The Note That Melted My Heart, Written By My Three-Year-Old Son

During a devastating time in my life, this note from my son got me through.

Woman happy sad with a little crumpled note her son made Stockbyte, Three Spots | Canva 

In the days that followed the heart-wrenching act of signing over custody of my two beloved sons, Brandon and Shawn, to their father, I was still recovering from the aftermath of being confined to a psychiatric hospital. It was the last straw for my ex-husband, their father, who came with the papers the day after I got out.

The once lively atmosphere of our little duplex now echoed with emptiness, casting a shadow over any thoughts that dared to surface. My mind was consumed with constant wonder about what the boys were doing and whether they were thinking about me, too.


Initially, I made desperate attempts to bridge the gap, calling them during the first few nights. However, the conversations proved to be an agonizing torment, as their innocent voices overflowed with questions about why they couldn’t come home. Unaware of what my ex-husband had disclosed to them or what I was allowed to reveal, I found myself rendered silent.

A pronounced sense of despair took hold of me, consumed by endless tears. It felt as though I would weep endlessly. Only when caring for my eight-month-old daughter, Victoria, did I muster the strength to rise. Even then, I couldn’t shake the feeling of failing her, too. Her father, different from the boys’, had relentlessly stalked me ever since I had left him due to his abuse.


Victoria’s father played a significant role in the boys’ absence. He repeatedly knocked on our door wanting to "talk," and sometimes he would just break into the apartment. Although I had assured Brandon and Shawn that he was out of their lives, one morning they witnessed him in the living room, their faces overcome with shock. I wanted to keep the boys safe from him, but breaking free of his grip seemed impossible.

Shortly after that, I found an eviction notice on my front door. Still struggling with depression and recovering from the hospitalization, I could barely manage to work every day. Consequently, my income fell short of covering the rent. Despite giving my landlord a partial payment, he had put the note on my door the following day.

"Come live with me," a friend named Trisha told me. We had recently connected on Facebook, and I honestly didn’t know her very well. She said she had a spare bedroom and bathroom that Victoria and I could stay in.


Although Trisha was still a relative stranger, saying no to her offer would potentially lead Victoria and me to homelessness. The looming fear of such a fate forced me to respond with a grateful yes.

RELATED: I Left My Children When My Mental Health Failed

Trisha told me up front that she had a full house of furniture, and I wasn’t allowed to bring mine. Despite some deep attachment to the possessions in my three-bedroom duplex, I knew I had to let them go. It would have been impossible to drag everything with me onto the streets.

That weekend, I organized a garage sale in the front yard for things my children had outgrown, along with anything else I could carry. The larger furniture items, such as couches and beds, remained inside the house, but I invited strangers inside to make offers for them. In just a few short hours, people had taken away everything, down to the last piece of silverware.


Later in the afternoon, as the Florida weather cooled slightly, I brought Victoria outside in her stroller to enjoy a few minutes in the sunshine. The empty lawn stretched before us, absent of any remnants of our previous life. I sat there and tried to ignore the overwhelming misery that threatened to take over, but the truth was that I never felt so alone.

Clutched tightly in my hand was a scrap of paper, a message given to me by three-year-old Shawn the last time I saw him. Unfolding it delicately, I read the two simple words, etched with a child’s innocence.

"I misu."

I kept this note close to my heart at all times as if I couldn’t bear to let it stray too far. Reading those two words day after day shattered me anew, but I couldn’t resist the bittersweet solace it offered. It hurt me immeasurably to think that my sons might be longing for me, too. Despite all my struggles and shortcomings, our love for each other remained unwavering.


Although I was devastated, I clung to the notion that they would be better off with their father, who had more to offer them. I didn’t own so much as a single fork anymore.

"I misu."

The nights were cruel and left me feeling utterly abandoned. I never reached out to any friends, fearing their judgment for the decision I made to give my boys away. The self-loathing within me intensified. Victoria’s father kept calling every few minutes, prompting me to eventually turn off my phone. I worried about him showing up before Victoria and I had a chance to leave.

RELATED: You Aren't Born Knowing How To Be A Perfect Parent

Everything that remained in my former duplex fit into two large Tupperware bins. With my car loaded, I headed over to Trisha’s house, uncertain of what living with a roommate would truly entail.


Trisha had become a friend, but living together presented an entirely different dynamic.

Trisha graciously showed Victoria and me to our designated bedroom with a spacious king-size bed and a small desk in the corner. The bathroom was attached by a separate door. Placing my daughter in her pack-and-play, I ventured outside to bring in the rest of my things, mostly my clothes, makeup, and Victoria’s cherished toys.

As we settled into the new environment, my deep depression still lingered. I huddled within the confines of the bedroom, rarely opening the door. Every sound Victoria made became a source of anxiety, as I discovered Trisha’s disdain for loud noises. I consoled myself knowing that my stalker could never get to me since he didn’t know where I lived anymore.

Trisha’s rules grew more stringent with each passing day. She scowled when Victoria cried and yelled whenever my daughter, now crawling, left any marks on the wall. Our living situation seemed precarious at all times based on Trisha’s mood. Since I hadn’t signed a lease, Trisha could kick me out in a heartbeat. I’d have no legal recourse.


"I misu."

I still walked around carrying the little note in my pocket. Sadness colored everything I saw in my world. The loss of the boys loomed like a dark thundercloud threatening to release a torrential downpour at any time.

RELATED: The Most Painful Secret Nobody Tells You About Being A Mom

During that time, I got a call from my sister-in-law, Cheryl. Although she was my ex-husband’s brother’s ex-wife, we still called each other family. She reached out to me during a moment of panic, and I found myself spilling everything that had happened over the previous month.

"Come to Virginia," Cheryl insisted. "We have the whole basement made into an apartment that you can stay in."


I hesitated, contemplating the idea of leaving my boys and everyone I knew behind. The thought of being so far away was upsetting, but I truly had no choice. I accepted Cheryl’s offer, recognizing the importance of securing a stable home with family around for Victoria. We couldn’t keep living on the edge of eviction.

"Good," Trisha remarked when I told her the news. At that moment, I knew I had made the right decision.

I packed up the two Tupperware bins into my car and headed to the airport. I’d taken my boys to lunch the day before, and when I told them I had to leave Florida for a while, they both cried. Brandon tried to hide it, but Shawn sobbed and jumped into my lap.


"I misu."

I explained to Brandon and Shawn that it could be a brand new chapter in our lives. I promised to save my money to secure a new place where they could visit me. This time, I’d be more careful with money and fulfill all my work obligations. My depression started to fade as I imagined a brighter future.

As I boarded the plane, I prayed that I wouldn’t blow everything, as I had done so often in the past. I was getting a chance to start over, and that was all that mattered to me, Victoria, and my loving boys.

Clutching Shawn’s note tightly, I whispered a promise to him and to myself that I would become a better mother and that they wouldn’t have to miss me for too long.


Sadly, I forgot the most important thing when I left: wherever you go, there you are. Nothing was going to be different unless I stopped running and started healing. It took me quite a few years to figure that out. I kept my son’s note close to me as a promise that I’d be back soon.

If you or somebody that you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text "HELLO" to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line.

RELATED: Raising My Two Sons In Fast Food Restaurants

Glenna Gill is a writer and blogger from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her articles have been featured in Scary Mommy and P.S. I Love You. When I Was Lost is her first full-length book, a memoir of love, loss, and hope.