A journal for my son in hope and despair.

I didn’t like my son much before he was born. I didn’t want to be a mom. I was angry at him for coming. I shook my fist at my tummy wanting him to go away. He defied me and grew bigger.

Joshua, always happy

Then when I saw his face for the first time and held him to me I knew the fiercest love I’d ever known. I told him I was sorry I didn’t like him much before.  It was like the corniest moment in the feel-good-movie-of-the-year.  But it was true. And I finally got the cliché “Love makes the world go around.” It did after that.

In being an only child and adopted I felt like I never fit in. I didn’t belong. I wasn’t “blood”. I had no blood of my own. Now I do. And I do belong, and so does my son. We belong together, and it is just as it should be. I pass on my love to him in the hopes he’ll keep the world turning with it too.

I started a journal for him before he was born. It traces our moments together, his milestones and historical times in the world. Tsunami in Indonesia. Katrina. Housing boom. National economic despair. Japan earthquake. I plan to pass it on to him when he is married and with a child of his own, if that comes to be.

And this brings me to why I am telling you this. Recently, a local father in financial despair bludgeoned his 7 year old son to death, then his wife. Called the police to say what he did and left them a note on whom to call upon finding his family. Then he drove himself to the train tracks, put his head on them and waited for the 12:56 AM train.

Gone.  A family of three. Just like that.

I can’t stop thinking about this horrific story. And all the times I didn’t like my son much AFTER he was born (if you have kids you know what I mean). You love them always but don’t always want to be around them. And I realize how significant those times are of  battle of wills, harsh words and punishments. Significant because they are signs that I am trying to teach my son to live his life a certain way each day.


And we have this amazing power within us every day. The power to choose to live or choose to die by our own hand. And we have the power to take our children’s lives away too. And that scares me.

Some may ask, “But why did that father have to take his wife and child with him?” I can only answer this. Because I believe he was taking them to a better place. Because he felt he couldn’t protect them and care for them anymore here on Earth. I say this, as my cousin also took her young son’s life and then her own.  With a shotgun. And that was how I got through my family’s sad tragedy.

My son plays with the wooden train tracks of the cousin he will never know. My son is nearly 9. His cousin who died was 9. The train tracks were marked with crosses to tell them apart from his friend’s tracks when they played together. Blood red crosses. I look at them, remembering him. They are significant to me.


I love you, buddy

And so I hug my son closer, I tell him I love him more, I let the little battles go. And I write in my journal to him as I have done for the past nine years. Of his accomplishments. Of his hurts and of mine. Of our good times as a family and sad times when we have lost someone we love. Of great events in our nation’s history – and the world’s.

I recently found out my natural father killed himself and did not die by car accident as I had been told. The “car accident” included plugging up the tail pipe to suffocate by carbon monoxide parked outside a church. A church with a blood red cross inside.

This scares me too. I fought depression most of my life and understand the suicide temptation. Is there such a thing as a suicide gene? Did that father who killed his wife and son have it? Will my son have it?

I don’t know.

But I do know I will keep writing to my son. I will pour out all my emotion for him in person and on pages over time.  I will show him that love does make the world go around.  And I will hope that if he is in a dark place someday, he will reach to me to remind him of that again – if not in person at least on the pages I leave him.

Live. Life.



Filed under Inspirational

12 responses to “A journal for my son in hope and despair.

  1. I’ve been thinking of that family too, and how lucky my boys and I were that Ron spared us. What weird news about your father–so very personal, so very impersonal all at once–no wonder you’re mind’s been twisted in a knot.

    I’ve come to believe that our emotions are never anything to feel ashamed of–they are simply indicators. For you, an impending birth signaled the fact that your own birth did not result in the sense of belonging all babies crave. You’ve more than made up for that already! How surprised you must have been to bond so completely with your infant. A wonderful gift. You’re a good mom.

  2. Kathryn, thanks for your kind words, as always. And I was surprised to bond instantly with Josh, but I think that I was also afraid to do so as I knew i would be lost to him forever. And am, but its a good thing. You are blessed Ron left you and the boys standing, very blessed. – Donna

  3. Donna, I’m humbled by your words. I too was scared of my first born. How was a to be a parent when mine were mostly absent? But when he was born, my life became so much bigger and better. I read everything, watched others and refused to run as it seemed my parents did from responsibility. It was my job to pass on a new legacy. Fifteen years and three kids later, I’ve learned to control my depression, to be open with my feelings and giving with my love. They are my life and I’m thankful for them every day. 🙂

  4. Donna –

    This post really touched me. I admire your courage in being so honest, too, about your feelings. I know more than I care to admit about depression, and I have the same fear as you: have I passed it on to my daughter?

    You should see the way your face lights up when you talk about Joshua! It sounds like you two have a great, loving relationship.

    • Brian, thanks for reading and commenting and voicing your fears. I am trying to come out of my “writer” box and write more things that do touch me passionately. I feel at times too dry in writing about just “writing”. And heard recently we shouldn’t just write about writing – but what moves us,inspires us, makes us laugh as writers too. Hopefully if we all do this a bit more, we can all connect a bit more as people (which can get lost in an online world) . Josh is just the best and 8 is so fun…it just gets better and better, I tell you. His Dad is great too 😉 I just haven’t written about him yet!

  5. Wonderful entry! I have never battled depression, but do battle anxiety. I am trying hard not to “teach” my daughter fears that she might otherwise not have. I was scared of being a mom – but it has been the most wonderful thing in my life. As you said, my love for her surprised me with its intensity — and that primal love is a little frightening, too. My daughter has brought more joy into my life than I could have imagined!

    Thank you for sharing such deep thoughts so honestly. Great post!

  6. Your son is gorgeous. Family is so important. We have two wonderful children, and recently empty nested. That was really difficult for me, but luckily I discovered blessings too.
    p.s. Now I know one reason why we have connected–I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks also. I hypothesize that it is partly the product of creative minds of writers like us!

    • Peggy, glad we connected too! I cant imagine how hard the empty nest can be. I have years til that but as you said, hopefully wonderful new things come from that too! And yes, I think writers have to suffer with a bit of anxiety at times with our brains overloaded 🙂

  7. Yes, I kiss and hug my son extra when I read of a family tragedy. I feel like it’s important to put more love out into the world and if another child can’t receive it, then my son will be the conduit.
    I struggled with depression during pregnancy and postpartum after pregnancy and my son loved me unconditionally in spite of that. His unconditional love for me has carried me through the best and worst moments of the last 13 years. I live and breathe for that kid…he is truly amazing.
    It’s tragic that any one would feel like they can’t live to see another day, or that the world is so terrible that they have to remove their children from it.
    Life is beautiful in all it’s ups and downs, but I never really understood anything until I became a mother.

    • Lisa, thanks for commenting. All you said is so true and especially this line says it all “Life is beautiful in all it’s ups and downs, but I never really understood anything until I became a mother.”

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