Matt Crosbie, 20, died after he got into difficulty swimming in a storm-swollen river near Forres a year ago last week.
Speaking for the first time about his death, mum Lynn said she and Matt, below, were incredibly close – making his passing that much harder to bear.
Even now she cannot decide on an epitaph for his headstone.
The problem is that it isn’t big enough for Lynn to put across how much she and Matt’s eight-year-old sister Macy loved him.
Holding back tears, Lynn said: “There isn’t enough space there to sum up what Matt meant to me.
“We were really close. He was my backbone. Although I miss him as a son, he was my best friend.
“I still can’t go into his room. The house seems so quiet now he’s gone.”
The tragedy happened as Matt enjoyed a day out with a group of friends at a local hot spot called Randolph’s Leap last March.
The youngsters had gone there to have a few drinks on a sunny spring day.
Over the years, Matt, who studied sport science at Moray College, had jumped into the River Findhorn numerous times from the spot.
However, this time when he jumped in, the river was freezing and ferocious.
Swollen by melting snow on higher ground and heavy rain in previous days, it swept him off downstream to his death.
The first Lynn, 43, knew of the accident was when a policeman came to the newsagent where she worked to tell her Matt was missing after going into the water.
That night she sat at home worried sick as she heard search and rescue helicopters looking for him.
His body was found the next day.
“It was horrendous,” she said. “It’s every parent’s nightmare. You never think something like that will happen to you. I find it hard to leave the house. I only cope because I’ve got his sister Macy, who’s eight.”
Last week Lynn rediscovered a Mother’s Day card Matt had given her when he was at primary school.
It was a poignant reminder of how close they’d always been.
It thanked her for suffering through a “14-hour” labour to give birth to him.
“Matt would write these wee stories. He’d written that I had a 14-hour labour but I had him within an hour. He was just being dramatic,” she said. Lynn has urged other families to warn the young people in their lives about the danger of jumping into waterways.
She said: “I wonder how many kids go up to Randolph’s Leap to do it. I wish they wouldn’t.
“I’ve seen a video of Matt seconds before he jumped in and the water behind him is vicious.”
Matt’s aunt Lorna saw him the day he died, buying beer from a local shop before he went to Randolph’s Leap.
She’d warned him about the danger of jumping into the river before but wishes she’d stopped him that day.
She said: “I found it hard to think of someone like Matt, who was so sensible, doing something like that.”
For now, the family draw strength from each other and Matt’s friends as they struggle on without him.
Lynn said: “His death has affected so many people but the support we’ve had from Matt’s friends and the people of Forres has been unbelievable.”