A Time of Reflection

Now, after a year has passed since Clay’s death, I made some time to sit down and write. I’ve reflected on all the changes in my life and when you look at them on paper, it may not seem like a lot, but when broken down it just about pushed me overboard. All of this heart-breaking change forced me to think about my own mortality.

After Clay died, I did the one thing I knew best – ACTION! I jumped right into it, taking care of whatever needed to be done – and as I look back now, I should have done things a little bit differently. Specifically, to truly mourn Clay’s death and to give myself much needed moments of sadness. It was months after Clay’s death that I actually took the time to mourn his loss. Clay’s belongings, his personal effects – these all needed to be dealt with. It took five months to remove all of his clothing from the house, even after family and friends selecting what they wanted. There was this sense of attachment that I struggled with. His friend, his partner, his adventure buddy – all gone – and I was completely beside myself learning how to cope with the ball of energy Clay left behind. Living and breathing someone else’s world every day, text messages throughout the day, seeing each other in the morning and in the evening. It was all gone.

Some moments stand out more than others, and I remember days where all I could muster up was to sit in the kitchen and stare at the clock’s second hand. I remember going through Clay’s emails and having to respond to potential clients, letting them know he had passed away. I remember driving to work and crying after hearing a specific song. I remember looking at Bailey and feeling so bad that his buddy left him. I remember looking at friends’ faces and feeling their empathy, but there was nothing I could do for them or even myself. Let’s just face it, everything was all messed up.

All the while, during these moments I thought, “Oh, April, a year from now you will look back and it will all be okay.” Today, at the present moment, YES, I am okay, but I still have my moments of grief. However, I have been working hard at finding the pieces and gluing my heart back together. I am reminded daily of the beauty that surrounds me and how much hope I still have in life. Yes, it’s better. But at times it was hard to imagine how one could feel “better” after the past year. And then, then comes grief…

Grief. It comes in many different forms and there is no timeline for when it will leave. My grief told me to run away, to get away. That you want to escape, to run away from everything: responsibilities, people, your home, your memories. Grief told me to ditch reality and instead dream about riding my bike into the desert and never return. Even after a year my grief is very real. I have learned to embrace it, to learn from it, and to sometimes just tell it to F*** OFF!!! I’ve learned that I may never really get to say goodbye to my grief. But I have learned to channel it differently, to allow it to be a part of my daily life, and to create positivity from my grief.

I have accepted Clay’s decision, I’ve accepted that his decision has changed my path. My new path will be that of progress, positivity, and love. I hope to someday reflect on this time and smile knowing that while the path was rocky, exhausting, and full of ups and downs – I’ll be smiling and happy with the overall journey.

Be love and peace.



#CheckIn in Action

I know with all my soul I am on the right path. The universe reminds me of this daily.

On Monday I had a co-worker tell me that a close family friend’s wife took her life last Saturday. Very much to my surprise I learned he is a retired veteran who had visited the VA resource center to seek help. He was turned away. He was told that unless he is suicidal himself, they could not help him. My co-worker urged him to call me – and he did! We chatted and his words to me were “I am so happy to talk to you, it’s nice to speak to someone who understands and can help me.” I am so grateful for this conversation.

We at the Check-In Foundation can get him the help he needs, we can reassure him that this path of grief doesn’t have to be walked alone. I #CheckIn daily with this gentleman and I have THIS guy, Clay Watson, who reminds me daily that we are going to change lives!


Answers and Explanations About Clay’s Death

Check-In with a loved one today.

It’s been two months since Clay took his life. I’ve been asked all sorts of questions since his death. But, before I answer some of those questions, I want to first touch on the subject of suicide.

I am a pretty spiritual person, Clay knew this about me right away. Spiritual growth in my everyday life is very important to me. I’ve struggled with lessons in life for longer periods of time than I would have liked, but understood it was my journey to experience. This current journey is just another one of those paths my soul is taking. We all have free will and Clay chose his path without consulting me or anyone who loved him dearly. My brother also took his life 18 years ago. Clay knew about this as well. When I try to talk to people about suicide, I want to share that there may be a reason, but at the end of the day the reason really doesn’t matter. I honestly believe that if you look at the bigger picture, each life, such as Clay’s, is here to show us more. Clay and I experienced love, REAL love, and everything that went with it, and this was the bigger picture I saw. I am now at peace that he is gone, and that I will never get to see him again, in the physical sense. That I won’t get to count or look at all the freckles on his body. That I won’t get to fill some of my bucket list wishes with him. Yes, I have found that peace, knowing that he would still want me to carry forward with my dreams and that he, in the spiritual sense, is still by my side. Suicide, in my opinion, is ultimate freedom and he is now free from his chains.

Now onto the questions. Some are uncomfortable, some are odd, some are just hard to answer as I don’t have an answer. I’ve been asked “Why did Clay take his life?” All I can say is I don’t know exactly, I just know that the last kiss he gave me was his good-bye to me. I know that a week before he died he was exhausted, both mentally and physically. He couldn’t see that bigger picture, but he shared what he had with me and I am forever grateful. I’ve been asked “Will you ever date again?” My first feeling was “I hope so”. I think what people forget is the companionship that is shared between you and your love one. That has been ripped away from me. Clay will always be a part of my life, but I am still alive and have lots of love to share with whom ever crosses my path. I miss all the normal parts of a relationship, just like anyone else would. In time when “I am ready” I will share my life with someone pretty kick ass. Remember I am still alive and I still have lots to share. Lastly, I am been asked if I am keeping Bailey. YES, HELL YES, and YES again! Bailey is both of ours. I am not sure why this would even pop up, but once again I didn’t die and Bailey is my life and I’ll take just as good of care of him as I did when Clay was still here. I will take him everywhere with me, as much as I can.

I am grateful I can share the love Clay and I had for one another with others. I am grateful to have gained a larger family – an amazing gift from Clay. I am doing well. I am living life literally one day at a time; some days with tears, some with more smiles than tears, but I am living and that is a gift I am very grateful for. I believe in living a full life, even more so now that Clay is gone. Be love and “Check-In” with the people who mean the most to you.




“Check-In” with a loved one today, whether it be with family member, friend, or coworker. See how they are doing. Ask how life is treating them. A 5-minute conversation could make all the difference to them. In honor of Clay, I am working on developing a foundation. If you were around me or Clay, you would hear us asking Bailey to “Check-In”. I will be moving forward with this simple idea for reminding us to reach out to our love ones. I can’t promise it will change lives, but maybe, just maybe, it will change the moment for them. LOVE and PEACE on this Sunday!


Letter to Clay

Today marks one month since we found out about your death, Clay. I wish I could tell you it has been easier, but as time slips away from us, you have and will not. I cannot even begin to share with you all the amazing stories told to me about you and the people you have met along your path. It truly is a beautiful gift you have given to me and your family. Everyone hurts and misses you terribly. As we try to move forward with our lives, many of us are left with a huge hole in our hearts. I couldn’t sleep last night – looking at my phone recalling our last conversation – and yesterday I cancelled your cell phone service. That SUCKED! I know you were hurting and I am sorry if I let you down in anyway, I really am. Just know I loved you so very much.

Today I feel you’ve given me a gift. After a month of trying to get past all the passwords on your computer, I succeeded. I am sure you had something to do with this. They were the ones you always told me about, but for some reason I must have typed them in wrong. LOL.

Clay, I love you, and Bailey and I miss every little tidbit about you. There is no smell of fresh coffee when I wake up, no one to kiss me each morning, no one sending me songs every day, and I don’t feel the warmth of you next to me at night. These are the very real moments that really suck for me, that bring tears. The bed is cold, the house feels empty, and, well, life is a big uncertainty for me now. BUT, I do know you’d have wanted me to more forward, you’d want me to smile, find happiness, take Bailey to all the places we loved and let him run free. I promise you that I will do my “AP” best to keep your smile shining bright and to carry on with our dreams with Bailey.

“I LOVE YOU LOVEE”… I got this off your computer. It brings smiles to my face.


Suicide Survivor Group Meeting

Last night I went to a suicide survivor group meeting. To anyone affected by Clay’s death, I highly recommend you find a group and go! I will help you if you need it. I was surprised at how big this group was. It helped to share my story with strangers who have experienced the loss of a loved one. It helped me to listen to others’ daily struggles that were very similar to mine. Yes, life goes on for everyone, but for those effected by Clay’s death, it’s a new normal for me and you. This path is so unknown to me, but I am confident it will be okay. If you’re interested you can come with me to the next meeting – it is free and you can leave a donation if you are compelled to do so.

Suicide is not taboo, and I’d like to help educate others to speak up about it.



April and Clay on a hike, Fall of 2014

After reeling from the events and significant loss in my life, so many people want to know what was wrong with Clay. We as natural human beings need to know “WHY”. Why would someone take their life when they seem to have so much to live for? I can’t answer the “WHY” I can only say, that in life, sometimes there are no answers and we have to find peace in that.

I lost my brother to suicide on April 13th 1998. Clay’s death hits home and it hits hard. But I find peace and here is the “WHY”. After learning about two head injuries that Clay sustained in early 2000’s, one of which was explained to me as a severe frontal lobe head injury of which he had to re-learn simple daily tasks, has help me to understand what he was experiencing mentally and physically. I personally experienced some of these symptoms with Clay.

Without writing a book, please know this: CTE is real, VERY REAL. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone you know may be experiencing symptoms from CTE from a sport injury or accident. Clay’s family and I may never know if this lead to his difficulties and his ultimate choice, but what I do know is HE WAS LOVE. He brought such happiness to my life, he wasn’t rich, he wasn’t perfect, but he was LOVE. He showed me how to be a kid again, how to love simply, and how to smile just cause you should.

As I learn more about CTE and head injuries, I am compelled to continue to educate myself about it. To help people learn more about it. Clay and Dave Mirra died on the same day. Clay doesn’t get the media attention Dave does, but I truly believe these two beautiful souls were fighting the same battle. We do know Clay suffered from two serious brain injuries, and who knows how many went undocumented while riding BMX as a young kid.

My love, my heart, I am at peace knowing you are FREE. No more pain, no more angst, no more fighting yourself. I will honor you every day! I will fight for CTE awareness and education everyday for all of us!