Excerpt from a Leaves of Your Life Memoir

Some 14 years later when Jerry would speak about his son’s death, the words were composed, almost detached. He would tell the facts behind the story, the timeline of events, but his language was impassive. It was only by watching his face when he spoke, hearing his voice break, and seeing him dissolve into tears that one could truly understand the devastation that J’s death brought on.

After the policeman delivered the tragic news, Jerry immediately called his children. Cathleen, in her own state of shock, raced to her dad’s apartment to find him sitting at the computer, composing an email addressed to a wide distribution with tears covering his face. Later Jerry would not recall the words he typed, but he would remember sharing how happy J sounded on the phone the night before. He would recall sharing how “happy” was J’s default.

When Maureen arrived at Jerry’s home, she found her father clutching J’s yearbook to his chest. “My chest is crushing,” he cried. “This is crushing me.”

“I had never seen him like that,” Maureen recalls. “I worried not just that we had lost J, but I thought, ‘This will kill him. This will kill him.’”