Monday, March 15, 2010


Remembering Robbie Kirkland
A kept promise 

In 2001, I stood with Robbie Kirkland's mom, Leslie Sadasivan, in Robbie's bedroom.
It was as if he had just left for school that day. Not much had changed in that room.

In fact, as we begin to sift through his belongings and in particular his school notebooks,
we began to find more clues as to how he got to a place of no return.
Robbie's mom knew he was struggling at his Catholic school. When I opened one of his
notebooks I found the phrase "I hate the way god made me" scribbled over and over again.
I didn't have to look any further. Those words written in a panic clearly explained the
course of Robbie's short life.

That day, I promised Leslie that at HeartStrong we would never forget her son and never
stop reminding our HeartStrong Friends of all of the "Robbie's" in this world.
It's been a while since we last talked about Robbie who for us symbolizes so many students
at religious schools who attempt or succeed at taking their lives.

I know there are a lot of people reading this email who don't know about Robbie or others
like him so we thought we would publish his story again. I am also including a link here to
some photos his mom has made available.

A lot of time has passed since I stood in Robbie's bedroom trying not to cry in front of his still
grieving mother. Over these years I have met many other parents who sent their children to
religious schools and were then grieving over their deaths.

I am often asked how it's possible for me (or anyone) to continue doing the work of HeartStrong
without large amounts of public support. My answer is always the same, I do it for Robbie and
every other boy or girl who has ever struggled to stay alive in an educational environment which
teaches them to hate and reject who they are.

I could have been a "Robbie." So many of my friends could have been a "Robbie." How we found
enough grace to accept ourselves is how we are able to help others still on that journey.
Marc Adams

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