved you your whole life. The one who cried over you, laughed with you, spanked you, tickled you, clapped for you, worried over you. Loved you. Loves you now and always will.

We are having hard times. Your dad and I are really struggling together. Our spirits are worn, we break easy.

On the brighter side, we're planning a Christmas party at Jim and Patty's for the neighborhood. I have a lot of work to do, but you know this is fun for me. I need to start making lists and checking things off.

Not enough sleep last night. Too much despair combined with Snood. Yuk.

Gotta call John Springer about your grave marker tomorrow. Don't let me forget.

I wonder if you have your baseball cap on out there in heaven or waiting-land, wherever you are. That's how I always picture you.

I've been sleeping with Henry-shirted Snoopy again. He is good to hug and hold.

Hugs and hugs,
Lady Mama


Sunday, 11/19/06 8 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

Well, here we are at Thanksgiving week. We'll be taking the meal to Lebanon. Everyone will be there. Except you.

Today Jeff preached about what a good year 2006 had been, how we have so much to be thankful for. I lost it. Cried like a baby in Patrick's arms. It's not that I don't have a lot to be thankful for - I do. I just miss you so much. This has been a helluva year.

We ordered your grave marker. We are thinking about whether the lettering should be gold or silver.

I bought Courtney's birthday present today. We're taking Isaac Saturday night, so I can give it to her then. I got her a watch with a pretty band make of ribbon, some Christmas earrings, and a sock monkey tree ornament.

I sent all the kids a Thanksgiving card with a leaf on it like the one I'm gluing on the next page.
I told Sophie, James, Isaac and Phin that I am thankful for each one of them. I'm trying to be a good grandma.

In our box at church today we found a copy of your memorial slide show and music from Jeff Grow! I'm so glad! I had pretty much given up on him doing that. Tomorrow I'll make copies for everyone.

Your dad was really sweet to me today. I felt like hiding out in our bedroom, so he brought me coffee and breakfast in there while I read my book. He even vacuumed! Then we went to Baja Fresh after church, and on errands after that. He waited patiently in the truck for me while I shopped for Courtney's birthday. Everything makes me cry lately - I cried because he was so nice to me.

At work we have been laughing over the words "pie bar." For some reason we find it fun and funny to say pie bar. I know you would too if you were with us. We thought Saturday how funny it would be to name your dog Pie Bar. We were blowing off steam because Saturday was so busy - another record day!

I miss your laugh. I am a mess lately. Too much self pity. I should get a grip. I could go play Snood now, re-read Blue Like Jazz, watch a Nature show about winter in Yellowstone, knit, do laundry..or just sit here. I could work on Michael's review. I have one hour before I should be in bed - 5 o'clock shift in the morning.

I still haven't gone back to my workout. No more oomph.

Here's a pretty thing I heard on the radio: there are fireflies in the world that flash their lights all together. Synchronized flashing by the thousands! This thrills me.

God hold you and keep you safe,
Love, Mama

Wednesday, 11/22/06 11:30 p.m.

Hi Punkin,

I just got back from Meg's. Dave was over there because they're going to the beach tomorrow for Thanksgiving. Meg and I don't get together much even though we live so close to each other. Meg is having a hard time with Steve. His breathing is so bad now. He only lies in bed all the time and watches TV and reads magazines. She said he hasn't been downstairs in a month. This trip to the beach is a big thing - Meg's hoping it'll encourage him.
It was nice to be there in part of the bosom of my family.

I've been playing Snood a lot lately. So has your dad. It seems to be an escape that is sometimes irresistible.

The other day a customer told me he was sorry about our losing you. He said he'd lost his son a year ago; the son was 23. I asked him how he was doing, and he told me not too bad after months of counseling and antidepressants.
Not me. I have quite an attitude about antidepressants.

Let's see, what news can I tell you? Oh yeah, Kramer went nuts. Or, rather, Michael Richards. He kept yelling at people during his act at a club in LA, calling them niggers over and over. He's in deep doo doo. You would have been amazed to see that clip.

Arden just turned 10, but he's having teenager symptoms. He called his mom a bitch and his dad an asshole the other day. Grant said it was all he could do to keep from laughing.

Speaking of Grant, he's interviewing for a research job in Anacortes on Tuesday. Wouldn't that be something if he ended up living there? He's going to spend the night at Rose's house. She warned him that she has "a new man in her life" and that the house is redecorated with Norwegian stuff. I'm sure all signs of Dad are long gone.

I never told her about you. I feel kind of bad about that. It's a hard conversation to have.

I hope Casey is doing alright, and Adam. I'll see them tomorrow, hopefully. I'll let you know.
It's cold tonight, and wet. Feels like winter.

And I'm sad. There is a long road of sadness ahead. It seems to go on forever.

I am thankful for you, Henry.
Love, Mama

Thanksgiving Day, 11/23/06 10 p.m.

Hi Sweet Henry,

I just ordered something special to put at your grave: three glass balls, each on a stake, with luminous paint specks inside so they will glow after sunset.

Part of me wants to avoid that spot. Part of me wants to make it the most beautiful spot on earth. I guess reality will be a pretty humble attempt, but whatever I accomplish is intended to be an expression of my love for you..our family's great love for our Henry. Anyone who wanders by will know for sure that you are loved and missed.

Our day in Lebanon was fine. Grandma and Grandad are looking pretty old and tired, but maybe that's no surprise with all the chaos that descended upon them. Adam and Amanda are pregnant with their third child. Casey seems to be doing better, but it's hard to tell.

We had ham. I know, I know, but trust me, it was super good. Dad made green beans for you.

Packy discovered today that he weighs 200 lbs. That's about 20-30 pounds more than he thought. We worry about him so much. A diet of beer and not enough sleep - a bad combo. I remember how you came to us a few days before you died, sharing with us your concern for your brother. His drinking is worse now than it was then, I think. At least he doesn't keep it a secret from us.

Yesterday I found myself checking the door, thinking any minute you were going to walk in. I would be overjoyed. I would cry out, "I KNEW it!"

Your dad says that's what we'll say when we see you in heaven.

I keep wanting to make my pen draw a picture of you, but I can't. I can't draw. But if I could it would feel kind of like I was creating you.

I'm sort of nuts. I feel a little bit numb tonight.

Please, Henry. Please, please come back.
-Mama Pajama


Friday, 11/24/06 10:30 p.m.

Dear Sweetheart,

I'm so sleepy that I'm barely conscious. I played Snood tonight until 10 o'clock - took me that long to get on the board. When I close my eyes I see those little Snood things. It's a good escape, playing Snood.

Tomorrow night we'll have Isaac over. I'll tell you all about it. Now I'd better just go to bed. The room is spinning with tiredness.

Goodnight, Sweet-Smile Boy.
Love, Mama Pajama


Sunday, 11/26/06 9 a.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

Isaac is playing on the rug in front of me as I write. He's wearing his new Thomas the Train pj's. As usual, he hasn't eaten much this weekend. "Two fries" he says, holding up three fingers last night, ignoring the steak, cauliflower and zucchini. This morning part of one pancake and two scrambled eggs. He really enjoyed some black cherry juice last night and a late night snack of cheddar cheese and crackers. We had to watch two movies last night: Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (always the #1 choice) and 101 Dalmations. we went to bed at 10:00. He wanted to sleep with Snoopy, but insisted on taking your shirt off. ("Snoopy doesn't wear a shirt!") So I slept with your shirt and he slept with Snoopy until 5 a.m. Then he slept with Grandma.

He hasn't said a word about you this time. I've mentioned you several times (when your daddy was here I used to flap his ears too) but there's been no response.

Courtney and Isaac went to Seattle Friday and Saturday. They went ice skating, to the Children's Museum and to the Nutcracker.

Courtney says Freemans invited her on a cruise in January. Freemans are paying for their whole LIFE group to go. I'm glad she's going.

I told Isaac I was writing a letter to you, and asked if he'd like to write something to you also. He smiled and took my pen. He wrote his name, as you can easily see; then he drew a picture of himself in bed, with a monster dinosaur about to eat him.

He asked if we could go to Aunt My-My's. All the kids love your sister.

Isaac is banging on the piano. Kids take a lot of energy, huh? Bess I'd getter go.

Love, Mama Pajama :)


Sunday, 11/26/06 9:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

I've had the familiar Sunday blues today. Don't know why. Partly it's because I've had a tough sinus headache yesterday and today. Maybe I get blue on Sundays because of all the things I don't get done. Also I feel bad because I'm not exercising anymore. Getting fat and flabby.

And I feel blue because every day you are still gone.

Tomorrow I'm opening, of course, so I should go to bed. I'll be Jim's 5 o'clock girl.

I just don't have any gumption anymore. Maybe I'll find some tomorrow. I'm sure I'll find at least enough to get the things that need doing at work done.

Love, Moomers

Tuesday, 11/28/06 9:15 p.m.

Sweetheart,

Too sleepy to write much. LIFE group was about realizing we can't accept God's love until we love ourselves. We have to let God love us so we can love him back.

You didn't think God loved you, maybe. You sure didn't love yourself. I sure love you, though. We all do.

Last night I dreamed about a tiny mouse made out of a scone that bit me. I'm weird and pooped.

-Mama

Thursday, 11/30/06 8:30 p.m.

Dear Hen Ben,

I just wrapped a couple of Patrick's birthday presents. I can't feel the same anticipation I used to because you won't be there. Same with my Christmas preparations. If I'm making the same thing for each of you, I count it out..Patrick, Henry..oh yeah, no Henry. I guess you're gonna save me money this year.

I'm giving Meg, Dave, Paula, Saul, Myra and Pack framed copies of the drawing you did of my Dad. They turned out really nice.

It was slow at work today so I was able to leave at 12:30 - a rare treat. I'm so tired, so lethargic lately. Paula tells me it's normal. I feel like I'm sinking into a deep hole.

Sorry, honey, I'm no fun to be with lately.
-Mama


Saturday, 12/2/06 10:40 p.m.

Sweetheart,

Can't go to bed without telling you how much I love you. How can I hold on to you? I can't let you go.
Tomorrow we'll party for Pack.

I love you, Baby the George,
Mama Pajama

Sunday, 12/3/06

Hello Love,

As you know, I am a goofus once again. I assumed that everyone could read my mind and know that we were celebrating Pack's birthday today. Luckily, Myra called to check. I left Saul a message at 9 a.m., but I guess he never picked it up because he didn't come or call. But it was a nice party anyway. We gave Pack a heating seat cushion for his car, plus a couple other silly things..three bottles of diet coke and some Mentos, among other things. You would have enjoyed our little science experiment.

I cried in church again today, but not uncontrollably.

Here's the thing I don't like to say out loud or think, but I feel: we let you down in some fundamental way. We screwed up. I know your note said there was nothing we did wrong. But I know there were many things we did wrong. I know this.

I find this hard to live with.

Tonight I selected and cut out the pictures for Pack's scrapbook. If I get to come home at 1:00 tomorrow, maybe I'll work on it then. I might have to stay all day though because Amanda's grandmother died Friday night. Amanda didn't come to work Saturday, which is understandable. It was tough though because it was the Umpqua Bank promo day - they bought everyone's food and drink from 9 - 12:15. We did $1380 in that time!

Don't worry, I'm going to try to buck up. I can hear you telling me, no mama, it's not your fault. I know everyone makes mistakes. And I know our family needs me to be strong and whole. I promise, Henry, I will trust God to get me through this.

I love you so much, my sweet precious boy. My quiet, funny Henry.

Today is your wife's birthday. She is 25. Her family took her out for lunch today. She told me she really likes the presents I gave her.

She gave Patrick a birthday present of a Red Robin gift card and movie tickets. That was nice of her. I told Pack that I want to treat Courtney like our daughter-in-law as long as she'll let me. You two were not divorced when you died. I know it looked like that was inevitable, but you never know. Anyway, I care about her. I feel a responsibility towards her.

I guess I should go to bed, although for once I'm not sleepy.

Are you near? I wish I knew.
Goodnight Sweetheart

P.S. Saturday was another record!
P.P.S. I'm still up. 4:15 a.m. is going to happen soon. Oh well. Here's a copy of the email I got from Courtney. It means a lot to me. And here are pictures of your plaque installed by the office at Sonrise in Ghana.
Tuesday, 12/5/06 9:45 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Good LIFE group tonight. We let our guards down a bit more than usual. I cried. I showed them Saul and Myra's scrapbooks. Your pop didn't do a lesson - we just talked. Also, he made really, really good chile.

Today Amanda called me to tell me she can't work Thursday, Saturday, Monday or Tuesday. I said fine, of course. Then I went into the stock room and cried.

I feel strained like I might break...it feels like I have so much weight on me.

You have all the time in the world to listen to my groaning and griping, right?

Sorry, honey. I keep crying. I'd better go. I love you. Where's my Henry hug?

-Mama
P.S. Today is Carryl Norton's birthday.

Thursday, 12/7/06 11 p.m.

Sweetheart,

There was such a beautiful sunrise this morning. Your father said it was a message of love from you. He, Pack and I all ached for you today. Six months. Six months. My sweet precious Henry. This time six months ago I was lying in bed, clutching your t-shirt, waiting to hear news that I already knew in my heart. That night - and the following days - was filled with such an unreal horror. It seemed unreal, but it was true. It was really happening.

Courtney and Isaac are going to spend Christmas Day with us! Isn't that great? We'll take good care of her, honey, don't you worry.

I keep telling you the same old sad complaints. It's because my heart is broken every day.

-Mama Pajama







































Letters to Henry, Part 1, 7/15/06

Letters to Henry
From Mama Pajama

7-15-06

Dearest, precious Henry, my boy,

From the window of room 333 here at Salishan, I can see the sun setting in a clear sky. A car drives by. The constant breeze rustles the bushes and the fir trees. It must be very much the same as it was for you that last evening. Only I am safe on this couch. You placed yourself on the edge of the cliff. Then you were gone.

I haven’t really talked to you since that day, except to moan your name or to call you to come back. Are you here with me? Can you discern my thoughts as the psalmist says God can do? I don’t know. Believe me when I say I would much rather talk to you IN PERSON. But your achingly sweet beautiful little body is smashed. Destroyed. Broken beyond repair and six feet under ground. Are you sorry now? Do you wish you were back with us? Can you see now what a no-turning-back blunder that was? That was the KING of all blunders.

It is kind of like there are two Henry’s. There’s you, the one who worried me so much and gave me so much joy. The one who would have made it. The other Henry is the one at the end, the one whose thoughts were hijacked by those medications, those damnable “medications.” I don’t really want to talk to that Henry, but he achieved significance because it was he who stole you away. It’s hard to avoid him.

Henry, do you know how truly special and beloved you are? Did you see the outpouring of love and tears? You might discount all that and say, oh, that’s just because people know you and dad. But you see, love, it’s us. It’s our family, it’s all our love for each other that so many people were touched by. And, darling, you are so young. At 26, don’t you know, you didn’t even have a chance to really get started? Your dad and I cry over all your missed opportunities. You could have been anything, done anything.

Jim and I told each other tonight that we both were unprepared for the magnitude of this pain. I always imagined the death of one of my children would be unbearable, but it’s actually worse than I thought. And yet we are bearing it somehow. Everything is different. Everything will be different forever.

Courtney is the other great sufferer. She may have told you she didn’t love you. I guess she said that. But that was just a messy, silly thing to say. She loves you. And dear Isaac – did you see how changed he was? He’ll be seeking you always, but you won’t be there IN PERSON. I’m stuck on that phrase. Did I ever tell you about the dream I had of my mother, the comforting dream where she visited me and I really felt like she had been in the room? Well, that was good, but right now I’m telling you there’s no substitute for IN PERSON. But if you can make Isaac feel like you love him and you’re with him somehow as he grows up, please do it. Remember, I told you, little boys need their daddies.

Oh Hen-Ben, my heart hurts. Your dad says it feels like swallowing light bulbs. I keep going over your last day. Did you know that morning? Why did you take soup for lunch? Remember when I told you to work as though you were working for God, and you froze. You stopped and thought about it. Did you almost change your mind then?

See, I’m talking to the other Henry now, the not-real one. You would never have left us, would you, Henry? You know how much we loved you, didn’t you? I just can’t bear that you were all alone and I wasn’t there to hold you, to love you and call you back, to tell you how precious, how eternally precious you are to us. Why couldn’t we have figured out where you were? All your problems could have been worked out. I know they seemed huge, but now you can see how “nothing” they were, can’t you.

I feel bad about asking you if you are a flake. Remember? On Monday? You came to the shop in the afternoon. That morning you didn’t show up for work, so I said, “Henry, are you a flake?” I said it kind of softly, almost in a shy way. I’m sure I made you feel bad. I probably thought you deserved to feel bad. You answered me in the same soft voice, “No, Mama, I’m not a flake.” You apologized and we cheered up and had a nice time. You were looking forward to your counseling appointment later that day. You must have met Pack at the Ridge afterward, since he closed that day, because I found a receipt in the pocket of your jeans later. Faded blue jeans and a white t-shirt. The sleeve had a little blood on it from your new tattoo. It’s the same shirt I grabbed and hugged and smelled Wednesday night June 7th, and I’ve slept with it every night since then. I’ve wrapped my Snoopy in it. I tuck him into me and imagine I’m holding you tight. I love you so much, Henry. I always will. If there’s a heaven and we get to go there, will you meet me and give me one of your fantastic heart-melting smiles and call me Mama Pajama? And hug me with all your might? My tall son Henry. I love you.

-Mama Pajama


Sunday night, 7-16-06

My Hen-Ben,

Courtney came tonight to pick up the car payment. We were able to talk a little more openly about you because Isaac wasn’t with her. It struck me after she left that it is the future I must focus on – her future and Isaac’s. She is working hard to rebuild her life. She said that if it wasn’t for Isaac she too might have chosen to end her life by now. My son, surely you did not understand the pain you would inflict on those who loved you best when you jumped from that mountain. If you had, surely, surely you would still be here slogging it out with the rest of us.

I can’t share with Courtney my grief over your broken heart about your failed marriage. She can’t bear that from me, not now and maybe not ever. Nor can I talk about Prozac issues with her. Maybe some day. But I truly did begin grieving for you the day your great hopes were dashed. Remember? You had been staying here a week or so. “Don’t bother getting me a key to the place,” you told me. Things were going so well. You’d done everything Courtney asked: you’d given Casey the boot, moved in with us, made your appointment with the doctor. You’d come clean. A real return of the prodigal. We were rejoicing. And you’d had such a good night with Courtney and Isaac. I came home from work and you were parked in my spot. I was a little annoyed until I saw you walking up the sidewalk with two bags in your hands. You looked so happy. You packed two bags, you told me, just in case she didn’t let you stay; one for the return to our place, just in case. You were so sure, though, so sure she’d let you stay. Your face shone with happy anticipation. I felt scared that you’d suffer disappointment. And sure enough, the next morning the door to your room was closed. You were back. I grieved, and in my memory it seems like the very beginning of the grief I feel now and will always feel over losing you.

I am glad you returned to us, though. At least we have that. We had our return of the prodigal. If you had left us during the awful time when you were “in the far country” the pain would be even harder to bear.

As we walk around, it seems like there must be a big sign on us that says, “Our Son Committed Suicide.” It amazes me that this awful fact is invisible. How many other people are walking around with their own awful labels?

Our time at the beach was good. We stayed far away from Manzanita. The beautiful sunset was hard to bear – I had to turn my back on it. But I believe I can go to the beach now without any more, or much more, grief than I have here.

Your pops had some chest pains when we were walking uphill today. That happens fairly often. Fear.
He and I are even closer now than before. We hold each other up, although it seems like mostly he holds me up. You know, he is such a tender, passionate man. So remarkable. And he loves you fiercely.

Why couldn’t we have figured out that you were in Manzanita?

-Mama

Tuesday eve. 7-18-06

Dear Hen-Ben,

If you were here today you’d be excited – we bought an air conditioner! We’d joke about you sleeping on the floor in our room, etc. They say it’ll be 105 degrees this weekend, so I decided your dad should not have to suffer through that. Handyman Jim of the complex installed it for $30.
Today I didn’t cry more than a tear or two. I guess we were too busy, and I didn’t listen to your memorial service CD, which always makes me cry. Yesterday, though….I went to your grave after work to water the plants. Did you hear my sobs there? This grief is so awful because you cry and cry, but when you’re done, everything’s the same. When I cry during a fight with your pop, at the end I make a decision – go back and make it up, everything will be alright. But with you, cry and cry and cry – stop crying. Nothing is changed. You are still gone. Your sweet beloved Henry self is gone.
When I got home and checked my email, I cried again. Ray Boatright wrote me that they want to put a bronze plaque in your honor over the door of the science lab at Sonrise Christian High School in Ghana. It will say “to the glory of God in loving memory of Henry Abram Roberts by his parents, Jim and Patty Roberts.” What do you think of that? I told him that you liked to tell people about the Jesus lattes.

I wrote a letter tonight to Aunt Eleanor and Uncle Lloyd to tell them about you. I hate to mail it. Aunt Eleanor may not be able to understand, but hopefully Uncle Lloyd can. Paula hasn’t told Tyler yet. She’s waiting until she picks him up in Brazil at the end of the month. She is scared about Tyler – he has been troubled for a long time. There are probably others out there we’ve forgotten to tell. But I suppose most people who are close to you at all have been told.

I still can’t believe it sometimes. We haven’t heard from you for a long time!? Why don’t you call?
I love you, punkin. I miss your hug and looking way up to see your sweet face smiling down at me. Caramba, my heart aches.

Love,
Mama


Thurs, 7-20-06, 7:45 pm

Dear Ben Bridge,

Yesterday was Wednesday, my long day. I have a bad feeling about Wednesdays now. That day, as soon as I found out that you hadn’t gone to work, I had an ominous feeling. I kept repeating, “oh no” out loud. Oh what a sad dark day.

Since it was my long day yesterday, I was tired. I’m tired a lot these days. Couldn’t get up the gumption to go to workout Tues. Last night I started to watch “House” but it was so grim I turned it off. Then I fell asleep on the couch; didn’t get any writing done, not to you nor anyone else. I try to write one thank you card a day. Even so, I’ll not get to everyone. I lost track of many of the money donations we received in your honor.

Today we got a card from Justin Kempner; remember him from All Yall’s? I used to worry about him and his drinking. Now, here we are; he’s made it to today and you haven’t.
Patrick misses you so much. He said, in all the grief and commotion, he forgot about the simple fact that he misses hanging out with you.

I don’t think I can ever describe how really deep down sad I am. I may act normal and satisfied, and I guess on some level I am, but the truth is I am broken beyond repair.
I can’t draw like you can.

-Mama


drawing of Henry looking down at me





Sunday, 7:30 a.m., 7/23/06

Dear sweet Hen-Ben,

The past couple of days I’ve been feeling sad and discouraged. Tears came easily, as usual, but I’ve also had no energy. Depressed, I guess. They call it “situational depression.” But today I’m determined to be better. We have church, then Jamie’s birthday. We got him a used Gameboy and a couple of Mario games. He had been looking forward to your gift, because Uncle Henry always gives him something truly exciting. There will be lots of relatives there, and it will be hot – 98 degrees, they say. You will be there in our hearts.

Pack made me a copy of that Ween CD he said you liked. It’s sad, especially track 11. My already broken heart shatters when I listen to that song with your ears.

I put some pictures of Courtney and Isaac playing in the water out at the shop. People like looking at them. Every day I have to put out more copies of your dad’s prayer, because people want to have one of their own.

Henry, I have been on that cliff with you many times. I have made the decision with you to fall off. I’ve felt the rushing wind, seen the rocks rise up to meet us, felt the terrible impact. Over and over.
Let me tell you what else I’ve done over and over. I have thrown out all your damnable pills. I have taken you in my arms. I have cradled your sweet head, flapped your precious ears, kissed your hair, wiped your tears. I’ve promised you everything will be all right. We will work it out together. I’ve told you, you’re not alone in this. We love you, we love you, we love you. You are a man of integrity, because it is your heart’s desire to be one. We will help each other with this integrity thing. Henry, my beloved boy, I comfort you continually.

I’ve been thinking about Saul. He lied to me, Henry. He and Patrick went to the cliff. He told me he didn’t climb out onto that ledge, that dangerous spot from which you fell. But Patrick told me he did, that Patrick screamed at him not to, but Saul did it anyway. I know Saul lied to “protect” me, but Henry, I can’t bear it. I am scared to have anything but clear truth between my children and I. I may not like the truth, but oh my God, it is so much preferable to lies. I have to talk to Saul about this. He always was the one I worried most about, at least until a couple of years ago. Then it was you.
We all have promised each other solemnly that we will never, ever take our own lives. We have known the grief that results.

I know, darling, I know, you would not have done it either, even though you wanted to sometimes. You would not have done it if not for those pills. What they gave you was not courage. It was blindness.

Mama Pajama


Tues., 7/25 8:45 pm

Dear Henry,

Sunday wasn’t so good after all. Neither was yesterday. And today was awful. Jamie’s party was nice – he was totally excited about the $15 used Gameboy we gave him. And he loved the Sponge Bob boat thing that Isaac picked out for him. But after we got home I just felt awful. It was like a dark cloud that just settles over the whole world. Your dad and I didn’t really fight but we were tense. This continued on Monday. I couldn’t even smile at customers without an effort. I went to your grave in the afternoon and cried a bucket. I planted some more flowers. I lay on the ground next to you. When I got home I just sat around, watched stupid TV and went to bed early. This morning I went to my workout, still feeling dark. I had Michelle work for me, so I didn’t have to go back to work, but I went for coffee and to say Hi to Pack. Then your dad and I got into a terrible fight. It was so meaningless and it left us both feeling so hopeless, lost and beat up. We felt like quitting the world.

But gradually we got it together. We came home and tried to salvage our day. I mailed your photo CD’s to Paula. She wants them for when she tells Tyler about you next week. I got an oil change. I shopped for Isaac and Phin’s birthdays. So far, I have a Hot Wheels coloring book and another book that comes with chalk and has chalkboard areas in it. A Learn to Write book. I was impressed by the way Isaac wrote “Daddy” and “Isaac” on your Father’s Day card. Did you see it? I wish I knew.

I’ve had only one dream (that I remember) that I think was about you. It was a couple of weeks after you died. I swam or flew somehow way out to the edge of nowhere. The sounds of the earth faded into the distance behind me. It was completely silent, completely gray and empty. I waited, looked, listened. Nothing. It felt like I was in a place where I didn’t belong. Remember that feeling? Like when you’re in an off-limits area, all alone? Suddenly I felt myself being pulled back, sucked under water, tossed about. I could see the clear water about me and the clear surface rippling far overhead. I saw the screen curtain of our apartment door, so I swam through it and popped to the surface. Then I woke up.

I think I was looking for you, Hen-Ben. Looking for #3, my skinny son Henry.

I love you,
Mama

Friday 10:30 pm 7-28-06

Henry,

Today I coped pretty well. I started telling Patrick, Amanda and Michelle about a bizarre Japanese toilet training cartoon, and I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. Tears rolling down my face, unable to speak. It felt really good. I haven’t had a good belly laugh for a long time.

Sometimes your image floats into my inner eye, and I gasp in my heart. I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. It still isn’t real. Then it’s too real.

After coping well at work, on the way home in the car I cried hard. It just hits. I feel my lip go out, my face feels like it’s breaking apart. Audible groaning. I try to keep it together so I don’t have a wreck. This is a pretty common experience in the car, especially when I listen to your memorial service music. I listen to it often, for some reason. Why do I do that when I know it hurts me so much? I need to for some reason.

Here’s a deep worry I have: your dad’s heart. I didn’t go to my workout today because he was stressed out, and he told me he’d had serious chest pains and had taken a nitro tablet. It helped. See, that’s scary. He’s taken them before and not noticed any difference, but this time it worked. I asked him tonight if he wants to go to the doctor about all this. He says he can’t face the angioplasty or bypass thing, at least not right now. He says he’s not afraid to die, but he is afraid of a lot of hospital time. He said his main concern is being here for us. Life seems tenuous right now, really day-to-day. The ground is not solid. Tomorrow anything could happen.

I deposited the cash that people donated to the Henry fund today. It came to $954. We’ll offer it to the glass studio guys; if they insist on doing your grave marker for free, we’ll either give it to Sonrise or put it in Isaac’s trust. Maybe divide it between them. After the donations at church, Courtney’s finances are in pretty good shape and Isaac has a good start towards his education. People are so generous.

Here’s something I’m trying to remember: what’s happened to us is terrible, but compared to what many other people go through …. we’ve had a few layers peeled away, down to a new level of reality, but so many people are trying to survive extreme poverty, genocide, etc. Their layers are peeled to the bone, and then the bone breaks.

Tomorrow I don’t have to be at work till 8, but it’s after 11 now. Should get to bed. We have Isaac overnight tomorrow! He’ll be tired, and so will Myra. She’s spending 8 hours outside with him and Sophie and James while Courtney plays in her tournament. That’s a lot of softball, a lot of outdoor time. I’ll let you know all about our time together. He’s a wonderful boy. Just like his daddy.

Hugs, Mama Pajama


7-30-06 Sun 9:15 PM

Henry,

I have been mad at you since Sat. afternoon. Saul showed me your MySpace page. It made me mad at you. It hurts to be mad at you. Finally this evening your pop drew me out and got me to talk about it. He always knows when something’s bothering me. Maybe I’m transparent? Is that an understatement?! Anyway, Bede made me feel better. I’m not mad at you now. But I’m too drained to write about it tonight. I’ll tell you more later. Only this I’ll tell you now: I dreamed that you came back; you said it was all a hoax, a joke. My relief that you were alive lasted only a fraction of a second. Then I was furious. I was so mad, it made me wonder if I would have preferred that you were dead.

That felt horrible. Just horrible.

Isaac was fine. He’s healthy and sweet, a little disobedient, a little stubborn, but we did alright. We were all of us tired. We read books, made paper airplanes, played at the playground, played a little video games. All he ate was a roll with peanut butter, an orange, a banana, and a glass of soy milk from 5 pm Sat. to 1 pm Sun. He went to children’s worship with the big kids today – did just fine.
He loves to read Zipperumpazoo. It’s the same copy you read when you were little.
I’m tired, honey. I do love you.
Goodnight,
Mama

Aug. 1st, 2006 9:30 pm Tues.

Hi Sweetheart,

If this was a letter to the Human Man Henry, I might say, “how are you?” I suppose, since I believe you do live on in some real way, that is a meaningful question. But you remember how we humans are. We deal with what we got. So I’ll skip the question.

Today I talked to Patrick about how important it is to me that the kids be truthful with us. He assures me that he is always truthful now, that he understands how vital it is. He told me that you told him that you didn’t sleep with that girl…was it Becky? I believe him, and you. Somehow it makes me feel better to know that. Not sure why. I know you and Courtney weren’t getting back together. And it’s not like that would be a heavier sin than many others. But I can’t help but think that it would have weighed heavily on you. But really, I’m talking nonsense. You had burdens enough that you took your own life. Can’t get much heavier than that.

Here’s what was bothering me the other day: I became frightened that you might not go to heaven. And if you weren’t in heaven, how could I bear to be there? I was upset about your MySpace page – it reminded me that you were a real person, complicated, sinful as well as my sweet loving son.
Your dad helped me. He reminded me of the verses in Romans about “doing what I don’t want to do.” He reminded me of your very sincere desire to conquer your demons, to be a man of integrity. He reminded me of your sincere professions of faith at LIFE group and with us privately. Who of us can claim more? “There is now no condemnation.” Jeff repeated that 3 times at your memorial. Did you hear? We cried together, your dad and I, and I felt better.

He is so dear to me. Much more dear than I ever realized. That’s one outcome of your terrible choice that is good. I am so much more alive to what I have with Jim, Myra, Patrick, Saul, Sophie, James, Isaac and Phin. Thomas and Courtney, too. Neecie we are not so close to, and I suppose that won’t change. But this is a precious family. The one given to me to care for.

I have prayed only a little. I don’t seem to have much to say. I ask God to please take care of you. I ask Him to somehow let me know if you are happy now. What a comfort it would be to me if I could know that! Perhaps I never will, but will have to learn to take it on faith.

I want to get back to being close with God.

Your smile – how I miss it. Few people could melt my heart just by smiling at me, but you could, Henry. I was wrapped around your little finger the whole time, right to the end, right to the bottom of the cliff.

Hugs,
Lady Mama

Thurs., Aug 3, 2006 8:30 pm

Dear Hen Ben-a-Rooney,

We have so many silly names for you. Endearments for a dear boy.

Speaking of dear, I have a joke for you. What do you call a deer with no eyes?
No-eye-deer.

I’ve been wanting to tell you that for a few days. I can hear you laughing. You probably would have told that joke at work. Speaking of work, I bet they miss the way you used to bring them a bunch of coffee cake once in a while. No Henry, no cake. Life is tough, boys.

I kind of have an attitude tonight, don’t I? Not sure why. My stomach hurts, for one thing. I had a real melt-down today too, in the car on the way home from the cemetery. Dear God it hurts, Henry. I never knew. I never knew what people go through.

I don’t know if I had a premonition of all this or what, but for a couple of months I kept thinking, something bad is going to happen. I thought I was ready for it, though. I thought, I’m strong, I can get through it. Of course, I never thought I’d lose one of my children. Jim would get sick, the shop would fail, that kind of thing. Or there’d be some kind of disaster. Bring it on! These experiences peel off the petty veneer, bring people together!

What an idiot I was.

A customer had a cute little boxer named Bella today. Oh, Henry, she was so cute. You would have been all over her. She made me cry because she reminded me of happier times with Penny.

Yesterday Goat brought us a gift: she took your memorial service folder and mounted it in an acrylic box with black backing. It sits on a little easel by the clock at the shop. That was perfect timing, because someone took the last one, and I’m almost out. Every day I have to put out more copies of your dad’s prayer. So many people want a copy of their own.

Today is Isaac’s birthday. I left him a message on the phone. His party will be on Sunday at Papa’s Pizza.

I am like Rachel, weeping for my child, and I cannot, will not be comforted.

Henry. I like to write your name.
I love you Henry. Henry. Henry.

Mama Pajama

P.S. I am not strong. I am weak.

Mon, 8/7/06 8:45 pm

Dear Hen-Ben,

I’ve been on the internet a long time tonight reading about Prozac and other related drugs. I am so sure that you would still be here if it weren’t for those meds. So sure. Oh, Sweetheart, how could I have been so careless with you? With you, my irreplaceable Henry. I’m just a bunbling, fumbling well-meaning goofus of a human being.

Isaac’s party was good. He made a big haul. Courtney got him a sweet bike. We sat across from your old CFO buddy Jeremy and his wife. They are a sweet couple.

Today I did pretty well. I looked down into the black pit a couple of times, but I never crawled in.
Your father, however, tells me he cried hard for you at 4 o’clock this morning. He mostly, but not always, cries when only when he’s alone.

A customer gave us a book about Heaven. Your pop says it’s really good so far. I think I’ll read a little of it before I go to bed.

Hen-Ben, I think I am permanently broken-hearted. Somehow, I don’t feel the need to resist that or change it. It’s the New Me.

Kisses and hogs, Mama

P.S. Your dad’s scone sign on Friday: “Loved ones are irreplaceable. Scones aren’t. So kiss your honey and have a scone.”

Thurs. 9 pm 8-16-06

Punkin,

I’m too tired to write much tonight, but I just needed to say hello to you and to tell you that I love you. Precious, boy, I keep seeing the bottoms of your shoes as you fall off that mountain. I can’t seem to erase that terrifying image from my mind. I am besieged by sadness and obsessed with questions about life after death, heaven and hell. (Father, we need your mercy.)

In my mind you are getting younger.

Your loving Mama Pajama


Sunday, 8:15 pm 8/13/06

Darling,

We visited the Lebanon folks today. It’s the first time we’ve seen them since your memorial. Your Aunt Julie is so broken up. You know, she always wears her heart on her sleeve, and she loves you dearly. Adam looked a little better than he did on June 14th. He has searched out clothes at thrift stores that remind him of you. I’m going to give him your jeans, shoes, and some of your shirts. He is skinny enough to wear them. We didn’t see Casey. Julie said he got a good job in Salem, and he’s back together with his old love… is it Jamie? Anyway, I pray things are looking up for him. Joe and Melissa came over with their new daughter Hayley. She was born June 15th, the day after your memorial service. Her middle name is Abram.

It was a good visit. We cried and talked about you. Grandad told about his war experiences liberating the death camp. I didn’t want to leave. We are planning to get together Labor Day weekend. I’m going to bring a lot of photos of you to Julie – she wants to make a memory book.

The other big news is Amanda and Joel’s wedding yesterday. It was so sweet, Henry. You would have loved it. It was so focused on Christ. Of course, I cried. I always cry at weddings, even before my precious Henry jumped off a cliff. Now, any act of kindness or expression of deep emotion makes me cry.

Remember Glenn and Ruth Redmond from NEC? Your father recommended Glenn for the job of LIFE group minister at SW, and according to Bob Israel, he’s one of the 3 finalists! Wouldn’t it be great if Glenn and Ruth came to SW? Somehow, to have that connection with these folks who shared our NEC experiences is very attractive and hopeful for me.

Stan has not called or written since we told him about your death. I guess he doesn’t know what to say. I can understand. I don’t know what to say.

Hen-Ben, how could you be gone? Come back! This heartache is bigger than I am. Sometimes I think it will swallow me up.

-Mama

Thursday, Aug 17, 2006

Sweetheart,

Today is my holiday – I don’t have to go in until 11 or so. I’ve been working a lot of hours and it’s beginning to get to me. Yesterday I truly thought I was going to lose it. My eye has had a twitch for days. I wanted to scream at people. Stop coming in! Stop asking me if a soviet mocha is any good! Can’t you see I’m crazy with grief?! But I just smile and do what I’m supposed to do.

On Tuesday Courtney brought me your “kid box.” She and Isaac hung out for a while. She’s having a real hard time, honey. Maybe you thought your leaving wouldn’t bother her. After all, she’d already chosen to live without you. She said she didn’t love you anymore. So, you thought (I’m guessing) what’s the difference? Well, she had a breakdown at work last week. Now she’s on leave until the end of September if she needs it. She’s increased her counseling appointments to twice a week. Isaac is going to start at the Dougy Center soon.

Courtney has really been dreading today – your anniversary. It would have been 5 years. If you were alive today, what would you have done? It would have been a sad day either way. I was thinking about sending her flowers myself, but she’s gone camping with her parents.

There are so many little things I miss sharing with you. Work has been so busy this month – I miss telling you about work. I sometimes wonder how long I can keep doing it. I get so tired and stressed out.

Darling, I know you had no idea how devastating this would be for all of us. You weren’t thinking clearly. I’m sure you thought you were doing the right thing. “They’ll be better off without me in the long run.” Or maybe you weren’t thinking about us. You just couldn’t figure out how to solve your problems, and the Prozac confused you into thinking you should throw yourself away. That’s what you did. Incredible. Unbelievable.

When I looked through your box I felt so many things. I regretted so much that I was working long hours all those years and so I didn’t spend enough time with you – with all of you. Each one of you kids should have been an excellent student and gone on to college. Maybe if I’d been more involved in your schooling all the way along you would have been successful. If you’d been successful in school, maybe you would not have wasted so much time with pot and stuff. You would have felt better about yourself.

Remember the plate you painted in kindergarten? I found it in your box. I can’t believe you did that when you were 5 years old. God gave you such talent. And you were so sweet and good-hearted.
I wish you were sitting here beside me. You would give me that little smile. You would put your arm around me and pat me on the head. You would say, “I love you Lady Mama.”

This is all too hard. Lord help me.
-your Mama

Sunday, 8:45 am, 8/20/06

Dear Hen-Ben,

Last night I tried an experiment. I imagined a fantasy of what might have happened. You went to the doctor who got you healthy again, helped you get free of your oxycontin dependence. You and Courtney went to counseling and got back together. You got that salesman job that seemed to be dangling out there in May. And you went back to school. It was a good fantasy, completely plausible. But it didn’t fool me. I didn’t enjoy if because I know it wasn’t true.

Remember “Grumpy”? Otherwise known as Josh? He didn’t find out about your death until last week. He came in yesterday and I was able to give him some of the details. He’s happily married now. “Mr. and Mrs. Grumpy” we joked with him.

Also Ben came in yesterday. It’s the first I’ve seen him since the memorial. He and Patrick were going to hang out together last night. Ben said they’ll find out the sex of their baby in a few days. Also he quit smoking 2 months ago. Must have been around the time of your death.

I bought some scrapbooks so I can start organizing all the cards we received as well as all your artwork and things. When I get home from work each night I think about starting that project, but I have avoided it so far. Seems like I’m tired and I just want to escape into some mindless TV. Our apartment is a disaster right now. It’s hard to get motivated. Amanda will be back at the end of next week, so soon I won’t have to work such long hours. Maybe then I will get some things done.

Saul came to see us a couple of evenings ago. I had emailed him that we miss him. He never goes to church anymore, so we don’t meet up. Myra delivers biscuits twice a week, and of course we see Pack every day, but Saul is MIA. So, he dropped by after work on Thursday. Your dad had an opportunity to give his perspective on how important it is to him/us that Saul not give up going to church. That was good. Saul listened. However, today he and Rebecca are going to Wild Waves, so I guess there’s no immediate change of plans….oh well, the good thing is we had our opportunity to, tenderly and lovingly, I trust, tell our feelings to Saul.

Courtney tells me all the plants at your grave are toast. I figured as much. It’s been so hot and dry, and I haven’t been out there for a week or so. Maybe when fall is truly here and rain is back we’ll get that lilac tree and bulbs Meg was talking about.

I’ve been having such a hard time lately. The whole world seemed dark and hopeless. Then, I was telling Jim, I had this moment at work that felt golden. I was happy. Remember how good it feels to get well after you’ve been really sick? It was like that. Jim said, Henry would want you to be happy. I reckon so. In some ways, it seems wrong to be happy. How could I? But maybe, in spite of myself, I will be.

Precious child, in my heart there is a hole that can never be filled.

I love you, I miss you,
Lonely Lady Mama


Sun 9:15 pm 8/20/06

Dear Sweetheart,

I must have been motivated somehow, because I spent several hours this afternoon and evening arranging cards in a scrapbook. I got through most of the ones from people at SW before I ran out of the paper inserts to mount them on. Tomorrow I’ll get more inserts. I really enjoy working on this project. It’s something to do that is about you. That’s what I need right now. When I get the card books done, I’ll start on one for your art. Then I need to do the memory book about your life. There is plenty to keep me busy. Meanwhile the apartment is still a mess. I did get some laundry done and my hair cut.

Packy was at church, and Myra and the kids. Thomas had to work and I think Courtney was still camping.

Jeff said in his sermon today that Jesus loves our children even more than we do. That made me cry. Are you in His arms? Is it true?

Sometimes I love you so much and think about you so much that I feel guilty. What about Saul and Myra and Patrick? Don’t I love them as much? They might say, What are we, chopped livah? You are gone now. I can’t help you anymore. I had my chance. It’s over. Myra, Saul and Patrick are still here, still alive and kicking. So I must love them with a renewed fierceness.

But you, I must cherish you forever, Henry. You are gone but never forgotten.



Your dad and I love this picture because you look so relaxed and happy. Maybe you were on one of your car trips with Courtney and Isaac – I don’t know, but it is great. What a beautiful boy.
Mama


Wed Aug 23/06 8:30 pm

Dear Henry,

It’s been a little tough lately. Your dad was crying in his sleep last night. He had a bad dream about you. You were alive, but kind of flat and you kept almost falling down. You couldn’t talk. He said you seemed confused. And he said it felt eerie, like you had really been there. On the other hand, Patrick had a good dream about you. You came to his apartment dressed in your blue birthday shirt, the one we buried you in. You were happy, but you were surprised that Patrick was so emotional about seeing you. You said you did jump off the cliff, but that it “didn’t work.” You said you’d been in the hospital. Then you two talked about your last hours. You told him you listened to the last song on your Ween album at the end. “If I could save myself I could save the world.” You and Pack spent a long time together playing computer games and just hanging out. Patrick woke up feeling comforted. He doesn’t know if it was just a dream or if it was really you. But he felt better And he listened to that song, one he hadn’t noticed much before. He says it fits.

Could it be that you are in an “intermediate heaven” and that you are not yet really aware of what happened? I long to know whether you are well and happy. So far, though, I am in the dark.

Courtney called tonight. We’re having Isaac this weekend. She told me she’s still dealing with some of the financial loose ends you left behind. You really left her in a mess, honey. When she tells me about these things I feel all those old emotions I had when you were alive and she told me about what was going on: defensive, ashamed, embarrassed. It’s like I did these things myself. I hope Courtney can forgive you. And I hope she can forgive herself. Aagh, there is so much pain in our world.

Hen-Ben, you just had some problems like anyone else. You were a young guy with a lot of things to work out. I’m so sorry, honey. I’m so sorry I couldn’t help you more. I’m so sorry. I miss you so much. I treasure that night that you were finally honest with us, the night you came back with such resolve to change your life, to make things right. I treasure it, but it’s bittersweet, because it sealed your fate, since one of the resolutions was to see a doctor about your depression. He handed you Prozac. You had 3 weeks to live.

God help me. I am broken.
-Mother


Thurs 9 pm 8/24/06

Henry,

It feels like if I can cry long enough and hard enough I can bring you back. But at the end of it, everything is the same.

We’re supposed to make decisions about the LIFE group kick-off meeting: what date, whose house, etc. We’re having trouble making these simple decisions. I don’t want to host a LIFE group this year. I can’t get our apartment clean for weeks on end. I hope your dad will get out of it.

Michelle’s grandma died yesterday. Michelle was upset so I sent her home at 2:30 and closed the store by myself. Her grandma was 86. That’s a lot different than 26. 60 years different. I suppose to God that’s nothing, but to us mortals it’s a big deal.

I’m sorry. I seem to be in a lousy mood tonight. It’s just that it hurts so very much.

-Mama

P.S. A fellow on TV whose teenage daughter died said this: “You can live with a broken heart, but it sure is tough.”


Sunday, 8:45 pm 8/27/06

Dear Sweetheart,

Today was special. Everyone came over for dinner after church. We celebrated Phin’s birthday (she was in Utah the past couple of weeks) and ate your dad’s pot roast, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and salad. Myra made her stellar chocolate cake. We had Isaac overnight: Courtney was in the Dalles attending her friend Amanda’s wedding. She didn’t get here until 3:00 or so. She looked so beautiful, honey. I kept thinking, if only….she has lost a lot of weight, too much, but she really is so pretty. We all enjoyed ourselves. There were tears but we are holding each other up the best we know how. Courtney stayed a while and ate some food and talked with me while Isaac played outside with Phin, Saul and Rebecca.

I have so much love for my family. I have so much love for you…it is….I don’t know what to call it….Hen-Ben, I have a broken heart that is full of love.

Isaac helped me cook breakfast this morning. We had scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese bagels, tomatoes and kiwi. He ate a good amount. He said he wants to be strong like his daddy.

When he saw your picture on my computer desktop, you should have seen his face light up. “My daddy!”

Next week we’ll be going to Lebanon, and the week after I think Saul and Rebecca are going to take me rafting on the Clackamas. You would be so down for that, wouldn’t you? I hope I can convince Patrick and you dad to come too, maybe even Myra.

Dad and Saul had a really good visit today. Dad urged Saul to get a check-up, to take care of himself. And he talked a lot about his dad and about his worries over Adam and Casey. Of course, all of us talked about you. You are always on our minds. You are always on our minds.

Love, hugs, tears, prayers,
Mama Pajama

Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006 7:45 pm

Henry, come back! This is ridiculous. I’m flabbergasted that you are not here. Come on, this is just dumb. You can’t be gone. Not forever. NO.

I had a day off today and I spent most of it putting together the scrapbooks of all the cards we’ve received. I finished the job – 2 full books. Maybe someday Isaac will want to look at them.

Today I feel kind of wooden. I’m riding along on automatic.

Where are you? You have to be around, somewhere close by. I miss you.
-Mom

8/31/06 Thurs 8:15 pm

Dear Hen-Ben,

This has been a really hard night. Something on TV made me cry while we were eating dinner. My crying made your dad feel bad. He’s lonely for me, in a way, and he feels helpless to make me feel better. I don’t know what to tell him. I’m tired, and sad. On the way home from work today I thought how weirdly satisfying it would be if some car hit mine and smashed me flat. It feels like it would even things out if I could be smashed too. I know it isn’t so, and I would never really wish for that. I would never tell anyone about this but you. It’s just a weird emotion I have sometimes.

When I pray I don’t know what to say to God. I ask him to please take care of you, to love you. I tell him that if he doesn’t love you then I don’t know if I can go on living. But how will I know? I have to trust that God loves you. Then I get to a point where I have no words. I know God won’t bring you back. “Help me?!” Help me what? I have no words. Just hear me, God, that I am so sad. There is no depth, no bottom to how sad I am.

Sorry to be such a downer. What a bummer. Ha ha. I think I’ll go to bed now.
-Ma

9-1-06 Fri 8:30 pm

Henry, I love you. I just wanted to tell you that. I had a better day today – less focused on my grief for you. I’m focusing on Patrick and his drinking. It’s worse since you died.

On the prayer chain today came news of another suicide. Last night a young man named Tim Luper killed himself. He was 39. His parents go to SW. Heartbreak.

Dad and I played Scrabble this afternoon. I’m trying to be less the Grieving Mother and more the Attentive Wife.

Kisses, hugs and love to you my dear sweet Hen Ben,
Mama Pajama

Sun, Sept 3rd, 10 pm

Dear BenBridge,

Right now I’m doing your laundry. Your socks and underwear are in the dryer and your towels are in the washer. Tomorrow we’re going to Lebanon for Labor Day and I’m going to give Adam some of your clothes. I’m keeping some of your t-shirts and a cap, and I’m not washing those. Adam is getting your jeans, a CFO shirt, socks and underwear and your shoes. We’re also taking a bunch of photos, your dad’s prayer, and a couple copies of your memorial CD.

Since we’ll all be together I hope we can talk about your headstone. What should it be like, Hen-Ben? What should it say? In the first weeks after you died, I think we wanted it to be like a sculpture or a shrine – something really unique. But now your dad and I are wanting it to be more simple and dignified.

Maybe it should have that scripture about wiping away every tear. That’s what I hope and pray is happening for you.

Last night I spent hours cleaning the carpet. I remembered how stoked you were when I got that Dirt Devil. Right away you asked if you could borrow it sometime. I don’t think you ever did, though.

There is such a narrow, skinny little band of “normal life” where I exist. Underneath is this huge grief, and it doesn’t take much to fall into it. I know I’ve told you that many times. Sorry. If you don’t like it you should have stuck around.

At church during communion I wrote your name in my Bible on the “deaths” page. Does it mean something that I couldn’t do that until today?

If I ever act happy, you know I still love you and still miss you, right? I’m trying to cope the best way I can, but I feel crazy sometimes.

Last night I dreamed I yelled at Stan because he hasn’t called or written, hasn’t talked to your dad since you died. I also dreamed I was singing “Precious Child” into a microphone. It had something to do with Belle Voci. Rehearsals start again a week from Monday. I’m looking forward to it, but I cry so easily from music – it might be hard at first.

Doug hasn’t talked to your dad either. And I haven’t heard from my Uncle Lloyd. I guess some people just don’t know what to say, so they don’t say anything at all.

LIFE group is going to start again in a couple of weeks. I think I’m going to be ready. It looks like we’re going to go ahead and host it again here. Maybe we’ll change it to Wed night so Saul can come. I so wish he and Patrick would.

I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, HenBen-a-Rooney.
-Mama

Wednesday, 9 a.m., 9/6/06

Dear Henry,

This is a weird situation. I am at home at 9 in the morning. I guess the last time anything like this happened was June 7th. Remember? You called me to tell me I didn’t need to come in until 9 a.m. because you were there, and you didn’t need to be at CFO until 9:30. I was so happy! A morning free! Three hours to do nothing but read! I said, thank you so much! I love you!! I have not been that happy again. That was Wednesday too. Your last day.

There is so much to tell you. Too much. My heart is too full.

Joe and Melissa hosted the picnic on Monday. They have a nice place and seem to be doing better. It was a good visit. I gave Adam your clothes and shoes. But things were tense between Jim and I. Miscommunication, frustration, etc. This added to my already building feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. Then I went to bed and my brain seemed to spiral out of control. I couldn’t escape the horror of what you did.

Wanting to die. It doesn’t have anything to do with how much other people love you.

Yesterday we tried to do some good things. We put Boyd on the payroll. I gave blood. I got to come home early and your dad and I were kind to each other.

Today I got up at 6:30, made coffee and toast and watched a movie called “Amelie.” Soon Jim will be home. I don’t have to leave for work until 12. I might leave early so I can stop at Target – Saul says they have inner tubes.

Dad is mad at you. He doesn’t want to honor you in a way that romances the way you died. He loves you and he weeps for you at 4 in the mornings.

Myra and Thomas are going to have another baby after she gets her teeth fixed.
Love, Mama


Tues. 9/7/06 8:15 a.m.

My dear, sweet Hen-Ben,

I’ve found a little relief from the dark time that has buried me. Last night your dad came back out after he’d gone to bed. He asked me if I was lonely. That broke the dam. I told him I’d been feeling ashamed for being sad; I thought he wanted me to “buck up,” and I want to be strong for his sake and for Saul, Myra and Patrick. But that made me feel so lonely, so sad with no one to talk to about it. I cried hard. Your dad is good to me. He keeps telling me he’s my companion, the one I can turn to. And I can grieve for you as long as I need to.

I need to for a long time. This is truly horrible, Henry. But at least today I didn’t feel like I wanted to die.

And your dad made a rockin’ good pizza today. You would have scarfed it down, none left for the troops at work.

Goodnight, Sweetheart
-Mama Pajama


Monday, 9/11/06 10 p.m.

Dear Hen-Ben,

I just got home from the first Belle Voci rehearsal of the season. It was nice to be there. I got through the “how are you doing” questions. I appreciate people asking, but I struggle with how to answer. “I’m OK” or “I’m alright, getting by…” That’s what I usually say. I’m thinking, my world has crashed to bits along with my heart. Except today, it wasn’t. I was pretty good today. And that’s my problem.

If I’m having a good day, it means I have not thought about you. And if I don’t think about you, I’m scared I’ll forget about you, and that you will cease to matter to me. I can’t let that happen. I have to hang on to you tightly to keep you from slipping away. At least, that’s how I feel right now.

Yesterday I went on the “booze cruise” with Saul, Rabecca, Patrick and Tessa. It was fun, even though I felt out of place as the only geezer, and the mother to boot. I enjoyed myself, lost myself in the afternoon, just let the water pull me along. Once again, I didn’t think about you, at least part of the time.  I hope one day your dad will do the river trip with me.

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Carryl Norton’s death. I saw her mom at church. We gave each other a hug and shared tears.

Your sister is enduring horrific pain from her wisdom teeth. I feel bad for her. Why can’t a mother take away her children’s pain? Tomorrow afternoon I’m watching Sophie and James so she can finally go to the dentist.

Darling, never forget how much I love you and miss you. You. Henry. Hankus Pankus. The boy with the winning smile.
-Mama


Wednesday, 9/13/06 9 pm

Dear Henry,

This afternoon we went to Tim Luper's funeral. Same room as yours, not nearly as many people there. Tim lived in Grants Pass, so not many people here knew him. I don't know how he killed himself. I don't think he had any children. Very very sad.

Patrick had a tough day today. He and your dad disagree about the degree of responsibility you bear for taking your own life. Patrick is adamant that you bear zero blame. Jim thinks you bear some; in fact, he thinks you have ultimate responsibility for your actions. He thinks the Prozac just made it easier. This really upsets Patrick. He told me that he knew you in a way that no one else did, that you reserved a core of yourself to reveal to him only. That may be. I guess my feeling is that each of us is known by others in unique ways. No one knows us completely, no one person can. And I'm not sure about how much responsibility you bear. I do believe you would still be here if not for the Prozac. But I'm not sure. You chose to take way too much. You chose not to seek help. But then, maybe you chose that because of the effects on your brain. I don't know. I only pray that Patrick will sleep tonight. I pray that he will stop drinking.

Myra made it to the dentist yesterday. Poor girl, she was in tears when she came back from the appointment. She'll have them out next Wednesday - two infected, impacted wisdom teeth. Remember when you had yours out? You were so miserable and freaked out by all the blood. Oh my God, I love you so much, Henry.

The thing that hurts Patrick the most is that Jim thinks you "resigned from the family." How could he do that? Jim cries. Patrick says no, he didn't, he never would.

It's very painful. It's true that we have taken your pain onto ourselves. Into ourselves. I just hope and pray you have it no longer.

Kisses and hugs. I wish.

Remember I told you that you never had to worry about having a place to stay and enough to eat, because so many people love you. You said, sometimes a man needs more than that. I was perplexed that I was unable to comfort you.

For you - kisses and hugs, food and a place to sleep, and all the love in the world,

-Mama Pajama

Sunday, 9/17/06 8:15 pm

Dear Henry,

When I woke up this morning my mind was consumed with the idea of making a scrapbook of your artwork. I lay there, planning it all out in my head. Then your dad came in at 6:30 and said, "Happy Birthday!" I completely forgot it was my birthday. I don't think that's ever happened before.
We got out of the house by 7:30 and began our day trip, driving the "fruit loop" out by Hood River. Remember when we used to take those drives out to apple country? I wonder if you were bored. Well, today we started by eating breakfast at Cadillac Cafe. Not boring.

Since we got such an early start, we were too early for some of the stands to be open. But it was a pretty day and we managed to come home with some good things: besides apples, peaches, pears and plums, we got some other neat things - pear brandy, cornflower blue alpaca yarn, and three really cool scrapbooks. I'm going to make Saul, Myra and Pack each a Henry book. This will keep me busy for hours and I think the kids will really like them.

Jim emailed Stan and got a reply. They had a couple of good exchanges. I sent Stan your dad's prayer and a couple of photos. This is good. I hope, for your dad's sake, it will continue.

Issac went to his first Dougy Center session. Sounds like he really liked it - Courtney said he talked much more openly about you than he has been. I'm sure it helps him to be around other kids who are going through losing a parent. Courtney is going twice a week to her counselor. She's finally getting some sleep and she's up to two meals a day. I don't know how much weight she lost, but it's a lot. She's been going to church with her parents - we haven't seen her much. I think it's hard for her to go to SW.

Here's some news: Coffee People sold all its leases, including Diedrich stores, to Starbucks! Can you believe it? All the CP stores will become SBux. We're getting some publicity from it: your dad did great interviews at Jim and Patty's with channels 2 and 6, and Tuesday he'll have an interview with the Oregonian. Saturday we blew our sales record out of the water (the one we set a week or so before you died, remember?) It was rad. I kept thinking how excited you would be about it all.

Meg said Steve is doing better. He's up to 127 pounds. The doctor thinks if he keeps improving he might be able to get off oxygen in 12-18 months. I'm amazed. I really thought his outlook was bad.

I haven't heard from Dave at all since your memorial. He sure worries me. I hope he'll be at Meg's Saturday night for the September birthday party.

After the party we get to bring Isaac home to spend the night. Then Sunday everyone is coming over for a beans & cornbread southern dinner. Yes, we'll make your green beans too. Sunday dinner with the family at Mom and Dad's! - how you liked that!

Have I told you everything that's been going on? I don't want you to miss out. Oh, I wish I knew what it's like for you now.

Did you know the Crocodile Hunter was killed? Sting ray got Steve Irwin in the heart. Very sad. Now I especially treasure the croc hunter doll you and Courtney gave me. He has 2 little kids who no longer have their daddy.

Jim is having a hard time because, as he sees it, his mission in life is to make me happy. But he can do nothing to make me happy. Not deep down care-free jolly happy. Of course, it's not his fault.
He does more than make me happy. He keeps me going.

I wish I could draw a hug. A hug for you.
Love, Mommy

P.S. In one week I'll be as old as my mom ever got. 55 years plus one week.

Monday, 9/1/06 10:30 pm

Dear Henry,

I'm home from Belle Voci practice. I thought of you all day. I think I'm never not thinking about you. But I don't think I cried today.

Michelle gave her two weeks. She inheirited money from her grandma. Sigh. Just when I had her trained and ready to be in charge of the close. She's full time, too. Michael is nowhere near competent yet, and Amanda has dropped back to very part time because of nursing school. Sure could use your help right now. You sure knew how to make a beautiful latte, Hen-Ben. What a pro.

Your pop is way invigorated by the Death of Coffee People. That is good. I should work on my creaky old prayer life, get it in gear for your dad to make a go of things one more time.

I'm so lonely for you. Duh. Broken record. Broken me.

-Ma

Wednesday, 9/20/06 9 pm

Dear BenBridge,

I have to say, I feel happy right now. I went to the LIFE-group combo-pot luck at the bewding, and it was fun. It was nice to just hang out and chat with people. Your dad didn't go because his back is out. Pack wasn't there, Saul wasn't there, Courtney wasn't there, Myra wasn't there, you weren't there, but I didn't let any of that get me down. Myra had her 2 wisdom teeth out today, but they wouldn't have come anyway. I wish all my family was more involved because I think it would be so good for each one. But then, the same can be said of me and your dad.

I got to leave work early today so I could pick up James from school and then go get Myra from the dentist's. (Your pop dropped her off at 11 for her tooth pulling activities.) I'm so glad she's done with that. After she gets over this, she'll be home free. The poor kid has put up with way too much agony.

Goat gave me a birthday present today! Freewheelin' Bob Dylan on vinyl! She and Ann are so extremely sweet. I love it.

Other news: Meg won first prize at the NW Quilters Expo! Remember, it's the quilt that hung in our store of a basket of flowers. I'm not surprised she won - it's an incredible piece.

Tomorrow I will interview and probably hire a girl named Liz from Eugene. I hope she works out alright. Understatement of the year.

The Oregonian lady, Erin Somebody, really did a thorough interview with us. Your pop told her our whole family story. They both cried over you. And today she came back and talked to customers, like Wave. A photographer took action shots. I think it'll be a good article. I hope you can see it from the Great Beyond.

Myra loaned me a big stack of books. I have yarn to knit, I have your scrapbooks to make. And I have music to practice. No need to veg out every night. I can keep my mind occupied.

New time measurement: BHD / AHD.



I Heart Henry
-Mama



Thursday, 9/21/06 9:30 pm

Hen-Ben,

Aaaagh!! I am such an idiot! I just deleted a picture of you accidentally, and it's one I don't have anywhere else. Dang. Why did I do that?? I have one tiny copy with the color all wrong. It's a good photo of you, but I was going to get a new color ink cartridge and print another with better color. Man. I'm SO bummed.

I can't really talk about anything else now. I'm too upset.

-Ma


Sunday, 9/24/06 8:30 pm

Dear Sweetheart,

Sometimes I feel like a nut writing to you. But, who knows? Maybe there's some way you receive these letters. Of course, it's silly - if you are hanging about as a spirit, you must know what's going on without my telling you. Nevertheless, I like writing to you.

I've been skating along above my heartbreak for a few days. I feel it down there every once in a while, but I haven't touched it for a while.

Last night we had our September birthday gift exchange at Meg's. It was great, but Courtney didn't show up. I was so worried. Turns out she couldn't find the house because YOU always drove there before. I felt so bad for her. She drove around with Isaac for 2 1/2 hours before she finally called. I wish she had a cell phone. We still get to have Isaac spend the night, at least. His prize was a set of fighter jets and a play mat to land them on. You would enjoy playing it with him.

Isaac ate 2 eggs, toast and cheese for dinner. And he stayed dry overnight.

I can feel the heartbreak coming closer to the surface now.. I love you, Henry. I can say that a billion times, but it doesn't fix anything. Still, I want to say it. I love you.

-Mama

Tuesday, 9/26/06, 8:30 pm

Dear Henry,

We just finished our first LIFE group since you died. Denny Cole, Dennis Norton, Patrick, and Dennis' cousin Gary were here. Your dad talked a lot about you, or rather, about how we're coping with your death. It was good. I thought Courtney and Isaac might come, but maybe it's just too hard for her.

Yesterday was a big day at work: we got rid of the graveyard of junk!! You would be so stinkin' pleased. We called 1-800-GOT JUNK (you remember those guys, regular a.m. customers, big on caramel fudge mochas) and they hauled it all away. Tomorrow we'll put a new double door fridge back there. Finally the old trash fridges will be history. Your dad realized that he can't make a lot more cakes without more refrigeration, and we think we might be busy after Thursday's paper comes out. Luckily he thought of that in time, and also luckily we have the money to buy the fridge.

I called Lincoln City Glass and left them a message. I've emailed them several times, and now today's phone call..I'm thinking they've decided they're too busy to make your headstone but they're afraid to tell us. If we don't hear from them in a couple of days then we'll have to get you a more traditional stone. Oh well.. I guess it doesn't matter, except the boys will be disappointed.

This morning when I got to the shop, Saul and Myra were there. I was so happy to see them. We all were together except you, and you are there in our hearts. Saul dropped Rabecca at the airport - her grandma or grandpa died, can't remember. Isn't that awful? I didn't even tell her how sorry I was. You'd think I would know better. I'll have to remember that when she gets back.

Paula emailed me that Sam and Tyler need prayers. She didn't have time to go into why, but she'll let me know later. Teenage boys. It's scary, the not-funny kind of scary.

I hate the picture that I create (I never saw you!) of your precious body on those rocks. My mind keeps going there. Makes me want to scream forever.

I'm glad I can still hear your voice in my mind's ear. Will I ever forget it?

Love, Mama


Wednesday, 9/27/06, 9:30 p.m.

Hi Sweetheart,

I love you. I miss you. In my heart you are with me still. I pray that you are safe and happy. Pain is for me now.

-Lady Mama

Sunday, 10/01/06, 7:30 p.m.

Dear Henry,

Wow, it's been several days since I wrote to you. These have been pretty full days, some very hard, some pretty nice.

The article came out in the paper on Thursday. There wasn't as much detail as I expected, so in that way I was disappointed. But it was a good article in that it portrayed nicely the wonderful rapport we have with our customers, and the support they've given us.

Then Friday we were in A&E Best Bites or Nibbles or something..anyway, we got Best Coffeecake. More people seemed to see that article than Thursday's. But the combination brought in lots of new people and we had some very busy days Friday and Saturday.

Friday evening was the start of my Belle Voci retreat at Menucha. I was almost late though because your dad and I had such a painful fight. Hen-Ben, you would never have guessed all the complications that have arisen as a result of your death. I know one thing: I really need to remember that Jim needs me. I can't just wallow around in my mad sorrow and forget about him. His diabetes is worse, his feet are getting more and more numb, he has chest pains a lot. He needs me to show him I love him and that I care and want to be with him. It is frightening to contemplate living without him. I try not to think about it.

The retreat was good. I got to talk about you quite a bit, which I appreciate. I feel much closer to these ladies this year.

The other amazing thing is that I wasn't at work on Saturday! A very busy Saturday, 8 dollars short of our record. They did alright, apparently.

Tonight I finished Myra's scrapbook. I'm going to add a few more touches, copies of your signatures and "I love you's" from cards, but basically it's done. I think she'll love it. Two more to go! If I can do one a month, I'll make it by Christmas.

Your dad and I both have experienced our grief sneaking up and pouncing on us without warning, like a tiger. Suddenly we find ourselves sobbing out loud, racked by the most awful pain.
The rest of the time I can sense the tiger sleeping, letting me go about my business.
Your father tries desperately to avoid the pain. Sometimes I seek it out, because you are there and you are so precious, so irreplaceable, so MISSED. So loved.

-Mama