Tricia Belstra wasn’t feeling well on her Southwest flight to Chicago. “I sat in my seat between two strangers holding a barf bag down low between my legs,” she began in a Facebook post published on August 20. The mother of two didn’t have a stomach bug. Just six days earlier, her 25-year-old son, Kyle, took his own life. And Belstra was on her way to his funeral.
A flight attendant noticed that Belstra was visibly shaken and asked if she was OK. “I told him I was flying back back to bury my son,” Belstra wrote. “He said he was so sorry and brought me a can of water, a glass of ice and my diet Coke. The girl next to me offered to pour the water for me because my hands were shaking. When we landed, the girl helped me with my luggage.”
But before exiting the aircraft, Belstra was approached by the flight attendant that had offered her condolences. “He stopped me and handed me a napkin and said he was sorry for the loss,” she shared. “I said ‘thank you’ and walked out.”
When the the grieving 48-year-old mom read what the man had written, she began to cry. The handwritten note read:
“In 2004 my family lost my older brother. As traumatic as it still is for me, I can’t even pretend to truly know the pain you feel as a mom. I did, however, watch my mother’s grieving process (a process that will never end). Firstly, being a mother is about giving birth to a new life as a promise to the future. Your mission doesn’t end now — your son’s life is bigger than his death and always will be. My mom struggled desperately chasing a far away goal of somehow lessening the pain. As she realized now, the pain hardly lessens. Don’t expend your energy trying to chase this. Instead, go all out finding opportunities to experience joy. Visit family, get closer to those you’ve lost touch with, travel. This is your story and you owe it to yourself and your son to make sure that you survive this. Do not pressure yourself.
The world is full of people who do truly care about you, even if it doesn’t feel that way. I won’t stop thinking about you anytime soon, or how you’re doing or what you’re up to. You’ll come out of this a stronger person and I’ll be rooting of you the whole time.”
Belestra tells Us Weekly the note brought her hope. “It touched my heart deeply,” she says. “His words were larger than he thought they would be. I had the napkin laminated and I am keeping it next to my grandpa’s bible.”
Kyle was a graduate of Colorado State University and received a Master’s degree from Georgetown University. He was recently employed by the front office of the Washington Redskins. According to a GoFundMe page to help the family with memorial costs, he struggled openly with anxiety and depression. The remaining donations will be donated to suicide prevention.
“Kyle was an amazing kid. He was friends with everyone,” Belstra tells Us. “He loved to debate you just to be right. All the younger kids in our family flocked to him.”
If you or someone you know is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
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