Monday, April 27, 2015

My Failure as a Father

The loss of my 14 year old son Jon has pretty much preoccupied my life. He ended his life on January 10th of this year. Many things, if not all things, have become less important to me. I have been going to therapy to help work through my grief over my son's death. Early in the process, my psychologist was quick to point out that I do not take much time for myself. I focus most of my efforts on supporting my family.

Up until the last few months it seemed as if our family's life was fairly uneventful. I went about my life doing the usual things; work, school and being involved with youth groups. We lived an average life. My life was not always like this.

I learned to be street smart early in life. As a boy, I had to take care of myself and my younger sister. We lived in rough places. I was in a lot of fights. Bullies and intimidation were all part of my life.

When I was eight years old a group of older boys beat me up. I was determined to never let them hurt me again. I went home and stole one of my father's pocket knives. The next time they tried to jump me I was ready for them. Even though I began fighting back, something inside of me died. I was not born an angry violent kid, but that is what I became. Who said that bullies never hurt anyone?

In my preteen years my grades dropped. I was always in detention. As hard as I had become, I could not deal with what was going on in my life. I turned to drugs and alcohol to ease my pain. I lived with friends and on the street.

At age 16, I entered a rehabilitation center for drugs and alcohol abuse. I was expelled. At that point of my life I was on a fast track to jail, prison or an early death. Even though those years were rough, I lived.

In 1990 I made a decision that changed my life. I left everything behind and moved halfway across the state for a new start. As cliche as it sounds, "I found God" and with help of new friends I was able to become civilized again. I put my knife away and learned to use my hands for other things than making fists.

After I graduated from high school I served as a missionary for two years. I came home, went to college and married my wife. I was as far from my previous life as possible, or so I thought. I raised my kids in a nice school district with nice people in nice neighborhoods surrounded by everything nice. I never thought that my children would have to experience the kind of hell that I did growing up. 

The comfy image of my life was shattered on a morning in January when I had to pull my knife from my pocket to cut down my son's lifeless body. I thought my children had a good life. I thought they were safe. I did not think that I needed to protect them from the world. I was wrong. 

Who says bullies never hurt anyone?

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