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Letters to Lance

On September 12, 2010 my son Lance took his own life, during a Bipolar episode that had started four months before, after losing his job as a bank manager; a job he loved. On September 12, 2010 my son Lance lost his lifelong battle with Bipolar disease, a battle he could not face for ever one more day.

My Son’s story is an amazing one of highs and lows, failure and success. Lance lived his life completely. His passion was learning, religion, politics, his wife and Family. Lance packed as much living into thirty two years as possible. While some parts were ugly, some very bad, the good outshined all. His experiences spanned from one end of the spectrum to the other. Always, my Son overcompensated and eventually over came; until now.

When Lance was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, we had many situations where Lance was so out of control and in danger of hurting himself; I would call for a 72 hour involuntary committal that usually lasted 1 to 3 months, until Lance was stabilized. During that time Lance was very angry with me. Years later he thanked me, telling me that my actions had kept him alive.

I was desperate this time to get Lance the help he needed: the help I could not find here in Hawaii. Sadly Hawaii State law does not allow for a 72 hour involuntary committal, that is not court ordered. This left me few options.

Being as close as we were allowed us to discuss any subject, no subject was taboo. I spoke daily with Lance during those last 4 months; Lance not having a job allowed all of us to spend much more time together then we had been able to do previously.

Lance and I spoke endlessly about his mental state. Being a Jewish mother I was not above using guilt anything to manipulate him into treatments. I begged and pleaded with him to get help; nothing worked.

When asked if he was considering suicide, he honestly answered , yes. When I spoke of how that would affect me, he told me “that it’s not all about you, Mom”. When I asked him what would I have if he was gone, his answer was that I would have his money. I told him I did not want his money, I just wanted him. Lance had made up his mind, and nothing I said would change that.

During our last Full Day together, The Last Full Day of His Life, I told Lance that I was quite sure he would get another job, even better then the last. Lance was not afraid of working to climb the mountain again. He was quite sure that he would once again succeed in business and life. What he could not face again was making it to the top only to fall from grace again. He was tired of the cycle of Bipolar Disorder; he just could not do it anymore.

I told Lance he had an amazing story, that if told could possibly help others. I asked him who would tell his story if he was not around, his answer, “You will Mom”, and so I willI know my Son is now perfect, no pain, no conflict, no confusion and a clear mind. As a mother, for him, I could not ask for more.

My pain started the moment he died. There is no end to my pain. I will always love, miss and wish he was still here.

I was lost at the funeral and his burial in New York, just as He had requested. There is such a stigma attached to suicide, that I did not have much support. So, in my pain I started writing letters to my son a year and 6 months later, I am still writing to Lance.

I want to share some of my letters to Lance, in the hopes that it will help someone to see what a mother feels when their child completes the act of suicide. The destruction of my life and my family’s life is far reaching. Hopefully one day I will be able to tell the whole of Lances’ story.

Here are some of my letters to Lance:

Dear Lance, 10-20-2010 I just want to tell you that the journey you set us on was one we never wanted to go on. I now belong to a club I never wanted to join. The sadness is sometimes too much to bear. Now that we have completed the part of the Journey that you had me promise to do, I feel lost. I was so proud of my Father’s family for helping me accomplish your wishes, with money and time and love. Had I not been able to fulfill your wishes I would have never been able to feel any peace. The void you left in me will never be filled. I will carry that with me for the rest of my life. I should be angry about that, but I’m not. The pain you were in I cannot imagine, but I know it was bigger than you. I’m so sorry you did not see any other way out. My love for you will live on even if you are not here to feel it. Love always, Mom


Dear Lance, 10-21-2010 I miss you, your phone calls, the information we passed back and forth, the time we spent together even if only for a moment; I miss it all. I wish you were here, but wishing will not make it happen; you are gone forever. I know we will be together again. I will be so sad until that day comes when I can join you. I know I still have to go on; although sometimes I do not want to. I am struggling with this. Hoping I win the battle and not the depression that is nipping at my heels. Oh well, I guess it is what it is.
Wish you were here always. Love, Your Mom


Dear Lance, 10-21-2010 Why do I have to toss your treasures out?, I do not want to, I want to keep it all, even if I don’t use it. I guess it makes me feel like you could come home and claim it again. Or, maybe I think it keeps you close to me. I do not know, I want you here, not your things. But, all I have left of your life is the things you had here. I told you I’d be crying without you, well I am. Love,Dear Lance, 10-25-10 I can not seem to sleep at night when I go to bed. I do sleep in front of the TV while trying to watch it. I can take a nap some days. Tonight , though I would fall asleep and then I would feel like I couldn’t breath and in a panic I would jolt awake. Am I getting a cold and forgetting to breath?, I do not believe that. I see a sign, one that tells me that perhaps at that last second you regretted what you had done; although it was too late to change the course. If so I am so sorry. We all knew killing yourself was not a good idea, not for us anyways. I hope you are alright with your decision; we are not. We miss you. Our lives will never be the same because of it. Perhaps we will learn to live with it and move on. The hole in our hearts will always be there; never to be filled again. Love Forever, Mom


Lance, 10-25-10 Wish you were here. I must think those words a hundred times a day. I’m a mess. I’ve done some stupid things; I tried to steam broccoli without water, put dirty dishes in the refrigerator, going without my bra, to the stores no less. I can not seem to concentrate on anything. Right now I also do not play well with others. My anger, grief, whatever it is has a hair trigger, so watch out. I tried to get into a support group. I got Ellen into Compassionate Friends, I cannot find one on Maui. It figures, I need to talk and no one is here to let me do it, where it is safe. Lucky me. Love you always, Mom


Hey There, 10-27-10 I hate this place I’m in, and yes this is because of you. People act differently towards me, no one calls. I take it very personally; I try not to, but I do. I know the ones I do call wish I did not; now I try to not call. I need people just like you did, now no one is here, not even you. You would call, I miss your calls, I miss you. As close as we were, did you really think this would be okay for me? Did you really think it would have no adverse affect on me? Nothing could be farther from the truth. The impact on me, my life, is all changing. I will never be the same. I need to find a way to live with the changes in me and my life. There is no going back. How I wish there were. Love you always, Mom



Hey Kiddo, 10-29-10 I forgot to tell you what I saw today. It is another story about Karma. Your friend Christian’s store, in the art gallery on Dickenson, is selling out. The art gallery is already out. I remembered how betrayed you felt when he did not give you a job when you needed it the most. So, I have to tell you, I felt good it did not work out for him. I know that’s not nice, but it is how I feel now. Oh well, I hope these feelings do not stick around forever. I do not want to end up an ugly old lady, only feeling joy over other peoples misery. I do want to feel joy again. I want to dance in the street again and I want to laugh; a great big laugh that hurts my stomach. I wish you were here, it would all be different. I would have you in my life again, to touch, kiss, hug and love. Missing that always. Love,Good Morning, 11-01-10 Whenever I say that I think of you, waking you and your brother with my wake up song: Good Morning To You, Good Morning To You, We are all in our places, with Bright Shining Faces, Good Morning to You. Just a few weeks before you were gone I called you and said good morning and didn’t you sing that song back to me? I loved when you did that. It reminded me that those little things I did when you were little did matter. It mattered to you, I’m so thankful for that knowledge, so thank you.
Loving you always, forever and a day. Love, Mom



Hey There, 11-02-10 I took a walk down to the beach today, crying all the way. I stopped and sat for awhile. It’s then that I realized why I can not pray to God and I have not since you have been gone. Before you left us, I would pray to God every night. I would pray for him to help you and your brother, to keep you safe and your brother, of course, and for God to take care of you both. I guess I can not pray until I work out the fact that I did not expect God to answer my prayers. By letting you do what you did, I believe that he was the only one who could have stopped you. Unfortunately he did not stop you. I did not think I was angry at God, but maybe I am. For myself, I guess if he did not stop you, it is because he wanted your pain to stop; for you to be at peace. What was his plan for me afterwards? I do not know. Love, Mom



Dear Lance, 11-09-10 I hurt, although I try not to let myself be aware of it all the time. I miss you, I love you and I wish you were here. The way it pops up; I know why but it still pops up. I wish I could have stopped you. I know it wasn’t all about me. I still wish you had kept trying. I never gave up, you did. I always told you to wait, for the wind would blow in a different direction shortly; it always did. For whatever reason you could not wait, you could not go on; now I’m left with trying to go on without you. Do you understand how very hard that is to do? My children are my life. My Family is all I have ever lived for, and now you are gone. Yes, I have Dad, Brad, Chasy and Nate; you are still missing. Not like I can find you and call you home; you are in your new home and I am left with an empty room in my home. Wishing it was different. Loving you, Mom




Looking back at all the letters to Lance, I believe that sharing them would help other people. One Day I would love to publish all of my letters to Lance.


Mona Cherry

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