MAY 8, 2008: “One Son’s Angel” …

~ Evelyn Pansy Williamson ~
(One Son’s Angel)

FEBRUARY 16, 2022:

Dear Mr. Witherspoon,

Someday when I get the chance to properly put it down in words, I’m going to explain how much your music meant to my late husband. The first time I ever saw the man (who was our “rock”) cry was when he played me Angel’s Son, then explained why. His “mother” threw him away when he was born, then the only woman who ever loved or cared for him in his lifetime before me was his Grandma. When she died literally right in front of him at age 13, I’m certain that’s when he stopped living and growing and was only “dead alive” until we lost him to suicide 910 days ago this moment actually.

A few years ago, we were in downtown Ft Worth on a surprise weekend getaway for ME – eating at this FINE restaurant near a window that looked down to a square where he had NO idea you were playing. It was one of THE happiest moments of his twisted existence, and the pure joy on his face that night is still seared into my memories. Thank GOD for that, too, because those truly JOY moments for him were fleeting.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share. I’m blogging “Angel’s Son” in honor of his Grandma on Mother’s Day – I’ll send it to you then. Hope this very long message wasn’t too annoying. Your music means a lot to me because it meant so much to him. You’re a king, my friend.

~ Real Cat

๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒบ

MAY 8, 2022:

Zachariah,

Life is changing … but I am going on without you. Rearranging, yeah. I’m being strong standing on my own. You were fighting every day. So hard to hide the pain. I know you never said goodbye. I had so much left to say. One last song given to an angel’s son. As soon as you were gone. As soon as you were gone.

We love you.

~ Us

๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒบ

And so, with that, I suppose I’ve conveyed what finally needed to be conveyed about “the angel” and her otherwise motherless son. I cannot tell you how many times he told me over the years, “Catherine, I wish you could have known her”. Ah, but what that silly boy never realized is that I very much did know her. Every tear that fell from his eyes during the many times he would talk about her told me everything his many words and many silences could never say, as well did the tears he cried whenever he would listen to this song.

As with every Mother’s Day I’ve since had to or will ever spend without him, today is so twisted and bittersweet. On one hand, I am privileged to celebrate not just the gift of my motherhood, but the gifts of my mother beautiful Mother and angel Grandmother as well, it was on this day in May 2019 when he started coming apart at the seams. For that reason, this day will always be a rollercoaster of deep joy and intense sadness for me.

He had just gone up to say goodbye to Gia before heading off to work that morning. As he made it to that last step on the way back down, he just stopped there dead in his tracks and started sobbing, much like the day at the kitchen window a few months before. When I asked him what was wrong, the words he spoke were all but paralyzing:

That whore that gave birth to me just threw me the fuck away. My own mother didn’t want me. She never did. She never will. I really AM a Zack Of Shit!

It’s a moment that haunts me still as though I were seeing him standing there and hearing the abysmal, scathing truth in those words as they fell from his mouth for the first time every time I’m sitting in the chair in my office where I was that Godforsaken Mother’s Day morning.

“The Staircase”

There he stood at the end of that beautiful staircase I love to hate so much, the “rock” of our world and the king of our hearts, just slipping down the cold, black hole that “mother THING” that buried him alive in on the day she left him behind like a piece of garbage on the street. Virtually every day and night for the months that followed until he left, he suffered, cried, ached, and sobbed, sometimes in the fetal position, for not just her, but the entire lot of them. All Gia and I could do was helplessly watch him dying out loud right before our eyes as he battled the actual demon that moved into his mind and destroyed not just him, but my daughter and me as well.

That angel on Earth beautiful Grandmother of his truly was the first and only other woman who ever really loved him other than me and my daughter. For that we will forever be thankful that not only did she exist, but that she was one of the few bright stars in his sky.

Today, in both their honors, we will not only take flowers to her grave for the first but certainly not last time, but we will also take some of the ashes the rest of his “family” couldn’t be bothered to come get and take home to bury in the ground at her grave where they truly belong.

AUGUST 22, 2020: “We WILL Remember Him” …

One of our favorite traditions was the once-a-year pilgrimage to the harbor at Lake Ray Hubbard in Rockwall to take “The Picture”. It started by happen chance several years ago when Gia was around age seven. We’d stopped into The Bass Pro Shop that abuts the harbor to simply visit the aquariums we’d heard about, at which point we’d decided to take a walk to the end of the pier. As was par for the course, although our little ball of energy and sunshine was always bouncing at least ten steps ahead of us wherever we went, she was never out of his sight. On that day, however, he was going to make damn good and sure she didn’t get too far ahead and fall into the water, so he grabbed her sticky little hand and walked her down. Thus … “The Picture” was born. The plan had long been that we would take the same picture year after year to memorialize the progression of her growth, then eventually end with “the final picture” of the two of them in her gown on her wedding day, at which point her husband could take it from there.

Unfortunately, as I have said before, it wasn’t too far into 2019 that Zack’s descent began to avail itself. Sure, we’d had our good days – and plenty of them. But with everything that was going on, somehow the trek down to the pier never happened. So, on this day, the two of us made a poignant decision together: “Let’s go to Red Robin (one of his favorite places to eat) then down to the pier to take the picture in his honor, then keep taking it year after year.”

So, WE DID IT! There she stood, alone and overcome with emotion, and we did it! Only, then there was a twist. A very talented friend of mine took the original picture of them on the pier and spliced him into the picture of her standing alone. Not only was it probably one of the best ideas I’ve ever had, but Iโ€™ve also now decided to keep doing the same thing, year after year, until, you guessed it – HER WEDDING DAY!

It’s been a long and sobering year for us my friends. Am I strong? Of course I am! I was forged under pressure and fire! What you see with me is as real as it gets. Am I absolutely refusing to let him down by seeing us fall apart? YUP! That has never been an option, nor will it ever … because … despite the unspeakable realities at the end that are now mine and my daughter’s, that king loved us with everything he had before he got sick, and believe or not, even in his sickness. So, with that, we are both choosing to only hold on to the good stuff and just leave out all the rest. THIS is how we will “remember him” always.

PLEASE REMEMBER ME

When all our tears have reached the sea. Part of you will live in me way down deep inside my heart. The days keep coming without fail. A new wind is gonna find your sail. That’s where your journey starts. You’ll find better love, strong as it ever was, deep as the river runs, warm as the morning Sun. Please remember me. Just like the waves down by the shore, we’re gonna keep on coming back for more, ’cause we don’t ever wanna stop. Out in this brave new world you seek … o’er the valleys and the peaks … and I can see you on the top. Remember me when you’re out walkin’. When snow falls high outside your door. Late at night when you’re not sleepin’ and moonlight falls across your floor, when I can’t hurt you anymore. {Tim McGraw}

JULY 10, 2020: “Healing Conversations” …

IMG_4015

On November 23, 2019, last year, I attended my first “International Survivors Of Suicide Loss Day” with the one and only man who ever stepped up as a true father to my husband at the Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Of course, we attended to honor my husband’s memory and suicide, but as much to honor my daughter, who in case you didn’t already know, was also suicidal the night that Zack left.

It was a beautiful, symposium style conference intended to be a day of healing, where all those impacted by suicide loss could connect around the lives of their loved ones and the experiences of hope, support, and encouragement. It was a wonderful day that did in fact help solidify my steadfast road to the recovery process that I was headstrong determined to conquer!

At the end of the day, each attendee received a packet of memorial “seedling” paper on which to write intentional messages of love, hope and perhaps even notes to our loved ones. I of course brought mine home, but because of the extremely complicated ways that he hurt her, Gia’s road to recovery was not only delicate, but, strictly on her timing. So, the packet just sat in our windowsill for months.

Without going into details, all I can say is THIS: That “love note” you see above? “I forgive you dad“. IT WAS EVERYTHING! I’m not sure when or if the day will ever come that either myself or she will be able to share everything that really happened in the literal psychosis and insanity that proceeded his death but sufficed to say … my daughter is a phoenix! My daughter is a miracle! My daughter is everything I aspire to be if and when the day ever comes that I decide to grow up.

JUNE 9, 2020: “Everything” …

Last night while I was in the closet pondering the idea of tackling Zack’s clothes and personal belongings (which, PS, are all still either hanging or sitting completely untouched and exactly as they were the last time he walked out of this house at 8:00pm on August 22, 2019, I stumbled upon the little box of all the trinkets and baubles my son has given me over the years, not the least of which is the Godiva Chocolate box itself! You see, it was empty when he secretly pulled it out of the trash at age ten, only to put a handwritten love note from him to me inside it. My favorite thing, however, is the Circa 1999 “Valentine Stick” that he wrapped in a napkin a few years before that at age seven.

With this, I was joyfully reminded of the many wonderful gifts this boy has brought to my life over the years, not the least of which is the only unconditional love from a human I’d ever known prior to Zack, and then, of course, the inspiration to LIVE, fight and change a very broken and toxic family cycle.

No matter what “things” I have or never have, have had and then lost, or have otherwise been given or not given, I am still a woman who is blessed beyond measure with EVERYTHING!

I was also reminded of the true and sobering fact about life itself, that sometimes when someone “gives to you”, they may be giving all they have, so to never take “gifts” for granted, no matter how big, small, or even tangible.

Dare I remember the night that Frog Prince of mine promised to build me “a castle of stone and brick“. Lol, if only he’d known that regardless of the material gifts and “things” he’d given me, I could happily have lived with him anywhere, so long as I had that giant heart of his.

Perhaps the best part of finding this little box of goodies last night, especially in light of what I was mentally tackling in that closet in the first place, is that finding the “little box of trinkets” literally STOPPED me from falling apart in the midst of all Zack’s “stuff”. I’m serious people, THIS is how my life works. It’s all good. It’s all God. It’s exactly as it needs to be. Just sayin’ …

JUNE 16, 2019: “King Of The Supermen” …

Crown

DEAR SUPERMAN,

them

No man in his right mind could have grown up “dreaming of the day” he’d run into some mentally exhausted single mom in $35,000 worth of debt and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but here you are standing strong and fearless, a beacon of light shining brightly behind me, my two living babies and the ghost of another, ever present, always faithful, and often at the sacrifice of yourself. How could you have known as you arrived to work that cool October day in 2008 that every plan you’d ever planned, dream you’d ever dreamt, or wish you’d ever wished for your own life, family or future was completely unraveling in that one exact moment in time?He was standing in front of that one big window at the gym, turned his head, our eyes locked! YOU KNOW ALL THE REST! You made me sick, I ran away, didn’t come back for months, and so the story goes. By then it was too late though, and little did we know that Destiny had already stepped in to begin weaving the fabric of “us” on Her loom. If only someone could have told you, then maybe you could have worn one of those ever-so-cliche’ expectant father t-shirts with sparkly pink letters across your chest that screamed “I’M GONNA BE A DAD … IT’S A GIRL”! Hell, you could have even passed out some cigars! But I digress, and here we are.

I want you to know that I am ever so graciously aware that none of this has ever been easy for you, although to those who don’t know what really lies beneath the frosting of the beautiful cake that you are you DO make it all seem so effortless. But this job you never imagined you’d be showing up for on an equally cool night the following November came with so many unseen challenges and struggles, most of which have fallen on your shoulders without complaint.  I know we weren’t the family you were expecting – “some other guy’s leftovers”. And I’m guessing she wasn’t quite the “little pink bundle of joy” you may have once pondered welcoming into your very private world.

As for all the many things you have been, done and given to her? You didn’t have to do ANY of them. And no one ever asked you. You just did them. And you still do. All the tears you have cried with her. For her and about her? They matter and I’ve counted them all! He breaks her. You fix her. He makes excuses. You search for solutions. He hurts her. He hurts you. He lets them both down, but you keep picking them up. I suppose the defining moment as to who and what you are as a father was that morning just a few weeks ago when you were first reduced to tears at the realization of how much she has grown in the years since you first met her and how quickly time is speeding by.

I only have five years left with her and then she’ll be going to college. It seems like a lifetime when she’s only gone for two days, so what’s going to happen when she’s gone for months at a time? And then gone for good? Even just thinking about it makes me physically ill and I don’t know how I’ll survive it!

Meanwhile, and I suppose I could be wrong, but it sadly appears that “real dad” is just counting down the minutes until he finally gets to live the life he really wants to live with the woman and her child whose words, deeds and actions have all but slain both my children to their knees.

You’re a beautiful human being Zachariah and your heart’s depths seem to have no bounds. You could have had anything. Anyone. To this DAY I cannot understand why you’ve done the things you have done for us, and more than that, why you didn’t run as FAR away as any other man’s legs could possibly have carried him. I was so beaten down, tired, weary and ragged and had literally NOTHING to offer you whatsoever. A father who wouldn’t accept you. An ex-husband who maligned you. A pile of debt. A broken body. An empty womb. The two ghosts. And “his” kids. But? You. Chose. Us!

I want to say thank you my true and faithful King. THANK YOU FROM THE DEPTHS OF MY SOUL. You are … so much. So much of everything and more! You’re the love of my life that I never knew “I’d never had” until that that moment “I finally knew” what the selfless, unconditional love of a man and a father was supposed to be. I know this may sound crazy, but it’s because of YOU that I now fully realize how God pours His own love into all of us. When I look at you? I see Him. You’re just a mortal man, imperfect in so many ways, but your honor, intentions and steadfast love and devotion to this family are unwavering, and always “for better worse”.

These are your truths that are held as self-evident as far as she and I are concerned: You’re the beating of our hearts, the voice that calms our fears, the words to all our songs, the hand that wipes our tears, our eyes when we can’t see, our lungs when we can’t breathe, our legs when we can’t walk and our arms when we can’t hold ourselves upright. You have made us both believe that we’re the two most treasured prizes any man could have ever won and that our many flaws and weaknesses are just as beautiful as you claim we both truly are. You are the mirror we gaze into when our own reflections fail us and we are never prouder and more confident than when we’re standing behind you, beside you or with you at our backs, whichever the circumstances require. We belong to you Zachariah, and for some reason it was just supposed to be this way. You have given us a home … and your heart … and pretty much everything we have today. We love you more than any of my endless words could ever say.

Happy Father’s Day to our REAL LIFE “Superman“. We waited so long for you to finally show up. Thank you for picking us up in your arms that carry EVERYTHING! We love you always … and we will forever … “Everyday” from now until Eternity.

~ Us

JUNE 2019: “Shards” …

Shards

My husband wrote this in June for Gia because he believed, and it is true, that they shared similarly broken hearts. Now, in reading it a second time, I realize he was actually writing about himself. Ten years ago my husband saved my life, and hers. In the end, it was him that needed to be saved … but I couldnโ€™t do it.

SHARDS

I finally broke and my mind came undone. My body gave way as I hit the floor. My heart shattered. I lacked the strength to even pick up these pieces as they spilled across the floor while they looked at me in disapproval for the “mess” and inconvenience I made for them, but I gathered them up none the less as the whip cracked and scarred my back pushing me begrudgingly forward. I didn’t know what to do with what was left of me. I had never come this far apart. I was just a little [boy]. I just wanted to give up. Lay down. You know the rest. There is a crack deep in my soul that is still healing, but some days I feel as though it is only getting bigger. I thought I would never be strong enough to stand on my own and finally get my “shit” together. Could I find enough love for myself to make these jagged pieces worth putting together? I have looked to find strength in so many โ€thingsโ€ because I feel it is not within me, but deep down inside I know it is there. One day soon I will gather up these pieces again. Fit them together the way they are supposed to go. These shards will become my strength. My protection. My weapons against further abuses of my worth and love. The strength is gathering within me – Iโ€™m not little anymore! They shoved me on to the path of adulthood and I will show those who have wronged me my wrath, which will only be overshadowed by the ferocity of my love that is and was the best thing they will never have known. I spent so much time seeking their approval, when it was MY approval and favor, they should have been looking for all along.

~ Zachariah Lucas Williamson ~