Today is Your Birthday

I will always celebrate my son’s birthday. I believe that my life has been enriched by having him. Even though we did not have him long enough, at least we had him. I loved him every day when he was in the physical world. I still love him every day.

The Straight Road to the Heavens

Alex We Love You Forever

Those of us left behind continue to feel the loss. But wherever he exists….and I know he still lives in spirit. I will continue to reach out to him and send him my love. Lately I have been receiving signs that he is well and his soul is safe and shining happily in peace. I want him to know that we will be all right. My intuition, heart and soul knows that he is doing important work – helping others in this world and in heaven.

I release that which is mine to release. And life is often about letting go of your children. You have to let them go so they can walk on their own. You have to let them go so they can drive when the time comes. You have to let them go when they go off to college or move away to marry.

I just never thought I would have to let go of Alex so soon. I cannot change what happened. I can only hope that my journey is one of healing and peace.

Each moment is a fresh starting place. Each day is a piece in the puzzle that is my life. I almost feel guilty that I am beginning to hope.

At first there was disbelief…then anger. My husband was angry at Alex for a time. I was angry at myself and maybe for a while at God. Because I couldn’t save him. Because God didn’t save him.

Then the days of numbness and grief began to roll through my life.  Now I am starting to try and work through the pain to get to the other side. I want to give meaning to Alex’s brief, but oh so bright life. I want to celebrate his life, not how it ended.

So I am trying to let go of my son. Or maybe I’m really trying to let go of the despair and the darkness of losing him loss. But I will never let go of the love and the joy of having him.

Happy 20th Birthday, Alex with much love from your mom, dad, Emily, family and friends.

Building Lifelines Begins in our Schools

I have given a lot of thought about my need to transform my pain and grief into helping other people, especially young people. With an open mind and an open heart, I sent that message to the universe.

A CSLCApparently, the “lessons of my soul” are just beginning. Remarkable people have been put in my life. I believe that they are here for a reason. I’m not sure how it will all play out, but I do believe I am gaining a focus and direction. It feels like I may be learning how to be of service.

It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Human Library at the Canadian Student Leadership Conference 2014 on September 27th!

The two women, who were with me, energized me. Lisa and Liane are passionate and knowledgeable about the issues surrounding teen suicide. They know what’s relevant and are working smart. These women are able to capture the attention of young people. Liane has even built an amazing phone app that could very well save lives. Check out her app”Lifeline” on lifeline.com.

Knowing these two ladies has been enlightening. I am getting an education from experts. I believe at my core that educating teens about these issues and giving them solutions will make a difference.

Our students are ill equipped to handle the crisis. I agree with Liane and Lisa that educating the educators and the students will save lives. This is vital. It’s not just about making students aware. It’s about stopping the cycle. These students will someday become adults.

It really hit home when Liane and Lisa shared the sad statistics. Every year there are 300,000 people that die from armed conflict….in contrast…there are 800,000 people that take their own life. Every 40 seconds, someone ends their life.

At the conference, the kids were gathered around in a “round table” forum. When they were asked if they knew someone who had committed suicide the hands went up. At every single table, there were more than 8 hands that were raised. Of these students (children really) 64 had been personally affected by someone taking their own life.

Everyone needs to be able to openly talk about depression and mental health issues. Many of the students at our table had experienced it. But they haven’t talked about it. They are afraid. They don’t know how their peers will react. Their schools are not encouraging the conversation. There is still so much shame directed towards our youth regarding depression and mental illness.

So many graduates from our schools do not have the coping skills and knowledge to deal with anxiety or depression. Sitting at my roundtable with these awesome students, I learned so much.

The numbers still stagger me. If there was a virus that took that many lives, the World Health Organization would call it a pandemic. They would be researching vaccines and looking for the cure.

Very few seem to be working on the suicide pandemic. The more we ignore it the larger it becomes. It really does break my heart. I have lost my beautiful son. I can only hope and pray that I may help someone else’s son or daughter.

A Part of Alex will Always be with Us

When we look at a tree, we see its leaves, its branches, the trunk and sometimes, even part of its roots. We don’t however see the seed from which the tree grew. The seed is transformed. Does it mean that the seed no longer exists?
The tree sheds leaves every fall and new ones grow every spring. Does a leaf feel the loss of falling from the tree more than a tree feels the loss of so many leaves? Why do some of the events that happen in our lives leave impressions that we carry with us for a lifetime?

Alex - A great defenseman

Alex – A great defenseman

Nineteen years back, on September 4th, Alex came into our lives. He brought so much happiness in our lives that I can never forget what it means to love someone so much.

I can still picture Alex engrossed in any activity, smiling sweetly as he listened to a story, his brow furrowing with concentration as he tried to figure out something, the open hearted laughter with which he played pranks or the                    thoughtful, almost detached manner in which he explained something to his father, his sister, his friends or to me.

We are all part of something or someone.

It seems just like yesterday. I can close my eyes and feel his presence. Is this an emotional illusion? Is this a kind of self-consolation? Is this something that I am imagining so that I can continue living?

Perhaps, it’s more than a mere illusion. It’s an awareness of being part of something bigger than what we immediately perceive. It could be that we all belong together. Are geographical boundaries, racial perceptions, religious beliefs or   even economic classifications keeping us from seeing the true meaning of what it means to be a part of this world or even this universe? I think Alex had a deeper sense of being connected with the universe.

I’ve learned that there is a universal consciousness or a universal soul. We are all but parts of a whole.

I know that Alex is a part of me and a part of me went when Alex left. A part of Alex remains with me even though he is not in our midst. This is how I wish to remember him. He is a small part of a greater whole just like all of us are.

My grief does not drown my love.

Why did this happen to me? Was there a way I could have stopped it from happening? Why didn’t I have any notion that something as tragic as this was going to happen?
I may still ask these questions but I no longer want to wallow in pity or guilt or blame. I wish to rise above all these negative emotions.

In some philosophies, it is explained that there are only two basic aspects to our feelings or emotions. One is love and the other hate. Anger, pride, guilt, sorrow, joy, generosity, empathy are all but versions of love and hate. Some of them are negative and some positive. It is up to us to become aware of these two aspects within us and release what is best for this world and for the people around us. It is as simple as choosing between darkness and light.

I grieve for Alex. I will probably do so for as long as I will remember him. I, however, also celebrate the life he lived and the lessons he conveyed and still continue to do so even when he is no longer physically amongst us.

My love for Alex sees his soul. My love does grieve for the leaf that fell from the tree of life but I know that the leaf is just a part of it all. The tree of life still spreads its love and sprouts new leaves every season. Alex lives on, in our memories and in our hearts.

When tragedy strikes, it’s natural to seek solace in the negative emotional aspects of anger, blame, guilt and sorrow. It’s, however, important to see the truth, the essence, the universal love that transcends everything that happened, happens and will happen.

“Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on how we see them.”~ Leo Tolstoy

This simple positive affirmation has the profound wisdom of knowing that we need to look deeper than we usually do. The truth is never what it seems on the surface. The truth lies within our soul, our spirit and our very reason for being here.

Lighting Torches

World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10. The World Health Organization has recently released a report on suicide prevention. The figures are staggering. More than 800,000 people take their own lives every year. Somewhere a person dies of suicide every 40 seconds.

Town Hall Meeting on Suicide Awareness

Town Hall Meeting on Suicide Awareness

“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” ― Whoopi Goldberg

As a School Trustee for School District 23, I was invited to the Town Hall meeting, co-hosted by MPs Ron Cannan and Dan Albas, on September 8, at the Parkinson Recreation Centre. This meeting focused on suicide and suicide prevention in the region. Our meeting was one of many hosted nationally by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

I heard about the local concerns and joined the conversation regarding suicide prevention in the school context. I was also there to share my story.

I spoke about the impact of my son’s death to his family, his friends and the community as a whole. We all reacted and responded to the loss. Since my son took his own life, he lost his future. He lost the opportunity to recover from his depression, to grow up and to grow old.

Although very emotional, here is some of what I said:

Today I am not here to mourn Alex’s death, I’m here to celebrate his life. Celebrate the wonderful 18 years I was so privileged to share with my son. Because as I celebrate his life, I become fearless in speaking about his death. I can bring the shadow of suicide in to the light of love. I can encourage others to join me. Together we can hold each other up, support one another and become healing light workers to others struggling with their own shadow. Let us all truly believe we are our brother’s keeper.

There were other parents who spoke from personal experience, as well. We heard from the parents that are still struggling to get their children help. And we heard from the parents that tried but were unable to save their children.

The MC for the meeting was Phil Johnson, of AM1150, and he will be giving the highlights from the meeting to a larger audience on World Suicide Prevention Day. The MPs will also be submitting a synopsis of the ideas shared in our meeting to the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Our ideas, experiences and recommendations will be included in that organization’s planned report based upon all of the MP-hosted meetings.

We are starting a solution-based conversation. It is the sincere hope of the Okanagan Suicide Awareness Society that this event will increase community awareness. There is a huge impact suicide has in every community.

A - Alex Blog S Prevention2

A - Alex Blog S Prevention3

 

 

 

We want to prevent tragedies that are occurring at an alarming rate. We want to save lives. Our goal is to begin with the person who seems to be considering suicide.

There is still so much stigma about mental health issues. Young people often don’t admit that they feel suicidal. People are ashamed to talk about it. Too often, those that need the help don’t get it. Or those that want the help can’t find it.
The terrible thing is that guilt and shame feed the depression. Too many children who feel suicidal still carry the burden of thinking that it’s “their fault”. Too many young adults with depression aren’t finding the resources to help them recover.

When someone understands that there may be an underlying cause of their symptoms, they often feel a tremendous sense of relief. When they start to believe, that it can get better they start to experience hope.

When a young person begins to come to terms with depression and suicidal impulses and seeks treatment, there is often a dramatic improvement. But we still need more treatment options and better ways to reach out to the families that are experiencing so much pain.

It truly is through education, awareness, and understanding that a bridge can be built to gap the divide between resources and the individual. In order to build this structure we need funding. Money for local treatment options….money to inform and educate the public…money to save lives.

Instead of suffering in silence and feeling helpless, we need to spread the certain knowledge that there is hope. We need to build a bridge for the despondent and those that feel that they want to die. It is our dream that this effort will begin to “light a torch” that will help those living in the darkness of depression to find their way out.

For Alex a Celebration of Life

Today is the day Alex would have turned 19. It’s his first birthday since his death, his first birthday that we shall not celebrate with him – but without him. Today the pain is stronger than it has been lately, because today we are being confronted with the fact that Alex will always be 18 years old. Today we realize that he will not have any more birthdays, not see his sister grow up, not go out and celebrate with his friends.

My son was not around long enough. Alex’s death is a loss that we will experience for a lifetime.  A mother always prays for her children and wants to keep them safe. It has been hard to let go of my son. And it seems like there is a part of my heart and soul that is still missing.

Alex, A Beautiful Soul

Alex, A Beautiful Soul

It occurs to me though, if I spent my life grieving, then I’ll be missing the opportunity to celebrate the life of my son.

Today on his birthday and every day I really want to honor his memory. Actually, our family has a million memories of Alex.

When he was very young he seemed so curious, excited and interested in how things worked. He had a very inquisitive nature.  He was a serious child. But he had a shy sense of humor and he could always make me laugh.

Alex was an athlete. He always wanted to be the best. But he had grace and humility. He appreciated sports and he formed deep attachments to his teammates.

He was loving and kind. And he was  deeply loved by almost everyone that met him. Alex was almost too good in some ways. I don’t think he had a mean bone in his body.

He was interested in the workings of the universe. He was a bright spirit.  He loved the stars and the ocean. He appreciated beauty and music. He was well loved and he knew that he was loved.

I will always miss my son, but I will also be grateful that I had him. And when I look up into the stars or seek peace in nature, I can feel his presence.  I want to honor his life. I appreciate that in many ways he is still a part of me. One of the best parts.

Alex was in awe of the ocean

Alex was in awe of the ocean

Alex loved the ocean

Alex loved the ocean

But today can be more than a day of sadness. I believe today can be a celebration. A celebration of life, a celebration of love and above all, a celebration of choice.
Celebrate Life
During his 18 years on Earth, Alex was full of life. Enjoying his favorite sports and activities, as well as time with his friends. He was honest, curious and brave. Today I will celebrate the life Alex has lived, the people he has inspired, loved and touched.
Celebrate love
I am grateful for the love Alex has for me (still has) and the love I feel for him, that gets me through difficult moments.  I realize that the most important lesson we can learn in this lifetime is love, not only to love our family and friends but to love others that cross our path.  To love others, our environment and live in harmony.
Celebrate choice
The one thing we all have in common as humans, whether we come from a rich background, or don’t have access to clean drinking water, what we do have is our choices. Many – mainly the bigger – choices may seem way out of reach, but every day there are many small ones.Today, I can choose to be sad, to submerge myself in the grieving of my only son. But I can also choose to celebrate my son’s memory and his life. To celebrate the choice he has made, because he believed it was the right choice. And who am I to say it was not? So let today be a day of true celebrations. Today, I will celebrate Alex’ life, my love for him, his love for me, all his big and small choices… But above all, today I will celebrate his birthday.Because 19 years ago, when I looked into his eyes for the first time, it was a happy day. Today, even though I haven’t looked into his eyes for months, just the thought of it brings me joy. Alex is now looking with me, through my eyes. And he even has given me something I will always cherish: new eyes to look through. His love and mine, his eyes and mine, his choices and mine – they all merge together, live together, celebrate together. So today I will celebrate my son’s birthday with him, memories of him and his spirit with me.

So Happy Birthday Alex…until we meet again.

Our Souls Growth and Exit Points

There is a meaning and purpose to all things that happen. There are people that believe your soul created a plan for you at birth. Is it possible that Alex’s soul faced an Exit Point when he left the physical world?  I have been reading dozens of books to understand why this happened, where Alex is, and how to communicate with him…all in the spiritual sense, of course.  Wonderful friends of the family started me on this journey only a short few weeks after we lost Alex.

The Funny Side of Alex

The Funny Side of Alex

I believe that Alex faced what is called an “exit point”. These are the times in our life when we have the option of leaving the physical and returning to spirit or staying on the planet in a human body.  We all have two or three of these exit points throughout our lifetime and most of us are not even aware when they occur.

In our lifetime, there may be people you know who have been near death and have chosen either to leave or to stay. In fact, there is a movie based on this exact premise in the theatre right now called “If I Stay”.  It’s a challenging time, just waiting to find out what happens. It’s a time of mixed feelings, celebrating a return to spirit and mourning the loss of wonderful human beings.  If the purpose of our life on earth is to have various experiences for our souls growth, would it not make sense that the soul who’s body perishes, from one of many possible ways, learns from that experience as much as the soul who grieves profoundly for their loved one that died?  There are many books and blogs on this topic and here is an excerpt from Spirit Speaks:

Here’s a message from the Lady of the Sun about exit points

“Most of you plan for exit points when you develop the outline of what you are coming to earth to do and experience. You can choose to leave or choose to stay depending on what is happening in your lives at the time and in the lives of those around you. For leaving affects many other souls and needs to be carefully planned.

For many people, the exit point represents a time when your karma has been cleared and you have done and learned most of what you came here to do and learn. You have the option of returning to spirit, or staying here and creating a new life for yourself, having let go of the past and being free of karmic debt.

When you reach one of these exit points, you arrange to meet with your soul’s support team on the other side to discuss what to do, what is best for the soul at this point and what is best for those around them. Much discussion and planning takes place, but ultimately the individual soul makes a choice.

Some people choose to leave because life has gotten very difficult for them to exist in a physical body. Physical bodies do break down and dis-ease, pain and suffering may be experienced. The soul may get weary of the burden of this suffering and decide to leave the physical and continue their work in the spirit realm.

Some people choose to stay and either continue with the same situation they were in, or make other choices, which happens more frequently. They choose another experience, most often something that involves feeling joy and experiencing abundance – another experience they would like to have while in physical form.

What happens really depends on the situation and what is best for the soul and for those around them, for choosing to exit has an impact on all who support the soul while on earth. Because of this, their higher selves are also included in the decision making, having the opportunity to let the soul know their perspective on their choice to leave or stay. And all of the guides and angels involved are allowed to share their ideas and preferences.

All of this information is taken into consideration when making the final decision, which is the decision of the soul who is at the exit point. The choice that they make is always for the highest good although it may not seem to be at the time when those who are left behind experience loss. But remember that loss can be mourned or the transition can be celebrated. You get to choose.

And I’d like to address that which you call suicide. The point of suicide is also an exit point that is part of the divine plan of a soul. If it is appropriate for the soul to leave the physical, they will. If it is not the best time, they will be sent back to complete the work that they came here to do. As with any exit point, there is much planning that goes into the decision of the soul to stay or leave. There is always a perfection in their choice to leave as most often, being in physical form has become very difficult for the soul.

Just know that from the perspective of spirit, there is no judgement on whatever choice the soul has made. Again, the decision is not made in isolation as a grand meeting of souls takes place and the choice that is made is for the highest good of all. That is just what you do when you plan from the perspective of your soul or what you may call your higher self. You make the best possible choice.

You will all find that many people are facing exit points at this time as the earth goes through its grand time of transition. Many souls have completed their soul contracts, cleared karma and can make the choice of experiencing the transition as a being in physical form or a being in spiritual form. The choice is always for the highest good of all. Know this to be true.

Just know that loss will happen for many as they let go of human beings who they dearly love. Just know that what you call death is not an ending of life, but a transition from physical form to spiritual form. And, whether you choose to mourn or celebrate this transition is a choice that you make.”

We are different as just a soul, as the intention to love and to be loved is the most important thing. Sometimes while we are present on earth and in the body, we can’t feel what we could feel as a nonphysical entity. In spirituality, there is no wrong or sinful act which is to say that ending your life does not change your destiny. As a soul in the afterlife, we are free to love and fully give our hearts. The darkest place could be the beginning of the light for some. No Divine higher being such as God, Jesus, Mary, Archangels, or other Ascended Masters would ever judge a human for taking their life in despair. Help and guidance awaits those on the other side, no matter how you pass through. Loving guides or angels are there and they nurture all of us.

It is also believed that if someone has tried to end their life and has even the slightest change of heart, there will be an intervention by our guardian angels.  It is a fact that our spirit guides and guardian angels are unable to interfere with our “free will”.  This is, in a way, a message to the living. If someone you know has died of a suicide, it was not your fault and nothing could be done.

Although Alex’s death is devastating for me, his family and friends, I know in my heart that Alex is at peace and growing spiritually.  A decision was made by his soul and it could not be changed.  I know Alex’s soul is in a beautiful place of joy and serenity. It is all we can ask for anyone we deeply love.

Positive Affirmation

“I know my wisdom guides me to the right decision.”

Give Because It Gives You Joy

As a School Trustee, I had the opportunity to give a speech at Alex’s High School, MBSS, on graduation day. While I was expressing what I thought were words of wisdom and encouragement, I could vividly recall the memory of Alex’s own graduation as if it happened only yesterday.

Alex's Grad 2013

Alex’s Grad 2013

I looked at the audience, the hope and promise of youth was apparent. They were all young, strong, athletic, intelligent, kind, compassionate, articulate and full of life. I couldn’t help think of Alex when I looked at them. Each one of them reminded me of Alex. Then I had this sense of epiphany, a realization of feeling Alex’s presence, spiritually, of course, for physically he couldn’t be. I realized that every time I saw youth and vitality, now and in the future, I would feel Alex’s presence.

I had this moment of truth when my husband and I gave 2 bursaries to two deserving young men who were graduating at Alex’s High School. By establishing a student award in Alex’s memory, we are creating a lasting legacy that will honour his passions and benefit these and other students for years to come.

Alex Fraser Memorial Bursary awarded to Braden Saretsky

Alex Fraser Memorial Bursary awarded to Braden Saretsky

Alex Fraser Memorial Bursary awarded to Trevor Mlait

Alex Fraser Memorial Bursary awarded to Trevor Mlait

Why do we give? Whether it is a donation to charity or volunteering our time for a cause, there is a strong sense of involvement when we give. Why? It is because it connects us with the rest of the world, with the universe and perhaps with God or the divine energy that flows through everyone and everything.

I asked myself, why do we give? I received the answer to my question in my heart. We give because it gives us joy.

My cup of joy overflows.

It may seem incongruous and even insensitive of me to talk about joy so soon after Alex’s passing. I mourn the loss of Alex every moment of every day and there will be moments many years from now when I will still feel this loss as fresh as I felt it on the day he left us. I know this but I also know that Alex would like me to remember him with compassion and joy, not bitterness and sorrow.

Sometime back when Alex told me that he is not religious, I could not comprehend what he really meant. I was then upset that someone who is as loving and caring as him could say something so shallow.

Now, I realize that it was I who was being shallow. Perhaps, I didn’t recognize the depth of feeling that Alex experienced with every thought and action, and every interaction. Perhaps, he saw beyond the surface. He looked deep into his soul and did what he saw terrify him? I don’t know what he saw. It’s a blessing and a curse to be so aware that you don’t need religion to be spiritually clear.

I don’t think I have the clarity of vision to see the meaning of life reflected in the universe but I think that Alex did. He was kind, compassionate and very sensitive to injustice and suffering while at the same time he was full of appreciation for happiness and embraced life with a vitality that was infectious. His friends and members of our family fondly remember the joy he spread when he was around.

I know that I will continue to learn and become more spiritually aware the more I think about him.

As I am drinking deep from the cup of wisdom, it tells me that despite all the grief and suffering that we know and experience in this world, there is an abundance of joy and goodness that we choose to ignore. Why? Is it because we expect what we do to come back to us?

Give without expecting.

What if we did good deeds just because it makes us feel good? When you scatter seeds for birds to feed on, do you expect them to give you something in return? When you water a plant, do you think about the fruits it will bear you? When the sun shines after a shower, and the rainbow appears, does it expect applause?

What if there is no reward or punishment? What if everything we do is significant and yet insignificant, like a drop in the ocean?

It is when I look at my life in comparison to the age of the universe and the stuff I have against the magnitude of abundance around me, that I realize how delusional and false this sense of possession is. I asked myself, why do bad things happen to good people? I then realized that it is this sense of expectation that makes us categorize what we experience as good or bad.

The only way to give is to give without expecting anything in return. Giving is an expression of gratitude to the universe for all the abundance that it has given us. When I give I am not just giving but I am giving back what I have already received. Yet, no matter, how much I give I realize that I will never be able to return what I have received. It will never match the infinite kindness of the universe.

The Boys of Summer

My son, Alex had an amazing group of friends. They always seemed to be laughing. There were inside jokes and so much camaraderie between them.  They are an amazing group of teenagers. I am so glad that Alex had them in his life.  I always told them what great boys they were and how grateful I was they had each other.

Alex's Pallbearers & Friends

Alex’s Pallbearers & Friends

Alex played hockey and baseball with all of them. He spent so much of his time on road trips for sports in hotels, on buses and riding around in their cars.

They played sports and partied together. Teenage hours spent talking about their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Alex was bright and engaging. He was unique among his friends. He was more of a philosopher and a deep thinker. Alex was more serious.

When the guys were talking about girls, Alex was more interested in talking about the universe. His friends explained that it was a bit of a joke amongst them, that Alex was so “otherworldly” and had a wide variety of interests.

They were devastated by his death. I remember the pain and beauty of watching his friends at his funeral. These “boys of summer,” still destined to grow into men, were so very solemn and stoic as pallbearers. A couple of them continue to have a really hard time coping with his loss. They love Alex, so much.

 

I worry about survivors guilt. I want the “boys of summer” to continue to live their lives into the autumn and the winter. I wish for them happiness, fulfillment, joy and most of all that they feel peace of mind. I pray that they continue on. I want them to embrace life.

I love my son so much that some of that love spilled over onto his friends. Now that he isn’t here anymore, I still love them. And I want them to have everything in the physical world that Alex is missing. I guess I want them to live on for Alex’s sake.

A group of young men went out and got tattoos emblazoned with “Alex Fraser 1995-2014 V.”

Close friends of Alex connected for eternity with a tattoo

Close friends of Alex connected for eternity with a tattoo

The Roman numeral 5 was his number in both hockey and baseball. I cried when a couple of the guys stopped by to show my husband and I the tattoo. And then I took this picture.

These wonderful young men have permanently immortalized Alex on their bodies.  Alex is still with us in spirit and I know he is honored by their symbol of their love for him.

A Journey Ends, Another Begins

Very recently, on June 23rd,  I had the opportunity to express my gratitude to the world when my husband and I gave bursaries to some deserving youths on their graduation from high school. On the occasion of giving away the bursaries, I did something which was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done as a  School Trustee – I gave a speech to the graduating class most whom knew my son Alex and were deeply affected by his recent death. It was a liberating experience to express what I felt in front of all those young souls in an inspirational way.

A bursery3

Grad 2014 Speech as a School Trustee

Here is an extract from my speech. Needless to say, I felt Alex’s presence and his love gave me the courage to convey what was in my heart.

“The future is unknown and many of you sit here today not sure of what lies ahead. Take peace in knowing that it is guaranteed to hold adventure, choices and unlimited possibilities. Will you travel? Continue your education? Get married? Have children? Move away? Stay here? Work at your dream job? Create a business? The world truly is your oyster, and your future is yours to mold, shape and enjoy.

“For those of you who are unaware, our family lost our talented, loving, passionate son Alex a few months ago. Alex knew most of you, and played sports with many of you. His loss has been felt deeply within our family and within the community as a whole.

“In the days before Alex passed, he painted a beautiful scene with a road leading off towards a star-filled twilight sky. For Alex, this may have symbolized his journey towards the stars as he passed on. For you, this road would symbolize your journey toward the stars… which are the infinite possibilities that your life holds! For you, and for Alex, I ask you to do the following.

“Enjoy your life with as much enthusiasm and passion as you can. Try new things. Learn. Take risks! Appreciate every day. Have fun and laugh! And enjoy the possibilities that lie ahead for you in your careers, relationships, and journeys. Jim Carey recently said in a commencement, “you can fail at what you don’t want to do, so you may as well take a chance doing what you love.””

To be in the moment or to go on with momentum.

We are all passing through. It’s perhaps a misguided sense of ownership or pride that makes us believe that this place that we are in now belongs to us or we belong here.

Our physical presence may belong here but spiritually we belong in the journey, in the universe, in the scheme of things which is much larger than what we can even begin to perceive.

Our lives have a momentum. We are moving towards something bigger than us. What it is we do not know. We can fear the unknown or we can have faith in our self.

Our life is but a part of a bigger journey. The journey teaches us that no matter how beautiful, happy, sad or despairing the present is, it will change. Everything is temporal. For some of us, the joy and comforts that we experience now may lull us into the complacent belief that it can go on forever. That’s why when pain or suffering comes along, it may become unbearable.

What we think is long lasting becomes too short when it is over. What we think is short lived is just a moment of truth. If we understood this we can create many moments of truth that can last us a lifetime and provide spiritual sustenance and support in moments of despair.

Don’t skim the surface. Dive deep.

Every time I see the painting that Alex made of a road leading to a starlit sky, I get a renewed sense of meaningfulness, purpose and hope. He painted this just before he left us. I can only imagine the depth of the despair that he was looking at which led him to take his own life.

Yet, in that painting, I can also now see hope aspiring to reach a place or a state of clarity and realization. I can now see ‘The Straight Road to Heaven’ as Alex’s attempt to express the confusion and pain that he experienced in his life, and his faith in finding peace and happiness in what lay beyond.

The painting is an important legacy. I realize that in many ways, Alex is speaking to me and touching our lives like he never did when he was physically amongst us.

Most often, without realizing it, we see only the superficial. When we say something, we don’t realize what it really means. When we perform an action, it is done as a reaction, just a reflex action. I now realize what it means to do something or say something with feeling. It requires a lot of courage and strength to look deep within our soul.

Thank you, Alex for the wisdom and revelation. Every time, I look at the painting, I feel your love reaching out and touching our lives in myriad ways and realize how much this means to me.

The Past is Never Lost

My understanding and perception of life is not what it was, 6 months ago, when Alex was amongst us and it may not be, many years from now, what it is today.

“The past is never completely lost, however extensive the devastation. Your sorrows are the bricks and mortar of a magnificent temple. What you are today and what you will be tomorrow are because of what you have been.” ~ Gordon Wright

Alex Tatoo on Friends

I cried with joy when I saw the Alex Tattoo on Friends. I know they love him and are connected to him for eternity.

We are shaped by our experiences.

As I evolve and mature, my view of the world and the universe is influenced by my experiences. We attach too much importance to order. Even the smallest of changes upsets us. It makes us angry, sad, disappointed, bitter and negative.

It’s only when the big upheaval happens, we realize that all those small chaotic incidents were intended to prepare us for life’s bigger events.

I was devastated when Alex left us. It changed me forever. I didn’t know how to live and face my life, the future. I didn’t have the courage. I dwelt on the past and dreamed of what could have been. Then I saw the light.

I have to let go, of the past and of Alex, too, if I have to find a way to move forward. I had to let go of blame, shame and guilt. I had to realize that reality is often not what we want.

The geocentric universe stepped aside for the heliocentric one.

History shows us that even the most convincing arguments may turn out to be false. There is a bigger order in the universe that does not revolve around mine or your lives. It involves zillions of lives.

I often hear this question, especially in the media. What’s wrong with people? What’s wrong with this world? I used to echo the same sentiment a while back. Now, I try to accept the world for what it is. Chaotic, mysterious, illogical, painful, sad, dirty, unfair yet right.

It’s not a perfect world but it is the only one I know, and live in, for now. And if I let go of my preconceived notions and desire to change things, then I can see the beauty and joy around us. Perhaps, in some moments, I may even have had a glimpse of meaning.

If you could change the world, what would you do? More than a hundred things would come to mind. But I wouldn’t. The world is fine, as it is. I can’t change it, nor can you. I can change myself and that would influence the world around me.

I learned this from Alex.

Let go of the past.

How many times, people have told me that I can’t change the past. So let it go.

Well, I’ve tried and still do. My past contains guilt and shame. It is also filled with joy and blessings. I am sure everyone worries about what happened and what will be at some point or the other.

The important thing is to let go because you know there is nothing you can do about it. The illusion of being in control or the ability to do so is a dangerous one. On a larger scale, it is what turns people into megalomaniacs.

Our sorrows and joys are transient. Our consciousness of it is not.

That day was not like any other day. That day will never come again in my life. So, why dwell upon what I cannot change.

I will carry my sorrow in my soul, but it will not be a hole or a deep well. Instead it will be a monument to Alex, my love for him and the lessons that he taught me and I will continue to learn in the years to come.

Life is now but I am always aware of the past.

Tragedy is a terrible thing but to wallow in grief is even more. Every cloud has a silver lining and you need to look away and around you to see the light.

I was blinded for a while after my tragic loss. Everything went black and blank. I was bitter and sad even when I prayed for strength, I was looking for a peg to hang my blame and guilt.

Meditation helped me focus. I saw beyond the darkness. I pieced together memories that I was afraid of recalling. I found the experience cathartic and liberating.

Everyone has a story to share. We are keen to share only the stories we feel good about. Writing about my soul-searching journey, is a form of meditation for me. It’s my way of coming to terms with my soul. I am conscious of his spirit in my life even though he is not physically here.

Will my writing about my tragic experiences help someone else cope with their trauma? If it does, I am grateful for the opportunity to help someone. If not, at least I tried. I realize that a sense of gratitude enables me to be compassionate not only to others but to my own self, as well.

“Every day is a new beginning. Tomorrow, the future is not something to fear but to hope and welcome with open mind and open heart.”

Every time that I am afraid, I say this affirmation. Sometimes, I have doubts but I still say it.