Footprints in the Sand
A Symphony of Grief
Published by the author 2012
© Laura Tomei 2012
This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research,
criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968,
no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission.
Original paintings and prose by the author.
Lyrics from It’s Because I Love You used with permission ... thank you Jim Keays.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
For futher copies of this book, in the first instance please contact the author or the printer.
Printed and bound in Adelaide by Digital Print Australia
135 Gilles Street Adelaide SA 5000
Many of us fear many things which may seem small or large to others – darkness, caves, aeroplanes,
heights, bankruptcy or redundancy.
But those who have had the privilege of bringing a child into the world know that all else must surely
pale when compared to the unspeakable idea that there might be a time when you are here and they are
So to imagine being the mother of an 18-year-old who dies well before his time is unbearable.
To compound such fathomless grief, imagine that your son’s death occurs when he throws himself
from a bridge over a freeway. How can such a burden be borne? How can a mere mortal comprehend
her beloved only son is gone, by his own actions, just a short walk from their family home?
Shock, anger, grief and denial are the designated reactions.
But surely losing everything in one moment is more than a predicted timeline of sorrow?
How can she breathe? I ask when the friend who calls to tell me that Alex is gone and Laura is not.
How can she breathe sufficiently to stay alive? How can she sleep? How can she wake? How can she
bear to look at someone whose child is alive when hers is not?
And yet she can and she does.
This is not a book about hauntings, ghosts, or anything pertaining to the scary or spooky. It is not a
book inviting any thrill sensations some like to experience for the fun of it. This is a book about the
reciprocal unending love bond between a mother and her child.
I feel driven to share my experiences of the incredible sacred insights I have been blessed with since the
suicide of my child Alexander at age 18, in the hope that others who are traversing the same shattering
experience of losing a child can benefit by finding some comfort in knowing what I now believe to be
true; that death, like birth, is the passage into an existence. It is a very natural process we will all be
experiencing; it is not final. Death, like birth is the transition between one reality and another.
I am a changed person, in many ways a better person.
I have learnt about things that I never imagined were possible.
I have a need to help kids who are lost.
I have a need to meet and comfort people who are going through what I am.
I have a need to not let Alex’s life have been in vain. One day at a time, a light at the end of the
tunnel ... in between a journey filled with learning, teaching, love and understanding. The rest of my
roller-coaster life on earth ... and then rebirth into my next existence, where Alexander will “grab my
hand and pull me through.” It is from the innermost depth of my heart, with the utmost sincerity and
integrity that I write this book.
I stand amongst the turmoil of my present emotions
My rollercoaster ride ...
The grief of having lost my child to suicide
I hear a symphony
The music clearly speaks
From crescendo to forte, allargando to piano
It is my son’s transition from this world to the next
I am still ...
In awe of the power of the universe
Revealing its secrets
I want to tell you something, but I don’t know how to begin, so I’ll just go with whatever comes
This is the story of a boy ... my boy, Alexander. Alex suicided on March 26, 2007. He was my only
child. As his mother, I can only describe the details of what happened and why as seen and felt through
my eyes and heart, details that will slowly evolve as I write, because at this stage I can only put into
words what is in me, and to some degree it feels right to just let it flow.
I saw someone whilst shopping yesterday. I hadn’t seen this woman in many years, nor was she a
great friend back then when I ‘knew’ her. It was the period our children were in primary school, a good
15 years back. I didn’t even remember her name, but she remembered mine. Of course – I was Laura,
the mother of the boy who committed suicide ...
I was courteous when she asked me how I was doing – as many do when they bump into me and
don’t really know what to say. They’re usually very careful to not mention ‘his’ name in case it brings
back bad memories of what happened almost five years ago now. They don’t know that ‘he’ has never
left my mind since the day he jumped off the pedestrian overpass which crosses the freeway, across the
park, at the bottom of our street.
She said, “I was thinking about you just the other day, what a coincidence I should bump into you
I smiled and told her I was well, as I juggled trying to choose something from the deli counter (it
was my turn and the girl behind the counter was growing more and more impatient with our distractive
semi-conversation), and thinking to myself; ‘there are no coincidences, and I hope she stops talking and
lets me get on with my purchases. I’ll probably never bump into her again, or perhaps in another 15
years.’ But she kept talking. “You know Laura, I’ll never forget how beautiful Alex was. When I first
saw him at primary school I thought to myself, what a beautiful looking child ... really!” She went on,
“He was mesmerising. He looked like an angel.”
I stopped and took more notice of her ... This lady was sincere. She wasn’t afraid of speaking ‘his’
name, my angelic son. “I’m sorry”, I said, “I can’t remember your name.” “It’s Chris.”
Nothing can prepare you for the devastating aftermath of the suicide of your child.
On 26 March 2007, my beloved only child, my 18 year old son Alex, jumped from a pedestrian overpass
onto a freeway in front of an enormous refrigeration truck, and was mangled. He was not a drug user;
his toxicology tests revealed there was very little alcohol in his system. He died because he could not
endure the unbearable emotional pain that life was for him ... the reasons many. I remember, and I could
see when it started. As a mother I fought to protect him from the pain of life right until the very end.
Both he and I were helpless to change some of the structures, mentalities, cruelties, and hurdles that are
part of this life as we know it, and that the majority are able to learn from. Not he; he was too sensitive,
too strong in his beliefs, creative, too needy for love.
For those left behind, for me in order to survive, it is essential to release the often intolerable grief with
whatever means are available. It is essential to communicate to the world what I am feeling, because at
times it is so surreal that I am lost. Feelings of sinking into a hole, enveloped by an eerie silence, I could
die there where I stand. Other times, like a pressure cooker about to explode, I need a safety valve, a
release to stop me from exploding. There are times again, when out of nowhere I will cry or even scream
out his name, this usually when I am driving on the freeway. Sometimes I miss him so much I go into his
untouched room, searching for his smell, then collapse, like a tortured animal wailing.
‘Saving Alexander’ from himself –
his sensitivity, his strong sense of righteousness,
his ethics, his honesty and growing insecurities ...
Saving him from the archaic society he was born into,
became my daily ritual … my mantra.
Did I fail him? Or did I save him?
Last night I had another experience. I was awakened by a voice. The voice came from inside me ... it
is difficult to describe this unusual experience, however I will do my best. I ‘felt’ a voice coming from
within me but it wasn’t me. The source of this voice was somewhere else, and this somewhere is also a
part of me. Last night I was reminded that the part of me which is still connected to the spiritual world
– my spirit side, is ONE with all that IS, so when I hear voices – whether my son’s, or others from our
next world, I perceive them as being separate from me, and to a certain extent they are, but they are at
the same time a part of me. To what extent, and exactly how it all works, I believe will be revealed when
the time is right, and I imagine this to be when I take my last breath here, and experience my rebirth.
“Am I going mad?
I’ve never felt so sane.”
I Am Me
You told me
My dense world
No ... I won’t let go
I reach for you, arms outstretched ... I break
Your love the glue that keeps me alive
I love you
Faith, Hope and Charity
Of these three great virtues, they say that Charity is the most important as it represents Love.
The gift the death of my child has given me:
If you can arrive at a place in which you have Faith in what IS, if you can let go and be open enough
to let the marvels of eternal consciousness in, then this will give you the courage needed to continue. This precious gift of Faith will lead you to the ‘knowing’ that your child or deceased loved one is free from his/her body, and very much alive, which in turn will give you Hope. In time when you have recognised and accepted the reality of Faith and Hope, you will then be filled with the power of Love, and Charity ensues. The sacred trilogy will be complete, and a new chapter will open to you.
Buried within this impossible tragedy lies a gift, and finding the buried gift and bringing it to the
surface is our purpose.
Laura – mother of Alexander
Somewhere in the cosmos
You sit pensively on a yellow star
Alex! I need you ...
Frantically scrutinising the darkness behind my eyes
You send me a vision
Captivated by its majestic beauty
The message is clear
Pax Vobiscum mum ...
And with you my darling...
I am so sorry about Alex.
There is no greater pain than losing a child.
The sadness never goes away, but we learn to live with it.
Their spirits live with us,
they are a soft presence in our lives.