Monday, August 08, 2005

Choices

Anonymous wrote: You must be so proud! Yea, you know what I mean

I guess I'm a little slow this morning. Do enlighten us.


I would like to thank whoever posted this message in comments this morning. You may have meant it to be cruel, but in a small way you prepared me for the news I received this afternoon.

The press may or may not have a field day with this story. I don't know; I've never been in this position before. All I know is that you can't run from something like this.

My oldest son, Jeremy, has a long history of mental illness which evolved into criminal activity beginning at age eleven. I could tell you how many years my family and I have struggled to help him, how many doctors and therapies and programs we tried, and how dearly we have paid for it. All of it is spelled out in his many court case files, but none of that really matters now. We weren't able to stop him from pursuing the criminal life he desired.

I'd never been to criminal court before my son's choices forced me to go. I had no basis of comparison; the worst crime I've ever committed was getting a speeding ticket. I've never told anyone about this outside of my family, not even my best friend. I didn't know how to feel about it, either. I loved him. I hated his crimes. I felt helpless. Even after all the therapy and rehabilitation and interventions, I also still felt responsible. I was his mother. Why couldn't I turn this around? Why couldn't I save him?

When Jeremy became an adult, I still tried to do the right thing for him as a parent. I visited my son in prison. When he was out on parole, I found him places to live, jobs, and gave him money. I encouraged him to get therapy. I also took him in when he was homeless, fed him when he was hungry, and listened to his problems. None of that made a difference, either, except that perhaps I kept him from committing some crimes when he chose to live with me.

I'm not defending myself or making excuses. It's what I did to help my son. Maybe I did the wrong things. Maybe I did too much, or too little. Maybe I listened to the wrong advice, or the wrong therapist, or the wrong judge. I'll never know.

When Jeremy was twenty-one years old, his criminal activity began to escalate, and I felt threatened by his behavior. It forced me to make a terrible choice: us or him. I chose to break off almost all contact with my son. I did this to protect my two younger children, their father, and me.

I have suffered things that you will never understand, not only for this decision, but for my son and the tragic choices he's made. I loved him, but it wasn't enough. Nothing was.

Over the last several years I have kept track of Jeremy through his arrest records, but he moved around quite a bit. I wrote letters to him and sent them to his last known address. Some he answered by leaving short notes on my guestbook to let me know he was okay. I always believed that one day I would learn that he had been killed while committing a crime. That was my worst fear.

This afternoon I learned that my worst fear didn't quite cover it.

My son Jeremy has been arrested and charged with murder, and evidently he has confessed to it and a second murder. He is presently in prison under a suicide watch. Those are all the facts I have. Here are the links I've found so far:

The latest: NBC2

Suspect on suicide watch

Florida Man Suspected in Two Deaths

Like I said, I'm not going to run from this. I've made my choices, and my son has made his. I am praying for Jeremy, the victims, and their families, but that is all I can do for them.

I'm not shutting down my weblog, my career, or my life. If you want to talk about this, comments are staying open.*

*Update: Out of respect for the victims and their families, I've closed the comments on this post. If you wish to comment further, please e-mail me directly at LynnViehl@aol.com. Thank you.

154 comments:

  1. a frequent blog reader8:44 PM

    My thoughts are with you all.

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  2. Anonymous8:44 PM

    I don't know what to say, except that my thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  3. Oh, Sheila. I'm so sorry. This isn't your fault. Not even a little bit. You did your very best, did everything you could and went even beyond what any mother would've done.

    Jeremy made his choices and you couldn't save him. My friend at work is going through similar things with her son. He's been in trouble with the law for years and he's only 17. She does everything to help him but nothing is working.

    Your family is in my prayers, including Jeremy. Again, I'm so sorry.

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  4. Sheila,

    Your son's choice was his. He's an adult and must deal with the consequences. But you are innocent and my heart goes out to you. Please know there ARE people who care and realize how much you're going through. If I were there with you, I'd give you hug. A big one.

    Take care,

    Tanya

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  5. Anonymous8:57 PM

    Sheila,

    I can't even imagine what kind of pain you are in. My heart goes out to you and your family. Stay strong and be gentle with yourself.

    Anne

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  6. "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

    Psalms 34

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  7. PBW, I admire you so much. Here you are in the valley, facing forward and continuing stalwart and strong. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. (((((Hugs))))

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  8. I can't begin to imagine the depth of your distress. I'm so, so sorry this has happened to your family. The best I can offer is a prayer for your continued strength, and a hope that a brighter day soon dawns for you and yours.

    Selah

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  9. Having dealt with mental illness in a similar yet not as frightening way (only one of my kids has not been medicated at some point, though all have been in therapy) my heart is breaking for you, tears welling. I've walked in similar shoes, made choices by taking my kids away from a situation that I feared would escalate years ago.

    Sheila, you are loved and respected, and you are never to blame. Jeremy is an adult, has been for many years. Hugs and please let us know if we can do anything for you besides pray and keep you and yours in our thoughts. Be strong!

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  10. When a child is born, we have great hopes for them. Unfortunately, sometimes they come into this life missing an important element and no matter how hard we try, it doesn't turn out well. You have my sympathy and prayers. Try to ignore the ignorant that send hate mail and know that you have many of us supporting you, and know in your heart that it was not your fault.

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  11. This is my first time at your blog. My heart goes out to you. I cannot begin to imagine what you have had to live with. My thoughts are with you and your family.

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  12. Sometimes as parents, we forget where the line that divides us from our children is located. The boy brings home an "A" on a history test, and we say "Oh, see how he takes after me? That was always my gift..." Of course, it wasn't because we were good at history that he did well. He did well because he studied or has a gift and interest in the subject all his own.

    We can guide our children. We can raise them, love them, discipline them, feed them, clothe them...but we can't live their lives for them, and we aren't responsible for the lives they lead once they go out into the world.

    It sounds to me like Jeremy was headed down the wrong path no matter what you did, said, or threw in his way. I know that the last thing you can imagine hearing is that it could have been worse, but it might well have been. His victim might have been you, your husband, or a sibling. God bless you and keep you and remember that if the sins of the father (or mother) should not be visited on the son, then the sins of the son rest not on the mother, either.

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  13. Sheila,

    You did the best you could. That is all anyone can ask. I wish you enough support and courage to get through this. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Heather

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  14. Sheila, I'm a frequent reader (both of your blog and your books), I don't have anything to offer but my condolences and understanding as one who's lived with a severely mentally ill family member.

    My thoughts are with you and yours.

    Lauren

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  15. Anonymous9:59 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  16. There aren't enough words to express how sorry I am to hear this news. I'll add my support and encouragement to those who have posted comments ahead of me.

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  17. I have deleted one SPAM comment from the post. Hopefully there won't be many.

    I'm still trying to find words to express my appreciation for your comments and e-mails. I don't feel alone in this anymore. Thank you.

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  18. Our children are not us. We raise them & love them, but ultimately they make their own choices in life.

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  19. A friend of mine, one of my favorite OR nurses, is going through something like this with her son -- drugs, crime, the downward spiral.

    I can only begin to imagine what this must be like for you. I wish you and your family the best.

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  20. Rob Flumignan10:13 PM

    Sheila,

    You are one of the most caring, giving, honest people I have ever known. I will never forget how you helped me and Beth those couple of times. You are the last person in the world who deserves to suffer. If there is any way that I can help you through this difficult time, you have me at your disposal. Know that you are in our thoughts.

    Sincerely,

    Rob & Beth

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  21. Anonymous10:16 PM

    You're definitely not alone, and there are many people keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. You're a courageous woman.

    ~ Karen W.

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  22. Your post may be one of the bravest things I've ever seen. I am floored by your honesty and directness.

    I am truly sorry for your pain and the ordeal your entire family must be facing right now.

    Hold tight to each other and realize that each person makes their own choices in life and no one -not even a parent- bears responsibility for another's bad choices.

    Be strong.

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  23. Sandra10:37 PM

    My condolences and sympathy for you and your family, and for the victims and their loved ones. We like to think we can save people; many of us certainly try. But I work with a number of people who with substance abuse problems, criminal problems, bad debt problems, all sorts of problems, and I can't help the ones who don't want the help. Even when I do help them, many of them manage to slide right back into drugs, crime, debt, etc. Their choices doom them. Your son will always be your son, but his choices have landed him in the tragic place he is today, and all you can do is take care of yourself and the rest of your family.

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  24. I cannot begin to understand the anguish you must be feeling right now. For your son, the victims, their families, your family. I imagine you are replaying your life, wondering if there was another corner Jeremy could have turned. It sounds like you are not blaming yourself. Stay strong. God be with Jeremy and with you too.

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  25. Anonymous10:49 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  26. You've just described my husband's nightmare about his younger brother. Words aren't adequate, but you and your family -- and all the others touched by this -- are in my prayers.

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  27. Keep being brave. You are an amazing woman, and we all have a tremendous amount of respect for you.

    Much love to your family.

    Sarah (who has two mentally ill brothers and can empathise)

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  28. I'm so sorry. My thoughts are with you.

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  29. You and yours are in my thoughts right now. Once again I admire you for your strength and honesty.

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  30. Anonymous11:12 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  31. Anonymous11:13 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  32. Sheila,

    There are no easy words to ease the pain you feel. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as well as the victims.

    You can only do so much. My older brother was always in trouble. His life was never easy and most of it was his own doing. He started using drugs when he was 12 and things only got worse from there. After years of criminal behavior and abuse, my parents could no longer deal with him. They tried for years. They cut ties with him when we moved to FL. As I was graduating from nursing school, he died in community hospital in NY alone of AIDS. Were there things they could’ve done different to save him? Doubtful. It was up to him to make peace with himself. You can’t make a person go to rehab or seek help for their problems.

    Take care.

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  33. I'm so sorry to hear this, Sheila. Your heart must be breaking. I don't know what to say except I'll be praying for you.

    I will second the other commenters, however, and say that Jeremy's choices were his. It sounds like you did all you could to bring him up right and to get him the help he needed. You're not responsible for his crimes.

    Please don't start feeling it's your fault. And remember you have people praying for you and yours.

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  34. I can't pretend to understand what you are going through right now, but I don't think anyone should blame you for your adult son's actions.

    You are in my thoughts, and I wish the best in weathering out this storm. You will prevail, as always.

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  35. I have no words. No adequate words. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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  36. you and your family are in my thoughts, Sheila.

    I wish you strength.

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  37. Dear PBW,

    I am a lurker who has enjoyed your views on many topics. Today I have come here to find you in the depths of pain.

    There are no words except to say how very sorry I am that this has happened. I sincerely hope that you and your family find the strength to know that this wasn't your fault. Please take into your heart the words of wisdom I have read here in your comments.

    You, your family and those who lost loved ones are in my thoughts and prayers. Peace be with you all.

    CindyS

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  38. Lynn, you're absolutely right.

    No one else will ever know exactly what you've been through.
    And you'll probably never know exactly what went wrong, or why.

    But rest assured that you have a multitude of supporters who grieve with you and support you.

    Sending prayers.

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  39. I've been a lurker for a long time...My heart breaks for you.

    Add me to the long list of folks that have always admired your writing, and now your courage.

    Prayers for you and yours, and everyone touched by this terrible, terrible situation.

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  40. I wish I had something magical to say that would take away the pain.

    All I can do is keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
    Take care of yourself.

    Sasha

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  41. I am so sorry. You did EVERYTHING you could possibly do to help him turn his life around. Love him, because you can do no other, but remember, you have absolutely no control over his behavior. Take care of your family and hold them close. You're in my thoughts. If you need anything, just shout...or whisper. This too shall pass.

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  42. Briana N.1:55 AM

    Although I cannot know what you are going through, I understand and respect it and only wish that there was something more that I could do than simply offer simple words to show on your computer screen.

    Everyone so far has been right; this isn't your fault. You did everything in your power to help your son. You aren't responsible for this. Watcher_Don was right when he said that the child is not responsible for the parent's misdoings and the parents aren't responsible for the child's misdoings.

    You are one of the strongest, kindest, bravest, caring, sympathetic people that I know and my heart just breaks to hear this news. Stay strong and lean on us if you need to. We're all here for you, we all care and we all wish we could help. It's a terrible thing to know someone sitting in pain and a whirlwind of emotions, caused by nothing of their doing, and not be able to help them.

    We are all praying for you and your family and sending you all of our thoughts, wishes and hugs.

    *HUGS* Stay strong!

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  43. Sheila,

    I'm so sorry to read this, for all concerned. My thoughts are with you all.

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  44. I have lurked here for some months, and I am so sorry to hear what you're going through right now. Please know that none of this is your fault. We are each responsible ultimately for our own actions. You, your family and all affected by what has happened will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  45. I have added my prayers to the many before me. May the Lord gather you all in his heart and hands.

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  46. I'm so sorry. You and your family will be in my thoughts.
    Please don't blame yourself for what happened. You have done everything one can do for another person.

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  47. I am so sorry to hear this, Sheila. It's never easy to have someone you love fall like that...

    A little over three years ago, my mother, who has a severe mental illness as well, took off without a word. She's evading the law because she stole about 50 thousand dollars from her boss. She's been incarcerated twice before for embezzlement and if she goes back again, they will likely add 15 years to her sentence since she is a repeat offender.

    Because she went to jail, my mother missed ALL of my teenage years. I didn't have a mom for that. And now she will likely miss my wedding, the birth of my first child... everything. I've carried so much anger about this. Regret, too, because I can't help but think that if I had been a better child, it could have made her well.

    But that line of thinking just doesn't work. I don't have any words of wisdom to offer you as I still struggle to deal with what has happened with my mother. But I will say that I admire your strength so much because I know how hard this all can be.

    You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  48. This is *not* your fault. When you chose to break off contact, it was either that or risking the rest of your family's lives. You've done everything you can to help him-- it's his life now, *his* choices that have led him where he is.

    I'm so sorry. Hang in there--you can get through this.

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  49. Loving thoughts, Sheila. I am pained for you and everyone involved in this tragedy.

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  50. PBW,
    I can only imagine the fierce courage it took to write this blog, and it makes me appreciate that you must have fought for Jeremy's life even more feircely than this.

    Our children are our source of unimaginable strength an utter vulnerability. You have endured both.

    I wish i could actually hug you instead of leaving these inadequate words. BIG Hugs,

    X

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  51. What a heartbreaking situation.

    We're all here for you.

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  52. zornhau4:51 AM

    Earlier comment didn't make it, so I'll just say: Hugs. You did and are doing the right thing. Suspect nature rather than nurture. Not your fault. More hugs.
    Z

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  53. I don't want to say anything because it's all been said before better than I could have. All I want to do is give you a huge hug, and hope that helps a little bit.....

    ***HUGS!!!!***

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  54. Been lurking on your blog for awhile now, and wanted to add my thoughts and prayers to the rest. The press may or may not descend on this like the vultures they are, but no one can accuse you of not doing all you could to prevent him from this path. Sadly some people seem determined to go this way, and there's nothing one can do to stop them. You're in everyone's thoughts.

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  55. I know there are no words I or anyone can say. A long time lurker on your blog. I just wanted you to know my thoughts and prayers are with you in this time. Having dealt with mental illness with a criminal element in my own family, I know only a bit of where you're coming from.

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  56. PBW, I'm a lurker but read your blog most days.

    What has happened to your son is NOT your fault, and I feel for all of you in this situation. Mental illness is an incredibly complex thing to deal with, and as a society we still don't know how to cure it, treat it or support effectively the people and their families who suffer from it.

    You did everything you could, and you love your son, and somewhere down under all the confusion I'm sure he knows that - and that it is important to him.

    Holding you, and your family, the victims' families, and your son, in my thoughts.

    Bron

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  57. I just want to let you know that you have my support, also. Words fail me, but you're in my thoughts.

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  58. I only have a few friends I consider family. Sheila is one of them. Today she’s dealing with a tragedy of unthinkable proportions, and while I’m relieved that most of the incoming she’s taking at the moment is supportive, it’s clear from the removed messages in comments that there have been a few assholes who have leapt in to pass judgment on her for the actions of her son.

    Unlike those assholes, I actually know Sheila, and have for quite a few years. We’ve sat across cafe tables from each other, alternately tearing each other’s chapters apart and worrying about our families; we’ve shared lunches and dinners and stories of our past; we’ve helped each other through hard times.

    So, from the perspective of having shared hard times with her before, let me say that Sheila is one of the best people I’ve ever known. She isn’t a quitter — not in any aspect of her life. She will move mountains for the people she loves, she will sacrifice her time and her energy, her money, her attention, to rescue someone in trouble. She is the person for whom the phrase “good people” was invented.

    So when she says she did everything she could for her son, believe, and understand that she says she tried everything to save her son, this is true — that she went farther and tried harder than all but a handful of parents would have been willing to go to save their children. That when she stepped back, it was because she had exhausted every possible option. If she could not move the mountain, it was a mountain that could not be moved.

    I know she loves her kid. I know she worried about him. Sometimes she would talk about him; mostly he was the silent place in our conversations, and that in itself speaks volumes.

    As a mother with two adult children, I also know that kids don’t come with a remote control; as parents we do everything we can to show them how to live their lives well. We hope and pray that we have given them the right tools, showed them how to use those tools. We guide, we suggest, we cajole, we occasionally nag. But they grow up, and go on to live their own lives, and they make their own choices — and we can hope the choices they make will make us proud. But we cannot make a single one of those choices for them. Not one. And in the end, our children are who they choose to be, and must bear the responsibility for the lives they live. We are lucky if we can be proud, because for every right thing we did in raising them, we also did something wrong, and it is by the strength of their own characters that they succeed, sometimes in spite of us. It is by the failure of their own characters that they fail.

    Sheila found out yesterday what her son did, and posted everything she knew after she had a chance to make sure that what she’d been told was true. She didn’t have to do that. She faced a nightmare that most people would have tried to hide from, and she did it publicly and voluntarily, and with courage and grace. The smugly self-righteous will have their words to say about her, the childless who are so sure they could have done better, the lucky whose children turned out well as much in spite of their parenting as because of it. They’ll offer their opinions, but they don’t know her.

    I do.

    She’s good people, and if she could not turn her kid around, it was because he could not be turned.

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  59. Sheila:

    I am so sorry. I have similar concerns/issues with my oldest younger brother and I have a close friend whose violent/addicted son is in prison--you are not alone.

    I have always admired your grace, courage, and wisdom, please don't let anyone make you doubt yourself as a mother or as a person.

    I wish there was something I could do beyond type these words with tears in my eyes.

    Hang in there, we are all here for you.

    Hugs
    M

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  60. I'm so very sorry for your pain. Few other words are adequate.

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  61. Sheila,

    I am so sorry to read this. But you did what you could and parents can only do so much for their children. My thoughts are with you and yours.

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  62. Holly -- I had assumed the deleted comments were from spammers, not someone spewing ugliness. :(

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  63. Everyone walks their own path, and no one can sway them from it, unfortunately. Sometimes, there really is nothing that can be done to change how a person chooses to behave - and there's absolutely no shame in admitting that you could do nothing.

    *hugs* This is a rough situation, and I can't begin to imagine what it's like. You aren't alone, though (that's more than obvious), and everyone will always be around.

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  64. Laurie8:12 AM

    As one more lurker who's been reading your blog daily with great pleasure because I find your honesty and openness so admirable, I was devastated when I read your most recent posting this morning. My heart is breaking for you, Sheila. As a parent who went through rough patches with both of my children during their teen years (both good kids, both got into trouble with the law), I know how difficult it was for me to get through each of those ordeals. I can't begin to imagine what you must be going through, a thousand times worse than anything I experienced. There's really nothing I can say that hasn't already been said, but I want to reiterate a very important point that others have expressed, one I had to learn myself: We are not responsible for the choices our children make. It's obvious that you did everything you could possibly do for your son. This is a terrible tragedy, but you are in no way responsible; you are, in reality, one more victim of this godawful scenario. Be strong, and know that there are many, many of us who are, and will remain, supportive of you.

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  65. Anonymous8:12 AM

    I'm so sorry. For you and for the other families. I can understand hostility toward your son, but I don't understand why someone would rage at you for what your adult son did. You're going through enough pain right now, I'm sure.

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  66. My heart goes out to you. We've had a similar situation in my family but this one also involved drug addiction. It is the most difficult thing you'll ever go through but I have faith you'll come through this a better person for it.

    Try not to worry what others will think or do. Keep plugging away because I have a feeling your art will go to another level, not that I would wish this situation on anyone for the sake of art.

    Hang in there.

    My thoughts and prays are with you.

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  67. Anonymous8:23 AM

    I am so sorry you have to go through this. You are in my thoughts.

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  68. Anonymous8:37 AM

    I saw business spam in the comments.

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  69. Sheila, Your blog is the first thing I read every day. You've given so many people so much hope and not a few laughs. Today I found out how brave you are, and how loving, and how much you have suffered. I'm saying a prayer for you, your son, your family, and the families of the victims. God Bless.

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  70. What Watcher Don said--I dont think I could say it any better than that. My aunt and uncle have had to make simliar choices (cutting ties) because of a cousin's drug addiction.

    You're in my thougths and prayers.
    Hugs

    Cece

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  71. Frequent lurker8:51 AM

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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  72. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers daily.

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  73. As another lurker who reads your blog daily, I've always admired your writng insights, frankness, and sheer tenacity. To add my voice to the rest, my prayers are with you and your family. Hang in there.

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  74. A mother can only mark the trail--the child chooses the path he will take. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family right now.

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  75. Just wanted to add my support. We have a similar family member with mental problems and drug problems. Thankfully, it hasn't escalated to criminal activity, but it was still a situation where we had to distance ourselves for the safety and sanity of our family. Please know that you did the right thing and are in no way to blame.

    Hugs,
    Shannon McKelden

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  76. I am so sorry for all you've had to go through with this. My thoughts are with you in this trying time.

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  77. You're strong, and you did MORE than everything you could.

    Sending hugs, thoughts, heartfelt prayers. Also sitting in silence, just helping you cry.

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  78. I'm sorry.

    Be well.

    Now get offline and go be with your family. They need you more than we do.

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  79. I can't even imagine how this must feel. I can only send my sympathies to you and your family.

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  80. Oh goodness...I'm so sorry for your family and for the victim's family. You have done your absolute best and Jeremy is responsible for his actions.

    You'll be in all of our thoughts and prayers.

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  81. Sheila

    As the parent of adult children, I know how it feels to feel responsible for their actions, even though there's nothing you could have done. You did your best for Jeremy, but his choices were his own.

    You have my prayers for him and for your family and for the family of the victims, for you are all victims in this. No one will blame you for what happened. No one who truly understands anyway.

    Hugs

    Jaci

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  82. I am so sorry this is happening to your family. My thoughts, my prayers, and my hugs are with you. I was only introduced to your blog a few weeks ago, but I do appreciate it and everything you do.

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  83. I so admire your courage and strength and, as a mother, I can only imagine your anguish. Keeping you and yours--including your son--in my thoughts and prayers.

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  84. I'm another frequent lurker who found your blog after reading your words of wisdom over on FM.

    Sheila,

    I wish I could do something, anything, to make you feel better. You are not to blame for his actions or his choices. Despite those who may say so, there are many more of us who know otherwise.

    I'm so sorry this happened.

    I'm sorry your family has to face this and your other children have to deal with this. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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  85. Goddamn. That really, really sucks. (A few profanities come to mind, but I'll leave them implied.)

    My sympathy goes out to you and your family. Your blog has been a source of inspiration. I hope and trust that the same bold spirit which infuses your blog with such personality will give you strength throughout this ordeal and beyond.

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  86. Oh, my.
    Support vibes your way at this tough time.

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  87. It looks to me like everyone has said it already, but I'll add my own voice to the list. I've watched an old family friend change from the kid I used to play with in the summer holidays to a violent repeat-offender currently in jail. I can only begin to imagine the anguish his family feel, and I can't get close to what you must be feeling right now. My thoughts and sympathies are with you.

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  88. Sheila, My prayers are with you and your family. As mothers we try our best to instill values and a sense of morality, but sometimes no matter what we do, there are undercurrents that erode our best efforts. You did nothing wrong. In your mind, you know that, but your maternal heart is deaf to logic. Be gentle with yourself. As to those so ready to point an accusing finger: there are two ways to have the tallest building in town. One is to build the biggest building; the other is to knock all the other buildings down. God be with you.

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  89. Sheila,

    Your courage in giving us this glimpse into something so tragic and so close to your heart is a thing we all should strive to emulate.

    Your bravery in making tough decisions where it concerns blood of your blood can only be measured in monumental proportions.

    Your perseverence in maintaining hope through the years is like a street lamp that's weathered all the hurricanes and tornadoes of the area, yet still sheds it's guiding light.

    May you continue to press forward with courage, face adversity with bravery, and weather every storm through perseverence. My thoughts are with you.

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  90. Hang in there, you, your family, and let me know if you ever just need to let off steam, escape by talking writing and publishing, or anything else.

    Doug

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  91. Anonymous10:18 AM

    There are no words...

    just know that you and everyone touched by this tragedy are in my prayers...

    Christyne

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  92. You and your family will get through this.

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  93. I had made a pledge to myself to start extricating myself from the blogosphere this week -- no more comments anywhere, although I'll continue to read a few blogs -- but I couldn't maintain my silence on this.

    You have handled this with characteristic candor and thoughtfulness. I'm sorry that some people are unkind and so quick to judge, but I'm glad that you won't be cowed by them.

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  94. I too offer my thoughts. Platitudes won't mean much to you from someone random like me, so I won't offer them. Just remember that you obviously have a lot of people who are looking out for your welfare - one arsehole (or even several) can't take away the regard of which the MANY who read your blog and your books, and know you in your day today life and career, have for you.

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  95. I'm so sorry. {{{Hugs}}} I've got you and your family in my prayers.

    Linda

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  96. Peggy Kurilla10:53 AM

    Sheila,

    HUGS. I wish I were there to hug you in person, because it sounds like you need one.

    Words certainly can't help, but if thoughts and prayers can, you have mine.

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  97. Caryle10:57 AM

    Sheila,
    There's nothing I can say that hasn't been said already. I appreciate your candor and the great courage you've displayed. Sometimes, despite everything we do, we cannot help those that do not want to be helped. Your son made his own choices.

    When you say you did all you could, I believe you. You display your honesty and integrity in this blog every day which is why so many people, including myself, check in almost every day. I know you haven't sugar-coated your efforts to help your son. You did the best you could and that is ALL anyone can ever ask of you.

    For what it is worth, please know that you have my support.

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  98. I wish I had more/better words or anything to help in some significant way, but all I can say is I'm sorry and that I'll be thinking of you and your family as you go through this.

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  99. Anonymous11:03 AM

    Unfortunately there is some portion of the population who delight in the suffering of others. I admire your openness and honesty. I'm sure you have done everything that you could but you can't control the actions of others - even your own children - and tragedies occur. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Marie

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  100. Sheila,

    my thoughts are with you. You did the right thing to cut off contact with your son to protect your family; it's what is always suggested to famlies of drug/alcohol dependant persons: you can only help so much without destroying the entire family, and the final step is up to the one who needs help. It is sad, for him, for the victims, and for you, that your son decided not to seek help, but it is nothing you could have influenced.

    You can only be there for him now if he needs you.

    I wish you and your family the strength so get through this time, I wish your son the strength to understand his crime and accept the punishment, I wish those afflicted by the deaths to learn to live with their grief.


    One a somewhat lighter note: you can be glad not to be as popular as Rowling or Stephen King. Imagine the press coverage they'd get.

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  101. I am so sorry for your family and for your son. My family, too, has dealt with mental illness and I know how helpless those affected by it feel. I'm also sorry that there are obviously still cruel people in the world that feel they have to judge others and leave hateful remarks. Your bravery will see you through this time. In the meantime, my (and many other peoples) thoughts are with you and your family.

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  102. To those Anonymous(es) who deem it either their moral obligation or just fun to spam Sheila's journal: look up the words self- righteous and ashamed in the dictionary. They surely are missing in your vocabulary.

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  103. Sheila, having read your blog and the one you had previously, one thing is obvious. You are a protective fierce mother bear when it comes to your children. However, sometimes no matter what one does, it isn't enough. Fate overrules.

    My thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

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  104. I'm so sorry...my heart and thoughts go out to you and your family.

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  105. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Sheila,

    Like most of the other commenters who got here before I did, my heart goes out to you and your family. Things like this aren't easy, and they often leave you numb, whether from disbelief, keeping the pain at a distance so it's dealt with in some way, etc.

    And like others here, my family has been touched by mental illness, as my wife suffers from depression. She (and the rest of us) have our good days and our bad, but we muddle through as best we can.

    And like others, after stumbling across your blog (courtesy of Holly Lisle's), I have come to enjoy your blog. Each morning I open up your site to see what is happening in the writing world, or to be inspired by your diligence, your enthusiasm, your "spark". I don't comment, since this is your space, and if I wanted to share my opinions, I would start my own blog.

    By at a time such as this, when you are experiencing something none of has (and hopefully, never will), I think it's important for all of us who share your life to emerge from the shadows and lend you some of our strength.

    So please be aware that you are part of many peoples' lives, that you are as much a part of our daily routine as our morning Starbucks, and that we genuinely care about you.

    Another commenter wrote that platitudes are meaningless, and I suppose that's true. But like cliches, the reason that platitudes become platitudes is that they are so often true. Time will heal this wound, and while you're not likely to forget, you will get past this, and you will be stronger for it.

    Remember that somewhere inside your son, he is still the little boy who played, and laughed, and hugged you. Try to reach that part of him, and hang on to those memories. Those are what will sustain you in this time of pain, and the times of stress yet to come.

    Our prayers are with you and with your son and with your family.

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  106. I cannot begin to understand what you have gone through. But I do understand that you are a great mother, a wonderful person and that you gave all your children the best possible starting point for their lives. What they did with it does not fall on your shoulders.

    Any child would be lucky to have a mother with the thoughtfulness, consideration, intelligence and honesty that you have shown through your career.

    I wish for you the best possible outcome from this worst possible mess.

    -- F

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  107. I'm so sorry. Those words seem so inadequate.

    Don't blame yourself and lean on the strength of those who offer it.

    You and your family will be in my prayers.

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  108. Aiiii....sorry to hear about this.

    I've worked in the court system as an attorney for years. I've seen a lot of little criminals turn into big criminals, despite the best (and sometimes even heroic) efforts of their parents. Don't blame yourself (and shame on those who would automatically blame you).

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  109. Sunita12:20 PM

    I've never posted before but I read your blog every day, and it's one of my favorites. Although I write very different material than you, I find your insights and suggestions enormously helpful. You helped me to come back to writing after a long break because of illness, personal loss, and other normal-life problems.

    My thoughts are with you in this enormously difficult time, and I grieve for you and all your family. All you can do is try, you can't guarantee that your efforts will succeed, and you tried your utmost.

    Sunita

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  110. I'm so terribly sorry - your family will be in my thoughts and prayers!!!

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  111. Anonymous12:47 PM

    I'm another lurker and daily reader, and I have been for years. I am so profoundly sorry for what's happened. I will keep you and yours in my thoughts and prayers.

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  112. Grief and rage over senseless acts can lead people to vent at any likely target, either because they don't realize or don't care that their words only lead to more pain.

    There are no answers or possible condolences in such a situation. But my best wishes are with you and your family, along with the families of the victims.

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  113. Anonymous1:02 PM

    It is not your fault. It was never your fault. Keep repeating this until you believe it. And forgive yourself. I'll bet you stayed awake many a night wondering what you could have done differently, if it would have mattered, if you could have stopped him or changed his behavious, if, if, if. This will drive you mad, and the answer is that your son has always had choices -- he still does -- and must bear the responsibility of his actions.

    Please take care of yourself. Clearly there are many people who care about you, and all of us are sending you love and support.

    (I did a lot of stupid things as a teenager and caused my family a lot of grief, particularly my mother. I know she agonized over my actions and decisions, always wondering if there were some way she could have changed what I did. And the answer is no. The hard truth is that my choices had nothing to do with her; they had to do with me -- just as the choices I make now, which are healthy and positive, also have to do with me.)

    You don't always have to be strong. It's okay to break down and cry and rant and rail at the unfairness of it, the pain of enduring it. There are lots of people who will help you get through this.

    Sweetlethe

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  114. When I entered the comments section, the number was at 111. Good. I'm adding my support here, and I hope there will be lots more because it's been my experience that all those voices help -- the numbers help.

    PBW, you're one of my role models and you help me everyday with your blog. Thank you.

    I wish I could return the favor more than with this short little post of support. If I could, I would. If I can, let me know and I will.

    I've experienced having to cut off family for basic safety/protection reasons. I understand the frustration and heartache of dealing with those mental illness demons in someone you love.

    But I won't begin to claim to understand fully what you are going through, that would be disrespectful.

    And I respect you, PBW. Never more than today.

    God bless you and yours -- we're all here, on your side.

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  115. Oh my God, Sheila. Hugs. I don't know what to say, but he made his choices, not you. I realize nothing anyone says can change the feeling of responsibility you have, but parents are not gods and you shouldn't hold yourself to those standards. You could not have changed him if he didn't want to change and it sounds like you did everything you could and more to steer him to a better path.

    My thoughts are with you. Just as the sins of the father should not fall on the child, neither should the actions of the child reflect on the mother. Hang in there.

    Margaret

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  116. Better writers than I have already expressed deeper emotions more profoundly in the 100+ comments preceding mine.

    So all I can do is add my presence in this virtual community, and hope you gain some infinitesmal strength thereby. God bless you.

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  117. And a post-script comment:

    Whatever anonymous coward decided that a heart-rending occasion like this was the proper time to post the sneering taunt that leads off this post is seriously, completely, and irredeemably FUCKED UP.

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  118. HollyB1:28 PM

    My thoughts will be with you and your family, in the difficult times ahead for all of you.

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  119. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family of the young girl.

    You showed great courage in posting about this subject and I don't believe things like this are always the parent's fault and in most cases are not. When a person hits their early teens they have the presents of mind to make choices for themselves. Sometimes those choices are good sometimes they are bad but they choose to make the choices and they should be hld accountable for said choices.

    I even understand the fact that you love your son but hate the actions he took and choices he made.

    I hope you will be able to have peace in the situation and understand that if's not your fault. As I said earlier sending much love, caring thoughts and prayers your way.

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  120. I've had occasion to say this recently because I am now expecting my first child and was talking to someone about the awful things people come up and say to parents when they have no business to: The day somebody else manages to raise the perfect child, they have every right to give unwanted and unasked for advice. Until they manage that impossible feat, they should keep their mouths shut unless a child is truly in danger of being injured.

    It's hard for anyone who hasn't been in a similar situation to understand the conflicting emotions. On the one hand, you do despise what you see your loved one doing. On the other hand, as a parent, you can't help but feel like you should have been able to do SOMETHING to stop the child's destructive behavior. Unfortunately, I am witnessing my mother going through something similar now. My brother is only 14, but his file at school is (and has been for years) a mile thick and he has had numerous run-ins with authorities. My mother feels helpless, and somehow responsible, and all I can do is be there to support her and tell her that NO, it's not her fault. At some point we all become responsible for our own actions. All we can do is love and support that person to the best of our abilities, until it becomes obvious they are beyond help. At that point, all we can do is damage control on our own hearts and lives.

    And even then, I know that's so much easier to say than do. My thoughts and prayers are definitely with you, your family, and all involved.

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  121. I can't begin to imagine how you must feel, and, like everyone else, I can only admire your courage in facing such a terrible thing, and hope that the response from so many posters gives you a tiny bit of help in such a horrific situation. I feel desperately sorry for you and your family. But if anyone can find the strength to deal with such a hideous situation, I am sure you can. Like everyone else, I will be thinking of you.

    Alison S in England

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  122. Anonymous1:38 PM

    You're in my prayers.

    Barb

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  123. Anonymous1:40 PM

    Sheila,

    I felt like I knew you a little, since I was with FM when you used to hang out there.

    I cannot, cannot express how much I'm so sorry that this happened.

    The best I can offer is that I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers every day until you work your way through this.

    cherylp

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  124. You don't know me at all as I've only been here as a lurker. I read your books and this blog and enjoy them so much but I don't usually leave comments. Even though there are many people ahead of me here saying the same thing though I wanted to let you know that you're in my thoughts and prayers.

    ~Erin

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  125. Anonymous1:52 PM

    Sheila,
    I am so sorry to hear about your trouble. I don't know what to say other than to tell you that I am here for you if there is anything I can do.

    As others have said, there is only so much you can do with a child and after that it is the child's responsibility to choose their own way. Never yours.

    My sympathy to you and your family and like I said, if there is anything at all that I can do, please let me know.

    Desiree
    aka Night_Writer at FM

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  126. I am just so sorry. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    That was a really brave post.

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  127. Anonymous2:09 PM

    I used to think that love, respect, and being there for your child will ensure they grow up into decent adults.

    I was wrong. Nature trumps nurture every time.

    It doesn't matter how hard you try, some people are drawn down that path, and all the shrinks, attention, money, and love you invest won't make a difference.

    I know--I have a child eerily similar, currently in a residential home.

    It's not your fault.

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  128. I too mostly lurk on your blog but as a parent who's had her share of troubles with one of her children and has had to make some painful choices as a result I can only say, I know, though not to the extent you're experiencing, what you're going through. My sympathies to you and to the family of the victims. You did your best. That's all any of us can do in this short time we have on this earth.

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  129. Harry Connolly2:24 PM

    I'm sorry that this pain has been visited on you and your family.

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  130. I can only imagine the pain you and your family are experiencing. I hope you aren't second guessing yourself. Your love for your son (and the rest of your family) is evident in your actions.
    You will be in my devotions.

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  131. Don't beat yourself up. I DO understand what you are going through. I know you did the best you could, you know you did the best you could. Life is just like this sometimes. Hard and difficult.

    Your son will be in my thoughts, and the families of this personal tragedy.

    Keep hope.

    You have always shown courage.

    My best to you, Maddie

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  132. Your decision was the only one you could make, and you should never spend a moment in regret. You've done all any responsible mother could do - you loved your son and you tried your best to help him overcome his problems.

    HIS problems.

    God bless you. You and your family are in my thoughs.

    Lynn M

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  133. I will light a candle today for all the victims of this tragedy, which include you, your son, and your family and friends...

    But for the grace of God....

    Mary

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  134. There's no kind of words for the pain that mental illnesses bring to families. I think it goes beyond any physical malady because it steals the essence, the personality, of our loved ones while leaving a stranger to walk around in their form. Nothing you could have done would have saved him, and everything you did do can only have helped. My thoughts are with you.

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  135. May you have the strength that you need to wade through these difficult times.

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  136. I know this is hard, but know in your heart of hearts that you did the best you could do. Your son's a troubled soul and he will pay for the sins he's committed. Do not add to the weight by paying for them yourself...be of clear conscience, the full weight of this rest solely on his shoulders.
    You and your family will be in my thoughts...Be strong.

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  137. I can't even imagine what you are going through, or what kinds of emotions you're experiencing. And I don't know what else to say, except to say that you did your best.

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  138. We also have had mental illness inflict our family. There are times when we worry that the next phone call will be from someone informing us that my stepson has committed murder, and mostly we believe it's just a matter of time. My heart goes out to you in your pain. I'll add my prayers to so many others for you and your family to find strength, wisdom and guidance.

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  139. I wish you peace and strength.

    In my own little Cruciger Cosmos I now have a new perspective on the kids not walking the dog when they are supposed to.

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  140. Anonymous4:09 PM

    I'm sitting here in the knowledge that I might, at long last, be pregnant.

    If I am lucky enough to become a mother, I hope I never have to go through what you are going through. If I do, I hope that I will face it with the same courage, grace and honesty that you are.

    My heart goes out to you and your whole family, and those of the victims, too.

    You have my respect and admiration, and my heartfelt sympathy.

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  141. I can't imagine what you, your family, and the victims' are going through, but you all have my deepest sympathy.

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  142. I am so so sorry. What a terrible situation for you and your family. It's surely a Mother's worst nightmare, both for you and the victim's mother.

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  143. We are thinking about you, praying for you and supporting you.

    Bret

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  144. I'm so sorry for your family's tragedy. And that's what it is, for mental illness is an illness, no different than if your son had been cursed with cancer or something worse that he has not been able to ever defeat. It's not your fault, and if he is sick, not his fault, either. We're all victims in situations such as these.

    I hope that someday all of us will acknowledge that this kind of illness is a real thing and needs real treatment, regardless of what movie star scientologists tell us. It doesn't mean we will win, all the time, every time, against the illness, but it perhaps may stop the foolish from blaming and raging those that did their best and lost against nature.

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  145. Lynn,

    Words seem so deficient at a time like this. I would give you a {{{{hug}}}} if I could. This one will have to do.

    Anyone who has spent any time at all reading your blog knows you for the caring, courageous, and fundamentally moral person you really are. The fact that you posted this only shows that even more clearly. Any person would be outrageously lucky to have you for a mother.

    You showed your son the way. You cannot make him follow it. He made his own decisions the same way we all do. You can't help but love him and feel this pain, but you have done all any person could possibly do. Please do not accept any blame for his actions.

    As far as anonymous posters making snide comments: if they don't have the balls to sign their names and own up to their own opinions, then they can safely be ignored. Those people are nothying more than gnats.

    I hope the support you find in the comments to this post give you some comfort and strength for the trying times now and to come. I know we all wish there were something more we could do for you.

    Keeping you in my thoughts and wishing you the best.

    Carter

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  146. Anonymous5:01 PM

    I can only imagine the pain you're suffering. Others have said it with more eloquence before me, but please know you and your family will be in my prayers.

    -- Misty

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  147. I just got back from vacation to see this. I'm so sorry. You're in my prayers.

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  148. The other day my heart was hurting and I asked God why with loving people was there times of such pain. And how do we not cut our emotions off to those people. In the next few thoughts it ran across my mind how his heart must hurt knowing all people in the world, and the evils they do. And how he still loves us. Despite how we break his heart.

    I have no expierience with what you are going through, but I do know that we can't help the depths our loved ones fall into when they are old enough to make their own choices.

    I'll be praying for you. That you forgive yourself, and your son, and that God will give you strengh and shower you with blessings every day.

    (((hugs)))

    Briana-a daily lurker.

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  149. Sheila,

    I am so happy to see us fans/friends stepping up to the plate. Once again, you and your are in my thoughts and prayers.

    I hope these posts help as much as writing on a screen can.

    Heather

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  150. Anonymous6:03 PM

    There is nothing I can say that hasn't already been said.

    You and your family are in my thoughts, and I hope that whichever higher power you believe in will bless you and keep you safe.

    May

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  151. Anonymous6:04 PM

    Sheila, I'm so, so sorry for your pain. You are a wonderful person, and I'm sure you did what you could to the best of your ability. I hope you take comfort in that.

    {{{hugs}}}
    Kaelle

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  152. Sheila, I don't even know where to start, except to say that I am so sorry. I'm praying for you and all parties involved. Please know that you did the best you could in all aspects of your son's life, and don't let subhuman jerks who delight in others' misery get to you.

    What goes around, comes around.

    I'm sure this goes for everyone here, but if there is anything at all I can do for you, let me know.

    You have my prayers, for sure.

    ((((((hugs))))))

    Larissa

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  153. Your messages and prayers have been with me all day, and I will carry them with me in the days to come. Thank you.

    Out of respect for the victims and their families, I'm now going to close the comments on this post. If you would like to comment further, please e-mail me at LynnViehl@aol.com. Due to the volume of mail I'm receiving I will not be able to respond to everyone, but I promise you that I will read them all.

    Lynn Viehl

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