Happy Birthday

toby xmas hat

Dear Toby,

This year you would be 31 in earth years, born 22nd December 1987 in the early hours of the morning in Good Samaritan hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. You were due on the 29th but came a week early so I was home by Christmas Eve. I watched the movie Meet me in St Louis the day you were born, the one where Judy Garland sings ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’, so every time I hear that song I cry.

I still feel I should celebrate the day you entered the world, even though you are not here anymore. Its different from the anniversary as that is the day you left the world which is full of sad and tragic memories. I’ve still got Beatrice the black and white cow soft toy that some of your Dad’s friends bought you for your first birthday. Even when you were grown you used to fall asleep with her tucked under your arm, she now lives on my bed and sometimes I cuddle her and try to feel you.

As you were living away from home when you left, I don’t have a lot of things that remind me of you but every single one is precious. My most precious possession ever is the little hat they put on you in the hospital just after you were born.

Toby baby

We always had your birthday party a week before Christmas, so it wouldn’t be too close, and tried to buy you separate presents, so you didn’t feel Christmas and birthday had all been rolled into one. We celebrated with Grandma and Grandpa, and Uncle Mike and Auntie Sue, and Paul, David and Matthew.


They are all grown up now and Paul and David have 3 children each, I wonder if you would ever have settled down and had children, you always said you couldn’t stand babies as they just cried all the time, but I’m sure if you had fallen in love you might have changed your mind. I imagine that the feeling of holding your child’s child must be one of the best things in the world……

But I mustn’t start down that track of thought, you left when you had to and I accept that, I don’t blame you for robbing me of your future it was your future not mine, so when I start down that road, I slam on the brakes.

Of course, no one realises how much they love someone until they are gone, and when it’s sudden and unexpected there is no time to say all the things you wish you had said. But I don’t need to – you know I loved you and still do, you know everything I did, even though we may have argued and disagreed, was because I loved you and just wanted to help and protect you.

Parents always feel guilt, it just is part of the job description, so I’d rather feel guilt for doing too much and not leaving you to get on with it, than guilt because I didn’t do enough.

You weren’t a son who called me all the time and quite often missed birthday cards and Mother’s Day but when you did write me a card the words were full of love and gratitude, and I treasure those cards now, I’ve even kept little scraps of paper with your writing on because you wrote it.

toby card

As the years go by, I wonder what you would be doing in a parallel universe but your life was just 23 beautiful years, that was the life of Toby Thorn. There was so much in you, super intelligent, wise, sensitive, funny… your friends saw it in you and loved you, I wonder if you knew how much they loved you?

I think of you floating around somewhere up there, to think otherwise would be unbearable. I often talk to you and ask you what you think about things when I’m worried, there is always a wise response that soothes me.

We live in a world where we will never fully understand why someone seemingly chooses to leave. I don’t need to understand it, I don’t think you did, but you knew you wanted to go. I believe you do send me messages like when I saw a piece of paper sticking out from behind a photo frame and it was a note you had written me saying ‘I’ll always love you’, you had written it one day and put it on the magnetic board we used and underlined always and I must have tucked it away behind a school picture of you, I found it a few days after you left. Then on the day we laid your ashes to rest up the hill in Newlyn, I was walking on the beach and found a Toy Story figure.

Of course, it is a life sentence of pain, but that pain comes from the love that I have for you, my son, so I wouldn’t wish not to have it as that would mean I wouldn’t have had you.

Sending you so much love my beautiful boy, wherever you are,

31 in earth years and 7 in angel years.

Mom x








This entry was posted in bereavement, Christmas, guilt, Loss, parents, suicide. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Happy Birthday

  1. Mary Graydon says:

    My heart goes out to you. My sister also lost her son. He was 24 when he died and she still experiences so much sorrow, even though she tries so hard to keep her spirits up. My heart just goes out to you and to her. Life can be so full of sorrow…..

    • annwae says:

      HI Mary, yes it can so sad,, but I try to hold onto the happy times in honour of his memory, I don’t think he would want me to be sad but of course it is inevitable, a bittersweet journey

  2. Bee Leeson says:

    Special thoughts Anne both for you and for Toby.
    Is there any way that you could copy this to your forum? it is so beautifully written and I’m sure that the newer members particularly would love to hear about you and Toby.
    xx Bree

  3. Lori Robinson says:

    Hi Anne,
    It’s always good to read your letter to Toby, such a journey we parents follow without our sons.
    Yes, good analogy- bittersweet.
    Have you ever written to The Compassionate Friends organization ( a worldwide network of parents who lose a child, any age, any reason? I think your writings would be well received. I attend the annual, Candle Lighting event, every December and each chapter hosts a beautiful tribute to all of the children gone before us and their parents, grandparents, siblings.. Just to hear your son’s name read aloud and see each of these beautiful young people and watch as their pictures on screen come alive, it’s as if you can reach out and touch them. For a few fleeting seconds, I can visualize Shane alive and the vibrant, handsome, 6’4″ young man who seemed like the world was his oyster until things unraveled for him the last couple of years. When so many memories from their birth to all the many birthday parties we gave them to my son’s wedding in 2009, it’s impossible to comprehend how they left this world and created a void that can never be filled. But we parents carry their memories and by acknowledging all the years they lived, we keep them alive.

    Wishing you peace and comfort with the holidays upon us,
    Lori Robinson
    Shane’s mom

  4. alispencer123 says:

    Dear Anne

    Such a beautiful letter .

    I’m quite lost for words but want you to know I’m thinking of you and your dear son TOBY today “ His Birthday “

    Lots of love
    Ali xxx

  5. Dearest Anne, your words never fail to move me. It is also 7 years since my son David took his own life. You always put into words exactly how I am feeling. I thank you for that as then I don’t feel so alone with my pain. I give you much love and hugs with true understanding. It is always harder this time of year when we seem to reflect and even more so for me as it is the anniversary of his passing. I send you my thoughts and wish you peace.

  6. Deborah Haslam says:

    Hi Anne I always read your messages. You have brought me a very special levelling to our situation: . I’m not the best at telling or even thinking my thoughts but you are and your writing helps. Carry on as it’s so very comforting . Best wishes Deborah

  7. Happy Birth Day mama ❤ A treasured day to be remebeted and celebrated always. Sending love your way xxx

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