At 3 years old Josh got a Power Wheels Jeep for Christmas and from the very first time he got behind the wheel he seemed like a pro, maneuvering the jeep into and out of the tinniest of places with ease. As he grew up he went through many fazes and had his own unique style even as a little guy. He loved to wear cowboy boots at 4 with suits. He got a baby brother 3 months after turning 4 and he loved showing him all his toys and great places to play. It was adorable to watch Josh drive his baby brother around in his Jeep. He was always so careful when it came to Matthew.
When Joshua was 9 we moved to the Mojave Desert area to a town called Palmdale. It was here that Joshua met his best friend Angelo and the boys could always be found together. Angelo had a BMX bike and Josh really enjoyed riding it, so we put one on layaway for him for Christmas...it was expensive. When I saw the price tag of $450.00 I thought maybe we could just go to Kmart and get a boys bike. It was on sale for 350.00 so I put down $ 50.00 and just before Christmas had it paid off. He was so happy to get the bike and I soon saw a side of my son I didn't know about.
He was fearless when it came to jumps, tricks and racing his bike. One day we went to a field nearby where the boys took their bikes and watched Josh and his friends do jumps. I noticed that all the other kids would wait and watch Josh to see if he made it. Then if he did they would give it a try. Over the years Josh would have many bikes and no matter how they looked he would work on them to make them better.
When Josh was 12 I got him a puppy for Christmas something he had begged for...for many years. Joshua named him Balou and they loved each other and hardly ever were apart. Josh did a great job training him and Balou became a great Frisbee dog. When Josh took a shower Balou could be found waiting outside the bathroom door patiently waiting. When we moved he still kept in touch with Angelo and in the summer of 1999 got to go visit him for a week.
No matter where we moved Josh would make friends that were into BMX bikes. The younger kids in the neighborhood looked up to him and thought he was the greatest. In September of 1999 Josh started High School in Central Point Oregon. It wasn't too long before he started making new friends and forgot about the ones in the neighborhood that were younger then him. He had previously been home schooled and was a bit nervous about attending High School.
Well, he did great and his teachers all loved him. He was well mannered and it was obvious he was trying his best. He talked about getting his drivers permit and how he couldn't wait to get his license. He even made me promise we wouldn't move until after he graduated because he already had his class ring picked out.
I was working at the local hospital and relied on Josh to help with his younger siblings for a few hours a day. My husband and I tried to make it up to him by letting him go with friends, etc. whenever we were home. My husband would give Josh money whenever he had it to give. I used to joke around with him and say, “You have more money than I do”.
Around Christmas time Josh said" I was dumped." (He had been spending time with a group of kids from school and went to the movies, the Mall, and one snow trip with a girl named Laurie.) I asked him if he was okay and he said yes that it was actually a mutual decision because it became to awkward trying to decide should we hold hands or, shouldn’t we. He said they decided to just be friends. After being off of school for the Holidays he couldn't wait to get back.
I was working part-time hours because of a high risk pregnancy and when I lost the baby I decided to stay with the part-time hours. I found myself somewhat depressed but tried to pull myself together for Christmas mostly for my kids. On January 4th I helped Josh with an extra credit assignment. He got an A and his teacher said he was the only one in that particular class that even did it. Josh helped out around the house by doing dishes, mowing the lawns and baby-sitting his siblings.
On Friday, January 7th Josh got up early and left for school before I got up with the other kids. I was scheduled to work the 2pm to 10:30 shift and also the weekend. I remember I was getting ready for work when Josh got home around 1:25. He seemed to be in a bad mood and didn't want his dog jumping up on him. I remember thinking I should have him call his sister Jennifer to see if she was still coming to see us that weekend. I called out to him and asked him to pull my van out of the garage ( something he loved to do) he said sure. Then I said good-bye and went to go get in my van, but forgot my purse. I went back inside the house to get it and he was sitting on the couch watching TV.
I said if you let the dogs in make sure you wash their paws because it had been raining and we just shampooed the carpets the day before. He said Okay and I said I love you...see you tonight. He said I love you to. Then I drove off to work at about 1:30 or so. At approx. 1:45 my son went into the garage and opened up a package of rope left over from our last move. He tied it to a wood beam right over the area my washer and dryer were. He used a small step later we had in the garage and hung himself.
At 1:57 my son Matthew's bus dropped him off and the rule was if no one came to the door then the driver couldn't leave him there.(he is disabled) Well, no one came to the door, so the bus driver went to knock and when he walked up the drive, saw (through the glass windows in the garage door) Josh hanging there. He drove Matthew back to school and called 911.
My husband was called at work and all they said is that Emergency Services are at your house you better get home. When my husband got there he saw all the yellow police tape up and as he approached the house the officers stopped him, but not before he saw Josh. They wouldn't let him call me...they had an officer drive my husband to my work and escort him to where I was.
I was sitting at the computer in the front of the Lab taking info. from a patient when my husband grabbed me by my arm and took me to the lobby. He looked terrified and then I saw the policewoman who seemed to be following us. I asked him what was wrong? He sat me down and said Josh committed suicide. I said what are you talking about I just saw him. He then told me about Mathew's bus driver finding him. I kept hearing his words over and over again and realized he said did, not attempted.
All I remember was trying to run to get to Josh but no one would let me. Later my husband compared it to trying to hold onto a bull. The Officer drove us to my other kids school and said we couldn't go back to the house until Josh had been taken by the coroner.
We called my husband's parents and my daughter Jennifer so they could come help us, they all lived 2 hours away in the same town. My husband said telling me was the hardest thing he has ever had to do. Telling my daughter was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
Josh left no note and all we know is that a friend of his that sat next to him in Science class had talked to him and he told this friend that the ex-girlfriend and her friends had started ditching Josh when school came back from winter break and Josh said if they did it again that was it he couldn't handle it anymore. The friend cried as he told my husband all of this and said I never thought he would really do it.
The other kids said Josh seemed fine when they saw him and the only thing that was different that day is he left without saying good-bye. Usually he said good-bye before heading home. I personally think he over heard the girls talking and what ever it was they said it hurt him deeply. We believe Josh was upset and didn't really understand the finality of his actions. No matter what the reasons it has changed this family forever.
Joshua's dog Balou couldn't understand and every day was at the window waiting for him to return. Less than 2 weeks after Josh died Balou went looking for him and was hit by a car and died. At first as I held his collar in my hand I cried and thought, “why God”?, and then I realized he found his boy and they were together again.
At Joshua's funeral we decided to let those closest to him put something in with him that was special. My daughter donated a brand new pair of black suede sneakers she had gotten for Christmas because Josh had said he liked them and he didn't own a pair of black shoes. I gave him a pair of earrings he was always borrowing from me.
My husband wanted to put something in that was special but he couldn't think of anything he had that Josh would have liked. I thought about it and then it came to me the perfect thing...Josh was constantly getting into my husband's fireworks. So my husband chose the best and loudest and put them in his pocket.
***Six months after writing this I found out that an acne drug called Accutane was being associated with suicide. Joshua started taking Accutane in May of 1999 and we were never warned of the risk of suicide even though the FDA put out the new warning in 1998. The brochure we recieved stated only "changes in mood".***
Amy Simonetti (Josh's Mom)
Joshua Leigh Daniels
7/17/84 - 1/7/00