Jane and Joe Clementi tell PEOPLE it's "especially hard" to get through the holidays without their son

By Nicole Weisensee Egan
December 07, 2011 12:30 PM
Nigel Parry/CPI

Nearly 15 months after Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, “not a minute goes by that I don t think about him,” his mother, Jane, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive new interview.

“It’s especially hard right now because this was his favorite time of year,” says Jane, 53, a nurse, of Ridgewood, N.J. “So we’re trying to find a new way to celebrate Christmas. I’m sad – and trying to get through it.”

His father Joe says when he’s thinking of his son, he’ll look at a Facebook page in Tyler’s honor.

“I’ll read a few things until I get choked up – then I’ll stop,” says Joe, 55, public works director for the borough of Hawthorne, N.J.

Tyler, 18, committed suicide three days after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, allegedly used his webcam to watch him kissing another man and streamed it live on his Internet chat group. Ravi, 19, was charged with 15 offenses, including bias intimidation, a hate crime but not with causing Clementi’s suicide.

He has pled not guilty to all charges, and goes on trial Feb. 21.

Molly Wei, 19, whose laptop Ravi allegedly used to watch the encounter, has agreed to testify against him in exchange for admission into a first-time offenders program.

For their part, the Clementis hope to help prevent similar tragedies with the foundation they created, which will fund programs for gay teens, bullying and suicide prevention.

“It wouldn’t be fair to Tyler’s memory to let this slide,” Jane tells PEOPLE. “Something good has to come out of this terrible situation.”

For more from the Clementis, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday