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 over-the-top conservative statement and think about how Shawn Jr would have loved it.  When a big event happens in the sports world, I think about how Shawn Jr would have been all over it.  When these things happen, I think about him and I am quickly transported back to those miserable times in the hospital during his last 3 months. 

I get sad when I have an experience that I want to share with the entire family, but I cannot because Shawn is gone.  I often want to be able to text him and just give him an update but I know that is not possible.  I wonder if he knows what we are doing?  The big and little family events.  I miss sharing those with him.  It’s hard. 

In some ways, our life has changed a lot since he died.  Brittany and Reese have moved back to Dallas.  The family dynamic has changed a bit.  Helms Hope is a big part of our life.  We have grown closer to our community because of all the love and support we have felt in this past year.  While a lot has changed, much has stayed the same.  We still have lots of energy in our house.  Lots of family games, movie nights, laughter and smiles.  I am still working, Misty is still homeschooling, the kids are still doing their thing.  Life moves on, but it is not the same. 

I often think about what Shawn Jr. would be doing right now if cancer had not struck him down so early in life.  He would be graduating college.  Would he have a girlfriend?  I know he would be annoyed at COVID.  He would be complaining about the lack of MLB and NBA games.  He would like all the buzz around Luka and Patrick Mahomes.  He would enjoy watching Josh get older.  He would be proud that Josh is a great Fortnight player.  He would be delighting in Skylin’s dance journey.  He would like being a part of Triniti’s college admission process.  He would be annoyed that Triniti is not playing basketball next year.  He would love being part of Noelle’s Baylor experience.  He would be trying to convince Noelle to move back home.  He would argue with Brittany about Black Lives Matter and all the political craziness of this world today.  He would be hanging out with Reese and talking about all the challenges of Reezos.  Most of all, he would be defending and loving his mom.  I wish he was doing these things. 

I wish Shawn Jr was still part of our future.  I was looking forward to him getting married, having kids, starting a career and being part of our growing family as I got old and gray. 

We miss his jokes, smile, energy, compassion and unwavering faith in Christ.  

Most of all, I wish our last moments with him were not in a hospital bed, at MD Anderson in Houston, TX, exactly one year ago.

Comments

  1. My heart broke for you and your entire family and I wish I could tell you it gets better but I'm not sure better is the word for it. There will always be that one hole in your heart left by your loss...my heart still has the same hole left from Kristen's death 17 years ago come the 18th of this month. I'm going to say it gets softer as time goes by and your thoughts will go to all of the happy places and times with him. God works in mysterious ways so keep him close to help with your journey. Prayers and hugs to you all.

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  2. One of my best friends died when she was 24. I became very close to her parents in the following months and years. On the 10 year anniversary of her passing, I wrote them. I told them that I think one of the ways people measure time is through the rhythm of ordinary events and milestones. We look back on our lives, and distant events seem distant because so many other ordinary events have filled the space in between. But the death of a child, especially at such a tender age, is so extraordinary, unimaginable, and painful that it disrupts the rhythm of time. It is an event that distorts time. At times it feels like yesterday. At other times it seems a lifetime ago, or maybe even an event from another life. It feels so intimate and alien at the same time. I know that you lost Shawn much too soon, and I think of you often. I know that his memory is a treasure that you will cherish for the rest of your life.

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