My Son is Dead - God Give Me Strength
Sometimes Life is Good
Sometimes life is good, and sometimes life is hard. I know most human beings are touched by loss and trials and tribulations in their journey here on earth. The last few years have been especially trying for myself and my family. I never imagined we would be tested so severely and yet I know there are others who have been given so much more to deal with.
The last time I saw my beautiful son R.J. was Super Bowl 2010, we decided to have a party at our house and he was so enthusiastic about the idea. As soon as I mentioned it he took the ball and ran! "I will get all of the food and drinks," "we can get Pizza, wings, chips and dip, cookies." "Hold on" I interrupted, "you don't have to do all of that." "I want to Mom, it will be so much fun!" and out the door he went.
R.J. was our oldest child, he was the most gorgeous little boy there ever was, big blue eyes, thick brown hair,and always smiling. R.J. grew up taking on the cause for the underdogs in life. He was always fighting a fight that wasn't really his but he somehow felt driven to help. He would never turn his back on a friend or family member. I will never forget the day he came to my work with his new young wife and a baby girl in tow. This was a huge surprise as we did not know there was a baby in the picture, in fact, R.J. hadn't known himself. A woman he had had a brief fling with the previous year had shown up at his door with a beautiful baby girl and said "She is yours." She left the baby with R.J. and said I'll be back to get her tomorrow. Well "tomorrow" turned in to 3 weeks and before we knew it R.J. was in court fighting for custody of Sierra, his 3 month old baby girl.
He had come to see me that day to ask me to sign a statement confirming that I would be his support in raising Sierra should he need assistance. His attorney thought that would be helpful in court. We talked about court, the hand surgery he was recovering from, my upcoming sinus surgery, and our big Super Bowl party. Off he went excited to put together a feast for our celebration. Life was so good.
On Super Bowl Sunday R.J, and his wife Shauna showed up early with loads of food, I remember thinking "he has grown up to be a good man, a good provider, a good husband, and he really loved his baby girl so much." Shauna couldn't stay for the party, she had to work that day. That left me and R.J. in charge of the baby, no problem, I was an old pro and he was a natural.
The party was a great time, R.J. didn't let Sierra out of his arms for more than a few minutes all day. It was so obvious how much joy he took in being her "daddy." We cleaned up and packed up all the baby's toys and said our good nights. "I won't see you guys this week because my surgery is tomorrow" I reminded him as he was leaving. "Let me know if you need anything Mom, I love you" he said. That was the last time I ever saw my beautiful son.
Life got hard, very hard.
I had my sinus surgery the next morning, checked in at 6:00 am, surgery went well and we were home by 3:00. I spent most of the week in the recliner drifting in and out of wakefulness because of the pain meds they had given me. My husband John was there taking excellent care of me, when he had to return to work our youngest daughter came home to look after me. The week went fairly fast and before I knew it Sunday had come and I was preparing to go back to work the next day. I went shopping to get a few things for the week, I was only gone an hour or so, John was out working in the garage. When I finished unloading groceries I noticed there was a message on the phone. It was my brother from Pennsylvania, his message seemed so odd to me. "Hi Sister, I am so sorry about R.J. I am checking in to a plane ticket so I can come out there to help out, I will try to call back in a little bit." I was confused and concerned, I went out to John and said have you talked to R.J. today, "no why" he asked. I told him about the message on voicemail and then I called R.J.'s number, it went straight to voicemail. "R.J. it's Mom, please call me I need to talk to you." He would call, he was good about that. John cleaned up his tools and came in the house to shower. The phone rang - it had to be R.J. I remember feeling a bit relieved. "Hello" I said, fully expecting my son to be on the line. "Sheila, it's Mom, are you sitting down?" The dread hit me like a ton of bricks - "R.J. is dead" the police called me because they could not reach you or John." "NO" I screamed - "your wrong, your wrong, why are you telling me this?" I fell to the ground, nauseated and in so much pain and heartache. "John", "JOHN", I cried out for my husband. He came and took the phone from me and hung it up. "R.J.'s dead" - we clung to each other on the floor sobbing.
We were never told the whole story about what happened that day. Shauna came home several hours after having an argument with R.J. She said she didn't have the house key, she heard the baby screaming and after pounding on the door for several minutes she finally broke the window to get in. She found R.J. dead in their bed, Sierra was 5 feet away in her crib and crying at the top of her lungs. The coroner believes he was dead for 8 to 10 hours before he was found. Shauna was taken in for questioning, Sierra was taken to Child Protective Services. After several calls I was able to get Sierra in our home permanently and we have since adopted her. The official cause of death is listed as cardiac arrest, he was only 28 years old. Shauna says she and R,J, argued about Sierra and her birth mother, R.J. started drinking and Shauna left the house at around 3:00 am. She states she went to a friends house and slept. She found R.J. at 11:00 am, the coroner estimated his death would have occurred before she had left which is why she was taken in for questioning. Charges were never filed based on the autopsy reports. Shauna moved out of state and has since remarried. We are raising Sierra as our own, she is too young to remember her Daddy who loved her so much.
Life after R.J.
It is a terrible thing to lose a child and I hope those reading this will never have to have that experience. I make sure to thank God for all of the wonderful times we had with R.J. and for giving us our beautiful Sierra. When times are tough and I am feeling down I ask God to please give me the strength to make it through whatever he has planned for me. We are healing and it is getting easier with time.
Update: 2020 - Sierra is a beautiful 11 year old girl, she is a Red belt in Taekwondo, an honor student, and a very well adjusted, happy little girl. Life is not the same but it is good again.
Update on Shauna
In 2014 Shauna took her own life by overdosing on narcotics, she never did completely recover after RJ passed. God have mercy on her soul, not the ending we wanted for her.