STORY of LOSS
When things fall apart.
It was Saturday July 2, 2016 it was supposed to be a normal drive to pick my son Nicholas from the airport for his summer stay with me in New York, but this was different. My son was in crises and I had plans in place to help. A session with my therapist, meeting some sober folks from the rooms of AA, a mind, body, spirit escape to Letchworth State Park and a beautiful Catskill wedding in a few weeks were meant to be a fresh air mind reset, mental health retreat if you will. He had been struggling with becoming a teenage Dad, juggling a football career and being a senior in High School. I had been sending him to a therapist a few times he said to me Nicholas was “making bad life choices”. Unfortunately, Nicholas never got on the flight that day.
No one completely understood that there was a storm brewing of paramount magnitude. It was an uncomfortable, stressful and heart wrenching the feeling of not being able to reach my son as he was in such despair. I felt as if Nicholas was drowning in complex emotions and situations and I was cemented to the land not able to help. I engaged South Carolina Dept. of Children Protective Services (CPS), certainly they would be proactive in getting my son help. Especially since he didn’t make that flight. I told the CPS worker that he was 17 he was going through many intense life issues on many fronts and I didn’t want him to “fall through the cracks.” The CPS worker did a brief 2 ½ week investigation and came up as “unfounded” and said chances are Nicholas was turning 18 soon and most likely was going to “Fall Through the Cracks”.
Nicholas was this larger then life kid he was 6’4 215 pound with a size 14 shoe, dubbed “Lil Gronk”. Nicholas was a beast of a tight-end for the Fort Dorchester Patriots #85. Nicholas was built to play football he had the passion and preservence for the game. The team went undefeated (15-0) were State Champs of SC and ranked 7th in the nation his junior year. He spent many off seasons training at Clemson Football Camp and had aspirations of attending Clemson after graduation Nicholas was a popular kid not just from being a star athlete but had an amazing light of friends both on and off the gridiron he had a heartfelt compassion and kinship for life. Nicholas had genuine purity and quality about himself, with the sort of wisdom of a beautiful old soul. Nicholas sense of humor could lite up even the darkest of days. This was all spinning, colliding together all the while he was becoming a teenage Dad. Yet, inside Nicholas he was struggling with staying grounded as wanting to be a Dad and wanting to be a raging teen in his senior year.
That storm was fast approaching like no other, it was beneath the surface. Nicholas was starting to numb himself with alcohol and xanax from the pressures of adulting. He was going through tremendous stress and anxiety dealing with heavy life choices. I believe Nicholas also had misdiagnosed TBI from a skateboarding concussion suffered a year or so earlier, not to mention all his football years playing BOTH sides of the ball. Nicholas was also having issues with possible fatty liver syndrome, no one would ever guess he was a Chefs kid, but the connection to the mind gut put him at further risk. Not to mention having many unhealthy life dramas surrounding him. Nicholas started to not enjoy things he once did, he was becoming further detached, feeling as a burden, feeling alone, isolating and taking riskier behaviors.
On August 26th 2016 I called 911 around 1 am in a desperate plea to the North Charleston Police Dept, please help my son I’m worried about him self harming himself. I’ve had many conversations with Nicholas over the years about sex, drugs and rock n roll but never spoke about the demons that plagues us in our heads about self worth and suicide. The Police Officer essentially scolded me on what it means to be a “good father” and never pursued looking for my son that night. Nicholas needed a 72 hour physic evaluation to get safe and work through this moment….It never happened.
On August 28th 2016 that prefect storm was about to happen. In a moment when he was trying to get off xanax, a series of life events happened. Nicholas was already feeling depressed, feeling of burdened, full of guilt, shame, not being worthy life and somehow life would be better without him, his own mind was twisted against himself. In an emotionally charged impulsive moment my son went into his garage and took his own life. He hung himself, he had struggled to get out but he couldn’t and all the lines of help failed him. I know in my heart that night was just a horrible accident, the effects of the xanax with the withdrawals and he took something to far and it can never be undone nor ever walked back. Nicholas’ future was so bright it was just a rough hard time he was going through he never meant to leave this world and his children everything just became completely unwound in that moment and became something he couldn’t walk back. My son’s life and mine are now a cautionary tale.
What happens when things just fall apart and the person you once where no longer exists? When you get throat punched by the universe? When all of your happy day dreams seem so tiny and your nightmares seem so huge? On that one the day horrific day the worst “what if” already has happened. You just keep driving around in the circles of your mind of all the should’ve hv u, could’ve, would’ve and what ifs. It becomes a complete mind fuck and a scar you will always carry.
Over time it ini him doesn’t get better, it just gets different. As a Dad I don’t know what else to do. So I just try to be strong even though I feel weak and completely shattered, I learn to move forward with baby steps one breath at a time. I know I must carry on even though I get lost. There are things in life you never will get over; you’ll just learn to get through and to carry on. There will some-days it rains, some-days it pours but even those storms there is movement and there and again a few rainbows it that is his love. So as I say Goodbye to my son in one form I embrace his LOVE in another form. Nicholas’ light will continue to shine long after his passing beyond the veil. I will continue to honor my son by telling his story in hopes others can realize that you are not alone and if I stay silent so does the stigma. #85ForLife