What happened to Conrad Roy III has shaken me to the core. I’ve thought about what it must have been like for him to talk about suicide with your daughter. Rather than hearing all the reasons he was valued and loved, he was encouraged to take his own life.
What must his final hours have been like? I well up with tears thinking about the heartache and fear he endured.
What his parents must be going through, I can’t even bring myself to imagine. The loss of their sweet boy cuts to the heart of who I am as a Mother and a human being. I pray to God that somehow, someday, they will find at least a small measure of healing.
And then there’s you.
I’ve thought about you, too. When something so senseless and ugly happens, we as a society have a need to blame someone. Somehow it gives us a degree of comfort and a feeling of control over what can be a scary world.
In most every case the first person upon whom we look to place blame is the Mother.
I’ll admit that I’ve thought about blaming you, too.
I read that you took your daughter to Disney World while she was awaiting trial. I read that you and she planned for her prom together.
I also read that despite the judge’s order banning Michelle from using social media, you posted pictures on her behalf of the trips she took after Conrad’s suicide and of her happily hanging out with friends.
That’s hard for me to swallow. That’s hard for me to understand. It seems so needlessly cruel to Conrad’s Mom. I wish you hadn’t done that. It’s made it so hard to feel anything other than disdain for you.
Lynn Roy, Conrad’s Mom, when talking about you, said the following in an interview:
“I don’t wish pain, I feel bad for her family too. I’m 44 and it hurts me to hear what people say about my son as I’m sure it hurts her family to hear what they say about her. I want to handle this with as much grace as I can because that’s what my son would want.”
Conrad’s Mom doesn’t know it, but her example of grace has not been lost on at least one Mother.
I realized that if Conrad’s own Mother can express empathy for you, who am I to do anything else? She lost her boy, her sweet boy. And yet she’s still a Mom who recognizes the pain another Mom feels.
Still, I wondered about you.
I’ve had almost a need to know who you are and what your relationship with your daughter was like. And I’ll be honest here – I know it’s because I want to learn from your mistakes – if there were mistakes.
Like any parent, I want to raise my son & daughter to be loving, caring, empathetic adults. I want them to be the kind of people who would rush to help someone in pain rather than create more pain.
In short, I don’t want them to be like Michelle.
We all know now that Conrad was in emotional agony. This tragedy has been a stark reminder that I need to be acutely aware of any mental health issues that could arise in my own children. I cannot be complacent. I must be vigilant.
Understand I’m not saying Conrad’s Mom was anything less. Sometimes the worst can happen no matter what you do, or say, or how much love you have for a person.
The pain Lynn Roy wakes up to and goes to bed every single day makes me even more determined to teach my children, through both my actions and words, that they can come to me with anything.
Whether they feel embarrassed or ashamed. Whether they think I’ll be angry, or they believe they’ve done something so awful that I’ll stop loving them.
They need to know, I have to make certain they know, that I’m strong enough to handle it, and that I’ll love them unconditionally until my last breath.
No matter what. Always. No matter what.
You’ve made that same unspoken contract with Michelle, haven’t you? Of course, you have. Michelle is your child. She’s done something horrible, something she can’t take back, something for which society is holding her accountable.
And still, you’ll love her no matter what. Always. No matter what.
Maybe that’s where you, and Lynn, and myself, and all mothers everywhere, have a thread of connection.
I don’t know your story or anything about the way you parented Michelle. I don’t know what’s going on inside your head during all this. I don’t know what you’ve said to your daughter in private, or why you took her to Disney World or approved of her going to prom. I can’t know and I’m sure I’ll never know.
But what I can understand with every cell in my body is the thing that makes us more alike than different: that you love her unconditionally. That you will always be there for her. Always. No matter what. And that I can understand.
If you suspect that your son or daughter is struggling with depression or possibly having suicidal thoughts, please get them to a mental health professional near you or call the Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. To learn more about recognizing depression and anxiety kids, please click here to visit the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.