Help Stop The Pain Book

Below, you will find my book, Help Stop The Pain. We may still end up publishing the book in print for those that don't use the Internet, but we wanted to make sure that everyone that wanted to read it, could. With that being said, I hope it helps you or someone you are close to. Please feel free to share this with anyone and everyone!

We are working on raising funds to pass out business card size magnets with the numbers for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), along with the Crisis Text Line - Text HELLO to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis support via text. We will be using various other tools also to raise funds to help share the word in our own communities. Side by side, we can help those that we love!

Help Stop The Pain

The pain from Mental Illness can be devastating. Suicide does NOT end the pain. Suicide is NOT the answer. Suicide just transfers the pain to those who love you.

In Loving Memory
Heather Suzanne Crespo
7/16/1993 - 10/26/2015

Written with Love by her Mom,
Janice Crespo

Chapter 1 - Pain Kills 

Mental illness is drowning our world and we need to do everything in our power to get help for those that need it. Today, one out of every four people in our world is affected by mental illness. These numbers are not acceptable! This can no longer be hidden in the dark. We need to shine a light on the problem that is causing so much loss and destruction to so many.

On October 26, 2015, I lost my youngest daughter, Heather, to suicide. The pain that ripped through our hearts was debilitating. She was only 22 and there is no undo button. Nothing we can do can bring her back to us. I would give anything to have her back. Instead, I will do my best to share the pain that I felt and continue to feel since my beautiful daughter, Heather, decided to end her pain once and for all by taking her own life. There is a way to stop the pain from so many that are dealing with mental illness and save lives. We need to communicate. We need to really sit down with others and talk. If talking is too hard, write a letter, send an email, call the suicide hotline number 1-800-273-8255, text “START” to 741-741 to text with someone if you are depressed or suicidal, do something. Help is around the corner. The pain that comes from mental illness is real but the pain can end without taking a life.

I want to share a part of the letters that my daughter, Heather, wrote to our family. "I love you all so much. You have all done so much to help me. Anything you could do, you would. I am so grateful I had you in my life. I can't talk to people. I can't ask for help. You all may think it's selfish that I did this. I know you are all very upset but it's selfish to me to make me live in a world I don't want to be in. You are all the reason it took so long for this to happen. I didn't want to hurt any of you because I love you all so much. I'm so sorry I am causing you pain right now. I wish I was stronger."

That day is etched in my memory forever. It was, actually, a really good day in the beginning. Heather was out running around like normal. Between school, working in a group home for developmentally disabled adults, babysitting for a couple of kids that she really loved, playing some games, studying, helping friends out and sometimes, rarely, just relaxing, she kept herself busy. At times I would tell her I was worried about her because I would feel she wasn’t getting enough sleep or eating enough. She would always say she was fine and to stop worrying. Heather had a heart of gold. If someone needed her help, she would go out of her way to help them. Most of the time, when I saw Heather, she was laughing, eating or sleeping to get ready for her next overnight shift. She stopped home on that Monday with lunch for my grandson, Carter (Amy’s son), and myself. It was great. Heather was playing with Carter and together, they were drawing on the chalkboard table. Heather was so talented with her drawing. We have a few pictures of them, but not enough. We always thought there would be more. Anyway, after lunch and playtime, Heather told me that she had to do some babysitting and then she had work on the overnight, but she was going to stop back in the evening before work and see us. When she left, we gave our hugs to each other. When all my girls were younger, we used to share wrap-around hugs. They would jump up in my arms and wrap tight around me. For some reason that day, I tried to give one to Heather. Yeah, it didn’t work out too well, but now, I am glad I at least tried.

After work, Amy was going over to her friend’s home to watch something on the tv with them. I was watching Carter and he was sound asleep. I have to admit, I did fall asleep waiting for her so when someone knocked on the door, I thought it was Heather, forgetting her keys once again.. My mind went blank a little at that point because I was sure that the three New Jersey State Police officers were at the wrong apartment. When they asked if I was Heather Crespo’s mother, my heart sank and my adrenaline started flying. They informed me I had to go to the hospital and asked if there was anyone else there. I can’t be sure on the order of things at this point, my mind really wasn’t functioning too well. I remember calling Amy on the phone and trying to sound all calm while telling her that she needed to come home. At this point, I thought Heather was at the hospital from a car accident or something, and while I was concerned for her, I still thought she was going to be okay.

I remember the police telling me that it was a gunshot wound. My next thought was who could shoot my beautiful daughter. She was such a good person. When the police told us that it was self-inflicted, I was in shock. The police hadn’t even gotten out of the parking lot when they were on their way back. I remember them trying to get my grandson out of the room. I remember them trying to get me to sit down. I remember them telling me that Heather had passed on. From there, everything gets to be a huge blur. I remember Amy telling me that I screamed so loudly, her friend who was on the phone with Amy, heard it very loudly. I couldn’t tell you, I don’t even remember it at all.

Now comes the hard part. I don’t remember much of any conversations. I remember I called my oldest daughter, Carol and that she said she was going to fly home. I remember calling my father and thinking how much I was wishing that my Mom would pick up the phone, but couldn’t because we lost her 3 weeks prior. I remember calling my friend, Robyn. We’ve been friends for about 50 years and if it wasn’t for all her help, I don’t know how we could have gotten through the rest of what was to come. I’m not sure if I called my sisters or my father did. It’s a nightmare none of you want to live through. If any one of you is considering suicide, please stop. Even if you think you can’t take another breath, fight for yourself and get some help. Asking is the hardest step, but you can do it. You really don’t want to die. You want to stop the pain. The pain can be stopped.

At this point, I really need to thank my other 2 daughters, Amy and Carol. If it wasn’t for the two of them, I couldn’t have gotten through this. My mind was gone at that point. I remember they would ask me things and tell me to do things, but I couldn’t tell you what any of that was. I remember writing a blog post to let other people, the people that all loved her so much, know that Heather was gone. What should I say? Should I just say that she died unexpectedly, or should I tell them that she took her own life. There is such a stigma attached to suicide. Did I want to confront it head on or hide, like so many choose to do. I remember thinking if we didn’t say the cause, people would still be whispering behind our backs and I didn’t want anyone to whisper behind Heather’s back. It took me forever to write this, but this is what I shared to all our friends (who shared it with so many more). So many people truly loved Heather. She left footprints along so many hearts.

“My beautiful daughter, Heather Suzanne Crespo, was only 22 years old. She left so many of us behind. She truly touched everyone's lives who were lucky enough to meet her.The hardest thing right now is the question everyone is asking and the one I really don't know the answer to. Why is she now gone from our lives? She isn't with us anymore because she gave too much of her heart and soul.

When comedian Robin Williams passed away, the world truly felt his loss, A lot of us learned so much from him during his lifetime. He made us laugh and forget our problems for a while. We learned even more after. Depression is very real and sometimes the ones that feel it the most, strive their hardest to ease the depression of everyone around them. They know what it feels to hurt and they try their best to make sure that others stop feeling that. In turn, their hurt just builds until they can't shut it out anymore.

Is this the true reason that my baby is gone? I don't know. She was over with Carter and I on her last day, we had lunch, we laughed, we played. We had a great day! Everyone that saw her that day said she was laughing and having a good time. My head is still reeling from all that is going on around me.

I keep playing so many scenes over in my head. Did I miss something? Was something really hurting her and I missed it? What could I have seen? I see my baby, laughing and having a good time. Studying hard to make her life have meaning. She worked with people because she loved helping them. She was always laughing, from when she was little! She loved to make faces and just try to make us all laugh.

What could I have done? Could I have done anything? I don't know but I do know that I would have tried to talk to her more about depression. No, I did not know she was depressed, that wasn't her. She was trying to shield us from her pain. There are many around us that are hurting and just bottle it all up inside.

What I would do differently now? What I will continue to do differently from now on? I will talk a little more about depression, and how it's real and how talking about it could really help a person out. Remind people there are many counselors and therapists. Remind them that they don't have to feel the pain. Let everyone know. We aren't in this life to just help others, we have to help ourselves too. We can't bottle things up and just take care of everyone else. We all need to take care of ourselves.

Because some people really do learn to cover it up, we need to talk to everyone about it. Remind people that it is real, and while talking about it, remind them to tell the people they know too. Maybe together we can make sure that no one else feels the loss and the sorrow that we are feeling for Heather now. Maybe by talking it, and sharing that people are there to help anyone that needs it, just maybe our message will help a few more.

Heather grew up to be a beautiful woman, inside and out. Maybe, if we can care enough, just all be a little more like Heather, maybe together, we can all continue to make her life a true gift to others. This is how we can all keep Heather around us - carry the beauty of her soul in ourselves, and share that beauty with the world around us.

Next time you share something funny, remember to share something that could help others too. Yes laughter is one of the best medicines, but we also have to let it heal ourselves too. Let's all strive to be like my baby, my beautiful daughter, the woman that was beautiful inside and out.

Rest in peace Heather. I can't imagine what my life is going to be like without you. I have such a huge hole in my life. I truly wish I could turn back time, and really sit down and help you but I am too late and nothing can change that. I will try to live my life and make you smile and be proud of me for being the best that I can be, inside and out. You are always in my heart, baby. Not even death can take you from me. Your love is just that strong! I love you!”

I don’t know how I wrote that. I do know that I am going to try. I am going to try to make a difference in how people talk about mental health. I am going to do what I can to make sure that people work towards getting people education about mental health. People suffering with mental illness can get help. Our job is to make sure that they all know there is help and help others end their pain. Think of this as the new war: The War on Mental Health.

Chapter 2 - Life Becomes a Fog

Pain. The pain from loss from suicide is devastating. When it becomes too hard to function, when it becomes too intense to even talk to people, try to keep moving forward. Don’t sink into the fog.

That first week is a complete blur. We had to go to the funeral home and make all the arrangements. Again, my friend Robyn was there to help us through. She truly is an angel. Anyway, most of the arrangements were a fog but we already knew she was going to be cremated and they asked us about the urn. They showed us a beautiful urn with a dolphin on it and I remember asking them if they had one with a shark. Heather loved her sharks. She used to want to go swimming with them. I hope that is still an option for her in heaven. Anyway, they didn’t have one and we settled on a simple brown urn and we got a smaller one so that Carol could have a part of her with her when she got back home.

I remember thinking and hoping that this wasn’t real. This wasn’t our Heather. They were going to find it was a huge mistake and we would have her back with us. They were talking about an urn to rest my baby’s ashes in and all I wanted to do was wrap my arms around her and know that she wasn’t really gone. I remember tears that wouldn’t stop. I remember the crushing guilt of knowing that I let my daughter down when she needed me the most. I remember thinking if I was a better Mom, we would still have her with us.

I remember meeting the fog. The fog became my friend. I could hide there and no one would know the difference. You shut down. Your close your mind to everything, to the memories and the conversations. You put yourself on auto-pilot. You write everything down that you can because you have already learned that you can’t remember anything else. All you remember are the three NJ State Troopers that told you that your daughter’s life expired.

I remember writing down so much information that we were being given. Talking with the police, probate, so many people that you never really want to have to talk with. Not about someone that you have lost by their choice. Suicide. The word screamed through my soul. My beautiful girl, Heather, chose to end her life. Her love for us made it hard for her, but for her, it was harder to stay alive. Her pain was that intense. We now have an idea of that pain, because while she is no longer in pain, the rest of us share that pain for her.

I remember Carol and RJ arriving to be with us. I remember bits and pieces of when we were trying to get everything ready for her funeral. The funeral home arranged for us to have some time alone with Heather before she was cremated. That was so hard. I didn’t think the pain couldn’t get any worse at that point, but it did. I was the last one with Heather. I gave her a kiss goodbye and remembered thinking that she was so cold. Heather hated the cold. I remember thinking they probably wouldn’t let me bring her home. She was still my baby and I wasn’t ready to let her go. I don’t know that I will never be ready to let her go. We had to get home and start taking all the necessary steps. Most of the steps are just a big blur. I will share what I remember. That’s another really hard part. You forget so much of what happened that first week. There are so many hard parts of Heather’s story that are just blurs.

The police told us we would have to wait a bit to get Heather’s car and her personal belongings, along with the notes that she left. It seemed everyone wanted to know what she said, and none of us knew. It actually took a week to get the information from the police and all the notes ripped through our hearts. As far as I was concerned, my baby was hurting and I let her down. I didn’t see when she needed me the most.

Carol and Amy took Carter (I think) to go to Walmart and get some prints made of the pictures that we had of Heather. They had picked ups some glue sticks, some tri-fold poster boards, some oaktag, all sorts of things to make a beautiful collage of all things Heather. To this day, I still look at them all the time. I got to work and made another page on my blog, sharing a slideshow of all things Heather. We talked to so many people that first week, I know we did, but don’t ask me what we talked about or who we spoke with. I couldn’t tell you. So much of it was just such a huge blur.

At this point, I also have to thank the owners of the company that Amy works for. Also, some of her co-workers, that are also dear friends, were there to help us in ways that we didn’t even know we needed. They all kept our family going when all of us were, basically, lost in a fog. We had to set dates for the service and for visitation. I remember thinking that Carter, my grandson, was almost 3 and he was so excited for Halloween. I didn’t want to stop Halloween for him. We decided to have the service and visitation at the funeral home on Friday and then Saturday, we would take Carter out for Halloween. We decided to have an open visitation at our apartment on Sunday for those that couldn’t make it to the funeral. That made it easier to have my sister Joan come back from New Jersey. She had been helping my father deal with the loss of my Mom. We moved Heather’s old bookcase into my room and filled it with some of Heather’s things. We hung the bigger collage right above the bookcase.

The pain from that first week was so intense. I just wanted to surround myself with all things Heather. I didn’t want to try to have conversations I wouldn’t remember, I didn’t want to share any part of her. I needed her at that point more than I ever thought possible. Knowing that I would never see her again just about killed me. I remember being surrounded by people and all I wanted to do was crawl into a ball and stop the world from spinning. I wanted to wake up from a nightmare that I didn’t want to accept as being true.

I remember trying to make a deal with God that he take me instead. I didn’t want to take her from her sisters and my grandson. As it was, I didn’t have her and I thought maybe there was a way to stop the pain from the rest of my family. I also remember making my girls and I all take a promise to each other to never choose the route that Heather chose. When the front door would open, I remember looking and hoping that it was her. That all of this was a huge mistake.

Heather was forever forgetting to take the garbage out. Usually, about the time I gave up and was taking it out to the dumpster, Heather would pull in and say, “I was just about to take that out.” I remember walking back from the dumpster one day and just breaking down in tears because Heather was never going to be able to say that to me again.

So much pain. So much guilt. The world as we knew it was ripped apart. Memories shared were like a double-edged sword. Each new photo was a gift that was also a reminder that there would be no more new memories. There was a finite number to the number of days we had her with us and that number reached it’s end. So many times I would look at all her pictures and think that I would never see her any differently. I would never see the Mom that she would become. I would never see those grandchildren. I would never be able to love them.

Carol and Amy would never see this sister again. One of the things they loved was sister time. While the two of them will still get together, they will always feel the absence of Heather. When Carter plays with his Aunt Ara (Carter’s name for Carol), he can no longer play with his Aunt Yaya (his name for Heather). Heather’s choice changed all of our worlds. One thing I know that was repeated many times to me; we needed to find our new normal.

I didn’t want any of us to find a new normal. The normal we had was our family. We had each other and I thought we did. If you or anyone that you know is even thinking about taking their own lives, please, for me, for your family, for your friends, go talk to someone that can help you. Yes, it may be the hardest thing you have ever done, but it can help you end the pain. My daughter, Heather, is no longer in pain. Yes, that’s true. The rest of my family is now sharing her pain, until the end of our lives.

So many books and articles will tell you that the first step is the hardest. I’m not going to tell you differently. If Heather had taken that step and asked for help, all of us would have stood beside her and done anything we could. If she took that first step, she would have taken that first step to stop ending her pain. She would’ve taken that first step towards healing. No one ever claimed change was easy, but, in the end, it’s worth it.

Chapter 3 - Funerals Make It Final

The day of Heather’s funeral service came and I can honestly say that I don’t remember much. There were so many people there and everyone just wanted to talk to us. They kept telling me to go back to the reception area, but I wanted to be anywhere but there. I was on overload and I needed to be alone. There was no where to go. If I went outside, there were more people there waiting to pay their respects and share their stories.

The Funeral Home was run by a local family. The parents started it and their daughter, joined in the family business. They were excellent and made things as simple as they could. I have to say that I truly loved what they did for us. It was beautiful. I remember the father would roll his eyes at me every now and then as, once again, I walked away from the reception line to try to find some peace and quiet. Not long after Heather passed away, the parents were in an accident and he passed away. I do remember calling the funeral home and passing along our condolences. I may not have have known them well, but those little eye rolls of his is what helped me get through the day.

They had asked us if we wanted to speak at the funeral and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to. I think I got out a thank you for coming, but I can’t be sure. My girls, again, were much smarter than I was. They wrote their eulogies down and I would like to share them with you now. The first is from Amy.

“Thank you all for coming out. Heather was a beautiful person inside and out. I have so many memories with Heather, that range from wanting to change her diapers, to her changing Carter’s. She was my rock. She used to ‘rawr’ at me growing up, because ‘rawr’ meant I love you in dinosaur. She knew I would always be there if she needed me. Heather, on numerous occasions, would call me at 2 a.m. for car problems or would crawl into bed with me just to talk. We would spend hours together for sistertime. We would watch movies or share stories. I love you, Heather. I want you to just come home.”

I know Amy shared more, but she did it on the fly and I can’t tell you what else she said. Carter was with us, too, along with some of his little friends. I know that some people questioned us about having the little ones there, but Heather was a big part of their lives too. Honestly, having the little ones there helped most of us get through it.

I remember one of my friend’s sons was there at the funeral home. He was Heather’s age and they grew up together. He was destroyed by the loss and at one point, he put his head down and one of Carter’s friends just walked over to him and patted his head to help him feel better. Small things like that helped us get through it. Next came Carol’s eulogy.

“My family and I would like to thank you all for joining us as we honor and remember our beautiful sister, daughter, Heather. She was brilliant, smart, funny, loyal. She wanted the best for everyone. During the past few days, people from all over came to share with us their memories and their feelings for Heather. So, with that said, I need to address the elephant in the room. And if you know me or my family, you know that the only way we can do this is head on.

Depression is a serious illness that must be addressed. It causes a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes it difficult to experience happiness, or any feeling at all. Depression lies. It tells you that you are nothing, that you can do nothing. It tells you that you have nothing to lose, that people would be better off without you. Depression cheats. You can’t think clearly and you think these lies are the truth, your reality.

My sister had the biggest heart. I think of all those times we spent together, and I try to see if there were warning signs. There were none. But that was the type of person my sister was. She wanted the best for everyone. She wanted everyone to be happy. Even from the time she was a kid, she always strived to make everyone smile, everyone laugh. She still was a kid. But I know my sister. She would have kept these thoughts, these misconceptions and depressions a secret. She wouldn’t want us to worry. Why? Because then, we wouldn’t be happy. Everyone’s happiness came before her own.

My beautiful baby sister tried to take the world on her shoulders. We need to support my sister and what she was going through. She would want to help those in need. She would want them to experience their life, knowing people cared about them, loved them. She would want you all to know that there are so many resources out there.

Heather, I love you so much.”

I don’t how Carol was able to write that and share it, but as I have always said, I have 3 amazing daughters.

Some of our friends swung by our apartment after the service and we set off some small fireworks for her. Nothing big, but she loved them so much that we had to shoot them off for her. I truly hope she can see fireworks up in Heaven, because I know Heather will watch them any chance she gets. She truly was a big fan of them.

Chapter 4 - You Are Worth It

Don’t You Dare Let Anyone Else Set Your Value. You Are Worth It. Life Is Supposed to be Beautiful For You Too. Do Not Let Anyone Ever Tell You Differently. You Are Worth It.

Before we go any further. I just want to tell all of you that I am not a trained mental health professional in any sense of the imagination. I am a Mom, with three beautiful daughters and a handsome grandson, that lost her youngest daughter to suicide. From some of what Heather wrote, she didn’t really feel that she could handle her life. To her, her life wasn’t worth it. To us, it was worth everything. To her friends and family, it was worth everything. To the people she worked with, it was worth everything. Your life is worth it. Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently. They would be lying. Don’t tell yourself differently. You would be lying. You are worth it. If you don’t like the direction your life is taking, you can change it. No one else is in control of your life. There are plenty of people that will look to take control of your life. That is not an option. You Are Worth It. No matter what else is in your mind, just know, really know deep in your heart, you are worth it.

No matter how many times in life I told all my girls that they could do anything, Heather didn’t really believe it. She did her best, but without truly believing in herself. Depression and mental illness do that to a person. It all gets jumbled up inside your head until you just do what you can and try to bury the pain inside. Heather chose to try to help others whenever she could. My guess is that she didn’t want anyone to feel the pain that she kept hidden deep in her soul. Heather knew the pain of knowing in her heart that to her, her life with worthless. She knew we all loved her so much, but to her, each day was another day of pain. All she wanted was to be free of the pain.

Life can be hard for so many. There are so many areas we can look to for help. The internet abounds with helpful articles and posts. You can even follow along with me as I share my thoughts in this book. Why is it that mental illness affects so many people? Why is it that years later, we are still trying to cover this up and hide it while more and more of the people that are suffering from mental illness are ending their lives? That is not right. We have to change that. We have to let everyone know that if someone feels as if they aren’t worth it, it’s a lie. They are worth it. If enough people are saying this, it may just help save another life. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

What is mental illness? The best way I can sum it all up is that mental illness can be caused by 3 main factors. The first factor you have is the environment that a person is living in, consisting of their physical, emotional and psychological well being. The other two factors that can contribute to mental health are a chemical imbalance or possibly genetics. Any or all of these factors can play a role in mental illness. Please remember that I am not a health professional at all, I am a Mom looking for a way to understand my daughter’s suicide. There are various sites you can look at to find the definition of mental illness. I just tried to sum up what I read for you guys. To me, the part that is the hardest about mental health, is that it is so easy for so many to hide the signs completely.

My daughter, Heather, was beautiful, inside and out. She spent so many hours just getting ready at times. She wanted her hair to be perfect. I think the feel of the hair straightener going through her hair was one of her favorite sensations. She could do it for hours. Trust me. Most days, Heather’s hair was usually immaculate. Maybe this was a way that she could control some of her feelings of inadequacies. I don’t know. She hid her pain from us, so all I can do is guess. I keep trying to put together some of the pieces in the puzzle of why she chose this. I have heard from others who have talked about their child that they lost to suicide and making sure they looked good all the time was a common trait. Maybe this is a sign of some sort. Would that mean that everyone that took such meticulous care of their looks suffered from mental illness? I wouldn’t think so, but who am I to say?

Heather took so many pictures and deleted so many more. If the picture wasn’t perfect, she would take another. She might be a little upset with me these days because I had some pictures that she didn’t keep, but I did. Each picture of her is a treasure. Many times she would share a photo or a post or a story, just to let a person know she was thinking of them. Okay, I have to admit, she also shared quite a few recipes that she wanted me to make. I, unfortunately, didn’t get around to making all of them. I won’t get another chance to make them for her now.

Whenever I hear about another suicide, I get so sad. Recently, I have heard of suicides from children as young as ten! We can’t have that. We need our children to be raised by a village, with everyone sharing the same thing. They are worth it. If they are hurting and in pain, they are not alone. They need to know they can end their pain and not take their own lives. They need to know that this is common, way too common. Mental illness is a disease that can be treated. The pain can end and your life can continue on, but so much better.

When Heather ended her life, such a huge part of our lives changed. We did what we could, but for the most part, we all just wanted the answers that we would never receive until our time on Earth ended and we could be with her again in Heaven. That is a day I look forward to. No, I will not rush it along, but on the day that I die, I know I will give Heather the biggest hug ever. We all miss her so much.

One of the first things I did was follow the advice that I was given. Keep a journal. Write down how you feel. One day, you will be ready to reread them. I don’t think I will ever be able to read them and know that I am ok. Each time I look through this book or any of blog posts, the tears pour and my heart rips open a little more. Today, I am going to share them with you, and with myself.

I know from some of the comments that I have received, guilt plays heavily on them. The guilt that you feel when someone takes their own life like my baby did is awful. No one should have to feel this in their lives. Now, welcome to my journal.

Chapter 5 - Prologue From A Mom

July 16, 1993 was one of my happiest days. This was when my baby, Heather, came into the world. We were all so happy. Her 2 older sisters, Carol and Amy, got to hold her in the hospital. My sister, Joan, was even able to hold her, right after birth. She told me that that she was so happy to hold her when she was so new - she was the newest baby she ever held. That was a really good day. A memory that I treasure.

October 26, 2015 was the worst day of my life. My life was changed so drastically when my baby, my Heather, decided that the only answer for her was to take her own life. I saw her earlier in the day and she seemed so happy. She brought lunch with her and was playing with Carter, Amy’s son and my grandson. The last thing she said was “I love you and see you later.”

Heather was always running here and there, trying to help everyone. That was her. Now we know that she was truly hurting inside and helping others was how she coped with her own depression, a serious mental illness that affects so many. So many that I have met that have been through this before me say that same thing. They seemed so happy. They helped others. We had no clue how miserable they really were.

We had a normal day after Heather left that day, until 3 state troopers showed up at our door in the late evening. At first I thought they were telling me she had a car accident and I just had to go to the hospital to see her. They then told me that she attempted to take her own life. I called my daughter, Amy, to come home so we could go to the hospital. The next thing I knew, the police were back telling me that she had passed on. The police had only gotten to the parking lot when they heard that her life had expired.

From that point, I really can’t tell you what happened. That first week or so is no more than a blur in my memory. All the people that contacted us had beautiful stories of Heather. She helped so many others while she was here. Heather touched so many lives. She was truly loved. If only she saw what all of us saw, she could be here with us today. Today, she is an angel in Heaven, looking down on us and hopefully smiling.

Her sisters, Carol and Amy, along with myself, are doing all we can to keep her spirit on. We have started a Memorial Page for Heather at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We hope that the money that was raised during the initial crisis and beyond will help to teach others that there are alternatives to suicide. I also hope that my letters will help others that are contemplating suicide see the devastation that is left behind by their final act. I hope to help other parents that are going through this so that they may know that they are not alone.

By no means am I over this - my world is totally upside down right now. I don’t know how I can help others when I don’t even know how to help myself, my family and all the friends she left behind. All I know is that others are telling me that I have to accept that my world is new now. The world I knew before is gone forever. I have to find a way to have her active in my life. I don’t have the Heather I knew anymore though. I only have her spirit with me. Her spirit has to become my focus. Through her spirit, I hope to be the kind of person that my daughter was. She helped so many. She didn’t care if she even liked the person that needed help. If someone needed her, she was there. She was an angel on Earth and now is an angel in Heaven.

Her final words to me were in a note:

“Mom - I love you so much. You mean everything to me. You have done more for me than I deserve. I’m so sorry I hurt you, but please, as a promise to me. Remain strong. Be there for my sisters. Be there for my nephew and any nephew and nieces I may have in the future. I love you so much.”

I have so many replies to her, but the fact is, I can’t change what she did. I don’t want what she did to be real. I want this to be a nightmare that I can wake up from and see her standing in front of me. Instead, I got an admission into a club - the Survivor’s Club - those left behind when a loved one, family or friend, decided to end their lives. We all have one thing to do that is so hard…We have to survive.

Chapter 6 - My First Journal Note to Heather

Heather, I miss you every single day. We all do. Our lives are so radically changed right now. I don’t think any of us know which way is up or down at this point. I know you don’t want us to spend our days crying so much, but we do our best to go on with our lives like we know you want us to.

I love this one picture we have of you sledding in the White Sands Desert. You had so much fun that day. It hurts to know that you were hurting so badly inside while on the outside you enjoyed yourself so much. I have to believe that you had some good times mixed in with the pain. It was so beautiful that day. I remember you had your tank top on and sand go all over you so you threw on your hoodie to keep the sand out of your clothes.

A part of me wanted to try it so badly, but I was so afraid that I would fly over that pile on the end and land on the hard parking lot and hurt my back more. I wish I could have done more with you, instead of being on the sidelines, but I didn’t want to end up in a wheelchair and be more of a burden to any of you. You would tell me at times that I was so strong and so brave, but honey, I am a coward. You were the brave one. Heather, you even wanted to go swimming with sharks!

Speaking of sharks, I have to tell you. They had a beautiful urn at the funeral home of dolphins. When we asked the funeral director if they had one with sharks or tie-dyed for you, she did look a little taken back by our request. We just knew how much you loved them. Do you remember that summer you tried to rent every shark movie? I know you loved it. I have to admit some of them were good but you also have to admit, some of them were the worst movies we have ever seen!

The one thing I hear over and over is that it is good to get together with other survivors. We started a Memorial Page for Suicide Prevention honey, so that maybe, through you, we can help stop others from making the decision that you made. I wish you understood that we would have helped you with anything and that there was a way out. I know this was your choice, but this was not our choice. But, I do understand and I will always love you.

We will be attending Survivor Day, an event put on by the foundation. It is for people, like us, that are left behind. By the way, I expect a lot of tears that day for us, so you might not want to look. I do know you don’t want us to cry but it is so hard not to. Amy, Carter and I are going to go to the one near us and Carol is going to go to the one near her. From what I hear, the event is really good. I wish you were here and that we knew you were contemplating this. I would have taken you to one so you would’ve seen first hand the devastation that you would leave behind.

Perhaps this should be a required class in school. People need to be more aware of suicide and the solutions that are available. As of right now, the last figures that the Foundation shows for suicide rates in the USA is from 2013. 1 suicide every 12.8 minutes! That is awful - so many devastated souls left behind. I don’t think that includes the overdoses, both illegal and pharmaceutical - some of which are also suicides, without notes left behind. These figures stagger me completely.

The parents I am talking to on the one forum all say the same thing. ‘They were happy. They loved to help others. They looked like they loved life. They lit up the room when they came in.’ You guys were the best souls on Earth. Perhaps that is why we were only allowed to have you for a short time. But, being the selfish humans that we are, we still want you here with us.

I can’t imagine not ever seeing you again while on the Earth. I have to trust that one day I will see you again in Heaven. Carol, Amy and I all made a vow to each other to never take the path that you chose. I don’t know that any of us could take more of this pain. So, we will do our best to take one day at a time, one small step at a time. This journal is one of the ways that I am taking those steps. I hope you can see what I am writing or at least hear it when I read it aloud to you. I love you baby. Always!

Chapter 7 - Letter 2 to Heather

A new day dawns. I'm sorry for the tears this morning. I keep promising I am going to try to be as strong as you and not cry. It doesn't work. The tears flow. I hope you are finally at peace now and no longer in turmoil. I have to trust that you are. Is there any way that you could send me a text message from Heaven? I just need to hear from you.

All of us are still so destroyed by your choice. The simplest chores put me in tears. Could you please leave some dirty dishes around? I promise to pick them up and wash them with love and not bust your chops for being so spacey at times. We cleaned up your room and are now re-finishing that ugly brown bookcase that you have kept for years and years. We want to make it as beautiful as you. We don't have your artistic talent, but we will try our best to make it something that you will be proud of.

Amy, Carter and I are going to go down to visit with Carol in January. I so wish you were here to go with us. I'm sorry I couldn't afford to take you on nice vacations. I'm sorry I worked so much when you were younger, trying to make sure you had what you needed. I'm sorry I wasn't enough for you.

I hope you are enjoying spending some time with Grandma. Losing both of you in the same month is so hard, but at least you both are newbies together in Heaven. Hopefully all the pain from her cancer is gone and all your inside pain is gone too. I hope you are at peace now.

I have just under 2 weeks to figure out how to make Thanksgiving dinner a good meal. Nothing tastes like anything. I eat because I have to in order to survive. Tell me, Heather, how do I celebrate a day of thanks when all I can ask is why you are gone? Why did you have to choose this? Why couldn't you have confided in us. I deal with depression every day. I could have told you that there are times when it is ok. There are times that you can breathe. I could have told you to focus on those that you love and you can have more good days than bad.

We are doing our best to find a new normal for us, but none of us can give up the Heather that we love. On that Monday, when you came over and left, I don't know what made me try to pick you up and give you a hug - maybe I sensed something that was coming or maybe Grandma was telling me to. I don't know. I just wish you didn't stop me. The hug we shared is not enough.

We feel like you are sending us little signs along the way. I hope they are from you because we are following them the best that we can. I hope you are happy with our choices. It would really help if you could come back, even for just one more day, to spend some time with us and explain everything to us. Explain why you had to do this.

One of your favorite things was to go shopping. While this is definitely not one of my favorite things, I will spend the day shopping with you or anything you want to do. I just want to be with you and hear your beautiful voice. I want to just look at you and hold you, just one more time. I know one more time will never be enough. I am willing to take anything I can get.

We have an entire collage of your pictures on the wall. We chose the pictures that we hoped you would like. I know how fussy you are about sharing your picture - it has to be perfect. What you didn't understand that every picture of you is perfect. You are so beautiful, inside and out. So many people are in turmoil over this.

You helped so many people but you wouldn't let one of us help you. You held all your pain in and there isn't one of us that doesn't wish you would have confided in us and let us help you. You helped get friends into rehab, you helped stop others from committing suicide. You helped so many. All of us wish we could have saved you.

Carter is waking up now so I need to put on my mask and try to be the happy Grandma that can play with him without breaking down in tears. He is so cute. When the tears come out, he touches our eyes gently and says, "Eyes wet." Yeah - he is saying that more and more. They tell me one day that we won't cry quite so much. I look forward to that day and I dread that day. I just want the day that you walk back in the door and ask what there is to eat.

I love you baby. You are never out of my thoughts. I talk with you often and I promise, I will work on the tears some. OK? You work on sending us a text message and we'll be even. I love you! Always!

Chapter 8 - Letter 3 to Heather

Heather, I wish I knew how badly you hurt. I just keeping going over and over, in my head, what I could have done differently. I was just on the Mayo Clinic site and it says, if you know someone thinking of suicide, there are a bunch of questions you can ask them. Some of the questions, I wouldn't know how to ask. I have to be honest. Then again, I didn't even know you were considering this. You kept it hidden so well.

One of the questions, "How are you coping with what's been happening in your life?", will be a question that I am going to start incorporating into my conversations. Heather, you were always running here and there. I could have easily asked that question. Maybe it would've made a difference. I will never know. I hope by writing this, others will start asking the question too.

You took so much on your young shoulders. Everyone's problems were your problems, but you never shared yours. Why couldn't you share with us? Don't you know that we love you so much. You couldn't do anything that would change that. Even now, you are still in our hearts - our love for you will never die. Could I have given you more attention? Didn't you know that you were such a big part of our lives? I still can't believe, or I don't want to believe, that I will never see you again. How are we supposed to go on, baby?

Carter still asks for you all the time. He loves his Aunt Yaya. He doesn't understand why you aren't here anymore. You were his Aunt, his friend, such a big part of his world every time you visited! Even when you aren't here, he asks for you. I have no idea what I am going to be able to say when he realizes that you really are gone from us. That you are in Heaven and won't ever come over again to play with him.

It's still really hard going out and talking with other people. I know they all mean well, but when they call or ask how we're all doing, it all just brings me back to that moment when I found out you were gone. It was like someone, like the Wicked Witch in Once Upon a Time, just came over and ripped my heart right of my chest. I don't know that I will ever stop feeling that pain. A big part of me doesn't want to stop feeling the pain. Through that pain, I feel you the most.

I look at the pictures we have of you and I look at your eyes. Do your eyes show the pain you were feeling and I just didn't notice? I don't see the pain, baby. Sometimes I think I do, but then I just hurt all the more. I feel so guilty that I wasn't there for you. When you needed me the most, I failed you. Big time. I'm so sorry, baby. I wish I could do something to bring you back to all of us. We miss you so much.

The holidays are coming up and I have no idea how we will get through them. We are trying to make things as normal as possible for Carter, but with you not here, it's so hard. I know I will give thanks for Carol, Amy and Carter. I will give thanks for the family and friends that are helping us so much through this time. I will give thanks for the time I was able to spend with you. What are we going to do, though? You were always the one picking a movie or something that we would all watch together. We'll probably be sitting there looking at a blank TV or scrolling through and trying to find a movie that you would have picked. Any hints you could send down to us would be greatly appreciated!

I have to believe you are up in Heaven, looking down on us. Is there anyway that you can try to find a loophole? A loophole that would let you come back to us? Even if it's just for a brief visit? OK, I have to admit, if you came back, I would only tell a few select that you were back. I would want to keep you all to myself, but I know you. You would be running around trying to help as many as you could.

I have to try to get some things done. I feel like I have been in such a fog lately. Simple things are like huge obstacles. I am doing my best to get through each day. I hope you are at peace now. I'm still not sure I ever will be again, but I will listen to the advice I hear and do my best to make you proud of me. Love you baby, Always!

Chapter 9 - Letter 4 to Heather

Heather, you have touched so many lives. So many are still feeling lost without you. It's hard to handle. I wish you could come back so much. I know you can't come back in person, and I do sense your spirit, but it doesn't stop the wishes. I couldn't sleep last night. I am getting better about sleeping but some days are just harder than others. Anyway, Aaron texted me and told me that last weekend he dedicated his wrestling matches to you. He had 5 amazing matches. He told me it was thanks to you. On the tape he wraps around his hands, he wrote RIP Heather. I have to say, I don't think those 5 that he wrestled will ever be dating anyone named Heather in the near future.

He also told me he is working on setting up a suicide awareness wrestling show fundraiser in your honor. So, your Mom is going to end up going to a wrestling match. Stop laughing baby. I will do it for you! You touched so many people and they all want to make sure no one else goes through what we all are. It's so hard. We all just want to reach out and hold you. You were so full of life when you were here. It still hurts to know that you were not happy. You made so many of us so happy just to be by you. I told him I would talk to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention when we go down for Survivor Day to see if there is anything they can do to help us get this off the ground. We all want to make sure that you keep helping people that need you. Even in death, people are going to know what a beautiful and rare person you really were.

We are picking up some paint and things today so we can start the refinishing of your bookcase. The sanding is basically done. Now is the time for the primer. I want you to look down at it and smile. I so wish we did this when you were still here. It would have been so beautiful with your talent, but I will do my best. I will try to use some of the patterns that you used on the drawings that you left with us. I wish you hadn't destroyed so much of your artwork. We have the ones that are left framed and hanging up. Everyone agrees that you were so talented.

Honey, you know how private I am and I have to admit, things are getting a little tough going out. You made sure that people won't leave me alone. I'm not sure if I should be thanking you for that or not, but it sure means that the rest of my life is going to be different from the first part of it. If you were here in person, I would make sure I was dragging you with me. Instead, please come with your spirit because as I said, I really am not as strong as you. You did so much. I'm not sure if I can fill your shoes or not, but I will do my best to make you proud of me.

Carter still calls for you every day. He points when he says your name at various times through the day, so a big part of me feels he is more blessed than us - that he can really see you. I see you in my mind baby. I talk to you all the time, but I don't get the privilege of seeing you anymore - just your photos.

We have that one picture of you sitting in the chair in the pool with Grandma. I love looking at that picture because I can see both of you at the same time. It's hard seeing you both and knowing you both left me in the same month. I hope you guys are hanging out together some. My Mom is a really good Mom and I hope you will turn to her when you need a hug. She will have to give you my hugs from now on. OK. I'm selfish and still want to hug you myself, but at least you have Grandma there with you.

None of us can really go through your things yet. I will work on that after the bookcase is done. I want to make sure that we put all your beautiful things on it for you. I must say, baby, you have a LOT of stuff. We aren't ready to get rid of anything, and part of me feels like I am invading your privacy, but I do want to see what else we can find to cherish of yours. If it ends up being too much for the bookcase, I will redo the other bookcase too and use that if I have to.

Well, baby, Carter is wide awake now and starting to need a playmate so I am going to have to go for now. I will write soon. I feel like this is one way for me to talk with you and hopefully help others see the damage that this brings. Perhaps, through these letters and my tears, others will realize that this is not the solution. I so wish you had confided in me or in anyone. So many wish they could have helped you. Until later. I love Heather - Always!

Chapter 10 - Letter 5 to Heather

Good morning, Baby. I got a message from a beautiful girl that had seen some of the early letters. Her comments touched me so deeply, it was truly like you sent her as a messenger to me. She has attempted suicide before and is working past all that. She told me to stop feeling so guilty. That you wouldn't like that. Honey, I want to make you proud of me and I hate feeling guilty, so I will work on that. I want you to look down on us and smile, not feel the pain we feel at your loss. I have to believe you are still here with us. I even pulled out the 2nd chair by my laptop so you can sit with me as I type to you.

I have finished the sanding and wood filling on your bookcase. I must say, that bookcase has definitely seen a lot of use and abuse over the years. I filled those pretty big gouges in and I think, once it is primed, it will look beautiful. I just gave it a good wipe down to get rid of all of the dust on it. Now, it just needs to finish drying (it is just a little damp from the wipe down). This evening, I will probably start priming it for you.

When I asked you what color you wanted me to paint it, you showed me that small bottle of paint on the shelf on your dresser. All of us had looked at that dresser and none of us remember seeing the paint there before. It easily could have been. The point is, none of us saw it until I asked you the question. I think I am going to use that to sponge on over the primer - so that it isn't a boring solid color. You wouldn't like that - you loved things to always be a little bit extra - a little more artistic. Hopefully it comes out well, or I will have to re-prime and then go down and get more of the paint.

I am also going to try to incorporate some of the patterns from your pictures onto there. I know it won't be as good as you would do. Forgive me. But I will try to copy the best that I can so it can truly be the best bookcase for you. Those triangles that you did on the one drawing, I am going to try my best to paint them across horizontally on the front of the shelves. Down the sides on the front, I am going to incorporate the solid color with the lines and dots all through them.

If you don't like it, send me a sign of some sort and I will re-do it. I know you are getting pretty good at sending signs. I love them. It really helps me, baby. I wish you would figure out that loophole, to see you one more time. I dread the holidays approaching. It just doesn't seem like we should celebrate without you. I know we will try to figure out what our new holidays are. I think the hardest days will be your birthdays and the anniversaries of the day you left us. You better be around those days to show us what to do.

We are going to the baby shower today. It's hard to go out and deal with groups of people right now, but they are such good friends and they are there for us with you. We want to join this celebration with them. We need to. I wish you were still going with us. You were always there for me. I must admit, I still don't like the whole big group thing, but it will be easier knowing you will have my back. Hopefully it's beautiful for them.

When I meet others that are going through what we are, I will tell them two things. Do something for the person. The bookcase is a real help to me. While sanding, etc., it gives me so much time to just talk with you. Think of you. Be with you. It is a nice quiet time to talk with you. I would also tell them to write down their letters. They don't have to share it like we are if they don't want to, but part of what helps with the letters is the hope that we can continue helping so many like you.

Heather, you touched so many lives while here with us. Whenever anyone needed help, you were there. We all want to continue that. We want to help others for you and continue all your good works. There was one of you and you did so much. There are only three of us and we just hope that is enough to continue your work. I want everyone I meet to know that we all just need to help each other. We need to be there for each other. We need to stop judging people and start reaching out with our hearts to help them.

It's a pretty big challenge for us. I hope we are up to the task you have given us. You have passed the baton to us and we are going forward. We know you are with us and we know you are watching us. Try to help us and guide us as much as possible. Keep sending those signs. They mean the world to us. I love you, baby. Always!

Chapter 11 - Letter 6 to Heather

Baby, when is this going to get easier? Each time I think that I can wake up and not break down again, something comes across and triggers the tears. I don't want to spend the rest of my life crying, but I don't see any end in sight. Then again, when I don't cry, I feel guilty for not crying. It's so hard. I just want you to come home. I have to believe you are in peace. I know it would be easier for you if I didn't keep breaking down in tears, but I don't know how to do that. I have figured out when I have to go out, I just need to enter my little fog zone. It lets me go near people and not break down completely. The baby shower was really nice yesterday. It looked like they had a good time. I'm not sure what I said at the end of the shower, but we had quite a few come home with us to have milkshakes. I admit, I had to walk away from making them and Amy took over. It was hard. You were always the first one in line for a milkshake and you weren't there.

We are all trying to go on. Make the steps that we need to make it through each day. Carol and Amy are both back at work now and the days are hard for them. At least I have Carter. I don't think he understands that he will never see you again. He sees your pictures and he doesn't cry. He gets happy. He loves you so much. When he grabs one of the many toys and books you got for him, I get teary. Who knew reading those little books about Disney's Planes could make a person cry so much.

We watched The Walking Dead this morning. We didn't get all the way through it, I didn't want to wake Amy up. We will finish watching it later. It's hard, I just expect you to walk through the door first thing in the morning and I do know you won't, but it doesn't change my feelings. While we watch, I just watch the couch where you sat and try to imagine you are there watching with us. Heather, how do I face this? How do I move on to become a functioning human again? I just feel so lost right now. I don't know how to face the world without you.

Everyone keeps saying the same thing. In time, I will be able to function. When? In time I will be able to go out and do things and enjoy them. How? The questions go on and on. I know I was told not to feel guilty, but I do. I understand I can't change anything that happened in the past, but are there different choices I can make? Yes, I still have Carol, Amy and Carter, but am I going to do something, or not do something, that will make them take the solution that you took? What can I do baby? Please tell me. I have to take faith that they will honor the promise that we took to always be here for each other. To never take this path.

I keep looking up ways that I could have helped you. I know, a little too late. It's all I can do now though. Through a few conversations and researching more on the web, maybe what you had was something called comorbidity, a combination of depression and anxiety. They are learning more about it. But what I have learned is that this is a high risk of suicide. With your help, maybe we can make people more aware that there is help available. That you don't have to go through it alone. Alone usually ends up in suicide.

Years ago, after I tried to take pills to end my life, Grandma and PopPop took me to someone to talk with. I couldn't talk. The problem was, I didn't know how to tell what was wrong. I just knew that I was miserable. I hid my problems and tried to make believe everything was ok. I took way too many drugs. I was never afraid of overdosing. I just figured that would be an added benefit. I hid in drugs for quite a while. I had a good friend question me one day, and whether she knows it or not, she is the reason I stopped the drugs. But, what was I left with to hide the pain?

I did what I could. I tried to help others and you helped many more too. Maybe you were following in my footsteps, but I think it was more the way you were coping with how you were feeling inside. I'm so sorry I didn't see this. I will try to be more observant. Maybe if you resorted to drugs, we would have found out. You resorted to trying to make everyone's life better. You strove to be the person that everyone needed. What you needed to do was be the person you needed, and you still would have helped so many others. The difference being, that we would still have you with us.

Carter is ready to play more cars so I have to go for now. I know I will be back to see you soon. It's like my new addiction is talking to you. I wish I had that addiction before, but I took it for granted. I watched you run here and there and I just knew that I would see you later. My baby, I will be back soon. I love you! Always!

Chapter 12 - Letter 7 to Heather

Good morning, Baby. I had good dreams of you last night. I just didn't want to get up this morning. I have been wishing to see you, just for one more day. Last night, I had such a strong feeling that I am only allowed to have one wish - to either see you again for one more day or to have you feel at peace for all eternity. I chose the peace for eternity. It was so hard. I just wanted to see you and for you to have peace. I will keep my visits in my dreams and grant you the peace you so deserve. Carol found another picture of the two of us. That was a beautiful thing to wake up to. I will take it as a sign that my dream was right. You are in peace now.

I got the first coat of the primer done on the bookcase. Today I will do a second coat, hopefully during nap time. Carter is fighting nap time more and more. I guess I am going to have to accept that they are gone soon, but they give me a nice break. Time to spend in quiet time with you. I think I am going to have to find more projects for you. While I work on the bookcase, I have you here with me. I don't want to give that up.

Do you remember when you used to draw all over that one wall? The day we finally thought you were done drawing, we got out the primer paint and primed and painted the wall. I think that is the reason the smell of the primer got to me. It just reminded me of you. I have to admit, it's hard to paint when you are crying.

A part of me feels very guilty still. I wish there was something I could've done to help you. I wish you weren't so good at hiding your feelings from all of us that loved you so much. A good friend of yours is coming to Survivor Day with us. I really think he needs it. Amy made sure that he is spending the night here on Friday so that he doesn't have a chance to change his mind.

I seem to spend my days in a fog. I like it there. It's not too painful there. I can do my day to day things. I can play with Carter. I can spend some time not crying. I do believe that you are in Heaven with Grandma. I know there are others up there that love you too, so I know you aren't alone. I so wish I could be there with you, but for now, I will have to trust others to take care of you and give you the hugs I so long to give you.

The other day, Carter wanted to watch Barney. Do you remember your 8-hour Barney marathon tape? You loved Barney. Who would've thought that one day Barney would put me in tears just wishing you were here to watch it with us. He watches some other shows too, shows that you didn't watch. Like you, he tends to watch his favorites over and over and over. While it drives me crazy at times, it's another reminder of you so I don't really mind.

Carter may be our next future artist. Amy found an app that he can use on the phones and not touch anything he shouldn't and most importantly, not be buying all those other apps. He has a drawing app and he seems to go to that all the time. He also watches a lot of videos like you. You spent so much time with him before. He picked up many of your habits. It's hard at times, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Cooking is really hard for me these days. I just can't get my mind on the food prep. I think I am going to have to stick to following recipes for a bit. I just can't get my head in the game. At least I haven't given any of us food poisoning yet. Who would've thought that after all these years, sharing recipes with others and all, that cooking would become a hard chore for me. I will do my best and maybe one day cooking will become a normal occurrence for me. I hope so.

Carter seems to have a lot of energy today. I am going to have to take him outside soon and let him burn off some of this energy. I just want to crawl in a hole and cry, but he needs me to be his playmate. He needs me to stay in the present with him and not daydream about the past with you. I so wish you could come home, but as I said, if it is a choice between seeing you and having you in peace, I choose you being in peace. You spent your life in turmoil and I don't want you to spend all eternity in that turmoil.

I love you baby. All my wishes can't change what you did. We have saturated our home with your images. We will haven't gone through all your things. It's way too painful. In time, it will get done. I know when we finally do, it will be bittersweet. It is painful to see everything, but it is also nice to have more reminders of you to surround ourselves.

Carter is ready to play cars again. He is still into lining all the cars up in bumper to bumper traffic on the Cars rug. Maybe one day he will change that, but either way, he is asking to play so I have to go for now. I will be back soon. You can count on that. I love our quiet times together. I hope you like them too. I love you! Always!

Chapter 13 - Letter 8 to Heather

Good morning Heather. I don't know how to do this anymore. I don't want to sleep the rest of my life away, but sleep seems to be the one place that I am in peace. Everyone tells me not to feel guilty but I'm not sure how to do that. I do feel guilty. You are my baby and you were so miserable and I didn't know. How am I not supposed to be feel guilty?

You admitted in your notes that you told so many lies. I don't know what to believe anymore that you told me. That's the hardest part. I'm sorry I have been so depressed for so long that I didn't notice that you were following in my footsteps. I'm sorry I didn't give you the life that you craved. Amy and Carol did ok, but I didn't notice that you weren't ok. It hurts so bad. I know, if only I had woken up to face life 100%, I could've saved you. I failed you.

I try to spend each day and try to help others. I play with Carter, I attempt to cook dinner (nothing fancy yet - it's still really hard to cook). The pain in my heart is so sharp. You are gone and I can't change that. I try to be strong for Carol, Amy and Carter. It's so hard at times. I think my letters to you are the only time I let my mask down. The tears pour and I think what if, what if. Unfortunately, all my what ifs can never happen. It's too late for that.

I have to trust that your spirit is here with me. I look for signs and I find them wherever I can. Whether they are truly signs from you, or perhaps from Grandma, I take them as a sign that all is good for you now. That is my only consolation. Hopefully now, you don't feel the pain. I have to trust that you guys are both in Heaven. That neither of you feels any more pain.

Through your notes, you admitted so many of the lies that you were hiding from others. Don't you know that was your first step to coming out of depression? That was the hardest part. From there, your life would've improved. We all still love you. There is nothing that you did that we wouldn't have forgiven you for. You were my angel on Earth and now you are my angel in Heaven.

While I won't take my life, I can't wait until the day I can see you again. I look at every white car that drives by, that pulls in the parking lot and just hope and pray that this is all a nightmare that will go away. I pray for a miracle to see you one more time. I know it won't happen, but I want it so much, it hurts.

I spend most of my time in a fog, it's how I get through each day. I long for the moment that I can lay down and hibernate for the night. I just don't know another way to do that. You used to laugh at me cause I didn't sleep enough. Don't worry, I am sleeping more and more. Last night, I think I got 11 hours of sleep. Yes, I woke up a couple of times, but I just had to go back into my blankets and try to hide for a little more.

I know your sisters read all the notes with me. How can they not see that I am the entire blame for you being gone? It screams at me as I read the notes. Are they just faking it? Do they blame me too? I don't think they would tell me if they did, but I know the truth and it is killing me. One day, I expect them to admit to me that it was my fault and that they blame me too. I deserve it.

They tell me there is a time that I will feel angry towards you. I don't see that coming. I could never be angry at you. I told you I would always live with whatever decisions you made. This was your decision and while I don't like it, I can't judge you or be angry with you.

I used to bust your chops because when you woke up, the bed looked like it had been through a war - tossed and turned everywhere. I have to admit, my bed looks like that in the morning. I guess it's because I fight to sleep longer - I fight to stay away from the pain that comes with starting a new day.

I try to be the better person that you were. I try to accept all the people that loved you, but I have a hard time. You were a much better person that I ever was. Even some of your friends, I hear some of the things you said, and I hope you were telling me the truth, but perhaps even those were lies. It's so hard to know, but I hear some of the things you said and it's hard to be nice to some of them. You know who I mean. I try, for you, to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Help me!

I hope Amy and Carol are really doing ok. They say they are, but you said so too. I worry about them every day. I don't want to fail them like I failed you. I try to put on my mask and not make them worry about me.

I didn't get anything done on your bookcase yesterday. I will try again. During nap time yesterday, it was one phone call after another. Each phone call was harder than the one before. Hopefully today it will be quiet and I can work on making your bookcase beautiful for you. I want to have you set up nicely again. I know you don't like the work in progress, but I hope, in time, it will be beautiful for you.

Carter and Amy are going to be getting up soon, so I better go for now. I don't want them to see me without my mask on. I don't know how they all go on and do things. I just want to crawl in a hole and hide from the world. We are going to Survivor Day this coming weekend. A big part of me doesn't want to go. I don't know if I will be able to keep my mask on. As I said, I worry about worrying them. I'm sure you understand.

I will talk to you through the day, baby. I love you! Always!

Chapter 14 - Letter 9 to Heather 

Good morning, baby. Yesterday was a really hard day. Today, I think is going to be even harder. Birthdays and holidays are the pits these days. You were always one of my first happy birthday wishes, and you can't text me anymore. I didn't want to even get up this morning knowing that there wouldn't be a message waiting from you.

Yesterday, we all went to see Mockingjay Part 2. You had told me that since we couldn't all be together for my birthday movie, we would all just have to go at the same time, so that Carol could go with us, even though she is now down in Florida. Who knew when you told me that, that you wouldn't be around to go with us. It was very hard. I really had no desire to go, but we felt we had to for you. Basically, I think we were the 3 that were sobbing the most, especially when Prim died. It was like reliving your death all over again. Very hard.

They say this is going to get easier over time. I want to believe them. I really do. Each day starts with a raw ache that I won't see your beautiful face and get one of those great hugs from you. Nothing else really seems to matter. It's been 27 days now without you, and each one is as difficult as the day before.

I have the bookcase all sanded, filled and primed. Now we just have to get the paint to give it the base coat, and then I will try my hand at copying your artwork. This is going to be so hard. Everything is hard these days. Even Carter has a new expression. Eyes wet. I don't know when the pain will ever end. Part of me wants it to end and part of me doesn't want it to ever go away. I feel your loss so painfully. It hurts. Hopefully you aren't in pain anymore. That's the important part. I don't want you to hurt.

Amy went in early today so she can get out early. Today, of all days, we have to go the surrogate's office to do your probate will. It is truly the last place I want to go, but at least we will get this over. Your car was always filled with everything and I can't believe that you cleaned it out. We are doing our best with what we have, but I really think all of us wanted to see everything that was in there, and you took it away from us. We can't change what you did, although we all wish we could, but it doesn't change the fact that you left such a big hole in all of our hearts.

I never really cared for my birthday, that's the real reason I used to take the day off. I didn't want all the birthday wishes. The only wishes I truly wanted were from the 3 of you. I also wanted you guys to celebrate your birthdays. All of us are hurting and all of us will especially feel your loss on our birthdays. You always made sure we did something fun. I remember on your 21st birthday, you wanted to go out to the bar and celebrate. The bar was dead that night so you had everyone re-do it on the weekend. I must say, you sure made sure that things were always perfect.

This week is Thanksgiving. I don't even want to make the dinner, but we are trying to continue everything as if you were still here. I guarantee that we have a lot of leftovers, but I guess that will just make it so I don't have to cook for a few days afterwards. We stopped at Target last night after the movie and Amy showed me where you guys stood in line last year on Black Friday. You are in so many of our memories, it's hard to even go places knowing that you won't be there.

We want Carter to have good memories of the holidays, but it's hard doing this. Amy even plans to do our baking for everyone. I have no appetite and really don't want to bake, but as we said, we have to try to keep things as normal for Carter as we can. He looks at your pictures and calls for you often. He finally picked a name for Carol, and it's even hard with her not living near us. But, many times throughout the day, Carter calls for his Yaya and Ara. I wish you could just come down and play with him. He does miss you. He always got so excited when you walked in the door.

We are even trying to follow The Walking Dead. To be honest, I can't really tell you what has happened in the last episodes. Glen is missing but we think on the last episode, he was calling for help. We learned who taught Morgan how to fight with the stick. Well, that's all I can think of. I got the email this morning telling me that the new episode is available. It used to get me excited. Now it just makes me sad, knowing that you aren't going to walk through the door to watch it with us.

Anyway, it's time to play cars with Carter so I have to go for now. I love you baby. My only birthday wish is to have you back with us, and I know I can't have that. At least Carter helps us to get through each day with a little bit of laughter. I know your birthday wish for me is to stop feeling so badly, but I can't. The only thing I can promise you is that I will try and that I will never stop loving you with all my heart. Love you, Heather! Always!

Chapter 15 - Letter 10 to Heather

Heather, yesterday was miserable, at least the beginning of the day. So many birthday wishes came pouring in. Each one was like a stab to the heart that you weren't there, that I didn't wake up to your text message. It felt like such a void. Each Happy Birthday depressed me a little more.

Amy left work early because we had to go to the Surrogate for your Probate Will. Not a fun destination, but they did make it simple and were very compassionate. You would be proud of your nephew, he used all of their stickers up - mostly on his truck! From there we were going to Taco Bell. I know how much you loved eating there. The new store is just too small and in the future, we will continue going when we run out to Pennsylvania.

Amy sang Happy Birthday to me and then, Carter followed and sang it too! I wanted to cry. I was so happy hearing that from him. After that, we stopped by and visited with some friends for a little bit. On the way home, Carter was singing Happy Ara. He has taken to calling Carol Ara for now. Him and his special names for everyone! Right?

Well, after we recorded him to send to Carol, we turned on the radio and listened to Hey There Delilah. I know you were singing with us. I'm sorry I couldn't get all the words out, but it was hard to sing while the tears were pouring from my eyes. I remember when you were younger when that song came out. You had me learn every word. Once I learned it, you played it over and over again, so we could sing together during it.

Heather, between Carter saying Happy Birthday to me and Hey There Delilah playing, I figure I received two beautiful presents from you and I thank you. Last night, in my dreams, was my 3rd present. I dreamt that you, my Mom and my PopPop all came to see me to give me Birthday hugs. I woke up so happy. Yes, it was only 4:30 in the morning, but I couldn't fall asleep again to find you guys. It was hard. The dream didn't last long enough.

Amy invited a friend over for Thanksgiving because he was going to be alone. I think that will help us with Thanksgiving a little bit. At least I hope so. Amy is picking up the last bit of things for sides for the dinner tonight. I think there are going to be a lot of leftovers, but hey, leftovers are always good, right? I think you were always ready for your first turkey sandwich about an hour after dinner.

I really hope you are at peace now, Heather. I know it must be hard to look down on us and to see us cry, but we have no choice. We miss you so much. In time, I am told, it will get easier. None of us will ever forget you, baby. You touched so many lives here. So many are thankful for the time they got to spend with you, while they mourn the fact that they can't spend anymore.

4 weeks without you seems like an eternity. I can't fathom how I am going to survive this, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other. I hope you are proud of me. I hope you are proud of us all. We are doing our best. I know you were hurting and that you didn't think it was fair of us to ask you to stay in this world. I try to accept this daily. I'm sorry, baby, I am selfish, I still want you here with me. If I can't have you here, I wish I could switch places with you. You had so much of life ahead of you, and we could have gotten you whatever help you needed. You could have made it out the other side on top of things. I wish you had just asked.

I know this was your decision. I know that I can't undo it. I know I have to get past this, but I really haven't figured that part out. I write to you here and on my blog. That helps a lot. I guess they are part of my new normal. I didn't like to share myself before, not the real me, and now, for you, I am. I want you to keep helping others. I know I may not be the best tool to work with, but I will try to be better. Through me, I hope to help you continue to help others. Amy and Carol feel exactly the same way. We are all striving to be the person that you were. I don't know if the 3 of us are enough, you did so much good, baby. You touched so many lives.

We are going to have ziti tonight. I know how much you loved it. It's heating up now. We will be eating in about a half hour or so. I really can't stay too much longer. Time to get things going here. Can you taste things up there when I make them for you? I have no clue, but I hope you can. The sauce came out perfect this time. I know you would approve of it. No, I didn't make the bagel chips to go with it, perhaps next time. I haven't been making a lot of things lately. I really am just going through the motions with as simple of a meal as I can.

I'll talk to you soon, baby. I miss you so much! I love you! Always!

Chapter 16 - Letter 11 to Heather

Happy Thanksgiving, baby. I don't know how we are going to get through this day. We are making all of your favorites. Yes, we are going to have leftovers. Everyone told us to just start new traditions and I think next year we will do that. I think we are going to have the dinner on Wednesday night and then for Thursday, just do a day of appetizers and Friday can then be our baking/dessert day.

A friend of Amy's is coming by today and a friend of Carol's said she might stop by for a glass of wine. Personally, I want to just skip today all together. It's been one month today since you made the decision to end your life. Not a day goes by that we don't cry and regret your decision, but we do accept that it was your decision. We just miss you so much it hurts. It's hard to give thanks when what we all just want is to have you back with us. I know, we are selfish to want you with us, but you mean so much to all of us. We just miss you so badly.

Amy has started playing the games on the PlayStation 3. Since yours was broken, she got a new one and she plays with some friends. I still like the laptop. I used to play more games. Now it just seems like I want to spend my time with you here. I seem to just stare at the screens for longer period of times without really getting anything done. I can't imagine what the rest of our lives will be like without you. When I think of it, the tears just come. It's something I just can't fathom.

I do give thanks for the 22 years that I had you with me. So many great memories. You always had a smile on your face. You lit up a room. I give thanks for Amy, Carol and Carter. I give thanks that I do have 3 sisters and a Dad still. I even give thanks for Roxi, except for when she farts. They are still deadly. I am thankful for the friends we have, old and new. I am thankful we have a roof over our heads and food enough to share with friends and family.

I hope you like our idea for the future Thanksgivings. I know a friend mentioned that they did something different - appetizers on Thursday and the dinner on Friday, but well, you loved the dinner the most so we have to do that first. Plus, we will have some leftovers to use for the appetizers, etc., and maybe not have quite so many leftovers in the future. I am getting better at cooking. I don't have to keep myself in the kitchen anymore so that I don't forget I am cooking.

While you were with us, you shared quite a few recipes with me. I am going to try to make them all over time. Each dish I make that you shared with us will be special. I have to try to find ways to have you here with us. While I can't have you physically, I still need you around. I don't think the day will come that I don't need you. You don't know how much you did for me while you were here. I still feel guilty that there wasn't something I could've done to take the thoughts of suicide away from you. I really didn't know you felt that way. I wish I did. I would've stopped you. You were never a burden to any of us. You are such a beautiful person, how could we not want you around us.

You were always running here and there. I think the image that is stored in my brain the most is you falling asleep on the couch for a little bit to get a nap in before working the overnight. I can still picture you laying there. It's an image that I hope will never fade. You were always so peaceful in your sleep. OK. Maybe not peaceful when Carter would decide to tackle you in your sleep, but you always greeted him with hugs.

Do you remember when you were little and wanted to sleep with me? That one swing of the arm and you managed to give me a nice black eye and a fat lip. So many people thought someone else had hurt me. It was hard to convince them that little, innocent Heather did that to me. I'm glad you stopped the swings, especially once Carter started to give you those sound-asleep hugs. He loves you so much. He calls for you all the time. He loves his Aunt Yaya.

I have to try to get some things done. I cooked and carved the turkey and made the spinach dip last night. Basically I just have to get the sides all prepped and cooked. I want to get everything vacuumed and dusted and looking clean again. So many simple tasks have fallen by the wayside.

I still feel like I am in a fog most of the time. I try not to let the fog leave too often, it hurts too badly. I am told from other suicide survivors that it is normal. There are many that can't even leave their beds so I guess I am doing all right. I get out of bed each day. I try to accomplish something. Some days I write a letter, some days I just talk to you instead. I may not have everything in the letters, but it does help.

Suicide Survivor Day helped more than I knew. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has an excellent package that they put together for us and I would like to share one of those pages with you. So many people ask the same questions, and many times I don't know the answer. I had shared this on my blog, but I want to share it with you too.

Just So You Know - A Message for My Friends
  • I can't stop grieving just because you believe it is time for me to move on. 
  • I can't stop hurting just because you do not understand the piercing pain in my heart. 
  • I cannot stop my tears from flowing just because they make you uncomfortable. 
  • My heart is not suddenly mended just because you believe that I have grieved long enough. I will grieve the loss of my loved one for the rest of my life. 
  • There is not a "certain order" or a "normal" way to grieve. Grief is an individual process. 
  • I need you in my life, so please don't give up on me. Just let me go through this process and be there by my side. Sometimes, being there in silence is enough. 
  • Don't ask me if I'm okay. There is only one answer for that. 
  • I may eventually laugh but that doesn't mean I don't hurt. 
  • Remember that holidays, birthdays and anniversaries will always have an effect on me. 
  • Forgive me for not asking about you for awhile. It doesn't mean that I don't care. 
  • Whatever you do, please don't pretend that my loved one didn't exist. 
  • Understand that I will never be the person that I was before and that is okay.
Just so you know.

On that note, baby, I am going to wrap up today's letter. I hope we are making you proud of us. That, I think, is my main goal for the rest of my life. To try to touch as many people as you touched. Help others like you did so unselfishly. I love you, Heather! Always!

Chapter 17 - Letter 12 to Heather

Hi baby. I know it's been a few days since I have written, but you are never out of my thoughts. I miss you so much, we all do. I went through all the pictures you guys have on Facebook and have been working on getting rid of the duplicates. I don't know what is harder, looking at all the pictures and knowing that there will be no more new ones, or looking at them and seeing you smile and wondering if any of the smiles were ever real.

Amy and I received tickets for the Polar Express Train Ride and we took Carter on Sunday. He loved going on the big school bus to the train and the big choo-choo was amazing to him. He even sat next to Santa! Yay! All I kept thinking was how I wished you could've gone in my place. You would've loved it too. Anywhere we go without you just hurts. When I have to leave home, all I can think is how long it will be until we are back home and I am surrounded with you again.

Not many people come around anymore. That's fine. You know I really don't do well around a lot of people. A few text and check up, but most just seem to leave me alone. The only one I want to walk in the door is you and I know that can't happen. I miss you so much.

Most of my days are spent in a fog. I don't know how to really describe it. I'm here but only partly here. It's how I can function and not spend the whole day crying. To be honest, that's why I haven't written to you in a few days. I take myself out of my fog for you and it's very painful. The box of tissues is right by my side again. I think I am blowing my nose every paragraph - sometimes a couple of them.

One of the group coordinators from Amy's group called last night. She told me on the phone that I am doing ok. I guess on the outside I am, but I don't want anyone to see the raw pain you have left on the inside. Please tell me, somehow, what I could've done differently. You know I still have Carol and Amy and I watch Carter so much while Amy is at work. I just don't want to lose them the way I lost you. I guess that is my biggest fear right now.

We really haven't been doing our holiday baking. I think Amy is going to be disappointed, but I really don't think we will get cookies baked for everyone this Christmas. I ended up cooking the Turkey on Thanksgiving Eve so on Thanksgiving I made one batch of cookies. They are basically gone. We haven't decorated for Christmas. I don't think Amy or I really want to. I do want to get a tree set up for Carter. He is just starting to believe. I don't want to give him any reason to stop believing.

You would love this. Amy and Carol got him a Power Wheels John Deere tractor for Christmas - with a little trailer! I am sure Amy is going to give it a whirl too! It's supposed to arrive tomorrow. I hope it comes during his nap time because there is no way I want him to see it. He asked for a tractor to Santa on the train ride. It will just be the icing on the cake for him to get one. He is going to be one happy boy. I wish you were here to see it with him. I wish you were here all the time.

I miss you coming by. I know you were keeping yourself really busy. Maybe that should have been my sign. You just seemed like you knew what you wanted. I guess that is because you knew you were going to leave us soon and wanted to get as much done as you could.

Do you remember when we went to Chincoteague and bought those huge 12-foot kites? You wanted to fly it so badly, especially when it started lifting you off the ground. I guess you get to fly now. Fly down and visit please. When I do go outside, I tend to watch the clouds a lot. There have been a lot of unique looking clouds. I keep thinking you are taking up the art of cloud painting. Are you? Is that really you sharing your artwork with us still? Am I totally delusional?

I still can't believe that I will never see you again. I watched a shark video the other day for you. Of course, the shark was trying to get in the cage. I can't believe you wanted to do that. I don't know that I could ever do it, even in your memory. I really am afraid of something that just looks at me as food. I still get emails from Netflix telling me what shows you would like to see. I got another one this morning. I know I could just delete your name on the account, but I don't think I could ever bring myself to do that.

The last day you were here and you wrote Aunt Yaya loves you all on the chalkboard paint. It's fading away, but I can still see it. I have been trying really hard not to cry around Carter. It's heartbreaking when I do. He just says, "Aunt Yaya come home", followed by "Eyes wet." I don't want to teach him so much about pain and tears. He won't even be 3 until January. He misses you so much too. You were his buddy.

Well, Amy and Carter are going to get up soon. I have to end this now so I can read it to you and get my eyes dry before Carter sees me crying again. I love you baby. Please find a way to let me know that you are ok and at peace now. I'm a little slow on the uptake so you might have to really throw something in my face, but please do. I love you baby! Always!

Chapter 18 - Letter 13 to Heather

Good morning, baby. Last night was another hard night for me. I try to get to sleep early so that I can join you in my dreams. If I don't get to sleep early enough, I just don't get to sleep until it's just about time to get up. I try to cry quietly so I don't wake up Amy and Carter. I just miss you so much.

Last night, Amy had another grief support meeting. They really do seem to help her. You know me, I prefer my privacy. Funny, huh? I like my privacy yet I am willing to share my thoughts in this book and on my blog. It's just easier for me there. I can make believe that no one but you will really read it. If they do, I just hope that this will help others. I don't want anyone to feel the pain that we are feeling. Nothing is the same since you are gone.

Yesterday on Facebook, I saw a post that if you see a cardinal, it really is a visit from a loved one in Heaven. This morning I saw a post saying Good Morning and it was just a beautiful picture of a cardinal, so I took that as your good morning to me. It's such a big difference from the other mornings when you would walk in the door. I still can't fathom that you will never walk in the door again. I miss you so much. It gets hard sometimes with Carter during the day. Some days I just want to sit down and cry and forget everything else, but I can't. It hurts enough when I do slip and start crying and he says, "Yaya come home. Eyes wet." I really don't want him to remember you just with tears. I promise I will try to work on that.

You used to play with him and watch all those videos on your phone with him. I know he misses you. I want him to remember the good times and not the heartache that we all feel now. For the most part, I just spend my days in a fog, trying to get things done, one step in front of the other. After Amy gets home, we eat a simple dinner and then I usually end up laying down early. I can't say I remember the dreams, but I know they were of you. I wake up feeling at peace and then the knife hits again - I won't see you again.

I share on my blog and in my journal because I hope it helps others and prevents others from taking your choice. I know I am far from a professional. I just wish you had told me how much you were hurting. I would've done anything to keep you with us. Some days I just wish I could be with you, but I know that Amy and Carol couldn't handle that right now, so I pray that God just gives me the strength to go on. I know I can't do anything more than my blog and this book right now, but eventually I do want to start something up here in the county. There has to be a place for people like you to go and get the help you need, without the stigma that Mental Illness brings.

I know you were embarrassed about it. That's the only reason I can think of you hiding it. Baby, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. It's an illness and there is help for it. I just want to make sure that there is help for the people around here. I do remember some of the problems that people you know have too, so I want to include drugs in with that. Help for those that have a problem that turn to heroin and end up losing their lives. It just is so hard to see all the people that are gone from us.

So many lives are cut short that don't need to be. Baby, you need to be here. I'm glad you are at peace in Heaven and I know that one day in the future I will be able to get a hug from you. I think that is the only thing that keeps me going - looking forward to that day. It just seems so far away. No, I won't cut my life short to be with you, but only because I know the pain that it would cause. I don't wish this pain on anyone.

My world is completely different. I don't think there is anything that I do that I don't wonder if you would like it, if you would be proud of me, what you are thinking. It's hard to not know the answers. I look for signs and for all I know, they are just coincidences, but I have to take them as signs from you. It's the one thing that helps me. Knowing that I may just see a new sign from you that day.

They tell me that it will get easier over time. I can't imagine that. I will never get to see you find a life that makes you happy. I will never see the kids you would've had. You would've been a great Mom. So much better than I was. I tried my best and I guess I just wasn't enough. I'm so sorry I failed you baby. If I had been a stronger person, perhaps you would still be with us. They say the guilt will leave but I don't want it to. I know that if I was stronger, no one would be feeling this pain. I miss you so much and I'm so sorry, Heather. Please forgive me.

Well, Carter is playing with Roxi and trying to hide her so I think it's time to go back and be a Grandma again. Hopefully I won't mess up his life. I seemed to do ok with Amy and Carol, but perhaps I failed them too. I hope not. Anyway, I will talk to you again soon. I love you baby! Always!

Chapter 19 - Letter 14 to Heather

Honey, I miss you. Tonight will be 6 weeks. It doesn't seem to get any easier. The image of the NJ State Police standing at the door is an image that I want to go away. It won't. Crying doesn't help. Praying doesn't help. Distracting myself does nothing either. I want that image to go away.

I finally finished the base coat on your bookcase. I hope you like the color. I think Amy did a great job picking out the color. Now comes the hard part. Trying to paint on the designs like you did. Maybe I am wrong to try to do them, I don't know. I just have to try. Why can't you come home and do the painting? It would make it so much easier. Maybe it wouldn't. I don't know anymore.

It seems like each day gets harder instead of easier. Christmas is in less than 3 weeks and I just want to skip over it. At the same time, I don't want to skip over it for Carter. I try each day to make sure I don't cry in front of him. I don't want your nephew to turn into an over emotional little boy. He loves you and I don't think he understands that you really can't just walk in the door. I guess I have accepted everything. It doesn't make it any easier. I don't look down the path and expect you to walk in. I don't look at the cars on the road to see if you are pulling in the complex. Now, I look down the path and get sad. I see a white car and want to cry.

I went to the store with Amy and it's hard to do that too. I don't know how Amy and Carol go out to work each day. So many that I thought were true friends can't even pick up a phone and call or text. It's like people think suicide is contagious. I know it's not. I don't care for me, but it hurts when Amy says, yeah, I saw some people but it's like they just want to ignore me. That hurts. This has affected all of us so much.

I now know what they mean when they say that we have to find our new normal. All our lives are so changed now. While it is hard to accept that things will never be the same, I think we are all starting to accept that fact. I have accepted the fact that I always need to have tissues near me. I've told you that I try not to have crying jags in front of Carter, but I do cry. Mostly, I cry in bed. Amy and Carter went out yesterday and I think one of the first things I did was break down and cry.

I am trying to make you proud of me. I don't even have Grandma to talk to now. Actually, I hope you are both proud of me. For my birthday this year, Aunt Linda sent me a card and we have actually spoken. I learned that not only you can put me in tears. Aunt Linda shared things about when I was a baby that I never knew. Maybe if someone had told me these things earlier, I wouldn't have spent so much of my life feeling like I was unwanted. I hope Grandma is happy that we are both speaking to each other now. No, it's not an everyday thing, but I don't want to cut her out of my life anymore. It's a start.

I still feel guilty as anything about all of this. Maybe that is the Mom in me. Maybe it's because I have spent so much of my life depressed. I can't tell you the cause, but I think I will go to my grave feeling guilty. No, I won't take my life. I can't do that. You taught me what that does to the those left behind. Death is hard. Suicide is impossible for those left behind.

I wish I could wave a magic wand and put an end to all suicide. It's not an answer, it's an escape that rips holes in people's hearts. I have no room at all for the drama that some people want in their lives. I want to scream at them and say, "Seriously? That's what you are concerned with? Get over it. If you don't like it, change it!" In fact, I am working on doing just that. Yes, I try to be a little more sensitive than that, but I really can't handle it. They have a life they can just alter a little and all will be fine. I would do anything to be able to undo your choice. I can't. Your choice was final.

Well, morning is here yet again. Carter and Amy will get up soon. I want to get the books back on your shelves now. Carter just wants to play with them. Who would've thought that when I went digital and donated all my books (some to you), that one day I would have another collection that I would value so much. I did start reading again. It helps to go into a book and get away for a little bit. I have to admit, though, as soon as I come back, my first thought is of you.

Baby, I love you. Please if you have any powers up there, help me, help us. Help us to help fight against depression, mental illness, drug overdoses and suicide. The pain we all feel is awful and I don't want anyone else ever feeling this. I thought I knew pain before. I didn't have a clue. If you knew how much we would truly hurt, I know you would never have pulled that trigger. It's just not something you can get over. Just know this. No matter what happens, know that we love you more that anything. Always!

Chapter 20 - Letter 15 to Heather

Good morning, baby. I had the most wonderful dream last night. I so wish it weren't a dream. You came back to us. We weren't allowed to tell anyone and we had to move to where no one knew us. I was so excited. Call it Heaven Protection instead of Witness Protection, but you were here. When I woke up, I was so excited, and then so sad, when I saw that my tablet that you had taken was still in the spot I keep it. Knowing it was a dream was so hard, but at least I had you with me for a couple of hours in my dreams. That helped some, I guess.

Nothing is the same anymore. Amy and I are trying to get our Christmas cookies all baked, but without your help, it is just harder to get done. You would always volunteer to help me bake, at least one day, and then I would find out the reason was that you were going to give out your own cookies. I don't know why you thought I never figured that out, but it was always fun to work with you in the kitchen.

We sent some cookies down to Carol and Pop Pop today. They each got quite a few. They will have plenty to share with others. Joan is going down to spend Christmas with Pop Pop. He sounds like he is starting to do a little better, but he misses Grandma a lot. It must be hard for him too. Some days I don't know how I am going to get through the day. Randomly, I will just break down and cry. There is no rhyme or reason to when the sobs will come, but come they do.

I would give anything to have Heaven Protection to be real. Even if it was just for a day - I would love to have one more day with you. Tell you that I love you. Tell you I am sorry for not being there for you when you needed me the most. I wish I was a mind reader so I could have seen the turmoil in your mind, but I am not. I couldn't help you when you needed me the most. It hurts.

We still haven't been able to decorate for Christmas. I told myself I would do it after I got your bookcase done, but I still can't find the ambition to do it. Everything is so much harder these days. Simple chores are hard chores. Washing dishes can even be hard because I don't have to go around our home and find dishes and cups that you didn't put in the sink. You were always so tired between work, school and trying to help your friends when they needed it. You were such an angel on Earth.

Next I am going to paint the big bookcase. We want to make it the same tan as your bookcase so it all blends in. We are going to put it in the living room so that Amy can have all the game systems and games in easy reach. I wish we did this when you were here. Maybe a simple project like this would've helped you. I know it's hard to get the thoughts out of your head and I hope you are in peace now. Personally, I use the time working on the furniture as quiet time to talk with you.

I just have to work on getting the blackboard paint gone. No matter when I see it, I think of you and your artwork. I don't know how you did all that work, to only have Carter erase that. I know I didn't get all your details in the bookcase, but I did my best and it does remind me of the time we got to spend together in New Mexico. I wish I could've done more for you. That is the one thought that goes over and over in my mind.

I wish I had the option to just lay down and curl into a ball and cry all day. I don't know that I can ever shed all the tears I have for you. Carter makes that impossible and that is probably a good thing. I feel like such a loser. The one thing I thought I was good at was being a Mom. I failed at even that. I just wasn't enough.

I think this has all made me realize that another person's depression does affect those around them. Mine affected you. I never really got over the abuse and just tried to bury it so it wouldn't get to you guys. In turn, I wasn't there when you needed me to. I couldn't get out of my own head. Yes, I know what it feels like to not be able to shut off the thoughts, but I wish you had just tried to be the stronger person and got the help you needed.

Time to get back to being a Grandma. Today is a train day for Carter. I still have dishes to do from baking cookies this morning. I want to try to start painting at least the shelves of the big bookcase when Carter hopefully goes for a nap today. He has really been fighting the naps lately. I think I am losing my quiet time in the afternoon. I will talk to you again. Please, if you can find a loophole for Heaven Protection, please come back to us. We will do anything you want. I love you baby! Always!

Chapter 21 - Letter 16 to Heather

Good morning, baby. I had hard news last night. Another boy has taken his life. A new friend since your parting has asked if it was alright to give my information to help talk with them. I have no idea what I can even say to them, but I told them it was fine and they could call me. As far as I know, they haven't shared the fact that it was suicide yet. I don't know what made me share it, except for the fact that I didn't want people to whisper behind our backs. I wanted to stand with you and not hide anything about it.

It's still so hard to accept that you are gone. My last touch from you, unfortunately, was at the funeral home and you were so cold. I remember the feel of the kiss. When I kiss your urn, it is the same cold feeling. It's hard not to focus on the image of your death and not just always focus on your life. We all miss you so much.

I have stopped looking at the front door and expecting it to just be a nightmare. It is real and you aren't coming home. I wish I could wave a magic wand and bring you home or even switch places with you. Everyone misses you. The world after Heather is not as bright, not as joyful. I never knew a heart could hurt this much.

No day passes without me thinking of what I could have done differently. If only isn't going to bring you home. Nothing will. I accept that and I think I will always hurt. I know some of my choices really hit home with you and I'm so sorry. I accept that my depression and my trying to protect you from so many things backfired completely. The price was your life. Knowing that makes it very hard.

They say guilt is just a phase I will go through, but how can I ever get over this? Everyone says that it is not my fault, but I feel it is. It's as simple as that. I love you so much, Heather. You are my baby. You will always be my baby.

Some days I think about the big kites we got in Chincoteague when you were little. You wanted so badly to fly it but we wouldn't let you after it started to lift you off the ground. You were so tiny we were afraid it would take you away from us. Now, you can soar through the skies and not have to worry about getting hurt. You are an angel with wings. You were always an angel, you just hadn't received your wings while you were here on Earth.

I hope that things are better for you now. When I talk to you in my dreams, I feel like you are now at peace. I have to try to accept that you are. It is what gets me through each and every day. I have to believe that you are no longer suffering. I know I spend a lot of time saying "What if...". That doesn't change a thing and it doesn't really help me. I know it would be better for me to not go down that road. It is a road full of heartache and tears.

I moved your mosaic table into my room last night. I rested the smallest TV on it so on days when I want to watch when my back is too sore, I can watch on a real screen and not lug over my laptop. I tried to watch it last night but I really couldn't focus on it so ended up shutting it down after not too long. I really like to lay there and just talk with you. It's the only way I know to encourage you to visit me in my dreams. You aren't always in my dreams, but I value the dreams that you are.

We are trying to repaint a lot of our furniture and make the room a little brighter. The coffee table is going to stay the black chalkboard paint. You spent too much time on that drawing. I can't change it. I may give it a fresh coat one day, but it will always be there. Maybe Carter will take over your drawing. He does seem to like to draw. He has even taken a marker to the walls at times, just like you. Well, you really did it a lot more than he has, and I hope he doesn't do it as much as you.

I think I am going to take that white cabinet back from you and put that on the other side of your bookcase. We still have some things to store that we don't use all the time, and the extra storage space will be handy. I will paint it the tan to match the rest of the furniture. The large tan bookcase in my room is almost finished getting painted. That is going into the living room to hold the game systems, games and movies, along with a lot of Carter's toys on the shelves.

It's all coming together, but the main focal point for me is your bookcase. I spend so much time looking at it, along with your pictures and some of your things. It helps me to have your things around me. It makes it hard for me to go out. I don't want to leave you, but I do go out now and then. I even made it to Sue's yesterday and even went to Mass with her. Yeah, the Catholic Church is not for me, although I know it is for many. To each their own, right?

Well, Carter is going to be back shortly so I better get some painting done while I can. I love you, baby. I miss you more than you will ever know, we all do. Please continue to come to our dreams. Amy misses her buddy so much. Please spend some time with her and let her know that you are doing ok. It would mean a lot to her. I will be back soon and write to you some more. Love you, baby! Always!

Chapter 22 - Letter 17 to Heather

Hi again, baby. It's now been 7 weeks and I still hurt so badly. We all hurt so badly. Sam stopped by last night and shared your voicemail message to her with us. I actually remember you leaving that message. You were so tired after that double. I think you fell asleep within moments of leaving it. Sam let me record it so we can hear your voice again. It was such a precious gift. I don't know if she knows how much that message means to us. To have your voice.

I still feel very guilty about everything. I wish I was there more for you. After I left your father, I was in such a deep depression, I barely knew how to function myself. I am so sorry I let you down. I did my best. I know it wasn't enough for you and for that, I am sorry. I am not sorry that I yanked you out of school when you started hanging with the wrong people. I didn't want to lose you to drugs and alcohol. Hard fact. I lost you anyway. Maybe I had a little more time with you, maybe not. I will never know.

I missed so much of your growing up by working so many hours. It added to my depression. I couldn't be everything I needed to be and well, I let you down. How many times a day do I say that I am sorry to you? Too many to count. I wish that your life had been all that you wanted. Maybe then you would have stayed around. I will never know. I will just know the heartache of not being able to see you anymore. That hurts so much.

Christmas is coming and I want to stop the clock. We still haven't decorated. I promised I would get the tree set up for Carter, but it's hard. So many of your things are still in the closet where the tree is. I don't want to go in there. Hard to figure, right? I have so many of your things in my room that you would think that wouldn't bother me. But it does. I think Amy and Carol are going to go through some of your clothes tonight to see which ones they want. I know we should donate the rest. So many people are hurting and you have so much to share. It will be hard to part with them. While it is hard to see all your things, I am afraid it will be harder not seeing all your things. I know. I can't win either way.

Carter helped me with some Christmas cookies this morning. It was his job to put the sprinkles on. I have to say, Heather, he got as many on the pan as you used to. In time, hopefully, he will get better. It was so hard baking without your help. Even if your help sometimes just was keeping me company. I valued that time with you, baby. I miss you so much. I would give anything to have you back with us. It's so hard to face each day knowing that we won't see you.

I am told this emptiness in my heart will never go away. I am also told that in time I will be able to deal with it better. I try to stay strong for your sisters and Carter, but many times, at night, I just lay there and cry from the pain. It hurts so badly. I miss you. You were my baby and you were such a blessing to me. I wish I was as much as a blessing to you, but as we know, I let you down. Big time. I am so sorry baby. I can't change the past. I would if I could, but I can't. I can't do anything to bring you back home to us.

Your stuffed moose is on my bed. Well, I took over your bed and gave mine to Carter. It helps me. I don't know why, I just need you around me as much as I can. It's never enough. So many people take their lives. I know I tried in my youth, but I didn't succeed. I wish you failed this too. If I could tell anyone with a suicidal thought in their head, I would tell them that time will not heal the wounds of those that love them. There is help available. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. It is way too common an occurrence. Way too many people have to move forward in pain. I don't know how they do it.

I count off every day that you are gone. I guess that is something that is going to stay with me. It's like when a baby is born, first you count days, then weeks, then months, then years. I can't imagine years without you. I have a hard enough time facing each new day. Some people have told me I am strong. You told me I was strong. I'm not strong. I hide behind a mask that says I am ok. I hide my pain to try to ease other's pain.

So many people keep a distance now. It's like suicide is contagious. Maybe it is. I have heard more about suicides since we lost you. I guess it's because I am aware of it now. It's hard each time I hear the word. I will do my best to try to make people aware of how common it is and how much there is help available. When I don't find help, I will do my best to try to make sure help is available. I'm not a psychiatrist, but I do know the ramifications of it for those left behind. They call us The Survivor's Club. It's not really a club. It's a whole bunch of people left with huge holes in their hearts. Nothing can ever take the place of you in my heart and I know no one can ever fill their hearts either.

Carter is going to wake up from his nap soon so I better wind this down for today. Please baby. Visit us all in our dreams. Amy, Carol and I all miss you so much. We will take any visit we can get from you. Even if it's only when we are sound asleep. Sam is really hurting, but she is staying clean and I know that will make you happy. I'm doing my best to be there for her. I know you would want me to, and she really is a sweetheart. I love you baby! Always!

Chapter 23 - Letter 18 to Heather

Good morning, baby. It's been 8 weeks and I just don't know how to keep on going. You are in my thoughts all the time. I still cry. I think I even cry in my sleep. I wake up and as Carter would say, my first thought is, eyes wet. I think that I will cry for the rest of my life. I miss you so badly.

Christmas is in 3 days and I just want it over and done with. It's another one of those firsts. The firsts without you. I don't want any of them. I am done with firsts. I just want you home with me. I know I can't have you here, but it doesn't change my wish. I would be perfectly content to just spend my days staring at your pictures. It's probably a good thing that I have Carter here to keep me busy.

We only set the little tree up. It already is pre-lit so no hanging the lights. I couldn't even bring myself to go through the ornaments. Maybe next year. I'm just not strong enough to go through all the motions. I hope you understand. I am doing what I can. It may not be a lot but I can get through the days this way. That's all I really try to do now. Get through the day.

We are going to try to bring Roxi down to Carol in January and see if it works out with their dogs and cats. I hope so. I know Carol misses her and you know Carter can play rough. She is just too old to deal with him at times. I know they love each other, but Carol misses her so much. I think it will make things a little easier for her. I hope so.

It's hard not being all together. It's hard knowing you aren't going to walk through the door. Everything about this is hard. They say it gets easier in time. It may get easier to hide the tears, but I don't see this getting easier. The pain is there. Simple things set it off. Last night we had meatballs in sauce. I made some bagel chips and I think I cried for each one I ate. I know how much you loved them.

I am going to try to bake one more batch of the spritz cookies. I know how much you loved them. Carter has been attempting to take over your job of putting the sprinkles on the cookies. He does about as well as you. More sprinkles on the pan than on the cookies, but it's all good. He has fun and it reminds me of you.

I know I didn't go out a lot before because of the pain, but now the pain has extended to my heart and when I do go out, my main thought is when I will get home to you. I know I am only rushing home to be by your things, but it's all I have. Your things and my memories. I wish so much that I still had you. I wish you had talked to me. There is nothing that I wouldn't have forgiven you for. You are my baby. I love you Heather. I still sing your song, I hope you hear me.

I don't think you would have gone through with this if you knew the pain that we would all be feeling. This is the worst pain of my life. I don't know that I will ever stop feeling this. It makes it hard to breathe sometimes. I would give anything to have another hug, another smile. I would give anything if you would have chosen to talk to me. To talk to anyone to talk you out of this. You were on the path to a beautiful life. You just couldn't see it. I couldn't make you see it. I let you down.

Everyone tells me not to feel guilty. I don't know any other way to feel. I am your Mom. I'm supposed to protect you. I'm supposed to help you. I let you down. We all wear our memorial necklaces with your ashes in them. I'm sure you and Grandma spend some time together now. I'm glad about that. I miss her too. So many times my thought is to call you. To call her. Wouldn't it be great if there was a phone system that could connect to you. I would love to talk with you both.

Maybe you can work on that. Huh? I have so many chats with you, but they are mostly just one-sided. Sometimes I feel you and I feel your thoughts, but are they from you or are they just a part of my memories of how I think you will respond. Each day I get up and hope that this will be the first day I don't wake up with tears. Each day I cry. I try not to cry as much in front of Amy and Carter. If you look down during those times, look at my heart. It is bleeding from the pain of you gone.

Why couldn't you have gone for help? You were such a beautiful person inside and out. You had a heart of gold. Don't you know how many lives you touched? Don't you know that everyone would've done anything to make you feel peace? I know I just have to accept that this is done, but I don't think I will ever just accept it. I will try to make you proud of me and make it so that others in your situation will know that things are not hopeless - there is always hope baby.

Well, time for me to dry my eyes and start my day. Please know that even though I don't physically write to you every day, I still talk to you. I still don't stop thinking about you. I love you, baby. I hope you are finally at peace. I love you! Always!

Chapter 24 - Letter 19 to Heather

Hi again, baby. I missed you so much yesterday. Christmas just wasn't the same without you. You would have loved Carter's toys. He got this glow easel. You use the gel markers and then it lights up. I was thinking how much you would love it. Amy wrote Merry Christmas from Heaven and I lost it. You were in my thoughts all day.

I guess that really isn't too different. You are in my thoughts all the time. I miss you so much. I just wish there was something I could do to bring you back to us. Nothing is the same anymore. Life has changed. You brought so much life into our family, a part of us has gone out. I don't know what to do. I just go through the motions these days. It's about all I can do. Even writing the letters to you is so hard.

I try to think of all the happy memories, but sometimes it's just too hard to get past the loss. I know you don't want us miserable, but while I know you said you were hurting, it still makes it hard to go forward. I try. If only you spoke to us. We would have done anything for you! You have to know that. If only you had even written an email or a note. You could have talked about anything and know that we would have done anything in our power to help you. We love you. No conditions.

I hope you guys had a really good Christmas in Heaven. I just have to believe that. It's the one thing that helps me get through each single day. I have to believe that you are in peace now. I have to believe that one day I will get to hug you again. I miss that so much. You gave great hugs. You have a soul that is perfect. Maybe that's why you weren't allowed to be here anymore. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, I just can't fathom the reason for this.

When I found out I was pregnant with you. I literally cried. After almost losing Amy, I was so afraid to have you. What if something happened again? What if I lost you? I was so nervous. You were perfect when you were born. Everything I could have asked for, and very healthy. I was so relieved. Then I cried tears of joy. You were my blessing for all that I had been through.

To then lose you, 22 years later, crushed me. I just don't know how to move past this. I just want to hibernate with you. Crawl away in a little corner. I can't do that. .I still have Carol, Amy and Carter. I can't shut myself away. I still do value our time alone, just me and you. I try to write my thoughts down to you, but most times it is just too hard to see through the tears.

Carter got his ride on John Deere tractor too. Okay, so we plugged the battery into the surge suppressor and forgot to make sure that was plugged in, so he couldn't ride it until the afternoon. After we put the battery in, he stepped on the pedal and jumped. All morning the pedal did nothing, so it definitely startled him. His buddy tried it and then Carter was all ready to his turn.

Right now, Amy is convincing him that it is nap time. She told him he can't ride it until he takes a nap, so hopefully he goes down sooner rather than later. He also got a cash register. Why he was so adamant that he gets a cash register, I don't know, but he happily keeps ringing things up. Perhaps your love of shopping rubbed off on him.

Santa also brought him a tablet of his own. Amy is going to download some apps for him today. He was really a happy little boy. He got other gifts too that were also great, I have to believe that you watched him open all the presents. We didn't have any of the spinach dip yesterday, but I had Amy pick up the ingredients this morning and I will have some with you later.

We have to make some more of Carter's pies too. You will be happy to hear that he loves them. We are going to modify the next 2 though. One person doesn't like banana and the other doesn't like chocolate, so instead of chocolate banana, we will just separate them. To me, the combination is the best, but we'll give them a shot anyway. We are also going to make some more of the spritz cookies for the trip down to Florida. Carter loves them so we figure they will be a good snack for the drive.

I wish you were going down with us. We aren't going to do much, mostly just visit with Carol and then stop by Pop Pop's and go to see where they laid Grandma's ashes. We are bringing Roxi down with us. Carol is so excited that she is coming. I hope she does well with the cats. I think Carol will be heartbroken if we have to bring her back with us.

Well, it's time for me to get some food ready. I love you, baby. I will miss you every day of my life. I'm not going to rush the process along, but I can't wait for the day that we can hug again. Love you! Always!

Chapter 25 - Letter 20 to Heather

Hi, baby. It's been over 2 months and I still miss you with all my heart. I don't know how to keep going through the motions of life. Is this what life has become? A shell of a life that I walk though in a fog? When I let myself out of the fog, I just spend my days in tears. I never knew that a person could literally cry this much. It hurts so badly.

I did a stupid test yesterday. You know those stupid tests that they offer on the social media. This one was entitled How Long Will You Live? Well, it gave me 20 more years without you. How do I survive that when I just want to wrap my arms around you and never let you go? How do I go through each day knowing that there is no chance of seeing you?

They had the candle lighting last night. The one girl just sort of took it over and it became more of a candle lighting for heroin overdose. Maybe it would have been easier if you got into drugs. I could have at least seen that you were that miserable and gotten you the help that you needed. I would still have you with me. Or, I could have lost you to drugs too. I don't know. Maybe you were only here for a short time and that is my price to pay for the choices that I made. I don't know.

All I know is that a day doesn't go by that I don't miss you. You were perfect. Yes, you had problems. There are ways to help those. You didn't have to choose this. You told me in your note to remain strong. How strong am I? I hide my emotions. I hide my tears. I hide my pain. I have become more of a hermit than I was before. While I won't take the choice that you took, I also no longer fear dying. I look forward to it. I look forward to seeing you again.

I've been off of drugs for decades and I just want them so much more now. The chance to hide my pain from even myself for a few hours sounds so welcoming, but I won't do it. I can't give up the control again. It just sounds so heavenly to not feel for a few hours. To feel nothing would be so much better than the pain I now carry in my soul. I don't know how I get through the days. I don't know how I will face the rest of my life without you. It just hurts constantly.

While everyone says the root cause is mental illness, I am still your Mom. I should have done something to stop this. I should have been able to stop the pain that is killing us all slowly. I knew you were drinking more but I figured it was just that you were legal to drink now. Not that you were drowning in it. Not that you would take the liquid courage to pull the trigger. The trigger that killed a huge part of us all.

Part of the time, I do want to go outside. As soon as I leave, I just want to get back home. I don't want to go out. I don't want to see anyone. I let you down, and thereby, I let your sisters down too. My failures took you away from them too. How can they even look at me and not hate my guts? I have no idea. I failed you all. It's how I feel and I don't know how to keep going on like this. I guess the misery I feel is what I deserve for losing you.

Carter still talks about you. He loves you. I don't think he understands that you won't be coming back at all. Right now, he sees our necklaces with your ashes and he calls them Yaya. Maybe he does know that you are gone and that is all that we have left - your ashes. I still read your notes. They hurt, but I can't stop myself. Maybe one day the pain won't be as great. A part of me doesn't want to stop the pain. As I said, I feel like I deserve it for letting you down.

I find it even hard to go to the forums these days. All the suicide that is there is hard to deal with. It's all final. There are no more chances to make things right. There are no do-overs. I can't find a way to bring you back. I even tried bargaining with God to take me and bring you back. You had a full life ahead of you. You would have figured things out. Life would've been better. Now, there is no chance to improve things. There is no way to bring you back.

Your urn is cold and when I kiss it, I feel the same I felt when I kissed you after you were gone. The cold. The lifeless body. I still see you. I think I have that image burned permanently in my brain. It won't leave me. It's a very painful image to have. I still remember the police arriving. My life, our lives, were permanently changed. I just don't know how to ever move forward.

If you have any powers up there, help me to stop suicide forever. No one ever needs to feel this way. It's awful. The pain goes entirely through your soul. It tears you apart from the inside and shreds your soul to pieces.

Carter is going to wake up from his nap soon, so I better end this and clean my face up. He doesn't understand when Grandma's eyes are all red from the endless tears from his nap time. I do my best to hide my tears from him, Amy and Carol, but I have to let them out at times. It's too painful to keep holding them in. Remember, baby, I love you to the end of time itself. Always!

Chapter 26 - Letter 21 to Heather

Happy New Year, Heather. I'm not really sure what is so happy about it. I have no desire to celebrate a new year without you. I don't foresee celebrating any day without you. It's so hard to know that you are gone and I can't do anything about it. I watch the videos and love hearing your voice. I scroll through the pictures and it's heartbreaking to know that no new pictures will ever come of you.

I need you to tell me somehow how to prevent this from ever happening again. I pray your sisters never choose this route because I think I am at my limit for grief. Some days the only thing that stops me is the fact that I know how much it hurts those left behind. There is no healing from this. The wounds are here to stay. I want to celebrate life but your life is gone. Nothing can bring you back to us.

Friends don't really stick around after the fact. Yes, I know I have their sympathy but no one really comes around. I guess it's just too hard for them. I really do understand. It's too hard for me but you left me no choice. No choice but to go forward without being in one piece. I thought I knew the pain of heartache before. I was so wrong. No one knows what heartache is until you lose someone like this.

Honey, I know you were miserable on the inside and I am so very sorry for your pain. I wish I could've done something but I couldn't. You held all the pain inside and that doesn't help anyone. The pain just will keep repeating over and over in your head. I know my pain is never ending. Each day brings a new day of hurt and tears. The tears don't stop flowing.

I used to think the saying that you could cry a river of tears was an exaggeration. It's not. I have overflowed the banks of the river and will continue to do so. There is no end in sight. I guess I have learned to put on a good front. I go through each day, putting one foot in front of the other. I hide the tears the best that I can until I am alone with my thoughts. I wake up with tears in my eyes. I never even knew you could cry in your sleep but you can.

Do you remember when we were out in New Mexico? I got so into the Hermit of Las Cruces. I can totally understand moving to a cave and just shutting myself out from the world. Some days, that's all I feel like I can endure.I read people's posts on social media and see that their lives go on. Life always finds a way to continue. I just don't know how to do it.

Carter still imitates some of your pictures. He really gets into the pictures when I have them showing. I think the shopping picture is his favorite. He will still make the pose and try to imitate you. He loves you so much. I don't even think he realizes that you are gone. Maybe he does. I have no clue. He is so young and he loves his Aunt Yaya so much. You played with him and shared so much with him.

I wish you could have shared what you felt. I wish I could share what I feel too, so you aren't alone. I don't think anyone really gets it unless they have been through the loss of losing their child. I know you believed that we would all be okay. I know you didn't want to hurt us. I also know that alcohol gave you the courage to go through with this. Alcohol is the root of so many problems.

When I hear of someone getting drunk to forget about things, I worry. I know most of my stupid decisions came from alcohol and personally, I hate it. I know it doesn't have a soul of it's own, but it robs souls and helps spread lies. Lies that say there isn't any hope. Lies that life is better off ending. Lies. Lies. Lies. It's awful how many lies that alcohol will help to confirm. Awful lies.

The truth is that alcohol kills. Alcohol is the gateway drug that leads so many down a path of self-destruction. I quit drinking long ago. Yes, I will still have a drink now and then, but a drink. I can't remember the last time that I allowed myself to get drunk. Nothing good ever comes from it. Yes, it would be nice to get drunk and forget everything, but I fear the consequences too much. I won't give up control to a bottle.

They talk about the war on drugs but I think the real war is quieter. The real war is on alcohol, at least for me. That is where so many problems start. If I realized how bad it was, I would've stopped you. I should have opened my eyes more. Maybe then I would have been able to help you. I regret that I wasn't able to.

They tell me that I should not feel guilty. OK. They say it is normal to have regrets. To me they are just two different words that mean the same thing. I can't bring you back. You are gone forever and the emptiness in my heart will always be there. No more laughter from you. No more joy. Just pain and emptiness. I hope you are at peace now. I hope my tears don't hurt you. I can't seem to stop them.

I love you, baby. You had so much life ahead of you. I will keep trying to stay out of my little shell and try to face each day. I look forward to the day that we can be together again, but I can't rush that along, I'm sorry. I still have to be here for Amy, Carol and Carter. My life isn't finished yet. I have to try to do something to keep going through each day. I just don't know how to do that.

Well, the sun is up and Carter will be up soon. If there is a New Year's Celebration in Heaven, I hope you have a good time. I will be spending a quiet night at home with Roxi. We will probably just go to bed early and try to find a dream with you in it. That is what I want now. I really miss you. I love you! Always!

Chapter 27 - Letter 22 to Heather

It's the New Year and still it is the same. No more you around, baby. I am trying to work on some posts for the blog. I'm trying to help to make a difference so more people don't choose your route. Will I accomplish anything? I have no clue. Will I be able to help anyone? Again, baby, no clue.

I wish I could tell you that there was hope. There wasn't a need to die. I know you couldn't find it, but it was there. In turn, you left many reeling from our loss. I want to do everything I can to make sure your life wasn't taken for nothing. To make something of your loss. It's so hard. Many times I just want to crawl into a little ball and just spend my days crying for the pain. I don't have that luxury. Life goes on. It doesn't stop the pain, but I try to keep on taking one step in front of the other. Hopefully some good comes from it.

The last day, your last day, you went through so many images of suicide - I wish you shared them instead of hiding them. It all comes down to the same thing. I couldn't stop you. I'm hoping that I can use some of the quotes with the images of you and others that took this path, and wake people up. It's hard to see the reasons why. Yes, it can be easier in hindsight. Now, I know you were miserable. Then I didn't. Now I know you had no hope. Then I didn't. Before and after - so different but the pain is still the same. You are gone and no answer will ever bring you back to me.

I guess the one thing I feel like I can do is to try to share hope. That's all I can come up with. There is hope - there is a way. It's too late for you baby, but the truth is, suicide loss is like a steady stream going on. People are dying every day and it hurts. Yes, your loss hurts most of all, but even hearing about another suicide takes my heart and grips it so hard that the pain is so intense. The pain is unbelievable.

In your note, you told me to remain strong. A few people have told me that I am strong. It's nice to know. I don't feel strong. I feel like I have been trampled so hard. I feel like I can't breathe sometimes. I feel like I can't do anything. I lost you. I should've been able to save you. Yes, you are gone. You may have been a 22 year old adult, but you will always be my baby. You will never have more joy - you will never experience so much.

I've been asked one question over and over and I wish I knew the answer. How do you know? What signs can we see? The truth of the matter is, a lot of times the signs are hidden. Heather, you hid the signs so well. We are all still reeling from the shock. I wish you would have shared things but you didn't. I think that is one of the hardest parts. One of the common traits is that the person, before they take their lives, is that they try to help everyone. They laugh. They smile. They try to help others. They hide their pain.

What can we do, baby? What can we do to stop this from happening over and over again? How do we offer hope to people that don't see any hope. Do we talk to everyone about hope? I guess that is the only thing we can do. We have to share that there is help for everyone. Hope is what gets me through each day. Hope that tomorrow won't hurt as bad as today. We have to care.

Heather, I love you with all my heart. You got yourself stuck in your head and couldn't get out. I wish I could've seen your pain. I wish you weren't so good at hiding it. I cry way too much these days. While you helped others, you thought there was no way to help yourself. I wish you took the advice that you gave others. You saved lives and you couldn't save your own. I would do anything to have you back, but that is not to be.

I am looking forward to seeing Carol, but I also dread leaving our home to do it. I just don't like to leave your things. It's all I have left of you. Your things and your memories. No new ones. New is over. We all tend to watch shows you used to watch. I don't want to lose any memories that I do have of you. That's my fear now. I don't want to forget anything about you.

I use your perfume, your incense, anything to have a little of you spread around. When they are gone, what do I do? Do I buy new ones? That won't be the same. Yes, I will probably cry each time something of yours is used up. We still haven't even gone through your clothes. There is so much we still have to go through.

Morning has arrived and Carter is wide awake so I better start ending this letter for now. I love you, baby. I wish I could undo this but I know that I can't. I will keep writing letters to you. Maybe it will help others. I'm told it helps others, but I'm not sure if it's good for me or not. It's hard sometimes. It's hard actually more times than it's not. Anyway, I will talk to you again very soon. I love you, Heather. Always!

Chapter 28 - Letter 23 to Heather

Good morning, baby. I try to be strong because you told me to. It seems more like a huge lie. I feel so miserable. I just want to rewind everything and have you back alive again. I know it's not possible, but I don't want you to be gone. I miss you. I love you. I hate hurting all the time and I hate hiding in a fog.

I know you were hurting. I hope you are really at peace. I wish so much that I could just have one day to visit with you again. How does the pain ever end? The main problem is that I feel so guilty. I should have seen something. I know you were so good at hiding the pain, but why couldn't you show me? I'm sorry I let you down.

I try to keep busy, keep occupied to try to drown the thoughts. I think that is what is left in my life. Just hiding the pain like you did. I know I won't take my life. The pain behind the suicide is awful and I could never do that to Amy and Carol. It doesn't mean that I don't pray for some serious illness that will end my life naturally. With my luck, I'll live to be 100. I can't take the pain anymore though.

It seems like forever since you’ve been gone and it's only been a little over 2 months. I know they say this is early in my grief and it's normal, but I can't imagine the grief ever ends. You were such a beautiful person. You had a good heart. You cared about people. You truly cared. Why couldn't you care about yourself? In hindsight, I can see that you really were hiding yourself in lies and in alcohol. I hate alcohol.

Alcohol gave you the strength to pull the trigger and end you, forever. I think about just letting go and getting drunk - falling down drunk. It won't cure anything. I know it will just make things harder in the long run. Maybe if I got drunk, I wouldn’t break my promise and not take my life. I don't know. The only option I have is to not let myself get drunk. It scares me too much.

It's almost time to go spend some time with Carol. I am excited to see her again, but the trip also is bittersweet. You will never be visiting in Florida with us. You will always be missing from everything. Yes, your spirit is here, but your body is gone. I don't even dream of you. It's like there is just a huge void for the rest of my life. Why is the question I can never have answered, but why is the biggest question.

I am trying to write more blogs about suicide to raise awareness, but I don't know if it's really accomplishing anything. I feel like just packing it all in. I keep doing it because it is something to do. I want to write about movies you like watching. I try to share recipes that you would like to eat. I don't want to write about suicide. I don't want to even face it anymore. It's so hard to face it every day.

Honey, I miss you more than I ever knew possible. I can't write more today so it's just going to be a short letter today. Carter is up and wide awake. I love you baby. Always!

Chapter 29 - Letter 24 to Heather

Heather, Florida was hard. It would have been perfect if you were there. I didn't want to get anyone really depressed and you know I don't like to cry when anyone else is around. Carter loved Sea World for his birthday. We did pet a dolphin and a stingray for you. We also fed the sharks for you. I know you would have liked that.

I have learned that I need to let myself cry - at least once daily. When I try to hold it in, my brain just starts to get foggy. It gets so hard sometimes just to put a sentence together. I think, sometimes, that people must think I am just really stupid. I have had to stop even playing Words with Friends. It's getting too difficult to even spell so much of the time. When I let myself get a good cry in, it seems like it is a little easier to spell, at least for a little while. I guess it will get better in the future. That's what I'm told.

I don't know how you could have done this, baby. We all would have done absolutely anything for you. You do know that what you have done has hurt us all so badly. No matter how badly you felt, there was help available. You didn't have to be embarrassed. You definitely didn't need to hide what you were feeling. There is always help. Sometimes, yes, it feels really hard to see any light, but it's there, just around the next corner. You gave up and you didn't have to.

While it was good to visit in Florida, it helps being home. It was good to get home and get back around our things, your things. I think I have all your perfumes and incense. It will be a very sad day when the last of it is gone.

I know you don't like the cold so spend some time with Carol for the winter. Stop in now and then, but spend some good time with her. You know I am going to be hibernating. Amy had gotten me some Eeyore pajamas and they are so warm and cuddly, I think I am going to be wearing them quite often. We tried getting some warm weather for Carter's birthday, but I guess the week we were there was their winter - figures, right? At least their weather was in the 50s and 60s, so still better than New Jersey. I think Carol said that next week it's supposed to be back in the 70s and 80s.

I listened to Carol and Amy and I really didn't use the computer that much. I mostly just used it to play some games while they were sleeping, then packed it up for the night. I feel bad for not writing to you when I was down in Florida, but I needed the break too. It helped some. The letters are hard to write because I know you can't answer me. It's a one-sided conversation. Until Heaven, I can't hear your responses. That makes me sad.

We did get to see Pop Pop and Aunt Joan a little on the way back to New Jersey. Pop Pop showed us where the cemetery, and her urn, is. It is a beautiful place and I know Grandma will like it. Pop Pop seems like he is doing ok. It's hard for him being alone after all those years with Grandma. I think their Anniversary was hard for him. Most holidays and birthdays are hard now. Losing you right after Grandma was like a double whammy.

Today was a hard day to write. I'm sorry. Carter is going to wake up from his nap soon so I better put this letter away for the day. I love you, baby. Always!

Chapter 30 - Letter 25 to Heather

Hi baby, I miss you. It's been just about 3 months now and I still can't believe you are gone forever. I can't believe I will never see you again. You would think after all this time the pain would lessen but it doesn't. I saw this one saying the other day. "Suicide doesn't end the pain, it just transfers it to someone else." I don't remember who said it, but I do know that it feels so true to me. I hurt so badly. It kills me a little more each day. I think Carol and Amy are doing ok, at least they say they are. They both miss you terribly. Carter misses you too. Even Roxi.

Why did you have to do this baby? I know you were hurting, but everyone hurts at times in their lives. There is always hope. You didn't have to give up. There were things you could do that would make things better. You had a whole life ahead of you and you chose to end it. None of us were ready for this. Is there ever a time you could be ready for this?

I know I attempted to take my life when I was younger. I wasn't successful but I know I hurt my family so much when I tried. But I did get to learn that things will turn around. Yes, I still have some very bad days but I know that things will eventually get better. But then I think of you and know that that part of my life will just never get better.

I miss you so much. I know you can't walk in the door anymore, but it doesn't stop me from seeing you. I see you in my mind all the time. It doesn't stop me from talking to you. It gets hard to share the letters. It seems like it gets harder with each letter I write. But I still talk to you often. It's just so hard to share the letters that I know others will be reading, so there are a lot more letters that just never got written out. What I can't do is hug you and feel you hug me back. I can't have a conversation with you anymore. They are all just one-sided.

I look at your pictures all the time. Yes, I have some photos that I know you didn't like, but I took all that I had available and look at them often. There are still so many things I don't know. You talked with me often, but I don't know what you told me that is true and what you told me that was a story. You didn't have to do that. You are such a beautiful person. You didn't have a reason to try to be something else. I know you are in Heaven. You were given an angel's soul at birth. You were the best, baby.

I love all of you so much. As I said, my head knows that I will never see you. You will never grow older, you will never have your own child. It makes me so sad for all your losses in life. I know things weren't always easy and I know I let you down, but I did the best I could under the circumstances. Maybe you can understand that now.

I allowed things to happen in my life that I shouldn't have. Each time, it broke me down a little more. Yes, things were caused by others, but my insecurities didn't allow me to speak out and well, that opens us up to so many forms of abuse that you just shut down at times to deal with it. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you at my low points. Maybe if I was, you would still be here with us today.

Everyone tells you not to feel like it's your fault, but how can I say I feel differently, when in my heart, I know it is. I'm your Mom. I am supposed to be there for you and I let you down. By letting you down, I let your sisters and Carter down too. I failed. It's really as simple as that.

Didn't you believe me when I said I would do anything for you? I loved you, baby. I still do. I just can't have you with me anymore and that kills me. I tried to protect you and instead, I lost you forever. No one should ever have to live with this pain. Suicide may have taken the pain from you, baby, but I now have your pain on top of mine. It's actually suffocating at times. I don't want you to feel guilty now. I feel guilty enough for all of us.

I don't see you anymore in my dreams. That hurts. Maybe that was a limited time opportunity. Do you hate me for failing you? Is that why I don't see you anymore in my dreams? I don't even have dreams that I remember anymore. Now, I basically just look towards sleep. The chance to sleep away my sadness. I guess too much sleep is better that it was after it first happened and it was no sleep. Either way, though, I still don't remember much day to day. It's still a big blur to me most of the time.

Well, Amy and Carter are going to be getting up soon so I better start wrapping this up and getting my face washed and hopefully not quite so tear stained. Carter still loves reading those little books you got him. You would be so happy if you saw how much better he is talking every day. He is growing by leaps and bounds. I credit a lot of that to you. Well, time to get going and get my face put on for another day. I love you, baby. Always!

Chapter 31 - Letter 26 to Heather

Heather, It's been a while since I have put one of our chats down in writing again. I miss you everyday, but you are still teaching me. I have a new mantra. You are worth it. I have been saying that over and over in my head and I am working on resolving problems in the past so that I can unbury them from my mind and put them aside in the past, where they belong.

I started a book. I hope you like it. I'm not sure if I will ever get in published, but I am going to try. Heather, we are both worth that. I've shared some of what I buried and I did feel the release, so that's good, I guess. Now, I will work on making sure I know I really am worth it. I can't say it's going to be easy, but I am going to try.

I cry all the time still. I try to hold it in when Carter is around. I really don't want him thinking he needs to cry to talk with you. I want him to remember all the fun times he had with you. I know you would be so proud of him right now. He is doing so great with potty training. Before we know it, all diapers will be a thing of his past! Yay!

Honey, if any of this is my fault. I'm truly sorry. At least in hindsight, you can see the pain I have lived with but you are also showing me a way out of the pain. I am so thankful right now. To think, the chance to live a life without all those secrets. To know that I was a victim and did not have to feel the guilt. To know that there is a chance for me to get past this.

I spend so much time looking at your pictures. I know you wouldn't approve of some, but I kept every picture that I could. I miss you everyday. While I know you won't be here physically, I know you are here spiritually. OK. So maybe right now you aren't right with me but you are probably finishing up that last season of Supernatural with Amy. I just could never get into that show. I tried so many times but nothing really made it click. I'm glad you and Amy have that show.

We are still watching The Walking Dead. I have to admit. The marathon I watched is starting to get pretty long. LOL But, you are right as usual, I forgot quite a few things so it was good. Carol says Daryl is going to leave after this season. I'm not too sure of what I think abou that. I wish you were here. You always had your opinions about the shows. I would love to hear what you think is going to happen.

Well, Carter is a bit crabby today so I am going to log off and try to give them a nice dinner. I love you baby. I will talk to you later today. I try to start my day with you and end my day with you. I talk to you and feel you throughout the day, and I never stopping wishing to see you. I try to be there more for Carter. It's not always easy. Some days it just feels like it's too painful to even breathe, but we will survive.

I wish you were surviving and learning with us. That's a wish I won't get until my last day on Earth and I have no clue how long that will be. Every day without you is a little too long. I love you baby! Always!

Chapter 32 - Life Goes On

It's been about 6 months now. The pain in my heart is a constant reminder that Heather is no longer with us. We all need, in our hearts, to keep Heather's good works going. We started the website that you are now on, OK, we started it with my personal blog, but we got the domain name registered so it will be easier for others to find out more about us and to try to help those that need it.

At this point, I have stopped my personal journal. My guilt will never leave me, but knowing my daughters, all of them would offer me forgiveness so I trust I am forgiven by all, including Heather. Whether they felt me guilty or not, my own feelings of guilt were tearing me apart. Part of what we all need is to let go of the guilt that we feel. It won't make anything better, but it can make things a lot worse. I also understand that some days, whether deserved or not, I am going to still feel guilty.

Yes, there are times that I still breakdown in tears and just cry myself out for a bit. The pain of losing Heather will never leave. I accept that. On the same side, I can't give into the pain. I need to do something to help prevent future pain. Like Heather who dealt with her own pain by helping others, we will follow suit.

A dear friend of ours designed our new logo and the business card that we are going to be distributing. Within the next week, we will have the first of our donations with us and we will get the first group of magnets printed. Next, we walk around and start delivering them. It's that simple. Since 1 in 4 suffer with mental illness, we are going to try to pass them out in groups of 4 to get more saturation and exposure. We don't have enough for a huge order yet, but we hope others reach out to our GoFundMe page and add their own donations.

I have shared some of my inner most feelings, not to make you feel sorry for me, but to learn that the loss of life through Mental Illness is devastating. We want people to know that there is hope - there are so many success stories of people that DO make through the other side, without the loss of life.

If thoughts of suicide enter your mind, please stop right now and either call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line - Text HELLO to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis support via text. Take the next step and call or text. Remember, you are worth it and you do not have to live your life twisted in turmoil.

Our next step is to start sharing resources that we find with all of you. We want to do our part and share the tools that are available for help. Feel free to bookmark our site, and feel free follow our updates and posts.

Here is a listing of helpful information for you.

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