I hope you’ve had a fun week, or an interesting one. I’ve been busy with my usual September buzz and burst of energy after the summer, enjoying doing Instagram, writing the blog to you, working on new books, with a new book that just came out in hardcover 2 weeks ago, The Dark Side, which is a thriller, and an exciting book. I hope you love it!!! And have time to read it!!!
On the personal side, this is always a serious, quiet week for me, full of memories, introspection, quiet moments and tender thoughts of my son Nick.
Most of you know that he suffered from bi polar disease, which I suspected when he was two, was certain of by the time he was four, and at the time, the standard in psychiatry was not to diagnose the disease until someone was in their twenties. It was considered “early” when he was finally diagnosed at 15, and medicated at 16. Within weeks of medication, he said he felt normal for the first time in his life, and acted accordingly. Lithium was a miracle drug for him, and is often still prescribed today. Things are very different now, many years later, children are diagnosed and medicated as young as three. It’s believed now that if you are medicated later, the brain is affected from not being medicated sooner, and it is much harder to keep the disease in control than if you’re medicated as a young child. But no one knew that then, and I went from doctor to doctor, begging for help, which came too late for him. As with any disease, whatever it is, some people have wonderful results and survive and live well even with the disease, and others aren’t as lucky. There is an element of luck and destiny, as well as treatment.
Nick was an extraordinary person, all his life. He walked at 8 months, at a year he spoke in sentences in 2 languages. He was funny, charming, brilliant, talented in writing and music, he had an outrageous sense of humor, a remarkable mind. People with bi polar disease are often very talented, and so he was. At 16 and 17, he became the lead singer in a band which was on its way to success, toured nationally, had a following of young people (reggae and punk), had done several CD’s, and wrote the lyrics to his songs. He made an enormous impression on everyone he met, had a kind heart (did free concerts in homeless shelters), and was adored by his eight siblings, his father, and me. There are some people who are just very special, and he was one, he crammed an entire lifetime into 19 years, and his light burned so brightly that I suppose he wasn’t destined to live long.
He came home from a rigorous national tour, exhausted, and hit a low in his disease. His bi polar illness had been harder and harder to control with medication for the past year. At eighteen, he stopped taking his medication, thinking he was fine then, and made three suicide attempts, and at 19, he made the final one, and lost his lifelong battle with his illness. He really fought a noble fight to overcome it—–and many many people do survive with bi polar illness and lead good lives with treatment and medication. But we lost him at 19, by suicide, on September 20. His whole life was such a gift to us, and I am so grateful for every moment we shared. As someone said at the time, if love could have kept him alive, he would have lived 100 years. He was not destined to live a long life, but he lived a very productive one, and was happy much of the time, and spread joy everywhere. And he was immensely loved.
Losing a child is an enormous challenge, and my heart goes out to anyone who has lost a child. But we must also remember that every moment with them is a gift. And not everyone is destined to live a long life, unfortunately. I wrote a book about him, to honor him, and share our experience with other people dealing with the disease, “His Bright Light”, the story of Nick Traina. We established a foundation in his name The Nick Traina Foundation to support organizations that offer hands on treatment to mentally ill people, both young people and adults, and we support organizations involved in suicide prevention. And a year after he died, I started a street outreach team to help the homeless, also in his name, because it was a cause he cared about a great deal too.
He was a wonderful person, an adorable boy, a great gift to all those who knew him (I still get letters from people who met him, even once, and said their lives were changed forever by him), and he was certainly a gift to his whole family, and to me.
The anniversary of the day he died is hard, but the overview of all of it is how blessed we were, how wonderful he was, and how lucky I was to know and love him and be loved by him. We were remarkably close because we went through so much together, and tried so hard to save him. He wrote me a wonderful letter before he left that made me laugh through my tears. He was unforgettable in so many ways.
So the 20th will be a bittersweet day, but I can only remember him now with love, joy and gratitude.
May his memory live forever, in my heart and yours. Godspeed…..I love you, Nick, always and forever, “bigger than the sky”, as Nick used to say. And may you be blessed, my faithful friends, who share these moments and memories with me.
I wish you a peaceful week,
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He was blessed with a mama like you…..thanks for sharing about him through the years, and writing the book about him. Love, Lorraine
Danielle, I have been sharing this bittersweet week with you by reading again HIS BRIGHT LIGHT. Surely you wrote it with tears and laughter, and I read it with tears and joy.
You made a valiant effort in your search for answers and the way that you surrounded him with people to aid and protect him.
Both you and Nick send a message of unconditional love and perseverance during those extremely difficult years.
God took Nick when he was on his knees. I am certain that he was praying. Isn`t that a wonderful blessing! It was to me,as I read it.
Thank you for sharing you heart with the tender memories of your extraordinary son, Nick.
He sounds wonderful. Hugs!
First, Congrats on another best seller. Awesome!
Also, Thank you for shining a light a difficult topic for suicide prevention. I wanted to share some ideas below for peace and healing. Several have been shared before.
1. “So the 20th will be a bittersweet day, but I can only remember him now with love, joy and gratitude.” DS
Yes, Nick would not want you to be sad. You don’t like sad movies.
2. “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38, 39
Nick is inseparable from divine Love.
3. You will always be connected to Nick through love. The love doesn’t get shut off when somebody passes.
4. A character in one of your earlier books makes peace with the suicide of her son, Andrew. I think the passage it is very healing. Perhaps the letting go is forgiveness. Oprah defines forgiveness as “giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” Excerpt below from “Miracle”, pg 99-100
“That’s all I want now Maggie, wide, open, empty space. Maybe it’s all I ever wanted, and I wasn’t honest with myself before. Now I have to be.” And then he looked down on her with his head on her shoulder, and he smiled. “Have you ever seen the green flash when the sun goes down? It happens for an instant and you have to looking for it at the right time. It is the most perfect moment in any sunset, and if you blink you miss it … that’s all I want now that perfect instant, the green flash when the sun goes down and the night comes … I have to follow that where ever it leads me …
“Maybe the flash you’re looking for is within you. Maybe you don’t need to run as far as you think.” She knew he was running from, as much as he was running to, but only he could discover that, as she knew.
“She had had her own battles over Andrew, and whether or not she could have changed things, or stopped him, or saved him, or was responsible for his death as Charles had said she was. The moment had come to her finally when she realized there was nothing she could have done. For her, the truth had come in a thousand tiny moments, like shards that formed a window she could finally look through. It came in talking to others like him, on the phone late at night, and long nights of introspection. It came in moments of prayer, and nights of bitter tears, but in the end what she had seen, as she looked into her self, had brought peace to her. She couldn’t have saved him. She couldn’t have changed it. All she could do is accept the fact that he was gone now and had chosen to be. It was about acceptance and surrender and loving someone enough to let them go forever. That had been the green flash for her. And she hoped Quinn would find that too … It was in standing still that one found the truth, not in running, but that was impossible to explain to anyone. He had to find the answers for himself, wherever he had to go to find them, and until then he would never be free, no matter where he went to find freedom.”
5. I had to fight back a few tears from your comments below:
“May his memory live forever, in my heart and yours. Godspeed…..I love you, Nick, always and forever, “bigger than the sky”, as Nick used to say. And may you be blessed, my faithful friends, who share these moments and memories with me.” DS
Thank you for sharing this painful time with us and thank you so much for sharing your attempts to help Nick and his life with us in Your Bright Light. Recently my daughter was in psychiatric care and diagnosed bi-polar and your book has been such a great resource for me. It has helped me not to sit back and be passive and to proactively ask questions and seek help and not trust that medical professionals always get it right. It has helped me advocate for better help and treatment and many, many other things.
My daughter, like Nick, is a beautiful kind soul and gifted too. I came across this article recently and I think untreated trauma and substance abuse has a huge part to play – and I hold onto hope that Hannah Joy will live a long, happy and healthy life. I don’t want to believe that some people are destined to die early, but I do agree it is harder to live in this world for so many.
Much love to you
I have read many of your older books, which I totally enjoyed. This week being a bit down I for some unknown reason decided to read another. I went to the digital library and up popped. His Brighess Star.
What a surprise ! such a sad but. Also loving real life story of a wonderful mother and son !!!!! My heart reaches out to you , and know that Iam sure Nicky looks down upon you and the family each day. He says remember I love remember I care . I will always be with you Thankyou for all you did with and for me .