Announcing the Black Friday Scholarship Fund

Fall 06 007
What do we do to to recognize the birthday of our late son? It’s a question my family and I have been asking and answering for 7 years. Thanksgiving always provides an opportunity to express gratitude for his life and the Christmas season offers an excuse to lay a pine blanket on his grave. These are paltry remembrances. This year, his birthday falls on Black Friday and coincidences with #BlackoutBlackFriday and #NotOneDime, boycotts for racial justice. I didn’t plan this timing, but today on Gabe’s 31st birthday, I’m excited to announce a new project that will honor his life and support some of his highest goals related to racial justice.

Jeff and I are launching a memorial scholarship fund for economically challenged youth, with an emphasis on African American boys. For me, this work goes hand in hand with the mental health, suicide prevention, and neurofibromatosis work I’ve done since his death in 2008.  So, our scholarship will be unique in that it will also set aside funds to provide mental health and/or other support services to scholarship recipients.

What we’ve been doing

For several years,  Jeff and I have partnered with Compassion International to support a young man who is growing up in Tanzania, the country of Gabe’s paternal lineage. We’re committed to seeing this partnership through until Jeremia is grown. This year, we’re also partnering with Generation Hope to provide financial support to a teen parent who is working to finish her college education. We’ve also been supporting the work of Aslan Youth Ministries and Westside Christian Academy, organizations run by people we know and respect who tirelessly devote themselves to bettering the lives of economically challenged youth at the Jersey Shore and beyond.

Westside especially has a place in our hearts. Gabe volunteered there when he was in high school and the school’s director, the Rev. Elmer Jackson, was his sponsor when he was inducted into the National Honor Society at Long Branch High School. In his letter of support, Rev. Jackson said, “Gabe is one of the finest young men that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. His work ethic is inspiring. Our organization and students (who actually stand up and cheer, if they get the chance, when Gabe arrives) are the better because of him.”

What we plan to do

All our efforts—from mental health and suicide prevention activism to supporting neurofibromatosis research to providing financial support for the educational goals of economically challenged parents and children—are done in honor of Gabe. So, it makes sense to consolidate these activities into one unified effort.

Why a special focus on African American boys, aside from the fact that their educational prospects are especially compromised? As Gabe’s college friend Dave Woo said in an email, “Nothing would better honor Gabe’s memory and his commitment to justice and education than a memorial scholarship for African American boys. He was always acutely aware of his position as an African American man at a predominantly white institution like Wheaton College. Although he never intended to become a spokesperson for his race, he willingly engaged his peers on issues of race and challenged them to question their assumptions.”

How we’ll get there

Over the next year, we will work through the legalities of launching this fund. Our goal is to officially launch on November 27, 2016, Gabe’s next birthday. I also envision an annual Black Friday Birthday campaign to grow the fund. (How much better would that be than just laying a blanket of pine on his grave?)

For now, we are unofficially launching with a memorial donation to Westside Christian Academy. I’m also opening a savings account to pay for the establishment of the scholarship fund. Special thanks to Dave and Grace Woo for the first donation to this fund! If you’d like to support our efforts, I invite you to make a memorial donation to any one of the organizations I’ve linked to in this post. Please let me know if you do! Or, email me through the contact form for more information about how to help us launch the scholarship. I’d love to hear from some of Gabe’s friends, especially those who contacted me in the months after his death to share how he inspired their passion for racial justice. On that note, I’ll end with this challenge from Gabe.

For Chris


Yo, I been here too long in compromising silence;

sitting here, all sick to hear

of all the war and violence.


Blood has been shed, just to get some oil;

more blood was shed right here on my own soil.


I can’t forget watching them doing it;

mad tears, two towers and the plane that flew

into it.


With snipers on TV and snipers in vid games;

snipers in school cause kids callin’ kids names.


From pervert minds to our children’s eyes,

blood and sex don’t bother kids; they too desensitized.


As movies and music just get worse and worse,

our social condition just gets hurt and hurt.


They say they copy life from how it seems,

but with nudity and cursing,

innocence has become a dream.


Before they’re ready, kids get their maturity;

only 12 years old, with 10 years of purity.


I see young minds corrupted every day;

you see me every night on my knees

to pray.


Look, I got no problem with media that’s graphic;

just don’t sell “R” movies to a

pre-teen demographic.


We need to become one unified nation;

kids minds are important;

they need preservation.


You need to be careful, even just a little B;

don’t rap about just anything ’cause you got



Anyone can flow about bitches and hoes,

but I try to spit knowledge so the

public knows.


I want you walk away like, “That ain’t right”;

I want you go home and not sleep at



I’m not just another rapper spittin’ his own


I’m concerned with the children

and seeing how they’re raising.


People pushed too far, yeah, you  got

what you want;

you’ll soon be on your face prostrate

before God.


[© GGS 9/11/03, all rights reserved.]

Please note: Due to the wonderful response this post received from friends and family, it has been updated to invite gifts to establish the scholarship fund.

When Storms Come @Faith&Leadership

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Bay Head, South Pt. Beach

Bayhead, New Jersey

Like a thrill ride gone terribly wrong, Hurricane Sandy barreled through my beloved Jersey Shore last month. Except during college and a six-year sojourn in California, this area has always been home, the place where I grew up and where I have lived for most of my life.

When the storm was over, the terrain upon which my memories live had been torn asunder. Friends have asked how I’m dealing with the destruction. My home wasn’t damaged, but I have been through so many deadly storms in the last decade that they’ve been worried for me.

The loss of wealth, health, ministry, community and, most impossibly, the loss of my firstborn child to suicide have left me vulnerable, they think.

But I’ve become adept at responding effectively and efficiently to trauma. So much so that I sometimes think I should work in disaster response. …

Read the rest of this gratitude reflection at Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership site. It’s my first article there and I’m honored to see my byline at the website of such an esteemed institution.

An Ode to the Jersey Shore @NJShorePatch

confluence in point pleasant beachThe most beautiful place I’ve ever been is the top of a mountain in the Austrian Alps. It was Easter Sunday 2001 after a rain storm. A group of us were in Austria for 18 days doing construction work on a church in the valley below and took a windy drive up, up, and up into the sky to have lunch at a country inn that rightfully belonged in a fairytale.

We were literally enveloped by clouds. I felt as if I could reach out and touch heaven with my hand. The physical and metaphysical worlds merged to a degree that I’ve never experienced before or since. Perhaps it was the altitude.

Men were dressed in lederhosen and women in colorful dirndls. There was homemade cheese, speck, and plenty of beer. Way too much beer for the Austrians. One man fell off his bar stool, hit the stone floor with a frightening thud, and was up drinking again before we fully comprehended what had happened. Our group was teetotaling, so we simply drank in the moist, clean air and the breathtaking sights. Those were intoxicating enough. It was the kind of place about which tourists say, “I could live here.”

I’m not sure I said that, but I did inhabit the moment, as I have many others like it when I’ve immersed myself in the particular beauty of a place. Whether I’ve been in Paris, or on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, or in the hill countries north of San Diego or San Antonio, I’ve given myself over to the charms inherent in every bit of earth I’ve traversed.

And each time I’ve come home to the Jersey Shore knowing more deeply than before that I am of this place. …

Read the rest at Manasquan Patch.

Thoughts on Getting Through Thanksgiving After Suicide @NJShorePatch @HuffPost

How gratitude, a change of scenery and sharing stories have helped me face the Thanksgiving holiday after my son’s suicide.

Memorial Tree from 2010 New York City Survivor Day event.

My son Gabriel was a Thanksgiving baby. His birthday didn’t fall on the actual holiday until his second birthday, but it does every four years, including the year he died by suicide, 2008. The association between his birthday and our most heartwarming holiday presents both challenges and opportunities for getting through what has become, for me, an emotionally-fraught month.

When the leaves begin to change color and the air begins to bite, I start wrestling with memories of baking Turkey-shaped shortbread cookies for his school celebrations and his favorite apple pie for our family one. The pain of creating new memories that don’t include my son is one I don’t think will ever subside entirely.

But, in my family, Thanksgiving isn’t about football, movies or family fights, though the day may include all of those. It’s about gathering around an over-stuffed table to give thanks to God for his sustenance and his faithfulness, no matter what the circumstances of our lives have been. …

For tips and information about International Survivors of Suicide Day November 19, read the whole thing at Manasquan Patch or at The Huffington Post.

What I Wrote This Week @UrbanFaith: July 4-8

Hitchhiker, NYC

It was a short work week because of the Fourth of July holiday, so even though I wrote three posts for Urban Faith, only one was published this week, and perhaps that’s appropriate given that it’s a bit of an apologetic for my role as News & Religion editor at the site.

The post was inspired by an article about the relaunch of AOL Huffington Post’s Black Voices and included a quote from Ed Gilbreath explaining his vision for Urban Faith. Here are bits and piece of the post, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.

“During the early days of the AOL Huffington Post merger, we had a chuckle when Arianna Huffington was named editor-in-chief of an array of AOL blogs outside her area of expertise … perhaps most glaringly, Black Voices.” So began an article in The New York Observer about the site’s re-launch. …

As news and religion editor at Urban Faith, I’m keenly aware of my own limitations in communicating stories that reflect authentic African American experience and interest, which is why I’m enormously grateful for the black men and women who contribute the majority of UF’s content. …

Urban Faith, on the other hand, has a specific, yet broad vision. Here’s how it was described in a 2008 pre-launch email I received from editor Ed Gilbreath:

Urban Ministries, Inc. is an African American-owned company. Our core audience is black, and will naturally be rooted in that perspective. At the same time, recognizing the beauty of diversity in God’s kingdom, will strive to also be ethnically inclusive and multicultural in flavor.

Today, urban culture transcends racial boundaries and covers many different socio-economic backgrounds. What’s more, Christians who are engaged in the exciting call to urban ministry come from all races and walks of life. will be more about a way of looking at the world than where folks live or the color of their skin. It will be both for those who make their home in an urban setting and for those who care about the people, culture, and issues related to urban life.” …

Read the whole post here. And, look for those other two articles and more next week.

A Fitting Tribute

Opening Ceremony at The Overnight Walk, NYC, 6/4-5/11
Over the weekend, my niece and I joined 2000+ suicide survivors for the 18 mile Overnight Walk through New York City. A record $2.5 million was raised for suicide prevention, research, and survivor support services. Our team contributed more than $5000 to the pot.

Lumaire dedicated to Gabe at The Overnight Walk, NYC, June 4-5/11

People assume, I think, that I write about Gabriel’s suicide and raise money for causes related to it, because doing so aides in my healing, or redeems the horrific reality, or brings meaning to my life. In reality, exposing this wound exacts an emotional toll that I’m increasingly unwilling to pay.

I shouldn’t be writing about my son killing himself; I should be writing about how he’s taking the world by storm with his many talents and passions.

What? by Gabriel G. Scheller

I’m sure Mariel Hemingway would rather talk about her grandfather’s literature than his suicide too. But there she was at the Overnight Walk speaking eloquently and tearfully to the crowd about her pain, and filming a documentary about suicide, because, I think, she recognizes the danger to the rest of her family (including her daughter) in not talking about its legacy of suicide.

She wants it to stop.

Mariel Hemingway and her daughter at The Overnight Walk, NYC, 6/4-5/11

In the last four years, with the help of both loved ones and strangers, I’ve raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 for causes related to Gabriel’s death, not because it’s fulfilling, but because I felt compelled to do something to stop the pain for others.

NF Endurance Team 2008

Now don’t hold me to this statement if I change my mind, but I think I’m done with public fundraising campaigns that draw attention to my loss. This means no more big events that require $1000 minimum fundraising goals in order to participate, unless I can afford to write a $1000 check myself. It was incredibly difficult, for example, to tell my neighbors that I was hosting a block party to raise money for suicide prevention because my son killed himself.

Overnight Walk Block Party 026

It was a great party, but I really hated exposing myself like that. I don’t want to do it again.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’ve given to one or more of my fundraising campaigns, I offer my sincere gratitude. Your money was well spent, so well spent in fact that I hope you’ll keep giving to The Children’s Tumor Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention until neurofibromatosis and mental illness no longer threaten the well being of those whose lives they touch.

However, instead of continuing to focus on Gabriel’s death, in my new position as News & Religion editor at, I’ll honor his life. He cared deeply about the issues Urban Faith reports on, so I think it’s a fitting, subtle tribute to work on these issues too.

I’ll be updating the site too frequently to post links to my articles as they’re published, but I’ll try to post a weekly update. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

There’s much more to come.

As you read my words at Urban Faith, it can be our little secret that they’re written for Gabe.

Out of the Darkness and Into the Light for Suicide Prevention @NJShorePatch

Remembering my son and walking off my grief with other survivors.

gabe art photoMonday, March 28 will mark the third anniversary of my son Gabriel’s death by suicide. Instead of wallowing in the grief that continues to haunt my life, I’ve decided to walk it off this year.

Not literally, of course, because one doesn’t shake this kind of loss, but in real ways that do me and others good I am walking off the stigma and ignorance that suicide inspires.

Right now I’m in training. Come June, I’ll join thousands of other suicide survivors to walk 18 miles from dusk until dawn at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s annual Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk.

As the name suggests, the walk is a fundraiser that seeks to bring the issue of suicide “out of the darkness and into the light.” This year, it will be held in New York City on June 4-5. If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide or just want to support efforts to prevent the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, I hope you’ll join me!

Here’s why …

To find out the answer, go to one of the NJ Shore Patch sites.

My first column for is about some wonderful friends who are making a big difference in the lives of urban youth. Here’s how I introduce them:

When my late son Gabriel was preparing to be inducted into the National Honor Society at Long Branch High School eleven years ago, he had to choose a sponsor. Without hesitation he chose Reverend Elmer Jackson, the charismatic founder and principal of Westside Christian Academy, a small private school that serves urban youth in Monmouth County. …

Go to Monmouth Shore Patch to find out how the Jackson family has inspired so many people to get on board with their vision.

Finding Comfort Where None Is To Be Found @TheHuffingtonPost

I was asked to write something about spiritual comfort after shocking sudden death for the HuffPost Religion channel, and only had a few hours to do it. Here’s what I came up with:

It took me all weekend to get used to hearing the name Gabrielle Giffords reported in the tragic context of the Tuscon shootings. Not only was the event horrific, but I also couldn’t shake the similarity of the congresswoman’s name to that of my late son Gabriel Gifford Scheller. The endless stream of news triggered a wave of memories from when police showed up at my door in the early morning hours of March 29, 2008 to report that Gabriel had killed himself. The horror of an event like that is so vast that unless you have lived through one like it, you can’t truly comprehend it. One moment, life is mundane, ordinary, perhaps even joyful. The next, it is torn to shreds so completely that you believe with every ounce of your being that it is over. At least I did.

And I was right, in a sense. Everything I thought I believed was called into question and everyone I thought I trusted was placed into one of two categories: safe or unsafe. Safe people didn’t say much and if they did, they most certainly did not speak in spiritual platitudes or pronounce judgment on the situation or on my son. Unsafe people did and do pretend to understand, minimize the horror or its impact, express some perverse need to identify with it, or otherwise just creep me out.

My husband had absolute peace that Gabriel was with God, but he really struggled with flashback images of how Gabe killed himself. I didn’t wrestle as much with our son’s final moments as I did with where he is now and why he did what he did. A friend who is a psychiatrist counseled me early on to give up the second battle because, he declared, “Suicide is inherently an irrational act; it will never make sense.” (Likewise, random acts of public violence.) A Lutheran pastor comforted me by saying that how we die doesn’t determine where we spend eternity.

Over the past couple days, I have heard the tragedy in Tuscon blamed on irresponsible political rhetoric and mental illness, neither of which provide satisfactory answers. In situations like these, we long for some kind of solace, for someone to tell us we and our loved ones are safe. In D. Michael Lindsay’s book Faith in the Halls of Power, former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson is quoted as saying, “When people are presented with entirely unfair and unreasonable suffering, the president of the United States has to assure them … that the universe has meaning, and that the universe is not an emptying, echoing void.” Gerson goes on to say that complaints about politicians’ use of religious rhetoric don’t often emerge in the context of public tragedy. Thus we waited for our president to speak.

We don’t want just anyone to tell us that everything will be okay both in this life and in the next; we want someone with authority to say it. My husband, a former pastor and longtime Bible teacher, was too paralyzed with grief and shock to attend to the practical details of our son’s funeral, but he was able to get up and spontaneously preach a mini-sermon that comforted many, including me. I couldn’t access my faith, but I was able to take comfort in his. Conversely, as he struggled with those terrible mental images, I shared with him something that had helped me when I kept mentally replaying the final moments of friends who had died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. I realized one day as I was praying that they had only lived through the horror of Flight 93 crashing to the ground for an instant and then it was over. The same was true for Gabe’s final moments.

An old friend also sent me a note encouraging me to take solace in beauty wherever I could find it. As I took her advice, the beauty around me ministered to me and reminded me, as Gerson suggests, that order coexists with chaos. The universe is not an emptying, echoing void. A glorious California sunset would break through the kitchen window as tears flowed over the dishes I tried to do. The bougainvillea came into bloom despite my grief. My other son, who had been suffering from clinical depression for five years, finally received a correct diagnosis and the help he needed. We moved home to New Jersey and to the warm embrace of the family and friends we had missed so much when we lived out west.

There was good to be found, but none of it made up for, or brought meaning to the loss. It co-existed (co-exists) with it. Violence, whether it be self-inflicted or directed outward, teaches us that ours is an undeniably broken world. Yet even in this horrible moment when one young man walked into a crowd and shattered the lives of so many, another ran toward the bullets to provide triage to his wounded boss and to others around her. Three people conspired to stop the gunman as he struggled with his weapon. In a split second everything changed again. For him, for the people present, for their families, for his family, for the Congress, and for us. As we haggle and fight over what happened and about what needs to be done in light of it, may we not forget the sustaining beauty that exists in every moment we are privileged to live on this earth. Even the dark ones.

Check out what HuffPost readers are saying here.

The Abortion Debate: Open Hearts, Open Minds and Tragedy as a Fair Minded Word @TheHuffingtonPost

Fordam University bioethicist Charles Camosy introduced Open Hearts, Open Minds and Fair Minded Words: A Conference on Life and Choice in the Abortion Debate at Princeton University on October 15, 2010 by saying that it wasn’t the conference any of its organizers wanted or envisioned. Instead many compromises were made between him and his colleagues Peter Singer (Princeton), Frances Kissling (University of Pennsylvania) and Jennifer Miller (Bioethics International) as they thought about how to find common ground amidst the debate.

In his introduction, Camosy, who is pro-life, outlined three goals: 1. better map disagreements; 2. find common ground across divides; 3. have open hearts and open minds. Kissling, who is pro-choice, compared her pre-event anxiety to preparing for a wedding that both families believe is a horrible mistake. (Perhaps such fears were eased as the conference unfolded because there were security guards at the doors on the first day but not the second.)

After the conference, Camosy described it as largely successful in meeting these goals despite pockets of incivility, while Evangelical participant David Gushee (MacAfee School of Theology, Mercer University) described it as an audacious attempt that largely failed to find common ground.

Gushee was on the first panel, “Bridging the Abortion Divide: Recurring Challenges, Emerging Opportunities,” with his Common Ground colleague Rachel Laser, Mary Jacksteit of the Public Conversations Project (which initially attempted to bridge the abortion divide in the 1990s) and both Kissling and Miller. While I learned a lot from each discussion, theirs was the only one I attended that didn’t devolve into a remix of worn-out debates. Perhaps this is because all five speakers were already committed to the goal of exploring shared values.

Laser (who is pro-choice) and Gushee (who is pro-life) became friends through their work on an abortion governing document that was submitted to President Obama’s transition team. They described themselves as comrades in arms who bonded as they fended off friendly fire from their respective sides.

In his opening remarks, Gushee described abortion as a tragedy. Kissling objected to this definition. She said the moral right of women to make decisions about reproduction is essential for them to be recognized as human beings and while she respects the “category of fetal life,” she doesn’t “have a sense of individual fetuses as possessing high value.” Even so, she’s troubled by what she sees as a coarsening of discourse over the issue.

Gushee’s use of the term tragedy initially struck me as emotionally loaded too. I did not choose abortion when I had an unplanned pregnancy, but several members of my social circle did in similar circumstances and only one of them seems to have experienced it as a tragedy. The rest have occasionally communicated feelings of guilt about their abortions, but not regret.

I have written for Christianity Today from a strongly pro-life perspective and yet I’m not sure I ever thought of abortion as tragedy either. Instead, I’ve thought of it and continue to think of it as morally wrong. When I think of tragedy now-a-days, I tend to think of my son Gabriel’s suicide. The issues are related in that he didn’t have the right to take his own life any more than I had the right to take it and yet they are different because he was mentally impaired by Depression when he did so. (Despite notions to the contrary, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says suicide is overwhelmingly a function of mental illness rather than free will.)

Because Gabriel’s death left his brother with no siblings in this world, I’ve become increasingly grateful for his cousins, several of whom were conceived outside of marriage and whose biological parents either never married or married and later divorced. That is a different kind of heartbreak, and yet all these young people are flourishing as are our bonds with one another despite the complications and pain common to all blended and broken families.

My gratitude for them has gotten me thinking about those other children who are missing from my social network because of abortion. I experience Gabriel’s death as tragic because I had the opportunity to know and love him, while I experience those children as mere absences because I never got the chance to know them. I’ve subjectified them as thoroughly as Kissling has.

This is an oft-cited problem with discussions about abortion that pit the life of the unborn child against the welfare of the mother. Women can speak for themselves while unborn children can’t and we are incapable of fully comprehending what we are missing, even if we can glimpse it from the joy other children bring us.

I talked to Gushee about his use of the word tragedy. He said it may not have been the most philosophically precise description, but he was trying to communicate that abortion reflects a deep brokenness in the human condition. This sounds exactly right.

When I think about how tragic my son’s death is, I’m reminded that I would much rather live with the anguish it causes me than envision a life in which I never knew him. Abortion is a tragedy in and of itself, regardless of whether or not we as individuals or we as a society feel that it is so.

1 Corinthians 13:12 says we see things imperfectly in our finite understanding, but one day we will see with perfect clarity. Only then will our perception of abortion match reality.

Check out reader reaction to this reflection at The Huffington Post.

Running for Research Coast to Coast

I love being a member of the NF Endurance Team and have just had my first post published on the team blog at the Children’s Tumor Foundation website. It’s about my running journey and my latest event. Here’s how it begins:

I didn’t imagine when I ran my first half marathon with NF Endurance in October 2008 that I’d be running my third on the other side of the country in 2010, or that I’d register for my fourth while my calves were still tight. Yet, here I am whittling down my times and racking up donations for a great cause!

I’m a Jersey Shore native, but my family and I had been living in Southern California when my son Michael, a friend and I signed up for Long Beach in 2008. Four days after we registered, my other son and NF hero, Gabriel, died tragically and unexpectedly. Despite the rawness of our grief, we decided to honor his memory by keeping our commitment to the team. There was little thought to race times, but we did raise more than $2,600 and had a wonderful, poignant day.

My family and I then moved home to central New Jersey and I ran the New York City Half Marathon with a tiny NF Endurance team in the blistering August heat of 2009. That too was an emotional, glorious race that finished yards from the World Trade Center site, and I raised another $1,220.

I knew my next event would have to be on my sandy home turf at the Jersey Shore. I was nervous about the April 17, 2010 date though, because the April weather here is generally miserable and I’ve never been a bad weather runner. My nightmare scenario was running on the boardwalk for 13.1 miles with icy, rainy wind blowing off the Atlantic and into my face. Long before April rolled around, I was contending with blizzards and torrential downpours. …

You can read the rest here, and while you’re at it, consider a small donation. Any size will do.

I’ll Love You Forever & Until We Meet Again

This Sunday, March 28th, marks two years since my son Gabriel died. Unlike others whose loved ones have passed from this earth, I use the straightforward terminology. “Early departure to heaven” is one description I read recently. I think this person must not have seen their loved one’s body after the spirit left it, because if they had, they’d know it was dead and not just dearly departed.

Anyway, it’s been two years and nothing really gets easier. I still feel as if I’m living in a fun-house surrounded by mirrors that distort reality. Or that reality is veiled. I see the sun; I feel it’s warmth; but I don’t fully inhabit the planet that rotates around it. It’s a strange way to live, which is why working a lot helps. There’s little time or brain power for thinking about such things.

Last week, as I was going through my cloaked, surreal existence, I needed to find a book for an article I was writing. I tore open box after box in my backyard shed and collected a pile that did not include the one I was looking for, but that did include one that transported me back to life lived in real time and space.

It’s called Love You Forever and was written by Robert Munsch. The story begins with the birth of a child. His mother sings him a lullaby until long after he is grown, and then he turns it around and sings it to her when she gets old. It’s a promise to always be there for each other. This particular copy was a 2004 Christmas gift from Gabe to me. Inside the cover, he wrote these words:

Mom, this book always reminds me of you. I love it that you would take time to read to Mike & me all the time. I will never forget the way you sang the song. I was in 5th grade when the teacher read this to us. She sang it all wrong! Online you could buy the read-along tape with the way the song should sound. I’ll bet it’s all nice & perfect, but I don’t ever want to hear that. Your version is perfect for me. I am not sure which section I’m on, but I think Mike is at the one about being a crazy teen. Don’t worry though, eventually we will get to the age when we sneak to your house & take care of you. …

I’ve been carrying this book around the house like it’s my blankie. Jeff asked me if it’s my new bedtime reading. “No,” I said, “I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about it.” The truth is, I do want to hug it to myself and never let it go, or at least stick it under my mattress so it’s always close, because it reminds me of a time when life made a little bit of sense. When my baby was mentally and emotionally healthy. When he took the idea of a long life for granted.

Gabe’s brother chose a copy of this book from amongst all of Gabe’s possessions to be buried with him because the memory of it meant something to both of them. It means something to me too. It transports me out of the distorted fun-house and into reality.

Gabe, I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. … And then we’ll meet again. xoxo