“Well, he has a broken leg but that’s the least of his problems. He has suffered some trauma to his head. In this country we…how can I put it? …we would say he is brain dead.”
On the 13th of January 2011 my twenty-seven-year-old son Thomas, was rushed intensive care in Porto, having fallen through a skylight whilst searching for somewhere to paint graffiti. I received a phone call from a doctor in the hospital, and when I asked her how bad it was she explained his injuries to me. Her English was good, but I couldn’t quite take it in. What followed were months of numbness, grief, loss and confusion.
Being able to write was a lifeline. After he died I began to write a letter to Tosh, just to tell him what was going on. I wrote eight thousand words that were between us. I never intended to share those words but as the years went by my writing became more important to me. I enrolled for online courses, began creating poetry, wrote short stories and flash fiction. A play and even a novel. But I kept coming back to Dear Tosh.
For the tenth anniversary of his death, I completed Dear Tosh my first memoir, which will be published this summer. It’s made up of twenty-seven letters, one for each year that he lived. It felt as though I spent time with him as I wrote, telling him all the events that had happened in the family and the world since he left us. I found it cathartic to write and even though it opened up the wounds of loss, it also helped me come to terms with so much that surrounds the loss of a child.
Dear Tosh is a mother’s story of love, grief and acceptance.
You can order a copy of Dear Tosh online or at any local bookshop or from this website here
“Do Things That Make You Happy”
Tosh Hartley 2010
This phrase has become a family motto. Tosh says it at the end of a video that he made with his brother back in 2010. You can watch the video here…