One Year Ago Today

Exactly one year ago today Shawn Jr died in a hospital bed at MD Anderson in Houston, TX.Misty and I were on either side of him holding his hand as he took his last breath.I hope that is the most agonizing moment of my life because I am not sure I would survive anything more.

Shawn Jr’s death is like a dull pain that seems to constantly be throbbing in my heart and mind.While the pain is sometimes sharp and powerful, most often it is just this dull, aching reminder that life will never be as it once was.It’s like I can never be fully happy because a piece of our family, and a piece of me, is missing.
I was talking to our family and we cannot decide if the last year has been fast or slow.It has been filled with the normal ups and downs of life.The terrible memories of Shawn’s death come back periodically and often at unexpected times.They come back when I see something or hear something that reminds me of him.Skylin will complain about something and it will be Shawn Jr.I will see some…

The Last Dance

“The Last Dance,” the  ESPN documentary about the 1998 Chicago Bulls, started tonight.  As I was watching it I was reminded of the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate Shawn Jr and I would always have.  Long before he was declaring Luka the GOAT (a bit in jest) he was always telling me how LBJ was the greatest basketball player ever.  How he would certainly beat MJ. That LeBron was the better athlete.  The better teammate.   That he made everyone around him better in a way that Jordan never did.  He made compelling arguments.  LeBron is a special player on and off the court.  I have always been a LeBron fan (even when it was not popular to like LeBron).  But, I still say MJ was the best to ever play the game.  His 6 and 0 finals record and dominate play is almost certain to stand the test of time - for a very long time.   
Watching “The Last Dance” tonight, I kept thinking about how much I wish Shawn Jr was right beside me watching it.  I am not sure he ever really appreciated the gr…

6 Months Later

Today marks 6 months since Shawn Jr died.  Sometimes it feels like it happened just yesterday.   Other times it feels like it happened 2 years ago.  The hard memories from his last few days are still very fresh in my mind.  Time passing has not really “helped.”   I am not sad as often.  But the depth of the pain when I have certain memories seems just as deep.  
The sadness comes in waves.  Christmas and New Year’s Eve were not as hard as I expected.   It did feel like the family was incomplete.  But the people and energy in the house kept it happy.   While the holidays were tolerable, this past week has been hard.   I am not sure why.  The oddest things seem to trigger memories and pain.  However, I also regularly find happiness in my life.   Even memories of Shawn Jr sometimes make me happy.  I hope over time, the memories of him will make me more happy than sad.   I am certainly happy for the gift of the 21 years I had with him.  
I don’t think I will ever be “back to normal.”  I won…

Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated

As you know, our family has been dealing with all kinds of problems and pain over the past few months. I didn’t expect that we would have to deal with that curveball life through at us last week.  According to all the major credit agencies, I was the one who died in July.
How did this happen? Well, it all starts with a call to a student loan company in late July. I called in to report that Shawn Jr. had died.  The person on the phone told me they would report the issue and someone will get back with me. After two weeks of silence, I called back to check the status.  I was again told someone would get back with me.  Then last week I tried to use my American Express card at Taco Bell. The card was declined. I called in to the credit card company to check why the card was declined. To my surprise I was told that they had closed my account because the credit agency reported that I was deceased. I went onto the Internet and checked my FICO score - it was zero!  
I knew what had happened. I c…

Sports Have Turned Dark for Me

Everyone that knows our family, knows that sports are a huge part of our life.  
Misty and I both played sports as kids and in high school.  Misty was an incredible athlete and played volleyball in college.  Both Misty and I are huge baseball fans.  We have always enjoyed basketball, football, tennis, volleyball, gymnastics, the Olympics and many other kinds of sports.  
After we became parents, we encouraged our kids to play sports.  We have always believed that sports, particularly team sports, teaches kids critical life skills.  We also get tons of enjoyment out of watching our children play sports - win or lose.  But, if I am being honest, watching them win is more fun.  :)  
We have spent countless hours taking our kids to baseball practice, volleyball games, gymnastics workouts, basketball tryouts, soccer games, flag-football practices, tennis lessons, and the list goes on.  If we added it all up, I bet a significant part of our lives as parents have been spent going to and from, p…

Children Belong in the Future - Not in the Past

The day Shawn Jr died, I started praying a very specific prayer.  That prayer was that no parent I knew would outlive their child.  It is just too painful.  Parents are hard wired to love and protect their children.  So watching your child die seems to me to be the worst kind of pain.  I never want a parent I know personally (or any parent for that matter) to go through that pain.  
Here is the thing about death.  It is expected to be the last event of your life.  You are born, you are a baby, a toddler, a child, a kid, a teenager, a young adult, an adult, a mature adult, a retiree, a senior and then you die. Death is something that happens to old people.  When you consider death, you prepare yourself to lose people in your life that are older.  Certainly losing a grandparent is hard.  But it is expected.  Losing a parent is even harder.  But it is expected.  People older than you die.  I have even considered the possibility of losing Misty before I die.  Logically, I know that any of …

Our Journey Continues

It has been just over 3 weeks since Shawn Jr died.  I am back at work and poring lots of myself into the Helms Hope Foundation.  Well I get up each morning, get into my car, travel the same road, and go into the same office, it’s not the same.  I am not the same.  
We continue to feel unbelievably blessed by all of the friends and family around us that are continuing to hold us up.  Despite all this love and support, we are all struggling in our own way.  
I’ve had a few different people recommend that I continue to record our journey in a public way.  Sharing stories of struggle and healing as they happen. Therefore, I have decided to continue to update everyone on our thoughts and feelings about the loss of our son on this blog.
I hope anyone reading can take a little bit of our experience and can use it in their own life.