#302 – A Letter From Heaven With Barry Adkins

So bad. Good. I like I wake up very, I’m ready and wow. Uh huh. You know, I drunk. He’s not. And this message, my name is Barry Atkins and I’m not the right guy to be here telling you this story. I’m only here because my son Kevin passed away due to alcohol poisoning. At 18 years old, Kevin had just graduated from high school. He just bought a truck. Uh I cosign a loan for that truck. So we go down there and sit down in the financial guy’s office and the first words out of his mouth are how about some life insurance? And I’m like, I don’t need any life insurance.

My wife will do just fine if something happens to me. And he said I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about your son and I rather indignantly told him that 18 year old boys don’t need life insurance because they don’t die. Uh He, he was 18 years old. He decided he wanted to move out on his own. And I remember he, he came in to our living room and he sat down in this brown chair that sits in front of a big picture window looks out over our backyard. And he started talking about how he couldn’t believe his life was finally beginning and how he wanted to move out on his own and start living life without his dear old dad hanging over him. Um, him and his buddy Craig threw a dresser and a TV, and a bed in the back of his new truck. And I remember him coming back in and telling me that he wasn’t going to take his toothbrush with him that he’d be back tomorrow and get it. And I walked out from with him like I normally do, gave him a hug, told him that I loved him and to be careful and watched him drive away. And it was the last time I saw him alive that night, they threw a house warming party for him and it started with beer and moved on to shots and he passed out sometime around two o’clock in the morning and they laid him in his bed on his side in case he vomited.

But his buddy Craig was worried about him and he kept going back in to check on him. And around 4 a.m. the call started coming into 911. The first ones were difficulty breathing and the next ones were not breathing. My son died alone in a hospital while I slept peacefully in my bed. Well, the next morning was Sunday morning and it was like any other Sunday morning for us, Bev, and I were sitting around talking about what we were going to do that day, just drinking a cup of coffee, reading the paper and the doorbell rings. We weren’t expecting company. And I opened the door and I see two police officers and somebody in plainclothes at the front door, which should have been a big red flag. But I’m that guy, I’m that guy that never believed anything would ever happen to his kids. And one of the officers and the person in plainclothes stayed by the front door. The other officer walked in and stood in front of the brown chair that Kevin had sat in two weeks before and talked about how his life was finally beginning and he said there had been an accident and that your son is dead.

Thomas Green here with ethical marketing service on the episode today. We have Barry Adkins. Barry, welcome. Thanks for having me on Thomas. It is very much my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do? Well, the job that pays my bills, I’m actually an application engineer, but, uh, there’s a lot of stuff that goes on outside of work, right? Um, I, I don’t identify that way. I identify as somebody who tries to help others. Let’s just put it that way. Ok. And, um, well, that’s a, that’s a good way to, to think of yourself. For sure. Um, I, uh, I was gonna ask you just, uh, to have a little bit about your story cos, um, there’s, there’s a lot there to ask you about. So would you like to, with, uh, in terms of what you think is relevant? Uh, how would you, how would you start? So, um, I guess the best way to put it is I’ve just always been a normal person. Right. And, and I, I lived the life just staying at home.

I’m not really an outgoing person. I don’t go out and I, I never did any public speaking before. This event we’re gonna talk about. Uh I had no desire to do that. Um I’m a guy who stays at home and works in the yard and works in the garage and that kind of stuff. But on July 10th of 2005 that all changed. Uh the day that my son Kevin moved out, it was his last day on earth. Uh He died of alcohol poisoning that night in a party that his friends threw for him. And as the story goes, um my life changed that day. Well, I’m really sorry to hear that. Um and I have watched the uh the videos online, very powerful stuff, so I’ll link those in the description. Um I uh there’s, there’s loads I wanna get uh get into with you in terms of like your thoughts and your conclusions about it. Um What would you say are your takeaways from that kind of that happening? Well, um in one line, um the best way I can describe it is the most you can hope for when something bad happens to you is to make something good come from it.

Right? And for me, there’s really three things when I, when I speak at schools and, and other events. Uh the three things that I want people to know about uh are about. The first one is decision making. Really the two most important decisions you’re ever gonna make are about drugs and alcohol. You know, it isn’t even close. We all know stories, you know stories, I know stories. Uh we need to educate ourselves and our Children about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse as if our lives and their lives depend upon it because it does, you know, it just, it’s everybody talks about what they wanna do, do and decisions and all that kind of stuff. Those two things are by far, the most important things you’re gonna decide. And the second thing is about adversity, bad stuff happens to everybody, man. The way you respond to this, adversity will define your life. I didn’t say might, it will. And then the third thing for takeaways is about forgiveness, right? Uh It was easier for me to forgive the folks at the party because this was Kevin’s decision, right?

This was his choice to do this and it was easy for me to forgive my kid. But, uh, forgiving yourself, that’s a whole another story. Um, and, uh, I have a pastor that described it best once he said that anger and vengeance, they do one thing, destruction, forgiveness leads to healing. And sometimes in that forgiveness process, the most important person you need to forgive is yourself and we all make mistakes, right? It’s, it’s what we do about it, that matters wise words. And, um, I certainly think that the, the lessons you’ve taken away are, um, are worth learning from. Um, what about the, uh, cos you, you speak to so many people about this topic. What do you tell them to do in relation to? And alcohol, for example, you know, I don’t, uh, that’s one of the things I focus on.

I don’t really tell people how to live their lives. Um, I’m just here to tell you a story because I don’t, I don’t think, I think it’s disingenuous for me to tell people how to do things. I just want them to take that story, take this story and decide what they want their story to be. Right? Uh, I can preach about alcohol. I think we all know, you know, alcohol is dangerous. Drugs are dangerous, but I can preach about that all day. But that’s, it’s your choice, it’s your decision. And in the US, uh, the drinking age is 21. I’m not sure what it is in the UK but, uh, the sta statistics I’ve seen say that the younger you start these things, the more likely it is to be a problem. That’s about the only thing I tell people. Yeah. Uh, I’ve heard that in relation to addiction. So the, the earlier you start alcohol, the more likely you are to be addicted to it. Our age, uh, for drinking is 18 in the UK. And, um, I’m not sure if it’s, uh, the worst in Europe or the worst in the world.

But, um, I’ve heard that, um, the bin binge drinking in the UK is, is either the worst in Europe or the worst in the world. So it’s actually quite a, quite a problem here as well. Um, what to do about that, I suppose is my, is my question, you know, that’s a good question. Um, for me, I think people want to fit in when they do. I mean, admittedly I’m two generations away from them. Right. Thomas, I, you know, but the people think that they need to fit in and they want to impress their friends in this thing called peer pressure and that kind of stuff. And for me, uh, you think that the people you’re around when you’re a teenager are the people that you’re gonna be around the rest of your life. And at least for me and a lot of other folks, that’s just not true. Once you get out of school, a lot of times everybody goes different ways and these people, you think you need to impress, you don’t even see anymore unless it’s on social media.

Right? Um, and I think doing things that you enjoy doing, um, is another thing I, when, when kids ask me, you know, for advice they say do things you like doing, uh, when you talk about what are you gonna do for a career? I tell them do something you like doing and figure out the money part later. Mm. Well, the, um, the conversation around, for example, telling teenagers about the, the disadvantages of alcohol and drugs. Uh, I, I think it’s well worth doing. I think you do great work. I, I wonder about whether it sometimes has, has even the opposite effect in the sense that teenagers have that rebellious side to them. What are your thoughts are about that 100%? And, and nobody ever believes that it’s gonna happen to them. Right. And that’s the hard part because we’ve all been teenagers before.

Uh, you think the phrase we use is 10 ft tall and bulletproof, right? You never believe anything is gonna happen to you. And, and I think, is there one thing we can do to prevent this from happening? Probably not. Uh, it has to come from a lot of different angles. It might be me, it might be, you, it might be an aunt, it might be an uncle. But, uh, setting good examples. Right? Uh, for the kids because if they see you go out and get hammered on Friday night, they’re probably gonna do the same thing. Hm. So, I would imagine your, your approach then is to sort of almost make a case for it from all different angles so that you can persuade someone to do. What is essentially the right thing. If you’re the only one, if, you know, if a teenager has maybe one person that’s telling him, you know, you probably shouldn’t be doing this there. They may or may not pay attention to them, but if they get it from a lot of different angles, uh and they see good examples uh in their lives.

Um I think they’re more likely to not go for that. Um Is everybody gonna try it? I hate to say it probably. But, um, what I tell everybody is you’re not missing anything and the longer you wait to try it, the less likely you are to have a problem, you’re just, you’re not missing anything, honestly. I mean, and I, you and I can look at it through the rearview mirror. Um, do I wish that I’d never drank when I was younger? Yeah, I wish I would have waited. I mean, it did end up being a problem for me because I’m kind of a, yeah, I would describe my personality. Somebody I like to be in control. I like to know what’s going on around me and when you’re six or eight or 10 beers in you have no idea what’s going on around you and you’re not doing the talking anymore that 10 beers is doing the talking. You have communicated or shared your story with 100,000 parents, um, and 100 and 50,000 students.

And I, I wonder whether or not you have any stories of, um, people who have made change that, uh, that you’re particularly proud of? Yeah, we can go there. Um There’s been a number of stories through the years, but there’s one in particular, it was a school up in uh North Phoenix. Uh I spoke there and the um I told the story a couple weeks later, I got a call from the principal of that school. Uh There had been a party, uh There was a student at that party that passed out one of the students that had heard my presentation um wanted to call 911 which is emergency here in the US. And the other students didn’t want him to do that because it was gonna be a problem for them. So that student put uh the kid that was passed out in his car and drove to what we call an urgent care facility who called 911 and saved his life. So a direct um result of your of your speech has, has resulted in a life saved essentially.

Yeah. And I, I think it’s not in general. Um I don’t know that it’s for me to know all the lives that were changed. Um, people don’t necessarily come back to you with that stuff, I don’t think anyway. And maybe not just me, but maybe that started them thinking a little differently. I, uh, once was reach, someone, reached out to me about coming and speaking at an event and I asked her, well, how did you hear about me? Well, I pass out business cards that have those three things that I just mentioned on it. And one of the 10 things I tell the audience is three things might happen to that business card. You might put it in your wallet or your purse, you might throw it in the trash on the way out. You might also take it home and tape it to the bathroom mirror. And in this case, that’s what this guy did. Well, um, I, I often speak to people who have gone through some, um, difficult times and one of the reason why, uh, I enjoy speaking to them is because I know that it’s possible for someone to be listening, uh, to that episode.

And then, you know, you, in, in this instance would get to share that what you’ve learnt with them about it. So, and because you never know who’s listening, um, what advice would you give to someone who is also, uh, in the position where they have lost a child themselves? Oh, um, losing a child is a life changing event, losing a loved one at any point is, but losing a child, um, really quite often can lead, uh, parents down the wrong path, right? It quite often leads to divorce. It also can lead to drug and alcohol addiction, right? To try to cope with it again. Um, the most you can hope for is to try to make something good come from it. And, and that’s really, and the other thing, uh, that I talk about there is you can’t play the blame game. Uh I, if you start trying to figure out who you’re gonna blame for what? That’s just not healthy, that’s part of that forgiveness thing, right?

Uh It’s just not healthy to do that. Um And along the lines of grief, um, I didn’t go to a lot of grief counseling, uh, because it, it felt to me and I know this may be unusual but I, I didn’t wanna relive grief all the time. Um, and the one thing this is, uh, roughly 18 years in the rearview mirror for me. Um, the one thing I wanted to do was to go back and feel the way I did before he died, right? That’s, you just wanna feel that way again. How do I get to that point? Um This sounds harsh but the reality is you’re never gonna feel that way again because that person is gone from your life. Um, you, you can’t get back to that the old you is as gone as your loved one. There’s a new you there. Right. It’s up to you. What that new you is. Is it a better person? I hope so. That’s really what you could do to honor your loved one is make yourself a better person because of what happened.

It’s interesting, don’t you say, um, cos that, that might be a truth that helps someone in the sense that, uh, yeah, you, you won’t be the same again. Um, and it is up to you to decide what that is but, um, get going back to what it was before is just not possible. It isn’t. And, and it took me a lot of years to figure that out. Thomas I, I did not, uh, it took a lot of years for me to figure out, I’m, I’m never going back. Right. I can’t get there and, uh, the rest of your family. Um, how did you cope as like a unit? You know, it, it is as good as it can go, right. I mean, uh, like I said, the blame game thing, I had conversations with them about we’re not blaming anybody here, you know, we just have to move forward. Um, uh, my wife and I are closer than we have ever been. Um, because it, it can draw you together but can also split you apart and focusing on bringing you together is especially as a family and everything like that.

I think is important. I think it’s important. Me personally, I think it’s ok to talk about him too. Right. I think sometimes people don’t want to talk about someone that passed away but they were part of your life. Right. I think it’s ok to do that. Not everybody sees it that way. But, but I think it’s healthy to talk about all the silly stuff he did. Right. The things you remember about him. Uh, I don’t, I don’t think you bury that. Talk about it. Right. Well, would you like to share one silly thing? What’s that? Would you like to share one silly thing? Well, you know, he, uh, we had a truck and it was kind of one of those things where, uh, it was my truck, he was driving it, but when it broke down, I refused to work on it unless he was there to help me with it. Right. Because I felt like he needed to learn how to do this stuff. And sometimes I would truck. It was kind of a head button thing where he’d say, well, can you go fix that for me? I’m like, no, I’m not gonna fix that for you. When you get home from school, you come home from school, don’t go do stuff with your friends, come home and we’ll go work on it.

Right. And so there was, there was a fair amount of that kind of stuff going on, but he just he liked to joke a lot, a lot and, and, um, we have grandkids. He loved those grandkids. Uh, he was, you know, Uncle Kevin to them. That’s nice. And, um, how do you feel about the 18 years that you spent with him? They were great years. Um, but, you know, it’s funny how things, there’s a lot of things I remember about him but, uh, he’s been gone for 18 years too now. All right. And it’s kind of interesting that he’s been gone as long as he was alive. Uh, he was my first son. Uh, my only son and he, um, he was a part of my life. Right. Uh, he was, he had trouble in school. Right. He was a lot like I was, uh, he didn’t see the point in school and getting him to do his homework was, I distinctly remember that kind of stuff. Right. That mighty battle of, he was actually flunking his English class in March of his senior year in high school.

He needed it for graduation. Right. And you know what? He would tell me when I talked to him about it, he’d say, oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it, but I didn’t take his word for it. Right. And I would call the school and say, you know, hey, was he there? Did he turn in his assignments? All that kind of stuff? And then the teacher would go back into class and tell him in front of all of his friends that his daddy called to check on him and then I get the call. Would you knock it off? Stop calling my teachers. I’m like, look, dude, just, just take care of it, man. But he did graduate. And after the high school graduation ceremony, he whispered, thanks for not giving up on me, dad. That’s lovely. It’s a great story and it does make me think about um generally speaking, you got, you know, parenting wisdom to share. I have three li little ones. So they’re, they’re not anywhere near being teenagers yet. Um And this applies to other people who are parents. What advice do you give? Just general parenting advice, you know, um As a grandparent, uh I tell people don’t sweat the small stuff, pick your battles um because kids can be as stubborn as you are, right?

Uh Just pick your battles, love them, figure out what they wanna do, right? Do the stuff they like doing. Um But the important thing is everybody is different, right? Every kid is gonna react differently to whatever you do. And, and I think uh picking your battles would be the best thing and, and as far as um you know, people say, well, when do I, when should I talk to my kids about drugs and alcohol? And I have a few thoughts on that. The first one is whatever you do. Don’t wait until it’s too late, right? You, you, you gotta pick your times but it’s never a comfortable conversation to have, right? You’re not, it’s kind of hard to walk in, kid, walk in and say, hey, can we talk about drugs and alcohol today? Dad? It’s probably not gonna happen, right? And it’s kind of hard for you to do that too. But you know, this is little, you have little kids, they listen to everything you’re saying, even when you’re not talking to them, right?

You’re talking to your wife, you’re talking to your spouse, they’re still listening. So you can have those conversations with your spouse with them in the room. Um I use the example of Google alerts. You can find stories to just talk about the news, right? Did you see in the news where this person, this happened to this person or this famous person is in rehab, that kind of stuff. Um You don’t have to talk to them directly, but as long as they’re in the room, they’re gonna hear what you said, right? And it may spark a conversation because honestly I tell kids the same thing, you can just let them let your parents over here, you talking to a friend about something that happened and I promise you you’re gonna, when they get to that age, you’re gonna be listening to every conversation they’re having with their friends too, right? And, and it becomes more of an indirect thing rather than a, let’s sit down and talk. Ok. Yeah, good advice. And, uh, a reminder that they’re always listening, whether it’s, uh, whether you’re talking to them or not.

Uh, it’s a good reminder. Uh, the next thing I just wanted to clarify was around. Um, the, why? So, I, I think it’s amazing that you go around and talk about this topic because it is in my view underserved. Like there are not enough people talking about this. But, uh, why do you do it? You know, I do it because I don’t want other people to go through this. Right? I mean, that was one of my first thoughts was, you know, what would some, what would I want somebody else to do if it happened to their kid? And for me it was to get out and tell the story, right? Because you don’t wanna go through this and, and that’s why I do it because it was a very painful process. Right. There’s no doubt about it. It’s a, it’s a shot across the bow. Um, and that’s why I do it because I, I want other people to know this can happen and that way you have it in the back of your mind, you know. So it’s for, for the benefit of others.

Yeah. I mean, and it’s therapeutic for me. Um, I telling the story, uh, people say, I don’t know how you can still do that after 18 years. I’ve, I’ve probably told the story, I don’t know, 3 5400 times through the years. Um, but it’s also kind of therapeutic for me. Right. Other people know what happened to him. No way. You know, I, I freely admit that it’s, it’s a very exhausting thing. Uh, I only tell I can only do it at the most three times in a day, like at schools if it’s a smaller group, uh, because it uses a different part of your brain, right? Because you, you have to go back to that day, you have to go back to that visit to the funeral home, those kinds of things. Yeah, I can imagine it being quite taxing. Um Have you got any thoughts in relation to addiction at all in, in the context of this rather than binge drinking? You know, it’s, it’s a complicated topic, right?

Uh I know there are people who are predisposed to it and that’s why you have to know if you’re one of those people. Uh if you never start, uh I’ve heard numerous stories of addiction and they just, everybody just never dreamed they didn’t realize that they kind of had that addictive personality, right? Um And the recovering addicts I have spent time with for the most part um their recovery starts with them, right? Um It has to be something they want to do. Um you know, as a parent or a loved one, you can say, hey, you need to quit doing that, but they have to make that choice, they have to make that decision that I’m gonna get out of this, you know, and I’ve heard numerous stories where they basically wake up one day and go, man. I’m, I am done with this.

I’m, I’m not doing this anymore and uh pretty incredible stories. Um Tim Allen who um did numerous. He was an actor here in the US. Um I saw an interview with him once and he said that the greatest gift he’s ever gotten was the gift of sobriety. You know, it’s there, there is a life after addiction. Uh II I think that’s the difficult part for people to see when they’re in the middle of it, I guess. Is there anyone who um I don’t know whether you’d necessarily get this feedback, but uh it interprets your message uh in a, in a way that’s like a misconception. So you intend a particular message, but it’s just they haven’t received it in the right way, you know, maybe in the beginning because I wasn’t uh as concise about the story that I tell. Um I, I’m not aware of any, but I do know that when you tell a story, you have to do it in a very specific way.

Um And I’m blessed to have a, a wife who um attended a number of those, especially in the beginning. And she would always give me feedback because she would sit in the back of the audience and she would say no, you lost them with that. You need to either modify that or drop it, right? Um Because those things, what you intend to get across sometimes comes across. But as you said, uh the wrong way, um I’ve honestly heard uh recovering addicts talk and, and I have to bite my lip sometimes because they, it’s almost like they’re kind of bragging about what happened. And my advice to everybody is you need to, you need, you need to tell the dark side, right? Somebody will just say, yeah, I was addicted and they did this. And then when I talk to him later, you find out that their best friend died.

I said that’s the things people need to hear because the message can be misinterpreted. And I, I don’t think there’s been a lot of that, but I definitely had to tweak it a lot because she would sit in the back and say, yeah, they started fidgeting when you said that. And so I would move away from that. But a kind of a funny story. Um, couple of interesting things that happened along the way. Um One of the things that I had read was you want to kind of try to tie different parts of the story together, right? So when I tell the story, I talk about how Kevin sat in his brown chair and he started talking about how his life was finally beginning because he wanted to move out. Right. Well, when the officer came in to tell us that he had passed away, he stood in front of that same brown chair two weeks before that, Kevin sat in two weeks before and my wife was there when I did that and I walked over, there was some other stuff going on. I walked over and I whispered. So, what did you think of the brown chair thing? And she goes, it’s gold, it’s not brown.

Ok. But you liked it. Yeah. Yeah, she liked it. But, you know, she’s my wife. She pointed out it’s not brown, it’s gold. And I had another, you know, along the way kind of tweaking it. Um, I had a gentleman, uh, say to me one time, he said you don’t still speak at schools, do you? And I said I do. He goes, you’re too old. You should not be speaking at schools, those kids, they can’t relate to you at the time. I kind of took offense to it. Right. I really, you’re gonna say that to me, but I thought about it and I thought, you know what, I’ll just dress that right up front. So now at the beginning I tell him I’m just here to tell you a story. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. And I’ve had several principles. Say that was the most important thing you said because people don’t wanna be preached to Right. They just don’t, they, they wanna be told a story. And so that’s what I really focus on. Well, if you could decide, uh what would be the key takeaways that you would want someone to come away from the story with.

It’s those three things, uh, easily it’s decision making, adversity and forgiveness really. Um, because all three of them are there bad stuff hap. I mean, the adversity part of it, um, bad stuff happens and you as a, as a person need to decide what you’re gonna do about it. And that’s really um mine was by the grace of God. I came across doing this and here I am today. And would you say you have forgiven yourself? I have but it again, it took. So I don’t know if I mentioned the other part of it. So I actually walked, you’ve seen in the video, but I actually walked with his ashes from Gilbert Arizona to Kalispell Montana, which is about 1400 miles. I don’t know what that is. 2500, 3000 kilometers, something like that somewhere in that range. Um And that’s the process that helped with the forgiveness thing, right? I averaged about 90 miles a week and spoke at schools along the way.

That’s quite uh quite something I can imagine it being quite therapeutic doing all that. Uh Is there anything any anything else of note that you took from that journey? You know, there was interesting things, one thing I, a few things I learned is that as a society, we think that the whole world is jaded, right? The news and the media and all that kind of stuff, you kind of get the feeling. Everybody is very jaded. But when I went on this journey, I discovered there’s a lot of wonderful people out there that just wanna help. I mean, every day people would stop and tell me a story, ask if I needed a ride. If I needed anything, those kinds of things. Um, the world isn’t as jaded as sometimes the media. You would like to present it as. Yeah, I think it’s a great message. Um, and I wholeheartedly agree with you about that. Um Is there anything that I should have asked you about today? No, I think we’ve covered. Oh, there may be a few people in your audience that ask that are curious, why did I decide to walk to Montana?

So, um, for the older folks in the audience in the US, uh, there was a movie that came out years ago. It was called Lonesome Dove. Uh It’s a western of Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall in it. Uh It was Kevin’s favorite movie. Uh I won’t give away details of the movie because I think you should watch it. But that’s where the idea came from. And when you watch the whole, it’s about a 3.5 hour movie. So you can’t watch it in one night. You can watch it online. Um, and it’s not a traditional western, it’s a APG 13 kind of western, but it’s very, I, I always liked Robert Duvall and Time Lee Jones anyway, but there was Kevin’s favorite movie and that’s where in my mind the idea came from because there was something very similar that happened in this movie. Ok. Well, I’ve got this movie recommendation. You’re gonna have to go watch it now. Like, what is he talking about? If you watch it, you’ll see it. All right. Um, well, if people want to connect with you or get in touch, where do they go?

The best place to go is to go to Facebook and it’s Kevin’s last walk, all one word. Uh, the website is also Kevin’s last walk. But I know people tend to want to go to social media things as opposed to websites. So I usually point them to the Facebook pages. Kevin’s last walk. Uh, there’s lots I post on there for me fairly often every few weeks and, uh, any closing thoughts today. Um, I appreciate the opportunity to come on here, Thomas. Um, I just hope people listen and just understand it can happen to them. I, I’m one of those guys that never believed anything bad was ever gonna happen to me. But, um, you need to be very, uh, cognizant of what’s going on. Well, I reiterate, I think you’re doing, uh, great work when you’re um when you’re speaking to students and sharing the message. And um thank you for being a great podcast guest today.

Thank you, Thomas. So, in the months following Kevin’s death, one of the things that you wonder about is where is he, what is he doing? And what might he say to you today if he could talk to you? And I sat down one day and decided to write a letter that I think he would write me. If he could write me a letter. I call in a letter from heaven. Dear dad. First. I’d like to say how much I miss you and I love you. I’m sorry about what happened. You have no idea how sorry we were just out having a good time. I didn’t think anybody would get hurt. It seemed so fun and everybody was doing it one minute we were drinking and having a good time and the next minute I was dead. I want you to know how hard I tried to live how much I wanted to go back to the beginning of that night and change it all. I never believed it could happen to me. I knew people who had problems with alcohol, but I wasn’t one of them.

I knew better. I saw people do it and get away with it. And I figured I could too. I had so much left to do dad. My life was just starting. I was looking forward to coming home. I was looking forward to coming home and raiding the refrigerator in the pantry. I was looking forward to many more hunting trips working on the old yellow truck together, getting married and giving you more grandchildren. I was looking forward to spoiling Colin and Trinity and complaining about having to help my sisters with everything. I will never get to share a Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas with you again. No more gifts. No more, falling asleep after Thanksgiving dinner. No more, giving each other haircuts. No more. Arguing about who lost. What tool. Tell everyone you can about what happened to me. Tell him how dangerous alcohol abuse can be and how it only takes once for terrible things to happen. Tell all the kids that what can happen. He is not cool and that it can happen to them. Tell them about the pain it brings to family and friends. Tell them so they don’t have to find out the hard way, the way I did something very good will come from this dad.

I just wish I was there to share it with you. I love you and miss you, your son, Kevin. So this is Kevin’s story. What do you want your story to be?