May 15, 2013 is the day my life changed forever. At 0344 AM I received a telephone call from our oldest son Zachary to inform me that our son Nathaniel (Natey as I affectionately nicknamed him as a baby) had died as a result of a heroin overdose. Nothing has been the same since...
There is not a day that goes by that I dont think about Natey. When I walk past a box of Fruity Pebbles in the grocery store my eyes well up with tears. Losing Natey is without a doubt the hardest thing that I have ever had to deal with. I wondered "What could I have done differently"? , "Should I have been more strict"?, "Should I have been more lenient"?
For almost a year I spent many hours and days asking myself what could I have done that would have changed the outcome of Natey's Life.
On May 15, 2014, the 1st anniversary of the death of my beautiful and gifted son, I continued to look for answers. Not just with Natey's life and death, but with my own life. I had this feeling of emptiness, even though on paper, I had it all. I had a GREAT wife and Kids. I had a solid career, wonderful friends. I lived near the beach. I got myself and my family involved in the Journey Church and was enjoying the Men's Fraternity there... But deep down, something was missing.
Then, for reasons I don't know, I found myself reading Ephesians chapter 5 on the Bible app on my phone. Ephesians? No Idea why... Chapter 5 ? Well, I guess it was May, so perhaps that explains that.
As I read the scriptures, I started to think to myself, "Are you done beating yourself up about decisions that you made in the past"? "Are you living your life right in the present"? "Why are you not expending the same energy on your future as you are on your past"?
The very first three words in this passage were "Follow God's Example". I stopped in my tracks... Whoa! Am I doing that? No, not really... I still carried wounds from my past, and never forgave people that I felt had hurt me..
I read further, ... "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place"... Hey, wait for a second! Foolish Talk and Coarse Joking? That was my protocol. I was living for me, and certainly not following God's example...
I read and reread every word, every verse... the more I read the more I realized that I better step it up in this life so that I am worthy of the next life. I used to think "I believe in God, I will go to heaven"! Then I started thinking, heck, the devil Believes in God, he knows there is a God, but I would bet my bottom dollar that he will not enter heaven...
As I approached verse 8, something came over me and told me to match up the verses with the dates on the calendar in May 2013... Pay close attention to the days preceding Natey's passing and even those after his death. I could not help but wonder if God were trying to answer many of my questions that day.
Verse 8: (May 8)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
Verse 9: (May 9)
(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
Verse 10: (May 10)
and find out what pleases the Lord
Verse 11: (May 11)
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them
Verse 12: (May 12)
It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret
Verse 13: (May 13)
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light
Verse 14: (May 14)
This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Verse 15: (May 15) The day Natey Passed Away
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise
Verse 16: (May 16)
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil
Verse 17 (May 17)
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is
Verse 18 (May 18)
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit
Verse 19 (May 19)
speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord
Verse 20 (May 20) Day of Natey's Funeral
always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
On May 14, 2014, I had this overwhelming feeling there was to be good from Natey's passing. Perhaps I needed to help other parents so that they won't have to endure the pain of losing a child to drugs. Perhaps, I was being called to help mentor young adults and remind them that in every situation there is a right choice and a wrong choice.
I did know for certain, that this was my opportunity to become a better Dad, Friend, and Husband.
But did not know what to do or how to do it. It was in that moment, that I was led to the birth of Natey's Place.
Where small groups of faith-based, like-minded people can Connect, Grow and Apply what they learn to make better choices, kids, parents, community, and world.