“I lost my nephew, Gunner, on November 3rd. While I will say it was totally unexpected and shocking, I don’t know that anyone could ever be prepared for this kind of pain.
I have been wanting to send a message or write something so everyone can understand what happened. I feel it’s important to tell Gunner’s story for 3 reasons:
One, Gunner was an amazing kid who deserved the life he won’t get the chance to live, so I owe him his story to be told. Two, I want to clear up any misconceptions and give the facts. Three, Gunner’s story could very well save your child’s life. So, please, share his story.
Gunner went out with friends on Friday night. They came back to my brother’s house late and stayed up eating pizza and playing video games, like most 19-year-old boys do. At some point during the evening, Gunner, and his friend, took a pill stamped Percocet. The very popular and easily accessible pain killer.
Gunner has no history of drug use, has never been a ‘problem child,’ was a star athlete, wonderful son and brother, and was extremely loved in his community.
We don’t know why he decided to take ‘a pill’ that night. The only thing we can assume is that the curiosity of knowing what the ‘high’ is like came into play. Again, we can only assume. His friend also took a pill.
Both boys died what we think was pretty immediately. Both went to sleep and never woke up. That’s the most positive thing in Gunner’s whole story, that he felt no pain and didn’t suffer. (Although, positive is a generous way of putting it.)
My sister in law, his mother, found both boys the next morning. She and my nieces tried to resuscitate to no avail. Both boys had been dead for hours and there was nothing they or the paramedics could do.
The pills Gunner and his friend took were at the very least laced with fentanyl. We are still waiting on reports but there is a good chance it was more then 50% fentanyl. That’s enough poison to kill 10 adult males. According to the detective working on Gunner’s case, to draw comparison for perspective, 2 grains of table salt size of fentanyl will kill any adult.
Think about that.
Gunner never had a chance.
I’m sharing Gunner’s story because Gunner had a whole life ahead of him. He had goals and aspirations. He wanted to be a dad. He wanted to continue to play football and baseball in college. He wanted to go hunting and fishing with this grandpa. Gunner wasn’t done.
One bad choice, one stupid minor mistake, was all it took.
Gunner never had a chance.
It’s very natural to be curious and want to ‘experiment’ with things at Gunner’s age. Remember when we were in high school and kids considered experimenting with cigarettes? It’s a different time now. Kids are experimenting with pills because they think they’re safe. They’ve seen them in their parents’ medicine cabinets from their mom’s car accident last year or from when their dad threw out his back. They seem harmless.
These aren’t the pills in your parents medicine cabinet. They are made in someone’s garage who is trying to make a buck…a buck at the expense of our children’s lives.
THERE CAN BE NO EXPERIMENTING.
It’s truly a matter of life or death.
You can’t see fentanyl. You can’t smell fentanyl.
Tell your kids Gunner’s story. Show them his picture. I can’t describe the amount of pain my brother, sister-in-law, and Gunner’s sisters are going through. A pain that will NEVER end. A hole that will NEVER be filled. A life that will never be brought back. A beautiful life.
Today marks one year since I got the news.
One year since I saw the most horrible, saddest, I-wish-I-didn’t-have-to-tell-you-this look on Uncle Larry’s face.
Once year since everything seemed ‘normal.’
So much has happened in the last year, yet it often feels like time has stood still. Life has moved on, but you weren’t there.
Rylee graduated high school and went off to college…and you weren’t there.
Kallie graduated middle school and moved on to the high school where you hold records for both baseball and football. She walked those halls as a student for the first time, as your little sister…and you weren’t there.
Papa and Grammy talk about you like you’re still here because they can’t bare so say your name in the past tense…but you aren’t here.
Me? Well, sometimes I cry for no reason while driving down the road because I’m suddenly reminded that you’re gone, and your cousins think that’s normal now…because you aren’t here.
There are some things you should know.
Your parents are getting by. They are starving for your presence and some days it becomes too much, but they are hanging on. They have so many people who love them and we will take care of them and make sure they are okay, so don’t worry about them.
You should know that your story was shared over a million times. Across the world, people reached out to me to send their condolences from over 10 countries.
Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncle, and cousins shared their stories with me and thanked me for sharing yours.
It feels strange to be thanked for sharing the most horrific story of my life. It doesn’t seem to make sense. Still. Countless people mourned your death, so many that have never even met you.
You should also know that I’m going to eat pie at Thanksgiving this year, and you know I don’t like pie. Never have, but I’ll eat it.
You should know that every time I hear Cole Swindell’s ‘You Should Be Here,’ I sob. No matter where I am or who I’m with, I can’t bare to turn it off or change the channel.
You should know that I wish you could be my Corn Hole partner at Thanksgiving this year so we could dominate. Again.
You should know that I’m trying to do away with ‘I’ll do that next time’ because you have taught me that there might not be a next time.
You should know that I would do just about anything to bring you back.
For one more hug.
For one more smile.
For one more ‘Hey Aunt Brandi.’
But most of all, for your Mom and Dad.
They are broken and they can’t be repaired, but you should know that they aren’t mad at you.
You should know that they forgive you for your mistake and are grateful for the time they did have with you. You NEED to know that.
You should know that not a day goes by without laughter, growth, faith and most of all, love in this family that misses you so much.
Some days are harder then others, but we know that we will see you again some day. This, we know.
I love and miss you more than you could ever know Gunner Dean.
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