Romance radio star Delilah endured unimaginable heartbreak in recent years, with the loss of her 16-year-old son Sammy to complications from sickle cell anemia in 2012, and her 18-year-old son Zack to suicide in 2017.
“I came to my faith in my 20s,” she tells the outlet, “And it is my faith that has kept me going through losing two boys, two of my sons, Sammy and Zack. There is a verse that says, ‘Every one of our days is numbered before a single one comes to pass.’ That one verse has saved my sanity because all of my sons’ days were numbered. God knew when they were going to leave this earth before they came to this earth and knowing that changes everything. Because if I didn’t believe that, then I would do the what-ifs. What if I had done this differently? What if I had done that differently?”
“I would drive myself insane with the what-ifs,” the 59-year-old added. “But the reality is I did the best that I could with the information I had. All of our days are numbered. God already knows when he’s going to call me home. So while I have today, while he’s given me this 24 hours, I can spend it mourning and depressed over what I’ve lost or I can spend it rejoicing in children who still need me, who still need their mom to be fully present. So, I choose life. I choose joy. I choose to invest my energies into those people that God has in my life today.”
Faith had helped her through the tough times that occurred earlier in her life. She recalls the father of her unborn child walking out on her, and then losing her job shortly after. In all, she says she was fired 12 times over the course of her career. What’s more, she lost a brother at an early age. “I had to find answers. I had to know, would I ever see my brother again? Would I ever get to laugh with him again? The last conversation we had was short and brief and loving, but it wasn’t enough. So, I went on a spiritual quest, if you will, questioning, trying this, trying that, trying different religions.”
She credits a book called More Than a Carpenter with changing her life. “I came to my faith, which was the same faith my brother had had for years, and I realized I’ll see him again. I know exactly where he is and I know that he’s not suffering, he’s not hurting, he’s not miserable. He’s at peace and filled with joy. When I’m there, I’ll be there. But, that faith has gotten me through losing both my parents, my grandparents, two children, got me through divorces, got me through being fired.”
Delilah has used the promotional tour for her book as a platform to discuss what she calls an “epidemic” of teen suicides. “We need to start having open conversations, as painful as they are,” she said during an appearance on Good Morning America last fall, “because it’s epidemic.”
Speaking to PEOPLE in 2017, the mom of 14 said Zack was her “wild child.” (He’s one of her three biological children; the other 11 were welcomed through adoption.)
“Thirteen broken bones, umpteen trips to the hospital with appendicitis, tonsillitis, a fractured skull. He was wild but so so so sweet,” she said. “He was a faithful friend to the outcast and the troubled. Dozens of his friends have written to me and told me he was like a counselor to them.”
She also opened up about the heartbreaking message her son left behind: “His goodbye note did not mention sadness, anger, angst or depression,” she said. “Just a pressing madness about feeling like this world was not his home.”
One Heart at a Time is out nationwide today.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.