Patricia Fitzmaurice’s new book The Blue Camaro is a memoir about raising, loving, and ultimately, losing her son. In 2013, her son John Fitzmaurice, Jr. took his own life. Now at age eighty-seven, Patricia is fulfilling her promise to her son to tell his story so that others might understand what it is like to lose a child to suicide and what his journey must have been like that it led him to that decision.
The Blue Camaro offers no easy answers because there are none. To this day, Patricia still wonders what caused her son to kill himself. She documents in this book the story of John’s childhood, including their family’s many moves to various places from Pennsylvania to Connecticut to Florida, the birth of his sisters, his love for his dog, his difficulty in making friends, his entrepreneurial efforts from a young age, and how he saved up money to buy his first car: a Blue Camaro.
The book’s title reflects what may have been the happiest time in John’s life. His new car was a prized possession for him as a young man, and it also made him popular. For the first time, John seemed to be truly happy. If only things could have stayed that way.
But John grew up and married and divorced. He raised two daughters, but he always seemed lost. At times, his relationship with his mother was distant. Patricia did not understand why he would not let her in. She even had to wait a year before she got to meet her first grandchild. She did her best to love and support him without pushing him or prying into his personal affairs. At times, Patricia had to help John financially, providing him with a place to live. At other times, she rejoiced when he seemed to be prospering and happy.
In addition to telling John’s story, Patricia shares her heartache when she lost John. She continues to struggle to understand how he could have brought himself to the point of self-destruction, and what it must have been like for him to be so unhappy that he had to find a way out. She offers poignant words to the reader about moving on after tragedy, acknowledging that even now, the pain is still there for her and it will never completely go away.
The Blue Camaro concludes with an interview with the author. John’s three sisters also share their memories of the brother they loved and will always miss.
Anyone who has lost a child-especially to suicide-will find in Patricia a kindred spirit. As I said, you may not find answers in this book, but you will feel solidarity in knowing someone else does understand what you are going through. In Patricia’s courage to carry on after her son’s loss and in her desire to speak out about what suicide does to a family, you may find solace, strength, and even purpose.