What do I say to you now on the day that would have been your 32nd birthday, the ninth one where I can’t send you a card or a Facebook message. You wouldn’t be on Facebook anyway if you were here, you didn’t do social media and I can’t see that would have changed.
Sometimes I wish stupid things, like if I had lost you more recently there might be more pictures of you or videos. One of my fears is that I will forget the sound of your voice, I envy people that have videos of their lost children. My circumstances mean I don’t have a single person around that shared the memories I have of you so I don’t have anyone to whom I can say ‘oh do you remember when Toby did that or said that’.
Sometimes I talk to people about you, I like doing that, but they didn’t know you so can only listen. The other day I was talking to a lady at work, it was a slow day, and I was telling her how much I loved hearing you laugh. You laughed a lot as a child, you used to giggle a lot when you were watching Cartoon Network and we had lots of funny moments we shared. Then later on when you were living at home with me and Grandpa you used to play computer games at night talking to people all over the world and even though it kept me awake sometimes and I used to moan, I loved hearing your laugh coming up the stairs in the night,
When you went to University you never shared any stories with me about your friends or your adventures and I am not really in touch with your friends. I only met most of them at your funeral. I know that they loved you though, because they wrote about you in a book they gave me.
I hardly hear from them now, Graham now has a baby of his own, and Sean and Emily who have Toby (named after you) aren’t on Facebook which is the only way I had to contact them. Toby – your namesake – is 7 now.
Anyway I digress, I still love you and miss you more than ever. Even though you weren’t a model son, you hardly ever called and frequently forgot Mother’s day and birthdays, I wouldn’t have swapped you for anyone else. I loved you just the way you were. You were so intelligent, more than anyone knew, you were quirky – your own person, you didn’t follow the crowd, you sought out people who you could relate to and who understood you. I am comforted to know that you had lots of happy time with this bunch of friends who you met in Cambridge and I know they loved you, which makes it even harder to understand why you left, but I stopped agonising about that long ago.
There were so many little things about you that made you unique, I could write a book. I loved that you weren’t like most young men your age, you weren’t that bothered about clothes or travelling. I bought most of your shirts from Superdry. You didn’t go out late drinking or to nightclubs. When you did discover drinking and smoking it was with your bunch of friends in Cambridge. I know you watched wrestling with them and the Superbowl. I wish I could invite them round one night and just listen to them telling me stories about you.
To me you are just my Toby – forever frozen in time at 23 – that was your life 23 years and a few months, then you’d just had enough so packed up and went somewhere far away where we can’t contact you but I often feel you floating around.
I will always remember you as my funny, sweet, sensitive, intelligent little boy and as a young man who never really found his place in the world.
I’m doing better this year than any previous year as December to me is just a tortuous month to be endured. The black dog bites me out of the blue and then before I know it the 22nd is here, I take a wreath up to Chyenhal where your ashes went, hang things on your tree, have a little chat, then it’s just Christmas day to get through, then I sigh with relief until next year.
Every day is a struggle without you but December just make it a little harder, but I’m getting quite good at self-care and knowing what I need to do to get through it.
I will never ever regret a single second I had with you and I cherish the memories even though I can’t share a lot of them, they comfort me and make me laugh and cry.
I still campaign about mental health in men and this year I did a 20 mile walk through London in the middle of the night to raise money for a charity that helps men. If just one person calls the helpline and gets support then it’s worth it. It is no good me wishing things had turned out differently for you because that’s pointless, but I think you’d be proud of me.
I am still proud to call you my son and will never feel ashamed to mention your name or say how you died.
I’ll always love you – stay close and pop in to remind me your spirit will never die, my beautiful boy – happy 32nd birthday and your 9th as an angel.