My son Owen died yesterday, December 30 2021. He took his own life calmly and courageously, after a family Christmas celebration that was full of laughter, games, and music. We parted that night with warm hugs and warm words: the last thing he said to me was “I’m just so full of love.” Although we are heartbroken to lose him and will miss and mourn him forever, there is comfort in knowing that for him, this is the ending he wanted to his long and often very painful struggle with depression, and that he was both very sure and very happy at the end.
There is so much I could say about Owen, who was the most brilliant, creative, and talented person I have ever known. He was loving and generous, hilarious and principled, difficult and inspiring. His mind was lightning fast; he loved wordplay and linguistic absurdity and could recite entire episodes of ‘Epic Rap Battles of History’ and ‘Bad Lip Reading’ from memory. He loved numbers and mathematics, and one of his last completed projects was an astonishing video about Hackenbush, combinatorial game theory, and surreal numbers which he conceived, scripted, programmed, and recorded entirely by himself. He was a prolific and original composer; he left a legacy of hundreds of acoustic and electronic compositions. He loved nothing in his life more than spending time with his sister Maddie: their hilarity and ingenuity when they collaborated on improvs, music, and games always filled their parents’ hearts with wonder and happiness.
Inevitably, fragments of poems have been coming to me ever since he left us. Stop all the clocks. Remember me when I am gone away. Smart lad, to slip betimes away. Farewell thou child of my right hand and joy. They mean everything and nothing when it’s your own loss. Right now, the line I keep returning to is “Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drown’d.” My love and my grief feel boundless right now; they are the same. I want to remember him with happiness. I really do think that’s what he wanted. It is such grace that he left us feeling love and loved.
Owen’s formal obituary is here.