The Privilege of Being His Mom

David James King: a noble name for a gentle yet stubborn son. Charming, with a playful wit, an articulate old soul, compassion, tenderness, and wisdom beyond his years.  Spry, wry, and almost 17 with a strong will, and a heart more sensitive than he cared to freely admit.

No mother ever imagines life without her child.  Yet it happens far too often. Loved by many, none more than his mother; yet love and caring are not enough to fight anxiety, depression, and perhaps other mental health conditions that never had the chance to be officially diagnosed and treated before he left us in the fall of 2009.

Closeness comes from being a single parent to an only child from the time he is an infant. Over the years, many friends confided that they wished they had the unique and special relationship with their child that I had with David. We often take for granted that life will move forward, and all will be well.  Life is utterly rocked to the core when your child is taken by suicide.

The first few Mother’s Days after David’s suicide were the hardest: bittersweet because many of David’s friends were around and reaching out to connect: he was so special and appreciated. The craving of wanting to hug your child and tell them how much you love them, and how lucky you are to be their mom, just one more time, is endless. I found that spending any time around other mothers with children nearby was overwhelming. It was hard to explain to family and friends without feeling selfish, the angst of trying to be happy on a day when your child is not physically present, and their children are.  It was beyond awkward and uncomfortable. Avoidance was the only way I could cope.

Once the loss sunk in and integrated itself into my life, remembrance with smiles and heartfelt joy crept back in. I now have the space within me, on Mother’s Day, and every day, to recall so many, many special moments, and feel the privilege of being David’s mother. It takes time, but it comes. I cherish beyond words the memory of a dandelion bouquet plucked by 3 year-old hands, and proudly presented on Mother’s Day years ago with a “For you Mommy – I luff you” spoken by David’s innocent little voice.

I also cherish the opportunity to be involved in the work of AFSP, and to keep moving forward in David’s honor, and in the honor of many other children lost to suicide. The hands that rock the cradle have much to offer, support, encourage, educate, and fight the good fight against suicide, and help change the future for other mothers.

Sheri is the Rocky Mountain Area Director for AFSP and helped to found and Chair the AFSP Colorado Chapter.

Many people have complicated personal responses to Mothers’ Day, and those who have been affected by suicide are no exception. Read other people’s experiences around this upcoming holiday here. We also have a resource for coping with difficult occasions. 


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