Sunday, July 26, 2009

I've thought long about sharing this news on a "public forum", but realized that you are all a special group filled with understanding and compassion. Everyone here has had their own sorrows and when I read your stories, I feel connected with people I've never even met. So, here I go.

Our family suffered a terrible loss yesterday, and we are all numb with grief. My son lost his best friend in a freak drowning accident in Connecticut. This young man was like a second son to my husband and me, and another brother to my three daughters. We are devastated. Hearing the news was like a physical blow and our hearts are broken. He has left a hole in our lives.

The simple story is that he, Tommy, was jumping off of a pier with friends and one of the others with him jumped too soon, landing on top of Tommy. You can imagine what happened at that point; saying the actual words is too much. The Coast Guard and numerous other rescue organizations were there, including helicopters...they found him about 3 1/2 hours after he jumped in. My husband and our daughters drove down (about an hour away) to be with our son who was standing vigil. It was one of those rare moments when my big, grown up, 31 year old son let me put my arms around him and offer what I hope were comforting words.

Tommy was at our home almost daily. Everywhere I look, he would be the barn, on the patio, in the garage, in the workshop, in the kitchen, dining room, bathroom, everywhere. His smile was infectious, his humor was wonderful, and he was a bright spirit that we all love. He's even come here to hang out with my husband and me, just because. He was one of a kind.

This morning my daughters and I were sitting on the back porch. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a bright yellow butterfly appeared. Now, I've heard of this happening to others, but here it was, right in front of us. This male Tiger Swallowtail butterfly flittered around every single area that Tommy would have been, including the patio chairs that he would sit in while he ate. It flew within two feet of us, disappeared, then reappeared. It stayed a good long while, then flew off. Could it be? Yes, it could.

In honor of Tommy, the girls went out and bought four butterfly charms for all of us to put on our bracelets. From here on in, it will be our symbol of the love we all have for him.

I know that Tommy is ok and that he's with God, but the pain is ours to bear now. No one's pain is greater than that of his parents, however. My heart breaks for them and for every parent that has lost a child.

Losing him, so young and so suddenly, has reminded me that tomorrow is never promised; that if we waste this moment, we may never get another. It has also reminded me that our words must always be kind, because they could be the last words we say to someone.

I'm grateful to have had Tommy in my life, I'm honored to have had him call me Mama J., and I'm blessed to have loved him.


  1. Oh Carol....I am so very sorry to hear about that! I know exactly what you mean about having a connection like that with someone who is like part of your own family. My brother in law passed away this weekend to, and we had 4 deer show up in our backyard, young bucks. It was an incredible site. Mind you we don't live in the country, so this was a real suprise. My prayers are with you and Tommy's family. I hear you loud and clear about appreciating life, and how precious each and every day is to us. Just know he is not suffering, it's only the people here on earth that have the greiving.

    Big GIANT Hugs from me!

  2. I am so sorry I just don't even know what to say. It's awful when a young person dies. Such a tragedy all the way around.
    I know when my husband was killed it took me forever to feel okay again and it was the little signs such as the butterflies that visited you that kept me going and let me know everything was going to be okay.
    You all will be in my prayers. I'm just so sorry.

  3. Thanks so very much for your warm comments. The obituary finally came out today and seeing his smiling face in the paper struck us all over again. I suppose this will happen for quite a long time, though.

    And you're right, it's those little signs that keep us trusting that the person we love is really ok, and they want us to know it. It's up to us to keep moving forward now with heavy hearts.

  4. Carol,

    I read your email the other night, and wanted to respond when I could really take the time to offer a thought-out, heartfelt response ... and then when I saw this, I knew it was the time.

    I am so sorry for your loss. I KNOW, deep in my heart, that Tommy is well, happy, still swimming and smiling, and sharing his big, loving energy with others - as you've already experienced through the sign(s) he's given.

    Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. If you or your family need anything, you know I am just a phone call or email away. I'm calling on Archangel Azrael and Archangel Michael to surround you and all those who cared for and loved Tommy with the light of love and healing. xoxo

    ~ Jess