I came across some old text messages which were exchanged over about a three month period just over a year before he took his life. They contained nothing that would be significant if he was still here. They were mostly the same stuff that any other teenage boy and his mother message each other about, with him asking me what was for dinner or me checking what time he was home. Who would have thought that these messages would ever become so precious?
Towards the end of the messages, things started getting seriously bad for him. It hurt to remember those desperate sad times. These messages jolted me a little. For so long, I have felt the burden of guilt and self-blame, going over everything I did/didn't do. I am my own worst critic. I tend to remember every argument or time I got frustrated with him in minute detail and since he passed. I will be honest, I feel like I completely failed him as his mother.
But when I looked at these long forgotten messages I saw my words and our interactions with fresh eyes. The messages were about making him his favorite dinner, or checking that he had taken his meds and vitamins. I used to send him little inspirational quotes from famous people that he looked up to, telling him I was proud of him and why.
Then when things really got rough the message telling him how I loved him and wanted to help him to stay safe. He was starting to voice suicidal intent, so I meant for him to stay safe from his own thoughts of hurting himself. I sent him photos of his siblings when they did something cute. He didn't message back as often towards the end, but when he did it would have kisses on the end.
These messages between us might only be a snapshot of our lives together but they are so contrasting to the guilt thoughts that fester in my heart and mind. They have given me another perspective on what happened. My son must have known how much I loved him, I did tell him and show him. Maybe there wasn't much else I could have said that would have changed things.
I wonder if most of us look back on our relationships with our loved ones through too critical eyes. We only remember the dramatic moments, good or bad, and forget that thousands of unremarkable moments passed between us where we did our best.
This post first appeared on the Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors forum. Reprinted with the permission of the author. Visit our moderated community of support to those who have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one to suicide.