30 03 2011

written for the Cape May County Herald- April 6, 2011 Edition…

Yesterday my son Nicholas should have and would have turned 16 years old.  He’d be in high school now.  He’s be getting excited about learning how to drive.  He’d be playing baseball at Middle.  He’d be making the girls around him swoon!  He would probably be singing Barry Manilow songs at the top of his lungs in the car with his father! 

 Nicholas Paul was born in Omaha, Nebraska on April 5, 1995 but he also died the very same day.   Terri and I had anticipated a brand new life entering our world- joining our family- and within what still seems like a rushing chaotic whirlwind- before we even had a chance to say, “Hello,” we were already saying, “Goodbye!” And 16 years later, my heart still aches to know Nicholas and play ball with him and talk with him and be with him.  I miss him more now than I ever have and in spite of all the well wishes that I got all those years ago, I can honestly tell you that no, time has not healed squat!  I will be incomplete the rest of my days on this planet- because Nicholas is not here- and nothing and nobody will ever replace him! 

 Here is what I wrote in my journal on April 5, 1995- the day Nicholas both entered and departed from this earth:

“A time I will always treasure- a big dimple- a big nose- dark hair and without a doubt a true Sheptock.  Nicholas, when you get to Heaven, will you tell Jesus to please protect your Daddy because he is really not too strong right now and Mommy and I are going to need God’s help to accept the fact that we have to somehow journey on without you…  You are so cute son, and yet so fragile…  Nicholas, I wanted you longer than I had you…  I have no idea why we will not be able to raise you!  I treasure the truth with all that is within me that I will see you again but somehow I will walk the rest of my days here with a huge hole in my heart…  I love you son- now and always…”

 I share this with all of you today to remind you that if you know anyone who has ever lost a child, the worst thing that you could ever do is act like that son or daughter never existed.  In the nervousness of not knowing exactly the right words to say, too many people stay quiet about what still needs to be acknowledged- and that is that the life of someone who was immensely special to the one that you call special- is still gone!  The longing stays even as the years get longer since the tragic day first came!   There is a deep sorrow that rolls around on every birthday and anniversary and is kicked into full gear by anything that is a reminder of the loss of a human being that will forever be a part of the heart- even as the hearts are apart!  Words are not necessarily necessary- but a hug or tears shed together can be a much needed comfort- when the season comes round again!  And the power of just knowing that someone else remembered, by sharing a card or bringing a flower can make the memories sweet- even in the midst of a bitter hour.

 I still celebrate Nicholas’ Birthday.  Call me crazy, but I want my boy to know that I still miss him.  I want God to know that Heaven means so much more to me now than it ever did- because I actually have more kids there than I do here!  I will press on and navigate my way through every day by the grace of God and the pure appreciation of what a gift each new 24 hours of life is- but I won’t have to be called twice when it is my time to graduate!  Even in my dreams, I anticipate the time I will finally be able to hold Nicholas close and kiss him and shower all the love that an earthly father can bestow upon his offspring!

Let me close with some more words from my April journal those 16 years ago.  If nothing else to let my readers know that I follow God not because life is perfect, but because it is so broken!  I don’t need a genie; I need a Redeemer, a Savior and a Rescuer!  Jesus is all those things and more to me!

“On a quiet April morn, this little baby child was born- And he came into our lives for a short stay… Tons of questions fill my mind and no answers I can find-And pain fills my heart as I pray… Life is such a complex game and I will never be the same-For in a whirlwind this baby touched my heart…  And even though I miss him so- deep down inside I’m sure I know- With everything I do- he’ll be a part- and apart!  Jesus- please take good care of him and will you teach him how to catch? Will you write down all the things that make him laugh? I want to thank you for the moments that I got to hold him close-For we spent a lifetime- in a few hours and a half…”

 Happy Birthday Nicholas Paul!  Your name literally means “Little Victory,” and I know that the day that I finally cross the finish line- there will be no greater prize that waits for me! 






One response

31 03 2011
Kelly Schuknecht

I think of Nicholas every year at Easter time. I’ll never forget the Six Hours One Friday we all spent together the following year.

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