WHY GOD WHY
We awoke at 6 AM as normal but we heard no activity in Shaun’s room. I thought it a little strange that his door was locked when I went to check on him but didn’t think all that much of it because Shaun was not a morning person and we knew to give him his space.
After a little while we tried his door again but still no sounds. Panic overwhelmed us. We started pounding on the door and yelling but nothing but frightening silence on the other side. I kicked the door open. Shaun was lying on the floor, not breathing. His fiancé Tiana, who spent the night in the guest room, and my wife were hysterical as the three of us were on our knees encircling him trying to revive him. I remember Tiana saying over and over, “what have you done Shaun, what have you done”. She saw the needle in his hand. I hadn’t noticed it. I couldn’t take my eyes off his face and his downhearted appearance. None of our cell phones were working for some strange reason and so my wife and I ran to neighbors to call 911. A police officer was the first to arrive and he immediately started CPR on Shaun. I stayed with him. The ladies, I believe, were in the master bedroom in shock and bawling. The EMS arrived shortly thereafter and took over administering CPR. I stayed in the room on the other side of the bed watching, praying, and hoping though I think I knew that Shaun was gone. Looking back I can see myself shutting down.
When, where, how did life go so awfully wrong for Shaun? What didn’t we do that we should have done? What’s going on God? Where are You? Why God why?
Shaun had served time in a state and federal prison as a result of activities to support his new life style and addiction. I remember thinking Shaun was too nice a boy to do the things he did so it couldn’t have been his fault, it must have been mine. Co-dependency in high gear, no doubt.
Those long Saturday morning drives to Marion Federal Prison to visit had convinced us that Shaun had learned his lesson and would get his life back on track. We had had many long talks with him about his future during our visits and were convinced he had learned his lesson. We just knew God had heard and would answer our many prayers.
Then, too short a time after being paroled, I get a phone call mid-day from my wife, Shaun had been arrested again. I couldn’t believe it, my sweet boy breaking into someone else’s home. I remember driving home and screaming at the top of my lungs why Shaun, why! The whys of life were beginning to overwhelm me and I had no answers. I was beginning to see that I didn’t even know the questions! Much later I was to learn it’s not the why questions we should concern ourselves with. Rather, the key is to focus on the Whom we are going through it with.
That evening Shaun and the police came over to our house to search for stolen merchandise. I remember feeling so broken-hearted and helpless. Shaun could not look us in the face and I felt so sorry for him. He always felt like he disappointed us and we could never convince him otherwise. I can still see me sitting at the kitchen table bawling and the police officer near me looking so uncomfortable and, I sensed, feeling sorry for me. You could see it in his eyes.
Actually, all the police officers we encountered could not have been nicer or more professional and they did all they could to help my boy. For example, when they were determining Shaun’s last prison sentence, his attorney got his sentence down to 10 years. It was the detective that Shaun helped during the investigation that got it reduced to 7 years.
Later that evening our dear friends Amy and Christina, who have always been there for us and who modeled Christian love for us, came over to comfort and support us (you will hear much more about these 2 ladies as my story unfolds). They gently suggested we may have enabled Shaun over the years. I knew they were right. I just hoped we hadn’t enabled him to death.
Before Shaun started serving his second sentence for his latest criminal activities, he made a profession of faith. Roberta and I had a long talk with him at the kitchen table and I told him this was the last time I was going to help him. Of course I didn’t mean it and later on those words would come back to haunt me. I read the Parable of the Prodigal Son to him and although Shaun had been in church his whole life and attended only Christian schools, he now for the first time understood the similarities between him and the prodigal son. We explained that the father in the parable was God the Father Himself. Shaun made a profession of faith that night and the three of us had a good cry and much hope for the future.
The three years that followed that prayer were some of the happiest days of our lives. We saw God answer prayer after prayer and it was obvious God’s hand was on Shaun. He was immediately baptized and started attending Sunday school, worship and Monday night Bible study. Mind you, he still had a date with the court of justice and time in jail to deal with but it was a time of healing, growth, maturity, hope and falling in love.
The rest of the day that Shaun died is a blur. I remember calling my youngest son Kris and telling him there was something going on with Shaun and that he needed to get over here and calling my sister-in-law so she could break the news to our daughter Megan. They both lived in Mississippi some 10 hours away from us. I don’t remember calling my oldest daughter but assume I did. I remember the EMS’s letting us go into his room to spend some time with him before they took him away and people coming and going but not much else. A part of me was on that gurney with Shaun when they wheeled Him out the front door, never to return. My Boy, gone, no parole, no third chance, no starting over. Gone, such a lonely, unkind word with no hope of change. Just gone, silent, empty, foreboding. Life as I knew it rolled out that front door with my Boy. His death would blanket my every thought, my every feeling, everything I did, every decision I made. Life had forever changed and there would be no new normal as some called it but a forever disconnected emptiness.
But through all this I have learned one thing. No matter what the circumstances, we are all left with really only 2 choices. Trust God through it and watch Him use it for good. Or, Like Job’s wife suggested to him, “curse God and die”. Those are our only options.
Today at church the preacher was preaching on Revelation 4 and the worshiping of God in heaven. While we were singing The Revelation Song, I had a very real sense that I was worshiping God with my Boy. There was a very real spiritual connection that I can’t describe or really even understand but it was real and powerful and all because of the love lavished on me by God Himself.
Life has a way of making no sense
with its contradictions hard to quell
like Elijah staring down the priests
then running scared from Jezebel.
But as anguish sets its stubborn teeth
and despair’s your closest friend,
remember before the rainbow glows
a terrible storm is what you get.
We are strengthened for life’s battles
by the friends that God equips
as their love and kindness help us
resist the evil that persists.
And though life’s road is dangerous
with pitfalls and perils along the way,
remember that on our road to Emmaus
it is God we’ve been walking with.
Shaun and Tiana
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