Sean Patrick Kelly
I want to tell you a story that will be difficult for me to tell, as it talks about how much a family can love one of its members and how drug abuse can devastate both that person and that family.
Let me start at the beginning with an introduction. I'm John Kelly. I have a beautiful and caring wife, Jill a daughter, Kelly Ann who has blessed us with two beautiful grandsons Jimmy, Tommy and a son, Sean.
We are an average family in the sense that we work hard, enjoy family time together and just basically live our lives. But this story really is about our son, Sean, the challenges he faced, and the challenges we faced and continue to face.
Sean was born March, 5 1989. He was a healthy baby boy and actually broke the streak of girls being born at the hospital. Sean grew up doing what boys enjoy doing. Playing with friends, trying his hand at baseball and reading at a very early age. He loved video games and animals. As the years progressed, he played football and lacrosse for a few years and then started enjoying the company of girls.
During this period, his love of music and being different began to blossom. He enjoyed all types of music, but particularly punk bands like the Misfits, Alkaline Trio and such. He played guitar and even composed a song affectionately titled Sean's Song, that he performed during his senior year at his high school. He liked dyeing his hair and getting piercings.
He was like a magnet to other kids because they could talk to him easily about their problems and he could help them sort out their feelings. The latter was what Sean was best known for.
Sean also had a side to him that wasn't so happy. He was diagnosed with a Bi-Polar disorder at the age of 14 and that triggered a whole series of events. He was transferred to an alternative school and attended afternoon sessions of therapy for teens with emotional concerns. It was during this time that Sean started using alcohol and drugs. Although he started with alcohol and gateway drugs, by the time Sean was 15 he was introduced to heroin and he fell for it, very hard.
This led him to a terrible addiction and his addiction led him to bouts of long term outpatient care, stints in detox centers and numerous residential rehab sessions.
Through all of this Sean, remained a loving and caring individual who was never disrespectful to his peers, family or anyone for that matter. Sean tried, God knows he tried, but couldn't beat the addiction of heroin.
There were hopeful signs along the way. I remember that during the spring of 2007, after graduating high school. Sean's friends who didn't approve or take part in heroin usage started coming back around and hanging out with him. This was a good sign and it was a relief of sorts knowing that he may be on the way to beating his addiction. But as addiction goes, you can never let your guard down because it is like the devil and will attack you when you least expect it.
Sean relapsed in late October of 2007, after roughly four months of being clean, from what a good friend of his told me.
But on Saturday, November 10th I drove Sean to a rehab he attended for their yearly celebration.
After we got home Sean went to cash his paycheck and came home to give his Mom 100 dollars towards his car insurance and kept $25.00 for himself. We were in contact throughout the night and everything seemed alright so my wife and I went to bed.
On Sunday, November 11th our lives changed forever. In one of those moments when time seems to stand still, around 7:45 in the morning, I went in his room because I felt cold air coming from under the door and figured he opened his window for some reason or another.
When I looked at him he was lying there peacefully with his cell phone next to his head, except there was something about him that wasn't right. That was because he passed away from an overdose of heroin and alcohol.
The next few days were a blur. Detectives, medical examiners, funeral arrangements all were in the mix. All of us were in shock. But also family and friends were always nearby. Thank God for them.
Sean was laid to rest on November 15th and over 400 family and friends attended his wake and funeral. It was nice that so many kids came to express their love of Sean. It really made us feel good to know that he was loved and respected by so many. But it hurt so badly and I don't expect the pain to ever go away.
My whole point of telling this story is to try and let kids know that the power and allure of drugs can kill. Sometimes the media glamorizes drug use, and we see celebrities getting a lot of press attention just because they are using drugs. But really, there is nothing glamorous about it. If Sean's story can keep one person from thinking about not using drugs, then Sean's death will not have been in vain, because he is still helping people in his own special way. So please if you are using drugs, know you have to take the first step yourself to stop, but always know that there are many people and resources to walk with you and stand beside you every step of the way. Speaking as a father, let memories of you be your music, or your smile, or your athletic moments, or your achievements in school. Don't let that last memory be a family member trying in vain to wake you or the deep, deep sorrow about your death.
Sean remains loved and leaves behind a loving family and countless friends.
Sean we love you. -Mom and Dad.
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