My only son, Nicolas, was born in April 1997. Nick spent his childhood as a happy, beautiful, funny and vibrant boy. His life was full of joyful, positive things and a family full of love.
When Nick was 17, he was diagnosed with depressive disorder, anxiety, ADHD, chronic sleep disturbance, addiction and self-injury disorder. I had to become familiar with psychologists, psychiatrists, medications, the court system, juvenile facilities, treatment centers, wilderness camps, human services and social services, we even took part in a teen drug use program through the University of Minnesota.
Nick had so many types of friends. His loving, caring and silly nature drew personalities of all kinds to him. I knew someday he would be able to use that gift in a positive way, to keep helping others.
In April of 2016, my son tried to take his life. I made it to the emergency room, where he collapsed in my arms in the hallway as I sat screaming for help.
In July of that same year, my son was involved in a near-fatal car accident. He had 22 broken bones, two collapsed lungs and a traumatic brain injury. After only several months of rehabilitation and my son’s absolute determination, he was doing well again. He was home, he was safe and he was healthy.
January 2017. I received a strange phone call while I was at a bakery in a neighboring town with Nick’s little sister. A message was left from a Minneapolis number. It was a donor company, telling me how sorry they were, how they needed to act quickly, and how they needed my permission. Upon hearing their apologies again and affirmation it was my son, I screamed and collapsed to the floor. When I finally made it to the hospital, they would not even let me see him or say goodbye. The day that forever changed my life in ways unimaginable. The day my 19-year-old son was shot and killed. An act of senseless gun violence that did not have to happen. A beautiful life taken way too soon.