Today I was helping someone in their office electronically document transactions that were only written in an old notebook. Since I'm pretty good at Excel, I offered to do it. Plus, I didn't really have to think about anything other than just typing in what was in the book.
Until... I got to April 25th. Another one of the "unexpected moments" I hate so much. Random, every day things that hit me like a brick along the side of my skull, that hurts every cell in my body like a school of piranha living inside of me, eating away from the inside out.
It's the every day moments, that I've decided to document in this blog because it not only helps me heal (is that possible?) when I write, but hopefully anyone reading this will never take the "little" things for granted. I'll use examples in future entries, but for now - the old spiral notebook.
So, today when I saw this notebook, full of handwritten transactions by date, I could not help but stop when I got to April 25, 2018 because that was the day everything changed. When I saw the date, my heart sank and I turned cold. I couldn't even blink. I just stared at that date, and so many things instantly came into my mind. That, the very second whoever wrote the entry into the book, Shane was still alive. He was at school, and I at work never EVER imagining the hell that was to come. Perhaps he was laughing with his friends with that infectious laugh that made everyone smile. Maybe he was at lunch eating pizza, or in ELA, or Science learning about how the class would be releasing the trout that they had been raising all year long. What if that was the moment that set him over the edge. The moment where young kids felt that making someone feel insignificant and inferior simply because he had things they didn't. What if that was the moment he decided to do what he did?
I looked at the ink on the paper, long dried, and realized that there are so many things I'll never have answers to, but I will be searching for something - what, I don't know - my entire life. I realized that there are going to be tons of things during the life I have left to live that will rock me to my core. I realized that I cannot enable this to engulf me into the darkness that is calling to me every day.
That tiny, insignificant entry into an old spiral notebook...Changed everything.
I loved to be with my Grandpa
His steps were slow like mine;
He never said to "hurry up"
We always took our time
Most people have to rush things
They never stop to see;
Most people don't experience
A bond like you and me
We created such great memories
To always cherish in our hearts;
It's something that we'll always have
Even if we are apart
So, with every year that passes
You're no less special than before;
Through every stage and every age
I'll love you even more
Right from the very beginning
I knew it right away;
The bond that we created
Will never go away
All I ask is you don't forget me
Whatever that you do;
That I'll always be your buddy
And will always truly love you
I want to share a letter that I wrote to the kid(s) who bullied Shane. I have never sent it, but it was a way for me to express myself to them in my own way. Any parent who has a child that has been bullied can relate. Any parent who has a child who is the bully should take heart:
To the kid who bullied my son:
I know you are too young to grasp the impact that your words and actions have had on my son, yet I still hold you responsible for what you have done because you are old enough to know what is right from what is wrong. I also know the impact you may have on those of your friends who, while may be inherently good kids, have fed into your actions and behavior because they want to conform to what they think is “being cool” so that they can ‘fit in’. And, the impact to those who know that while what you have done is wrong, remained silent in fear of retaliation is unknown.
When you called him “gay”, what you don’t know is that he and I had a bond unlike any other. As a result, he tended to feel more comfortable with and trust women, because he knew that we are nurturing. And as his mom, he understood unconditional love because I would never hurt him. So, because you and your posse of friends saw my son with a gaggle of girls…. Perhaps you now can have a better perspective of why he decides to surround himself with people he trusts. Actually, your actions and behavior must have only reinforced to him that some people can’t be trusted or respected.
When you made fun of him for loving music and theater, what you never saw was the light in my son’s eyes the first time he ever saw a play, and the complete appreciation and passion for something he had never experienced before. And, because he was so enthusiastic, he only wanted to share his passion with others.
What you didn’t know, is that he saved his birthday money to be able to buy a ticket for one of his friends who had never seen a play. This selfless act is only a tiny example of the innate goodness that existed within that tiny body. And, because of this passion and enthusiasm you taunted him, ridiculed and acted so cruelly to him I very much doubt you have ever found something to become that passionate about. That is sad.
I strive to do things with my children that THEY love because memories are made, not purchased.
When you laughed at him, in his face and behind his back, what you don’t know is how hard he always tried to fit in, but mostly just for people to like him. That, all he wanted to do is be accepted for the amazing human being that he was. But, because of his history and pain, he was never been able to fully grasp the concept of self-acceptance and self-esteem. He looked up to kids like you to determine his own self-worth regardless of how many times I have told him how amazing he is and how others perceptions of him are meaningless.
When you called him “retarded”, what you don’t know is that in addition to all else I have described thus far, he was diagnosed with ADD when he was in Kindergarten, which clearly only further outcasted him from people like yourself. What you don’t know is how hard I fought to find a solution to why my son could not sit still or control his behavior. Because, as I have mentioned, my son looked to women as a system of support – and if you look at the demographics of pre-school and Kindergarten teachers, I am certain you will find that the large majority are female. Thus, I attributed his behavior for seeking attention.
What you don’t know, is how extraordinarily intelligent my son was. How his wit made me laugh every, single day and how he knew more about most things than I do. And how inherently proud I am of him for always turning a negative into a positive, which someday I hope you learn not many people can do. How your words and actions seeped into his brain, and made him start to actually believe that the rhetoric you said to him was true, which resulted in him shutting down and giving up.
When you made fun of his clothes and the way he dresses, what you don’t know is that I am a single mother struggling to make ends meet. And, while your clothes may come from the mall, my son’s came from the thrift store, and hand-me-downs. But… he appreciated all that he had because he knew how hard I have worked for him to have them. When you made fun of the shirts he proudly wore from the Broadway shows he had seen, what you don’t know is that underneath that shirt was a heart of gold which, thanks to you is gone forever.
What you don’t know is that he would never let you see him cry, for he was smart enough to understand that would only add fuel to the fire. That he would wait until he came home, raced upstairs to his room and suffered alone because he was too embarrassed to tell anyone.
What you don’t know is that the words you have spoken are like weapons. But unlike a cut, your words scarred him, deep within his soul. Perhaps with time they would have faded, but will have always lingered. But, this I will never know.
What you don’t know is that I will forever be haunted by the humiliation and pain you must have caused my son. However, my feelings could never compare to the humiliation and pain he must have felt, for how long I have yet to learn. And, if I am being honest am not ready to know because it will put me down a hole I don’t want to go down. For, I would most likely never come out of it.
Perhaps with time I will forgive you. Perhaps not.
Perhaps my son could have forgotten the things you have done to him and the things you have said to him. Perhaps not. Again, I will never know.
I fear that my son would have carried these scars with him for the rest of his life. For, someday in the future something will have triggered a memory of what you have done: a song, a smell, a voice…… and would have brought him right back to that moment where he was a vulnerable little boy who just wanted to fit in and be liked.
While I understand that you are young, I can assure you that I will never stop being the best advocate for my son and I always have been. I pride myself in knowing that I have done, and will do whatever it takes to make sure my boys are happy, healthy and safe. However, I will never again have the opportunity to hold him, kiss him and tell him that everything is going to be OK, because it won’t be.
What you don’t know is that Shane’s older brothers have had their childhoods stolen from them. That, no matter what happens, they will never be the same again because their brother is gone forever.
What you don’t know is that I cry myself to sleep every night. That I hide my pain from my boys because they need to know that I am OK, so that they can be OK. What most don’t know is that this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. That this is not being strong or courageous - it is surviving.
You will never be able to imagine the feeling of having to walk past Shane’s empty room, still left exactly the way he left it. His bed is still unmade and his water bottle is still on his nightstand. Someday I will have the courage to enter this sacred place, but not yet.
I will not feel sorry for you. I can also assure you that you may have apologized for what you have done, you reap what you sow. Oftentimes the most important lessons learned are the hard way. And, the fact that my son was a lesson for you to learn is something that I am not willing to forgive.
I cannot imagine how unhappy you must be with yourself. Kind people are kind. Happy people spread kindness. The fact you were capable of saying such cruel things only exemplifies how you must feel about yourself. But, this does not make me sad for you, or feel sorry for you. Because you are old enough to know better and how your words and actions effect other people.
I also promise you that no matter what happens to you in your life - you will never know the love that I will always have for my sons.
- Shane’s Mom
#endbullying #bullying #bully #shanesimaginenation#youwillbefound
My name is Sandy, and I am Shane's mom. Since his (ugh, I still can't admit it's happened) death I have kept a journal of thoughts as they came to my head.