I always knew something unique and very different about our son, Joseph Anthony Suarez. He seemed to radiate the world even as I gave birth to him on August 31, 1990. I always told him one day. He would accomplish greatness in life because his spirit was so big, and he would see the world. Joe would look at me and smile, then give one of his warm tight hugs, always with an “I love you, Momma.” I love you more, son, and I held him tightly. I don’t think Joe realized how much everyone genuinely loved him. There was something about his presence; he made you feel good inside. Joe had a gift; people loved him. And he was my gift for 27 years; I miss everything about him every day. We all miss him. I was right about him accomplishing greatness. He did exactly what I knew he would do; I assumed it would be here in the living world.
The day after the Coroner contacted us, I had a dream. It felt so real. It was one of those dreams when you tell yourself, if this is a dream, please don’t wake me up! I was at my mom’s house on Fillmore St., sitting at the kitchen table, crying. I looked out the back door, and Joe was walking toward me. I don’t know where he came from; he just appeared. Slowly, he made his way into the kitchen; I held out my arms for him. Somehow, we both were standing at Mom’s front door, and Joe had his arms wrapped tightly around me. I cry every time I think back to this dream. Then I looked up at him, and I could see his eyes were filling up with tears as mine were drowning. He told me, “Momma, I’m sorry, I love you” these words were often his direct way into my heart. He had many, but this one got me every time. I know, son, and I love you more, and I forgive you.” I held on to him for as long as I could. I didn’t want to let him go, then my eyes opened. Hopeless and grief-stricken, I lay helpless in my bed for hours. Was it a dream? Did I imagine what just happened? Am I going crazy? Or did Joe really come to see me one last time? I believe he came to say goodbye. Suddenly, my heart-felt warm.
Every day following Joe’s death as I was in disbelief, shock, numbness, sorrow, and unimaginable pain. I believe my brain went straight into protection mode. For the most part, those days and nights were blurred, and I don’t remember much except sleeping. Sleep protected me from reality, and I felt no pain while my eyes were closed. Rest kept me from thinking. I didn’t want to think about what was happening in my life. It was too much for me to process and hard enough accepting I would never see Joe again. People tell me eventually, it won’t hurt as bad; I don’t believe that to be true. I asked God out loud, “where are you? How do I go forward from this? I am broken, Lord!” Sobbing heavily, I could barely catch my breath. Life hurt. It hurt to breathe. Life is so unpredictable. It can change in a blink. I quickly realized, “don’t take each day for granted because you never know what can happen; it can all be wiped away just like that…in a snap.” Every day is a gift.
Sometimes, I feel as though I’m spinning in circles. Trying to find an answer to the “why?” Why Joe? Why my family? Why didn’t I get some warning? Why couldn’t Joe have just stayed home that day? Why didn’t I stop him from leaving? Why didn’t he just come home? There are 100’s of whys. I may never know an answer to any of my questions, so I’ve given it all to God. I had to; I was spinning out of control. I always knew and could feel when Joe was uneasy about something. I would ask him, “a penny for your thoughts?” His reply was always. I’m good, Mom (my heart is racing as I’m typing this). He never wanted me to worry. I’d rather him be here and worry thru the problems that can be fixed versus him being gone forever!
There was a lot wrong that Monday; I could feel it without looking at him. His dad would always tell him, “don’t be so trusting of other people, son. Always have your guard up. There are vicious people in the world, Joe” ….got it, Pops, he would always tell his Dad. Before May 28th, we were all living, breathing; life as a family was uninterrupted. I want it all back. I want my family, all 5 of us, living and breathe together again. I want my son Joseph Anthony back. Why did this happen? Some people tell me, “it’s all in God’s plan” well, that’s not enough for me; I want more. I want to know HOW this happened to Joe. My gut instincts tell me there’s a lot more we don’t know. But, one day, the “more” will reveal itself, I have no doubt. Something will surface. This chaos has ripped apart my family, leaving us mourning Joe to no end. I pray. It’s all I have left in me. I have given this all to God. It’s way too big for my shoulders.
I love you, my son, and every day my heart hurts, but I will not let your death be in vain. I will see you again one day. Until then, I promise to try with everything in my soul to shift my sorrow and my pain toward your memory. I will make sure your greatness will continue to honor your name, Joseph Anthony Suarez. I love you, son
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 NIV)