Dear Toby

Toby photo 2

Dear Toby,

It is your 30th birthday today, it is always a bit confusing on birthdays – should I celebrate or cry all day? I still think of you as my little boy, I lost you when you were 23, so you were a grown man then, I wonder what you would be doing now?

I am sure you wouldn’t be having a big party, you never were into big celebrations, your 21st passed without hardly any fuss. I can’t even remember where you were, you must have been at Uni then…

I can’t believe it has been 6 and a half years since you went away, how have I got through these years I can’t tell you. I worry that I will forget you, the sound of your voice and your laugh. I try and hear them in my head, I wish I had some videos, I only have a tiny clip of when you were in Amsterdam trying to climb into a big Dutch clog with Graham.

You laughed so much when you were little, an infectious giggle that went on and on when something amused you. Do you remember all the funny little jokes we had? We used to watch the Cartoon Network and there were lots of funny spoof adverts on, like an ad for a CD called ‘Men in Pants laughing’… I vaguely remember a bunny who said: ‘I don’t know what it is, but I feel strangely drawn towards it’, which we used to say to each other all the time in a funny American accent.

You loved Sabrina the Teenage Witch and one Sunday we set up a camp in the living room with cushions, duvets and snacks and watched it back to back for hours. We used to love bacon wheat crunchies and would buy bags and bags and empty them into a big bowl. We loved Cybill and Ellen and or course Friends. We went to see Toy Story about 5 weeks in a row, you loved it so much. How old were you then? We lived in our little flat in Chingford – I loved living there. That was the best time I think, you must have been 8 or 9 ish … before I met the dreaded Eric… omg let’s forget him.

Of course we argued a lot, you were a stubborn little thing, but I don’t want to remember that. That is the one thing that tortures me the most, remembering arguments. When I look back I wish I had never ever told you off, but of course that is unrealistic.

Thank goodness we were on good terms when you went away. I thought you were on your way to finding your own path, I had no idea how lost you were. I am grateful you had found a good circle of friends that loved you, I met most of them for the first time at your funeral, but was touched by all the things they wrote in your book that they gave me. In some ways I felt there was a part of you I didn’t know at all, but I suppose that is normal as you grew up and found your own way. I am sure though that I was the only person in the world that really knew you, the real you, the you that you hid away from the world. I regret many things, but I know at the time I thought I was doing the best for you out of love, and anyway regrets are pointless.

I know I have a million little memories of time we spent together and things we did. Of happy times in Cornwall. One year you were collecting little plastic troll like things, omg what were they called – Boglins that’s it, haha. You lost one when we were walking round Flambards and we stopped at every shop on the way home buying more, trying to replace the one you lost. I don’t think I was a very good Mum as I used to give you jelly sweets on the way to school (although it didn’t do you any harm as you had perfect teeth, not a single filling). They were Flintstones jellies from Sainsburys I think and I used to make up a family of Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty, Pebbles and Bam Bam and a Dinosaur and put them in a little plastic bag to give to you for the car journey. One morning you started wailing and crying in the back of the car, I thought something terrible had happened but then you cried ‘You’ve given me 2 Wilmas”. I am crying with laughter now remembering that, it was the end of the world for you…..

A lot of the time it was just the 2 of us, your Dad was back in America and wasn’t really that bothered about seeing you, I will never know how much that affected you in the end. You used to say it didn’t matter as you didn’t remember him. He came over and saw you once when you were 5 and then left you again and didn’t hardly contact you again, I can never forgive him for that but ultimately I believe you were better off without him in your life. I met the dreaded Eric when you were 10 but it didn’t last long and after that ended it was just the 2 of us again and I tried to get you through school and then Uni but I think you just couldn’t find a way to fit into this messed up world we live in. You would have died inside having to do a 9-5 job 5 days a week, you just wanted to retreat into your world of online gaming and who can blame you really. Maybe I wasn’t fit to be a mother, but I know I loved you more than anything and did what I could at the time, of course hindsight is 20/20 and there are things I would have done differently but I hope you knew how much I loved you and how much I wanted you to have an amazing life.

I’m doing OK all things considered, still on my own but never could find a man who could put up with me and all my faults and shortcomings and straight-talking nature. My last relationship was with Philip who said I used to make faces like a bulldog chewing a wasp. It is sad that I didn’t realise that the happiest time of my life was when it was just you and me living in our little flat. I wish I had cherished that time a bit more but then no one knows what is around the corner.

I never dreamed I could survive without you, but I am. Some days I don’t want to be here but it is ironic that I have got the life I wanted now, living in Cornwall with my 2 little dogs. It would be nice if you were living in Surrey in a 3-bedroom house with a wife and some grandchildren and you could come for visits and we could Skype, but that was just not your destiny.

Your leaving has not destroyed my life, it has changed it beyond measure in some ways for the better as I don’t waste time worrying about the future anymore and spend each day appreciating what I have. I am so blessed to have you as my son, I wouldn’t have swapped you for anyone else, despite how things turned out, I hope you feel the same way about having me as a Mom.

Wherever you are I hope you are flitting around and keeping an eye on me. Take care my beautiful boy. IALY Mom x x









This entry was posted in bereavement, gratitude, Grief, guilt, Healing, Loss, parents, suicide. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Dear Toby

  1. Bree Leeson says:

    Very special thoughts today Anne.

  2. Lori Robinson says:

    We still remember all the special times our kids enjoyed as they grew from such precious toddlers into grown, handsome young men. Glad you’ve shared such special times with Toby. It’s quite unfathomable our son’s didn’t live to see their 30th birthdays. The further from their time of death, the more I find it harder to accept. But you’ve got incredible memories with Toby, Anne.

    The holidays make it a challenge because their absence is so obvious. I like to believe our son’s are are celebrating with us, sending their love from

    Peace to you, Anne.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Bless you! I lost my son to suicide at age 22. He would be 24 now. It never seems to get easier. Easier to stay busy I guess. Just to avoid It:(. Prayers for you dear!

  4. Kate says:

    My 21 year old son committed suicide 11 days ago and everything is so fresh and raw I came across your blog and it has brought me comfort. You are much further down the path than I am, but reading your posts lets me know that someday I will smile again. Thank you for keeping up this blog… has helped this mother from Seattle, WA, USA

    • annwae says:

      Hi Kate, I’m so sorry you’re facing this journey. It is life shattering and you have to take it hour by hour then day by day and find your own way to survive, heal and rebuild. I try and live my life as best I can to honour Toby as I am sure he didn’t want my life to be destroyed. Thank you for reaching out and I send you so much love x

    • Jennifer says:

      I am so sorry for your loss! I too lost my son at age 22 , two years ago to suicide! It is a never being journey of grief and pain. But new hope will come for you. Fresh days of remembering your precious son with tears of joy and smiles rather than always hurting as if someone has stabbed u in the heart. But to say you will be the same person as before is not truth. And to say you will move on from this is a lie. He was your child. As parents who lose children, especially us moms, we never move on or learn to be us again. We simply learn to take one step at a time and make It through. My prayers go up to you. I invite you to visit my website in hopes It might bring you some comfort. I also invite you to read my book as well. And the book is called Christopher’s story and is available on amazon! Much love to you dear. Jennifer Cothran

  5. Lucy says:

    Thank you for sharing this. My son Payton passed June 9, 2017. I’ve not been able to relate to anyone or anything. Parts of this I feel I relate to. Thank you

  6. Dan says:

    To Annwae: That was a wonderful letter to Toby. It rings so many bells for me. Thank You!
    To Kate: My heart goes out to you in a way I can’t even begin to describe. We’re with you.
    To Jennifer: Careful not to discount us dads. I lost my 17 yr old son only a little over 2 years ago. My pain, grief and anguish is very real. As men, much of the world expects us dads to be strong. Thus, the assumption that we don’t necessarily suffer the same emotional trauma and ongoing distress as the moms. From my own ongoing experience, I can tell you first hand that we do. Or at least… I do. For the most part, I manage one day at a time. I am the same person I was before, but… I am also forever changed. I’m so sorry for your loss of your son. I truly wish that we didn’t have to ever know what it feels like to be a parent suffering such a great loss.

  7. Beryl Barlow says:

    Ann what a beautiful letter to Toby which I can relate to so much having lost my dear son to suicide nearly 6 years ago. My thoughts and prayers go to everyone who is going through this xx

  8. Marsha Price says:

    Bless ALL OF YOU. Today is my son’s 37th birthday. He was born on Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day is around the corner. He committed suicide this past August.

  9. jolenex21 says:

    Hello, I lost my only son to suicide 9 weeks ago. I’m obviously at the start of my grieving journey. How you write is full of Beauty, love and truth about the reality of life and motherhood you give me that that there may be hope for me at some future time. Thank you xx Jo

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