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Best dog ever. So in that way he went to sleep with his head in my lap, my sister holding that fan to his face. Crazy to have these kind of luxuries when the world has gone mad and people are hurt and dying everywhere yet, in the final hour for anyone we love, family and friends, for a soldier in arms who has served by our side, we would wish a peaceful passing. I will never have another dog like this in my life. Not like this. And, I had sworn to my mother I'd never have another dog period.

No cat. No dog. No fish. No nothing. I'd be free to be me and travel when I needed and not search for sitters. No loving no nithing. But then a dog that ate in the trash, wandered the roads, got hit by a car, never had a bath, was matted and ticked, showed up at the house before Titan died. He officially belonged to a neighbor in that when they yelled he was supposed to show up.

I started sneaking him food, putting a blanket out for him when it was freezing and he was left in the cold. Soonater we said good-bye to Titan I left for Florida to continue packing for Mom's move for the time. In my absence, my sister paid a special visit with the neighbors and had a special conversation. When I returned the dog known as Kevin had been shaved, had his shots, wore a collar. He sleeps now on the floor as I write this.

He's too young to snore. He is thankful for kindness, for food, and wants to be loved, to be petted or receive a gentle touch. Things all foreign and new to him. I've tried to tell him, it's not fair to you - you know. I had a great dog once. And, you'll never be him, can't be him. Kevin the dog we call buddy just looks at me as if - It's ok. I'm just happy to be here. I'll take what you've got.

Even leftover love.

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It's more than I've known. I have pictures of this transformation I'll post later this week. There will never be another Big Dog Titan in my life. But God's teaching me that love's not just for one season. It's a perpetual thing. That it grows in the giving not in the keeping away. CS Lewis wrote: "To love at all is to be vulnerable.

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Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Looks like I've made it. I've got the Big Corner Office. A Great view over the city. Steaming Java courtesy of Fido's. Here's the deal. A lot of people who dream of being a writer want the romance of a lifestyle often afforded to the rich and leisurely lifestyles of the rich and famous.

But there is so much more behind the page and beyond the view going on. On this particular day I did cop a corner office with a view for a few hours of writing and research. Poet and Writers mag opened and at the ready to find those hidden places writers can apply for a little time and quiet to get a few good words down. But all of that - the moment of freedom, the financial upturns, the kudos from readers most important or from critics greatly appreciated isn't the whole picture.

For one thing - when I learned that I was a writer I didn't know squat about a lifestyle. Couldn't tell you if a writers life was different than a farmers or a judge. So it wasn't a lifestyle that called me. It was a calling. When I was a little girl my mother read Four Little Kittens to me. It was one of the books that I would say - Again - Over and over.

Wore it out. Here's the premise - A barn cat has four little kittens who one day ask their mother before they go out into the world to please tell them what kind of cats there are.

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So she sits up, half closes her green eyes and begins to tell them about the other cats in the family and what they were. Ships cats, Alley cats, Barn cats. But one little kitten tried all those things and none of them felt right until finally he was picked up in a dark alley and taken home to a little girl. Then he discovered he was a cushion and cream cat - in other words - a house cat. Most of us spend much of our young lives trying to discover what kind of cats we are. As a little girl I had a cowgirl outfit with fringe.

I don't ride horses although I still like fringe. Being a cowgirl wasn't my destiny. I also had a red painters smock and I loved to paint. But I didn't grow up to be a painter. I can skate like the wind but I didn't grow up to become s roller derby queen. I danced like crazy to everything I heard and I still love to dance but I didn't grow up to be a professional dancer.

But I grew up in the lap of story - that is all things southern. Heat lightning, long summers, family stories , a front porch. A wild tribe of cousins. Pick up trucks and back roads. Creeks and crazy. Jesus fans in tiny back woods churches. By sixth grade I was writing prayers and poems with a slight sophistication so that my teacher requested a conference with my mother to tell her - She's a writer. It was my four little kittens moment where one knows what one IS. I didn't know anyone in the family who was a writer. I didn't know anyone in the whole entire world who was a writer.

But suddenly I knew I was one. And from that moment on there was nothing in my life that I pursued that wasn't related to that. No matter how many jobs I had to support myself or my children - the inside story was the true was. I was a writer. A Storyteller. It was my destiny. Still Tis. On stage, page, or on air. Same, same. The first time I went to college it was on a small scholarship for broadcast journalism.

I'd been broadcasting in my senior year under the awesome mentoring of teacher Anna Kelly. She recognized something in me that meant business. A desire to discover the truth. To find the story, to tell the story. You short-circuit all of that stuff and just go for the button that says this feels good over and over again. He laughs at the absurdity. Today Today Today glances back specifically to the time when Taylor was a teenager. One of five children born into a well-to-do Boston family, he learnt cello as a child before switching to guitar, not least as a way to impress girls.

But by the time he was applying to colleges, he was falling into depression, and at the age of 17 he checked himself into McLean psychiatric hospital in Massachusetts for 10 months. On arriving in England at the age of 19 he found, to his astonishment, not only that the musical climate was more conducive, but that he was noticed and admired by the Beatles, who made him the first international signing to their Apple record label.

But they separated in and divorced two years later. Taylor does not keep direct contact with Simon, and does not refer to her by name, but he speaks fondly of their children, Sally, now 41, and Ben, Ben, himself a gifted singer and writer whom I have met on several occasions, always speaks of his father with great admiration, even if he has privately described to me times in his childhood when Taylor was indeed a reckless parent.

Simon is, however, acknowledged when I ask Taylor about the challenges they faced in such a high-profile partnership. The kind of artist — if I can presume to call myself that — that I am is very self-absorbed, very personally engaged. More interested in playing folk and blues clubs with his lifelong friend and collaborator Danny Kortchmar than in the high expectations of his prep-school environment, Taylor was, sometimes at least, that alienated kid. After checking himself out of McLean, where he was prescribed the anti-psychotic drug Thorazine, he moved to New York to pursue music but fell into heroin use.

He would not get completely clean for another 17 years. After a second, decade-long marriage to the actress Kathryn Walker, Taylor was married a third time in to Caroline Smedvig , known as Kim. Their father confesses that he has been better equipped for responsible parenthood this time around. They are really quite wonderful adult people.

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Both parents were dead by the time the eldest was 12, and that was really sad to see. Now you have to pull them out with a winch' James Taylor. The year gap between studio releases belies the fact that Taylor has been exceedingly busy in the interim. T he only way to honor Amy, Joe decided, was to follow the guidance from her undelivered letter -- to not give up on Will. Joe wanted to make sure his son was forced into treatment this time. But to do so, he would have to become Will's guardian. He would need a state-certified assessment of his son, a diagnosis and a prognosis showing that Will was incapacitated and could not act in his own interests.

That wouldn't be hard to get, he thought. After all, Will had killed his mom and the court found him insane. Wouldn't those facts support Joe's request? Joe contacted the psychiatrist whom prosecutors used to deem Will insane. He refused to help; he said it would be a conflict of interest. Next, he asked members of his son's legal team about using their expert.

They told him they represented his son, not him. On January 4, , Joe called Dr. Robert Sena, Will's treating psychiatrist at Riverview; the psychiatrist told Joe he would not help declare his son incapacitated.

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It felt like nobody gave a damn about his son. Even with what happened to Amy, Joe couldn't learn what was going on inside Riverview. His quest for the needed information dragged into weeks, then months. Finally, a hearing was set for February 6, Austin about the roadblocks he'd encountered. The system seemed rigged to prevent him from being involved in his son's care.

Two days later, Austin sided in Joe's favor, noting the legal Catch 22 that hindered the father's efforts. Given the extraordinary circumstances of this matter, this court believes a guardianship for a period of 90 days is appropriate. Within a week, Joe had his son's medical records -- 1, pages. He returned home and sat in Amy's favorite wicker chair, turning page after page. Anger and outrage overcame him. Jeffrey Fliesser wrote on March 27, , less than a month before Will was released.


He refused medication and his paranoid delusions were intensifying, the records showed. He made obscene gestures at staff and told one, "I got your number. Amy Bruce ran a slipcover and drapery business out of this workshop near her home in Caratunk. Worried what her son might do, she kept the numbers of emergency personnel posted inside. The more Joe read, the more baffled he became. He'd expected the records to contain the proof he needed to show Will was not competent to act on his own behalf.

He didn't expect them to reveal that the hospital had released Will knowing he might cause harm. On another page, Joe paused. Patients' rights advocates -- those who fight for the rights of the mentally ill -- had taken up his son's cause. Stationed inside state psychiatric hospitals, the advocates act independently of the state and federal government and are there to protect and advocate for patients. They can sit in on treatment meetings if a patient asks, and they can provide legal services.

That's what they did in Will's case. They questioned the veracity of the psychiatric assessments and suggested the hospital would keep him until he completely melted down. At a treatment meeting on April 6, , the records showed, patient advocates were coaching Will on how to answer questions aimed at determining whether he should be allowed to go into the community on short-term passes.

Just say yes," one advocate told Will, according to notes of the meeting. By then, Fliesser was no longer Will's psychiatrist. Will had moved to the care of Dr. Daniel Filene. When Filene asked Will if there were any risk that he would not return to the hospital while on leave, the advocate said to Will: "Just say no," according to the records. Will responded with: "No. Fliesser, who told CNN he was removed as Will's doctor because his contract with Riverview was up, is now in private practice in St.

Augustine, Florida. It's "very upsetting" for any psychiatrist to learn that a former patient has killed, he said. We don't want anyone in the community to get hurt. We don't want the patients to get hurt. So, it is devastating. Filene declined to talk about specifics, but he told CNN the Bruce case "is one of the saddest things that I've encountered in my career. Joe had never seen medical records before, not even his own.

Nor had he ever heard of patient advocates. It was as if he were watching in slow motion the buildup to Amy's death. Will was released on April His discharge summary noted the hospital had missed the deadline to file paperwork to extend his court-ordered stay. Doctors explored holding him involuntarily under emergency procedures but felt Will would not "meet criteria" of dangerousness, the records showed. He denied suicidal or homicidal ideation. But the records note this key fact about the untreated paranoid schizophrenic the hospital was about to set free: "He had no insight into even a remote possibility that he may have a mental illness.

T he fight to become Will's full guardian became a protracted legal battle that went on for more than a year, even after Joe had gained temporary guardianship.

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  • In January , Dr. Robert Fisher, a Riverview psychiatrist, provided an evaluation for the court that said Will remained psychotic, "profoundly delusional" and dangerous. On April 15, , the judge awarded Joe full guardianship. For Will, those days before treatment are mostly a blur. He worked out relentlessly his first year in the hospital, believing he might be contacted by the CIA to carry out another covert operation. He was dubbed a "2-to-1," meaning he had to be escorted by two staffers at all times because he was considered such a threat.

    Will credits Fisher and his father with turning his life around. Fisher strongly believed the antipsychotic medication Abilify would greatly improve Will's condition and asked Joe for permission to prescribe it. He said they could see if Will would take it willingly, or he could administer it with a needle against his will. Dad told the doctor to go for it. Will agreed to take the medicine without resistance.

    Like truly recover. It was like getting socked with a cold bucket of water. His whole belief system disintegrated: Mom was no longer a terrorist, and suddenly, he had to grasp the gravity of his actions. Will sank into a deep depression. He contemplated suicide. He dreamed of burning in hell, "like my body was melting.

    Just seeing his father became excruciating because he had to confront what he'd done. Joe Bruce found his wife of 26 years bludgeoned to death in the bathtub on June 20, Amy was He remembers her as "the most beautiful person in the world. He took to pen and paper. I have just started to realize how mentally ill I really am," he wrote his father in late Part of it is because of the burden of what I did. I know it's too much to ask for forgiveness. I really miss Mom. She would be here helping me get through this. His father remembers the first phone call he got from Will after he went on the medication.

    It was as if someone had finally given him back his boy. He would talk, but he wasn't there. Fisher died of pancreatic cancer in May Will spoke at a memorial service at Riverview, sobbing throughout and thanking the doctor for never giving up on him. Finally accepting he had mental illness made Will receptive to other therapies that helped with thoughts, moods and behaviors. He learned how to decrease self-destructive impulses and use more positive coping skills. One week group session called "Are you ready to change? Then, you move on to the action where you do something about it.

    As Will's health improved, he was able to petition the court for leaves from the hospital, initially with a staff member, then on his own for four hours. With a judge's approval, he took classes at the University of Maine at Augusta. He also worked jobs around the hospital: buffed the floors, mowed the grass, cooked hamburgers at the staff cafe. There were slip-ups. He got busted smuggling Skoal Wintergreen tobacco into the hospital and distributing it to others.

    That resulted in being stripped of various privileges. Just last year, he twice told the hospital he was one place with a friend, when he actually went somewhere else. He was ordered to receive individual psychotherapy with the unit psychologist, who helped him understand the "thought process that leads to rule breaking; his feelings and how they inform his behavior; and the impact of his behavior on others," his medical records state. His most important therapy came from a closed group session that included only those who had killed family members.

    I never used to do that. Will stands in stark contrast from his release in He is outgoing and cordial, introspective and thoughtful. If he stood next to you at a coffee shop, you'd never suspect his past. His current court order allows for an eight-hour pass with family members and four hours for personal excursions outside the group home, up to 20 hours per week. He must take his medication, 25 milligrams of Abilify, in front of staff at the group home every day. He is not allowed to drive a vehicle.


    He cannot own or possess a firearm or other weapons. Drinking alcoholic beverages or consuming illegal drugs is not allowed. Curfew is 11 p. He returns to Riverview to see a psychologist almost every week and a psychiatrist once every two weeks. He meets once every three months with a community treatment team, which includes a psychiatrist, psychologist and other mental health professionals who help him set goals and work with him on controlling anxiety.

    Will Bruce became friends with Chuck Petrucelly, right, inside the hospital. They share a tragic bond, having both killed a family member. Now living on the outside, they like to go biking together. Members of his treatment team denied repeated requests for interviews. But progress notes by his psychiatrists, provided to CNN by the Bruces, show that Will's transition into the community has gone smoothly.

    There is good eye contact.

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    • Speech is coherent and non-slurred. Thought content reveals no delusions, no suicidal and no homicidal ideation," one psychiatrist wrote on August 4, five months after Will's release. If he violates the treatment plan or "if there is probable cause to believe that he has committed new criminal conduct," according to terms of his release, all of his freedoms can be revoked and he can be sent back to Riverview. Will says he's worked too hard to let that happen. He goes for jogs, rides his mountain bike and reads to relax.

      When Will moved to the group home, a caseworker said Will was the 11th person he had helped return to the community. None has been ordered back to the hospital. Keep the number strong , he told Will. Dear God, you have no idea. J oe Bruce stands near the phone on the kitchen table. Voices boom out of the old silver-and-white Radio Shack model.

      One woman says she has a son who also killed. Another mom has twice been assaulted by her son. Still another keeps a journal for the day she believes her son will kill her. These are Joe's comrades -- families who have suffered trying to raise a seriously mentally ill child. They've joined the conference call from California, Washington state, Virginia. Almost every one of them is a pillar in their community. They are active with groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness ; most were pushed into action because they couldn't get help for their sons.

      Their aim is to get mentally ill patients treatment before tragedy strikes. And that is exactly what they call themselves, Treatment Before Tragedy. During the call, they sign off on articles of incorporation in Virginia to make the organization official. Most mentally ill people are more prone to be attacked than commit a violent act. That's a fact driven home by mental health experts. But it can serve to make families like the Bruces feel marginalized because their loved ones are the outliers.

      Joe believed he would rob Amy's legacy if he kept quiet. He sobered up and poured his efforts into mental health reform. He testified at the Capitol in Augusta for changes to Maine's restrictive privacy laws; he fought for lessening restrictions on laws pertaining to medication over objection; and he pushed for an assisted outpatient law that requires seriously mentally ill patients to adhere to a treatment plan as a condition for living in the community.

      More recently, he went to Washington to speak on behalf of the mental health reform bill sponsored by Murphy, the congressman from Pennsylvania. His relentless activism remains on display. That we have to form this organization to get something done. W ill slides on his blue polo in preparation for work. Getting a job on the outside was one of his top priorities, and he's proud that it didn't take long. That's not to say it came without a challenge.

      He wondered how much to reveal about the past or whether he should check the box on the application that asks if you've committed a felony. Technically, by law, he didn't. But it still will show up on any background check or Internet search. A well-known tale among NCR patients is the time the local news outlets did a story on a killer who had moved out of the hospital and was hired by a big-box store. People picketed, and he got fired. Will decided to be transparent. He landed one sales job, only for it to be rescinded shortly after the offer. The hiring manager called him and told him not to be so honest.

      The psychiatric hospital doesn't assist in the job hunt, but guys like Will learn by word of mouth about businesses friendly to forensic patients. He heard managers at a local Kmart had a sympathetic ear, and he filled out an application for a stock boy position. Store manager Ryan Colgan invited him for an interview.

      I don't judge the history. I judge the man," Colgan says. Sometimes, you just need a break. Somebody needs to give you a chance. Will stocks shelves and helps customers haul big items to their cars. He enjoys the interaction. He receives disability benefits to supplement his income but doesn't like being dependent on the government. He hopes he can one day work a full-time job to support himself. His court order restricts him to working no more than 24 hours a week.

      Working in the real world, says Ann LeBlanc, director of the State Forensic Service, is a big step toward rehabilitation. You have to manage that successfully," she says. Building relationships is another sign of normalcy. Will has been dating a woman for two years, and she has been a particularly strong guide in helping him navigate his new life. They connected through Facebook, and she visited him in the hospital. She knew Will's mother and admired her free spirit. She sees that in Will, too. She accepts the whole of him.