The worst day of my life

 My life forever changed on April 26, 2011.

 We had been on a family vacation at the beach where our son Shaun proposed to his girlfriend on a rose petal portion of the beach while we all watched from a short distance  away. The entire family had helped plan and execute this hallowed event and we were the happiest family on planet earth. We spent the rest of our vacation together on the beach  enjoying the grand kids, family, ocean and life.

 We drove home April 25, 2011 and arrived at around 9 PM. Shortly thereafter we all went to bed. Little did we know that a room away our son would be fighting the battle of his  life.

Shaun had an addiction to pain killers and had been clean for 3 years. He had gotten badly sunburned soon after arriving at the beach and laid around much of the time after he proposed. It never dawned on me or even the doctor that examined him at the beach that he was experiencing the physical pain of heroin withdrawals. Sometime that night after we all went to bed, unbeknownst to us, that pain got the best of Shaun and he made the cruelest decision of his young life. On his cell phone, later, we saw that he’d called his dealer 6 times that evening; call, hang up, call hang up, call hang up, call, hang up, call, hang up. The last time he called he didn’t hang up. He arranged a purchase. His dealer made a house call sometime after midnight delivering 182 units of heroin. The therapeutic range for morphine, a heroine derivative, is 0 to 80. Shaun took 3 times that amount. A lethal dose. When we found him the next morning the needle was still in his hand. He never had a chance.

Even while I’m writing this I can feel myself shutting down. It’s like I flicked a switch and I’m the little boy in my earlier poem, at the dam with my finger firmly in place. Don’t cry, be strong, keep your finger in the hole, keep writing. Most of my life when painful feelings like this come on me, I withdraw into myself. It’s lonely there but gives a sense of security, safety. Because you see, I’ve learned a very painful, gut-wrenching lesson in all this. Addiction, though a disease, is also a failure of relationships. Somehow, some way I failed my boy and that failure will follow us both to our graves.

My Boy
God’s precious gift
arrived on Gabriel’s wings
with cherubim cheeks
and few other things.
Ro grabbing him out
of the great angels hands,
while I’m staring at my boy
from a faraway land.
The little boy who brought
such joy and delight,
dark skin, brown eyes
and cheeks you could bite.
He and his “twin” sister
only nine months apart,
Megan blonde and light skinned,
Shaun black hair and dark.
Shaun drawing transformers
and scouting the ditch,
Megan running to the neighbors
never slowing one bit.
Shaun standing by
the delivery room door
worried about his Mom
who he truly adored.
There was nothing more special
to Shaun than his Mother
and where one was,
not far was the other.
His little brother Kris
always wanted to be with him
and was shocked when told
that Shaun might have sinned.
The good old days
at the grandparents’ house
sitting on the porch swing
enjoying life in the South.
Riding bikes on the trails
and down to the pool,
watching the kids playing
never expecting life to turn cruel.
Ripped out of Jackson then Memphis,
heading north we all traveled
not expecting for a moment
that our lives soon would unravel,
cause evil was waiting
just ’round the bend
though we prayed to God
please make it all end.
There’s nothing harder
than watching your child self-destruct
while our faiths being tested
& we’ve run out of luck.
At last it looked as though things
might turn for the best
as Shaun looked outside himself
for help with his mess.
God blessed him with Tiana,
The woman of his dreams
maybe our prodigal story
was not all that it seemed.
But perhaps when you’re OCD
you can’t start afresh
when perfects your standard
and to your past you’re enmeshed.
For its hard starting over
once you’ve taken a hit
for like a fish out of water
you’re hooked after you’ve bit.
To make sense of evil
you must go back to the fall
where Adam & Eve took a small bite
but the price cost us all.
And the serpent continues
crawling in & out of our lives
but the apple he dangles
is an orchard of lies.
Satan’s attacked with a vengeance
but the victory’s not his
cause in the end Shaun’s with Jesus
and Satan’s in the abyss.
So now Job is my best friend
and my dreams have been shattered
though I cling to God’s promises
’cause it’s only Jesus that matters.
And Tiana who always wanted
to give God her best,
never dreamed for a moment
Shaun’ d be His request.
But it’s hard not to wonder
what might have been
though I take comfort in knowing
I’ll see Shaun again.
But still change is hard
and separation so lonely
so you avoid the why questions
and ‘what if I’d only’.
But life must continue
and we numbly go on
cause that’s what’s expected
but please hold the shalom.
I cling to the memories
of my boy and his life
his sweet smile, sensitivity
and desire to be right.
God give us Your focus
on all these events
& never forget t’was Your glory
that Your Boy’s life was spent!
Mason Swinney
Shaun hiking

                             Shaun hiking


Mason Swinney

Please, all rights reserved. Contact me for use of any portion of it.


About menmourningmoments

I'm happily married, the Father of 2 sons and 2 daughters and 4 beautiful grandchildren. Death is all around us but somehow we've managed to distance ourselves from it. Men, Mourning, Moments is about how the death of my son awakened me to life & the desire to seize every moment as though it were my last. It's about making sense of life in the good times and bad and allowing GOD to carry me and teach me through the hard times in life.
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3 Responses to The worst day of my life

  1. NAKED says:

    So sorry for your loss, my deepest sympathies. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. May God bless you and your family.


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