This next story of loss is one of two parts. Cathy, mother of James and Michael, and I met twice so that we could have the time to adequately unfold the details of the death of each of her sons. The cast of characters who directly participate in this story of the younger son, James LeRoy, is a complex one: Mother, Cathy, who loves and grieves both her sons; stepfather, Jeff, who supports Cathy and first enters the picture during the unfolding of brother, Michael’s, death; nieces, Debra and Casta, who are like daughters to Cathy; three teens who are integral to James’ crime and subsequent time in prison; and two women, who each play a role in James’ search for a new life. Though the sons’ stories are closely tied, they are also separate and unique in the power they carry to impact and alter the lives of all who have lived them.
I initially met with Cathy less than a year after she lost her youngest son, James. Her heart-rending experiences highlight the fact that profound grief and its surrounding chaos make any kind of long-term healing seem impossible. People in deep grief often lose themselves; how, why and when each might reclaim a life-affirming purpose is uniquely individual. Cathy, a woman of faith, recounts her God, as well as the unconditional loving support of family and friends as elements that helped bring her back to life. She talks openly about losing herself after each of the boys’ deaths, and the pain-filled spiral she experienced. Finding her purpose helped her re-discover hope and continues to bring her support today. She feels more at peace when she is able to give to others; her faith shines stronger when she feels needed. With both awe and calm acceptance, Cathy says of her struggle: “I lost my purpose . . . and then one day, God just gave me peace.”
Cathy’s first story is now posted and available at www.janenicoletauthor.com. Please navigate to the menu on my homepage and hover your cursor on the Books tab to find the link to “Parents Tell Their Stories.